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Nose Piercing: Historical Significance and Potential Consequences

Nose Piercing: Historical Significance and Potential Consequences Nose piercing is the process by which a needle penetrates the nostril, nasal septum, or nasal bridge to create an opening for the placement of jewelry. The practice, which is performed for symbolic or beautification purposes, originated more than 4000 years ago in the Middle East, migrating to India in the 1500s and reaching Western civilization by the 20th century.1 In Genesis 24:22, Abraham's son, Isaac, gifts Rebekah, his bride-to-be, a shanf, which can be interpreted in Hebrew as “golden nose ring.” Nose rings would later be used as a dowry by some Middle Eastern and African tribes; the rings could also be used as collateral in case of divorce. Septum piercing was popular among the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and some Native American, Alaskan, and Indian tribes. According to Ayurveda (Indian medicine), piercing the left nostril, which is symbolic of the female reproductive system, eases menstruation and childbirth. Some individuals in India pierce both nostrils to cover the costs of an unexpected expense such as a funeral.1 In Western culture, the nose ring was popularized by French songstress Polaire (Émilie Marie Bouchaud), who donned a left nostril piercing while touring the United States in 1913. Nose rings were later worn by American hippies who traveled to India in the 1960s and then adopted by the punk and Goth subcultures in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Today, nose rings are fairly mainstream, worn by individuals in all sectors of life, although this symbol of expressionism is not always embraced.1 In the medical arena, 1 study showed that only 24% and 28% of patients thought that nose piercings were appropriate for physicians and medical students, respectively. Furthermore, only 7% of physicians believed that nose rings were appropriate for physicians or medical students, and working with a physician or medical student who had a nose ring would bother 58% of those surveyed.2 Although the procedure is relatively safe, complications can occur after nose piercing because of the use of unsterile instruments, improper piercing techniques, or inadequate aftercare. There have been reports of postpiercing infections with Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and viral hepatitis, as well as 1 case of infective endocarditis in a patient without a history of congenital heart disease. Other potential adverse effects include bleeding, scarring, and keloids; pyogenic granuloma and basal cell carcinoma have also been reported. Some countries, such as New Zealand and France, require piercers to follow uniform guidelines, although similar regulations have not been established in the United States.1 Nose rings may soon become as commonplace as earrings; therefore, piercers and consumers should be educated about proper technique, hygienic precautions, and potential risks. More general information on piercing practices can be found on the Association of Professional Piercers website.3 Back to top Article Information Contact Dr Ladizinski at the Derpartment of Dermatology, Duke University Medical Center, PO Box 2822, Durham, NC 27710 (barryladizinski@gmail.com). References 1. Stirn A. Body piercing: medical consequences and psychological motivations. Lancet. 2003;361(9364):1205-121512686054PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref 2. Newman AW, Wright SW, Wrenn KD, Bernard A. Should physicians have facial piercings? J Gen Intern Med. 2005;20(3):213-21815836523PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref 3. Mission statement. Association of Professional Piercers website. http://www.safepiercing.org/en/join-the-app/mission-statement/. Accessed September 1, 2012 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png JAMA Dermatology American Medical Association

Nose Piercing: Historical Significance and Potential Consequences

Nose Piercing: Historical Significance and Potential Consequences

Abstract

Nose piercing is the process by which a needle penetrates the nostril, nasal septum, or nasal bridge to create an opening for the placement of jewelry. The practice, which is performed for symbolic or beautification purposes, originated more than 4000 years ago in the Middle East, migrating to India in the 1500s and reaching Western civilization by the 20th century.1 In Genesis 24:22, Abraham's son, Isaac, gifts Rebekah, his bride-to-be, a shanf, which can be interpreted in Hebrew as...
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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
2168-6068
eISSN
2168-6084
DOI
10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.1568
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Nose piercing is the process by which a needle penetrates the nostril, nasal septum, or nasal bridge to create an opening for the placement of jewelry. The practice, which is performed for symbolic or beautification purposes, originated more than 4000 years ago in the Middle East, migrating to India in the 1500s and reaching Western civilization by the 20th century.1 In Genesis 24:22, Abraham's son, Isaac, gifts Rebekah, his bride-to-be, a shanf, which can be interpreted in Hebrew as “golden nose ring.” Nose rings would later be used as a dowry by some Middle Eastern and African tribes; the rings could also be used as collateral in case of divorce. Septum piercing was popular among the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and some Native American, Alaskan, and Indian tribes. According to Ayurveda (Indian medicine), piercing the left nostril, which is symbolic of the female reproductive system, eases menstruation and childbirth. Some individuals in India pierce both nostrils to cover the costs of an unexpected expense such as a funeral.1 In Western culture, the nose ring was popularized by French songstress Polaire (Émilie Marie Bouchaud), who donned a left nostril piercing while touring the United States in 1913. Nose rings were later worn by American hippies who traveled to India in the 1960s and then adopted by the punk and Goth subcultures in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Today, nose rings are fairly mainstream, worn by individuals in all sectors of life, although this symbol of expressionism is not always embraced.1 In the medical arena, 1 study showed that only 24% and 28% of patients thought that nose piercings were appropriate for physicians and medical students, respectively. Furthermore, only 7% of physicians believed that nose rings were appropriate for physicians or medical students, and working with a physician or medical student who had a nose ring would bother 58% of those surveyed.2 Although the procedure is relatively safe, complications can occur after nose piercing because of the use of unsterile instruments, improper piercing techniques, or inadequate aftercare. There have been reports of postpiercing infections with Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and viral hepatitis, as well as 1 case of infective endocarditis in a patient without a history of congenital heart disease. Other potential adverse effects include bleeding, scarring, and keloids; pyogenic granuloma and basal cell carcinoma have also been reported. Some countries, such as New Zealand and France, require piercers to follow uniform guidelines, although similar regulations have not been established in the United States.1 Nose rings may soon become as commonplace as earrings; therefore, piercers and consumers should be educated about proper technique, hygienic precautions, and potential risks. More general information on piercing practices can be found on the Association of Professional Piercers website.3 Back to top Article Information Contact Dr Ladizinski at the Derpartment of Dermatology, Duke University Medical Center, PO Box 2822, Durham, NC 27710 (barryladizinski@gmail.com). References 1. Stirn A. Body piercing: medical consequences and psychological motivations. Lancet. 2003;361(9364):1205-121512686054PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref 2. Newman AW, Wright SW, Wrenn KD, Bernard A. Should physicians have facial piercings? J Gen Intern Med. 2005;20(3):213-21815836523PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref 3. Mission statement. Association of Professional Piercers website. http://www.safepiercing.org/en/join-the-app/mission-statement/. Accessed September 1, 2012

Journal

JAMA DermatologyAmerican Medical Association

Published: Feb 1, 2013

Keywords: nose

References