Thinking of getting a piercing? Then you'd better get all the facts.

Piercers should wear latex gloves and only use packaged sterilised needles

What does it mean?

This means piercing a hole in a body part for adornment or decoration.

How are piercings done?

Ear piercing is often done using a piercing gun. Other piercings are done with a hollow needle.

Does it hurt?

Yes. How much it hurts depends on your pain threshold. It's against the law for a piercer to give you an anaesthetic injection. They can use creams, wipes or sprays to numb the area, but this makes infection more likely. Piercings are generally quite quick though.

Will the piercing go gammy?

They can - the healing times for body piercings range from a month to a year. In that time if you don't keep your piercing clean you could get a bacterial infection. If you're careful with it and follow the piercer's advice, the risk is greatly reduced. There's also a risk of scarring.

Are there any other side effects?

The most common one is regret. A permanent hole as a reminder of something we've changed our minds about. Think about what you were wearing five years ago - would you be seen in that now? Think carefully before you go through with it.

Infected piercings can go nasty - in extreme cases they can cause abscesses, blood infections and even the need for skin grafts. Genital piercings can make weeing or having sex difficult and painful. If the needle used is dirty, you're at risk from Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV so finding a reputable piercer is important.

Can I pierce myself with a needle?

You're much more likely to get an infection or scar if you self-pierce.

Where should I go?

Shop around for a good piercing studio. The right one will look clean and hygienic and most will have a book of photos of previous customers' piercings.

Check that the piercers wear disposable latex gloves and only use brand new packaged sterilised needles.

Some local councils keep registers of approved piercers. Give them a call or check their website.

After your piercing, you should be given a guide that explains how to keep the piercing sterile.

I definitely want a piercing

Good, reputable piercers should refuse to pierce anyone under 16 without their parent being present. Nor will they pierce anyone on the nipples or genitals before they are 18.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.