Body piercings set off security metal detectors

By Sheryl Kay • Published: September 19th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You’re standing in the security line at the airport, the traveler ahead of you enters the metal detector and the alarm goes off. He empties his pockets and removes his belt buckle. But it takes a thorough wanding to reveal the real culprit… body piercings.

Along with heightened security comes James Bond-style technology. Now even the smallest amounts of metal can often be identified when scanned on ultrasensitive settings.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, fourteen percent of men and women ages eighteen to fifty have body piercings. Other research has revealed that half of college students surveyed had piercings in areas other than the earlobes, such as the tongue or navel.

Travelers take note: Officials with the Transportation Security Administration advise you remove body jewelry before flying. Hidden items containing metal, like piercings, could lead to embarrassing pat-downs… and passengers might be asked to remove the items on the spot.

Aside from the downside at the airport, there is another negative to consider: infection. A study of more than ten-thousand people published in the British Medical Journal found that twenty-five percent of piercings, not including those in the earlobe, lead to complications like bleeding, swelling and infection… and sometimes even hospitalization.

If you do opt for a piercing, seek out a professional.

And until those airport alarms stop sounding, passengers might be well-advised to leave the body bling at home.