Written answers

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Department of Health

Infectious Diseases Incidence

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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178. To ask the Minister for Health his views on the Irish Dental Association's warning that oral piercings pose a significant risk to health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47320/13]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Body Piercing has become increasingly popular and socially acceptable in recent years. The number of premises providing such services throughout Ireland has also greatly increased. The risks associated with body piercing can range from acute infection to allergic reactions. There is also a risk of hepatitis B and C and HIV with all piercing. Oral piercings pose particular risks which include tooth damage, airway obstruction, gum swelling and injury. I would encourage anyone who is experiencing any of those symptoms to visit their dentist or GP.

There is no legislation in Ireland specifically regulating body piercing business. However, these businesses are required to comply with general public health and safety legislation in the same way as any other business. In addition, under the Infectious Diseases Regulations, 1981, a Medical Officer of Health, or an Environmental Health Officer is empowered where there is reason to believe that a suspected case of an infectious disease or a probable source of infection exists, to take such steps as are necessary for investigating the nature and source of such infection.

High standards of hygiene are necessary when performing body piercing in order to minimise the risks for both the person carrying out the body piercing and the client. Standard Infection Control Precautions were developed for the health care setting but they can and should be applied to any settings where there is a potential for persons to be exposed to blood or other body fluids including body piercing premises. It is also advisable that anyone carrying out body piercing receive the hepatitis B vaccination.

My Department is reviewing policy regarding body piercing. In the first instance, the focus is on the development of “good practice” guidelines for persons carrying out body piercing rather than legislation. The main objective of the guidelines is to encourage best hygiene practice by body piercers.


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