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Disclaimer: The content in this post is for informational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals.

by Eric “Sque3z” Anderson, BSHS, MPH-CHE

Once again it’s the season of cheer, vegan eggnog, multiple gatherings and getting together with family and friends. For most, it is also the time of receiving lots of gifts as well! This year along with all the new gadgets, the newest iPhones, or body piercing gift certificates you may be getting from your closest confidants; this is unfortunately a year with a high probability you may be getting a little something extra. This winter, your chances of getting a nasty virus is as high as it has been since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

As most of you have heard, we are amid what is being dubbed a “tripledemic.” This means there are multiple viruses floating around in our community that you should be aware of. Since most of us know many who have been sick already this year, we’re hoping everyone stays aware and continues to be diligent to avoid catching one of these viruses during this holiday season.

In any professional piercing studio, like New Flower, it is the job of your piercer to make you aware of issues that may arise with your new piercing. Many of you have heard our speeches on how to take care of your piercing, what to use when cleaning your piercings, and you have probably heard at one point or another to not go into the ocean when your piercing is new. Many of you give your undivided attention and we cannot thank you enough for following those very important guidelines. 

Along with your aftercare and how to take care of your new adornment, it is also our job to make you aware of lesser known circumstances that may result in a delay of healing. Unfortunately, one of these circumstances is being sick.

Right now, despite of what is being said in the media, by our politicians, your family or friends; and contrary to popular belief, we have a pandemic that is still in full effect. The cases of COVID in Los Angeles County are currently at an all-time high since the last surge. We are currently seeing an increase of a nearly 25-28% increase of COVID cases, in recent weeks, in nearly every county in the state that have been identified as the new BQ.1 and BQ.11 strains, (CDC, 2022. Retrieved from https://covid19.ca.gov/state-dashboard/#latest-update).

In fact, they are being classified as “highly contagious.” If this information is not enough to give you pause, perhaps the numbers of COVID hospitalizations having gone up 100% from December 6th to December 13th will give you even a bigger pause and will absolutely be a reason to be extra careful when you are out in the world, (CDC, 2022. Retrieved from https://covid19.ca.gov/state-dashboard/https://testing.covid19.ca.gov

COVID-19 Cases Dashboard v2.0 – CA OpeNn Data | Tableau Public).
Additionally, we are seeing the cases of the common flu skyrocket at an all-time high as well. Cases of Influenza A and B are being seen around the nation at a near 25% increase of cases since last week, (CDC, 2022. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm). In fact, this year we have already seen 8.7 million cases of influenza and nearly 780,000 people have been hospitalized, (CDC, 2022. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm). Unfortunately, while I compose this post, it’s only the middle of December. So, the winter is looking like it is going to turn out to be a very big challenge, health-wise, for many. As a result of both the flu and COVID cases increasing daily, the local hospitals and health clinics are at capacity and cannot handle anymore patients. 

It is no surprise that the medical system has been strained beyond its capacity in all aspects from the last three years of the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, along with the now increasing numbers of COVID, as well as influenza A and B, we are also seeing an increase of RSV both in infants and in those who are over the age of 65 as well. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV, is a respiratory virus that typically infects patients who are infants and for those who are immunocompromised and/or over the age of 65. RSV is a virus that presents as being the common cold. Most of the symptoms include a runny nose, cough, general malaise, fever, sneezing, and a decrease in appetite, according to the CDC. 

Many people recover from this virus, but if left untreated, it can result in some very bad medical results. We are seeing our pediatric ICUs and pediatric hospital units at capacity across the nation coupled with a shortage of very important over the counter (OTC) medication that should be available at our local pharmacies. Medications such as liquid cold and flu, nasal decongestants, cough medicine, and fever reducers are all in short supply and like I said, it’s already shaping up to be a very difficult winter surge.

Since all the above viruses affect the respiratory system, one of the main problems is that it is very difficult to decipher which virus you have. In fact, it is absolutely possible that may have the common cold, the flu, and COVID at the same time. As scary as that may sound, this year it is very important that you monitor your health, the health of others who may be around you, and if you have been around those who are sick, you take the necessary precautions to ensure you and your health are taken care of. 

This is especially true if you fall into a category of one who is immunocompromised and/or you have someone around that is immunocompromised as well. If you are sick and you have received a new piercing recently, as you heal (or you even have an old piercing), you may experience several issues at the piercing site. You may start to see issues such as swelling, redness, discomfort, itching, or you may even experience unexpected discharge from the piercing site.

For most, the body is capable of taking steps to heal itself. When someone is sick It may seem as though a piercing has become irritated or inflamed. But, if any issues arise, your immune system may be trying to get rid of a virus. So, when you are sick and you cough or sneeze, your nose runs, you have a fever, or your piercings become inflamed, this is what may be happening. Being an amazing self-regulating machine, your immune system may be trying to expel the virus. Yes, even if it is through your piercings!

If you find yourself in this predicament, it is suggested that you continue to rest, continue to take your vitamin C supplements, and you may consider taking a zinc supplement as well. All these steps will increase your system’s ability to fight the virus and you ultimately aid yourself in the recovery process.

If you are not sick, please make sure you are up-to-date with current vaccinations. The bivalent COVID boosters are available at no cost. Likewise, the flu vaccination is available at no cost. We also know that pandemic fatigue is real, and  some people  prefer not to continue wearing mask, but they do help, so does being in well ventilated areas, and if you are in a large crowd or have sick family members around, we highly suggest you keep your mask on during that time and lastly, keep your hands clean by washing or at the very least keeping a hand sanitizer available. We are always here to help resolve your piercing issues. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance during this holiday season. From the New Flower Family to yours, “Happy Holidays!!!”

In Good Health,

Eric “Sque3z” Anderson, BSHS, MPH-CHE

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