Piercings and tattoos: Cool or dangerous?

Piercings and tattoos seem to be cool these days. You might even know a teenager who has a tattoo, or maybe even a pierced belly button or tongue. Here's the thing: Piercing and tattooing really aren't very safe. You can end up with a bad infection or a scar. That's why doctors say piercings and tattoos aren't a good idea for kids. Also, when you get older — believe it or not — you might think that a tattoo or piercing really isn't so cool, and wish you didn't have it.

It's true that some kids, and even babies, get their earlobes pierced. Doctors say it's still risky, but not as much as piercing other parts of the body. You need your parents' permission to get your ears pierced. If they're OK with it, you need to make sure they find a good, clean, safe place where you can get it done. Then you have to care for them. By the way, some kids you know might have the edges of their ears pierced. This is really not a good idea because piercings on this part of the ear don't heal very well.

Oh, and don't ever try to pierce or tattoo yourself, and do not have a friend do it for you. It's risky enough to have it done by an expert. It's way more dangerous if it's done by someone who doesn't know how to do it safely. A skin doctor (dermatologist) can give you advice and suggest how to choose a safe place to get it done.

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