Nose Piercing Leaves 21-year-old Woman Paraplegic

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A stock image of a nose piercing after doctors believe the procedure left Layane Dias paralyzed. Getty Images

A 21-year-old woman has spoken of the "unbearable" pain she experienced as she gradually became paraplegic after she got her nose pierced.

Last summer, Layane Dias, from the Brazilian capital city of Brasilia, started to be hit by pains across her body, she told BBC News. A few weeks later, she could no longer feel her legs. Eventually, she lost all feeling in her body from the chest down, she said.

After several trips to the doctor, she was diagnosed with a Staphylococcus aureus infection caused by a bacteria which can lurk in the nasal passage.

In June, a month before she began experiencing the debilitating symptoms, Dias had her nose pierced. Doctors believe this is how the bacteria entered her body.


A post shared by Layane Dias __ (@layaanedias) on

By mid-July, the tip of her nose had become red and she came down with a fever. As Dias' condition worsened, her mother had to help her bathe. Before long, the pain had become "unbearable," she told BBC News. Dias was rushed to hospital and hooked up to a catheter as she lost control of her bladder.

Doctors were uncertain whether she had cancer, or Guillain-Barre syndrome: the rare auto-immune disorder which last year left a 22-year-old U.S. teacher paralyzed.

Tests revealed Dias had a blood infection, while scans showed Dias had pus pressing against three of her spinal vertebra.

Oswaldo Ribeiro Marquez, the surgeon who removed the fluid, told BBC News he hasn't seen a case like Dias in his 15-year-long career. He said it was "very probable and plausible" that the piercing caused the infection which triggered her paraplegia, but this would need to be confirmed by tests.


A post shared by Layane Dias __ (@layaanedias) on

Dermatologist Alessandra Romiti told BBC News that complications from piercings are extremely rare. However, she stressed the importance of piercing shops being sanitary, and clients keeping the site clean.

It remains unclear if Dias will be able to walk again. She said she was at first "devastated" by this prospect, but has since met other men and women who do not have the use of their legs and is optimistic about life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria lives in the noses of around 30 percent of people. The resulting infection is often called a staph infection.

In the majority of cases, carriers don't fall ill. However, the bacteria can be dangerous if it enters the bloodstream. This can lead to the development of conditions including bacteremia; sepsis; pneumonia; a heart valve infection called endocarditis; and the osteomyelitis bone infection.

While everyone can develop a staph infection, those with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, vascular disease, eczema, and lung disease are at greatest risk, according to the agency.