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Skin deep: The impact of tattoos and piercing on health

Skin infection
Ian Peate explains what conditions nurses may encounter in patients with body decoration

A break in the natural protective barrier provided by the skin, increases the risk of contamination from external or internal bacteria. There are a number of forms of body modification and people engage in such activities for a variety of reasons. This article discusses the issue of body modification and its various forms. The legal aspects that are in place to support the public health of the nation are outlined, there are marked variations on legislation across the four countries of the UK. To provide safe and effective care to patients with body modifications, nurses must become more knowledgeable about this increasingly common practice, so they are able to offer advice. Competent care is more than simply noting the presence or absence of body piercings; an increased awareness of the history of body piercing; the piercing process; care of piercings and issues related to patient education can enhance comprehensive nursing care.

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