Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings. Other types include scarification, branding, subdermal implants, scalpelling, shaping (for example tight-lacing of corsets), full body tattoo and body painting.
Body art is also a sub-category of performance art, in which artists use or abuse their own body to make their particular statements. More extreme body art can involve mutilation or pushing the body to its physical limits.
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewellery may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice. Although the history of body piercing is obscured by popular misinformation and by a lack of scholarly reference, ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms by both sexes since ancient times throughout the world.
Ear piercing and nose piercing have been particularly widespread and are well represented in historical records and among grave goods. The oldest mummified remains ever discovered were sporting earrings, attesting to the existence of the practice more than 5,000 years ago. Nose piercing is documented as far back as 1500 BC. Piercings of these types have been documented globally, while lip and tongue piercings were historically found in African and American tribal cultures. Nipple and genital piercing have also been practiced by various cultures, with nipple piercing dating back at least to Ancient Rome while genital piercing is described in Ancient India c. 320 to 550 CE. The history of navel piercing is less clear. The practice of body piercing has waxed and waned in Western culture, but it has experienced an increase of popularity since World War II, with sites other than the ears gaining subcultural popularity in the 1970s and spreading to mainstream in the 1990s.
A hypertrophic scar is a cutaneous condition characterized by deposits of excessive amounts of collagen which gives rise to a raised scar, but not to the degree observed with keloids. Like keloids, they form most often at the sites of pimples, body piercings, cuts and burns. They often contain nerves and blood vessels. They generally develop after thermal or traumatic injury that involves the deep layers of the dermis and express high levels of TGF-β.
When a normal wound heals, the body produces new collagen fibers at a rate which balances the breakdown of old collagen. Hypertrophic scars are red and thick and may be itchy or painful. They do not extend beyond the boundary of the original wound, but may continue to thicken for up to six months. They usually improve over the one or two years, but may cause distress due to their appearance or the intensity of the itching; they can also restrict movement if they are located close to a joint.
Acne vulgaris (or simply acne) is a common human skin disease, characterized by areas of skin with seborrhea (scaly red skin), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pinheads), nodules (large papules), pimples, and possibly scarring. Acne affects mostly skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back. Severe acne is inflammatory, but acne can also manifest in noninflammatory forms. The lesions are caused by changes in pilosebaceous units, skin structures consisting of a hair follicle and its associated sebaceous gland, changes that require androgen stimulation.
Acne occurs most commonly during adolescence, affecting an estimated 70-90% of teenagers. In adolescence, acne is usually caused by an increase in testosterone, which occurs during puberty, regardless of sex. For most people, acne diminishes over time and tends to disappear — or at the very least decreases — by age 25. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take to disappear entirely, and some individuals will carry this condition well into their thirties, forties, and beyond.
Body modification (or body alteration, called body mutilation by detractors) is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or phenotype. It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons. In its most broad definition it includes plastic surgery, socially acceptable decoration (e.g., common ear piercing in many societies), and religious rites of passage (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures), as well as the modern primitive movement.
In contrast to the explicit ornaments, the following procedures are primarily not meant to be exposed per se, but rather function to augment another part of the body, like the skin in a subdermal implant.