A new study found that problems arising from botched body piercings could represent a "substantial burden" on the NHS in the near future.
The study found that one in 10 people had a body piercing other than on the earlobe and that over a quarter of people reported complications such as swelling, infection and bleeding.
The biggest problem seems to be avoiding specialist clinics but piercing themselves or trusting friends or relatives instead. Such behaviour adds risk to hepatitis infections.
More than 10,000 people aged 16 and over had been asked if they had a piercing other than on the earlobe, and if they had suffered any complications as a result. Around 10% reported having some sort of body piercing, women and younger people being most likely to have one. Half of those with complications reported the problems being bad enough to seek further help, and a small number required hospitalization.
Four out of five piercings were done at licensed specialist shops where complications were less likely to happen. A small number of those surveyed have, however, admitted that they had carried out piercings of the tongue, lips and genitals without official expert help - 9% of tongue piercings were carried out this way.
One of the research authors said that if such piercing trend continued, it might be a problem for the NHS. If piercing remained fashionable in the near future, more women will be doing it meaning even more complications.
People need to be educated about the potentially serious nature of a piercing and the importance of using specialist clinics. Since some piercings may take up to 10 months to heal, the risk of infections is greater. If a piercing was carried out abroad or away from regulated clinics, there is a risk of blood-borne viruses.
Experts say that long-term problems could occur if people get a piercing from a non-specialist. This way, they are putting themselves at a high risk of contracting hepatitis B or C, both of which are serious, life-threatening viruses, which they may not know they had contracted until later in life when the damage has already begun.