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LIVE YOUR SOCIAL LIFE WITH CANCER /// CHAPTER 58
Piercings
and
Tattoos
Both tattoos and piercings go through your skin, which is one of your body's barriers
against infection. Piercings or new tattoo sites can get badly infected when you don't have
a strong immune system. Tattoos and piercings, if not done with sterile, unused needles
can also put you at increased risk for acquiring Hepatitis, HIV, or other blood-borne
illnesses that can make you really sick. Additionally, if you have low platelet counts, you
are more at risk of bleeding and bruising (so your tattoo may actually turn out less sharp).
With that said...
Continuing to wear earrings and some other piercings are ok, but it might be a good idea to take out piercings in the nose
and mouth (and some other areas) because these areas have a higher amount of bacteria in them all the time. While you are
getting any chemotherapy or therapy that lowers your immune system you shouldn't get new piercings.
In general, it's recommended that you don't get new tattoos while receiving chemotherapy or in an area that is getting or
going to get radiated.
How long should you wait after cancer treatment?
Best to get your doctor's blessing, but certainly wait until your blood counts are entirely normal (around 3 months after
chemo is a good guide). And ALWAYS make sure the shop or artist is reputable, get references from clients, and ensure that
they are using disposable needles and unopened ink to prevent infections.
While you wait until it's safe for new tattoos or piercings, find other ways to express yourself and decorate your body with
earrings, hair wraps, necklaces and bracelets, or wigs. Have fun with temporary tattoos - there are stickers, semi-permanent
ink or airbrush spray versions; but stay away from black henna as some people can have reactions to this.
Work on designing that fabulous tattoo you want when you can safely get one - perhaps to express something about your
cancer experience, or to incorporate or disguise a scar.
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What Do I Do Now?

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