ONE in four body piercings develop an infection because they are not properly looked after or the equipment used is not clean.

That is the shocking statistic at the heart of a campaign being launched in Bolton to warn young people about the potential dangers of piercings.

NHS Bolton, Bolton Council and Bolton Safeguarding Children Board started the drive after discovering a lack of safety information about body piercing.

Modern technology, in the form of quick response (QR) codes read by mobile phones is being used to direct young people to the website

It features information about what to expect from piercing studios, how to look after a piercing and what to do if it becomes infected.

Posters with the QR codes are being displayed in schools, youth centres, piercing shops and cinemas.

It is not illegal for under 16s to get a piercing, but a good studio will contact a parent or guardian for their consent.

Jan Hutchinson, director of public health for Bolton, said: “It is crucial that young people know just what they’re taking on when getting a piercing. As with any surgical procedure, there’s always the risk of infection. This can be vastly reduced if a piercing is properly looked after.

“This campaign aims to give young people the full facts about the risks involved and how to look after themselves.”

Cllr Linda Thomas said: “This is a vital campaign, which highlights the importance of making sure that piercings are carried out safely.”

Stef’s Custom Studio, in Newport Street, Bolton, is backing the campaign. There, staff will only give piercings to under 16s if they are with a parent or have their consent.

Manager Mike Frankum said: “Body piercings have become very fashionable and unfortunately young people sometimes don’t consider the consequences of getting a piercing.

“We know young people will go somewhere else for a piercing when we turn them away. We want to give them an idea of what is safe and how to look after a piercing if they do decide to get one.

“It can be very dangerous to go somewhere which isn’t sterile and they risk catching hepatitis or other diseases.”