Students ask 'Doc' about body piercing, herpes virus

Is it dangerous to pierce different parts of your body?


Potential Pincushion

Anytime you make a puncture wound in the skin there is a potential for infection. Usually the cause is staph and/or strep that live on our skin as opposed to "dirt" in the environment. Infection interferes with wound healing and scarring can occur. Scars can be cosmetically unappealing but also may interfere with bodily functions (i.e. piercing the nipples or urethra it's been done!)

There is probably a good reason that over the centuries people have preferentially pierced earlobes. (They are fleshy with a good blood supply.) The upper part of the ear contains cartilage with a poor blood supply. Infection here can literally destroy the cartilage and deform the whole ear.

If a certain "look" is desired when piercing this part, the potential for deformity is not an aesthetically acceptable trade off. Why not just use those ear bracelet things? Besides that, this is the part of the ear we doctors grab to straighten the ear canal to look inside.

Please leave us an unadorned handle and save your ear.

Piercing the eyebrow area can cause periorbital cellulitis an infection around the eyeball. The blood vessels in this area can lead directly into the brain and surrounding tissue. Therefore, a periorbital infection can be life-threatening.

Is a cold sore on the mouth really herpes? Can it be transmitted during oral sex?


C. R.

In adults a cold sore (fever blister, canker sore) on the outside of the lips is most often Herpes Simplex Virus Type I (HSV I). In children it can be other things such as impetigo a bacterial infection.

Painful sores inside the mouth can be aphthous ulcers (cause unknown), herpes or other viral infections.

Genital Herpes (HSV II) are similar sores found mainly on the genitals. Type I and Type II herpes virus are almost identical and behave the same way. The virus is very transmissable


with direct contact. Therefore, with the practice of oral sex you can transmit Type I herpes to the genital area and Type II herpes to the mouth. Approximately 80 percent of herpes lesions on the lips are actually Type I herpes and 20 percent are Type II.

Recurrent lesions of HSV I or HSV II in either location can occur during illness (hence the term fever blister), local skin trauma (biting lips, vigorous intercourse), sunburn, and periods of psychological stress.

More information about herpes can be obtained at Student Health or Health Promotion in Old Main.

I hear some people refer to the their penis as a "tool." Is this true? If so, does my penis come off and can I use it to do woodworking or fix things around the house?


I admire your resourceful thinking were you thinking of using it as a power tool or perhaps just software? Unfortunately, as you've probably discovered, you can't just jerk it off. You may need professional help. Student Health can provide a Band-Aid and tetanus shot. (By the way, the last patient I had try this was admitted to Urology at the V.A. Hospital and quickly transferred to the Psychiatric Ward).

I hear there are people who will assist you with removal and probably get you on Oprah (Lorena Bobbitt is alive, well and single.)

If you have any questions or concerns about healthy, safe uses of your penis, or any other health or sex related questions write to "Playing Doctor" c/o this newspaper, or drop questions off in the Arizona Daily Wildcat letters to the editor box. Questions may be asked anonymously. Questions are answered by Student Health staff.

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