Warning over ‘fake’ tongue piercings issued as magnets pose risk of ‘surgery or death’

Fake tongue piercings that use magnets are causing some young people to undergo surgery, according to a new campaign.

The trend uses magnets to imitate tongue piercings which can lead to serious infection, lifelong digestive disorders, or even death.

The #SafeFashion campaign has been launched today by the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

It appeals to young people and their parents to learn about the jewelery’s dangers.

The magnets can detach and be swallowed, which has led to instances requiring surgery, giving rise to serious complications and the risk of death, Wales Online reported.

When two or more of the small ball magnets are swallowed, they can stick together, causing damage to the digestive system.

Fake tongue piercings use magnets to mimic the look of the jewelery

A magnet in one loop of the bowel will be attracted to another in a different loop and pull the two together.

This traps parts of the digestive system between the magnets, cutting off blood flow and rapidly killing intestinal tissue.

Created as part of the #NilByMouth campaign, #SafeFashion aims to use social media to spread awareness of the dangers around faking a piercing with ball magnets.

“We anticipate that more injuries are likely to occur from magnets being used as fake tongue piercings, which is why we recommend that older children and their families are made aware through our #SafeFashion campaign how dangerous magnets can be if swallowed,” said RoSPA’s Public Health Adviser, Ashley Martin.

“Magnets stick together and cut off blood supply, causing tissue to die. We’re warning parents and teenagers to take real care when buying products containing magnets.”

How many magnet injuries have there been?

UK injuries from magnets are not reported systematically.

However data has been submitted to us by one hospital detailing 19 cases over a twelve-month period (starting in January 2019 and ending in January 2020) where children had ingested magnets.

Eleven of these children were over 10 and the remaining eight children were under five years old.

Three of the 19 cases required surgery.

A group of four hospitals in the South East of England have reported 52 cases over a five-year period between 2016 and 2020.

There was a five-fold increase during this period – 42 percent of these cases required surgery.

How can I keep my child safe from swallowing magnets?

Keep all products containing high strength magnets out of reach of young children.

Make sure that older children are aware of the dangers of using magnets as jewelery products or as “fake” tongue or facial piercings.

What should I do if my child swallows magnets?

If you think your child may have swallowed magnets, seek medical advice immediately.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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