Piercing FAQ’s and Troubleshooting
THE HTT GUIDE TO SAFE BODY PIERCING
Wherever you choose to get pierced, we care about you doing it safely! We hope the following information is helpful. Should you have any questions or concerns relating to any body piercing – whatever the cause, or whoever the practitioner – please don’t hesitate to come and see us! We’ll help if we can!
Choosing your practitioner:
- Check that the premises AND practitioners working within the premises are all licensed with the local authority. There is no such thing as a piercing qualification, the local authority will simply grant a license if they are confident that the premises and practitioners are safe and competent to carry out body piercing. In regards to skill – in this industry, experience is everything, ask how long your practitioner has been trading.
- Ensure all work surfaces, couches, sinks, walls etc. have been designed so that they are easily cleaned in the event of a spill or liquid splashes.
- Floors should be slip resistant, and carpets/curtains should be strictly forbidden in treatment rooms.
- Check that a suitable adjustable couch/bench/chair is present in the treatment room, and check that it is wiped down with biocide after each client to eliminate the risk of cross contamination. If in doubt of this practice – ask your artist!
- Products used for cleaning and disinfection should be chosen carefully, to ensure they thoroughly disinfect (similar to an operating theatre), but do not damage the surface or cause abrasion – which could harbour bacteria. Ask about the products used to ensure cleanliness.
- All treatment rooms should contain a sink with hot and cold running water, to ensure the practitioner can easily wash their hands before, during and after each client as required. The taps on the treatment room sink should have a lever to enable the practitioner to turn the tap on and off with their elbows rather than their hands. Alternatively, the tap could be operated by a foot lever. Hands should be dried using paper towels – not a hand dryer.
- A separate pair of gloves should be worn by the practitioner after opening sterile packs, cleaning and marking for the piercing, and just before the piercing procedure. You should see the practitioner use minimum three pairs of gloves throughout your time with them. A piercer’s aseptic technique is a good indication of their general hygiene practice!
- A separate sterilization area should be provided, which should have two separate deep sinks for the exclusive use of washing instruments and equipment. This area must be distinctly separate from the clean treatment rooms.
- The practitioner should have a sharps bin in the treatment room.
- Ask if the practitioner ever uses piercing ‘guns’ as this indicates poor hygiene practices – this is because piercing guns cannot be sterilized. Don’t ever let anyone pierce you with a gun!
- Ask about the studio’s policies. Most responsible body piercers will not perform any piercings on anybody under the age of 13 (for lobes) or 16 (for other areas) as the body is still growing. It is extremely questionable to perform surface, nipple or genital piercings on anybody under the age of 18.
- Ask if the practitioner uses anaesthetics. Strictly speaking, nobody should administer anaesthetics of any kind unless they are medically trained. Aside from the questionable legal implications of administering anaesthetic before performing a piercing, some topical anaesthetics applied by some body piercers are carcinogenic and most aren’t the most hygienic which can cause infection – this can also affect the blood flow to the area, which can sometimes prolong the healing process. If you choose to apply a topical anaesthetic before you go to get pierced, that is up to you and would not discourage most practitioners from performing a piercing on you, however, bear in mind that it could delay the healing and cause some problems and don’t forget – part of having a piercing is the ‘ritual’ of it – the pain is over so quickly, you might just enjoy the adrenaline rush associated with a non-numbed piercing….
- Ask what type of jewellery the practitioner uses for initial piercings. Titanium or niobium is the best industry standard, as it is a very inert metal that very few people are allergic to. This should also ideally be internally threaded as this is the best quality available in the UK and limits tissue damage. Titanium is also non magnetic (and will not set off airport scanners!) whilst containing very few impurities. Implant grade surgical steel is an acceptable alternative (especially for large gauge piercing) provided it is ASTM F136 grade and also providing you do not have a nickel allergy. Solid 14k or 18k gold is acceptable assuming it is from a manufacturer who specifically makes implant grade body jewellery from gold, such as Anatometal, BVLA, Body Gems, LeRoi etc. Be careful with gold – if it is not from one of the above suppliers and especially if it is gold plated it is likely NOT safe for an initial piercing. These materials contain an extremely high percentage of impurities and metal plating wears down very quickly which can then harbour bacteria and presents an infection risk and allergic reaction risk. Real Silver is not safe for a fresh piercing (under any circumstances) and should only be worn for very short duration in a healed piercing. Take a look at our materials guide for more information!
- It is desirable if your practitioner has air purification systems such as Medivents or HEPA filters in place to reduce the number of airborne microorganisms which could present an airborne infection risk.
- Check that the practitioner has an autoclave, has it serviced regularly and has it checked (by third party spore testing) that it actually works!
- If your practitioner is a member of an accredited body such as the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) or similar it gives you peace of mind that they have been peer reviewed and are competent.
Ask about your practitioner’s Cleaning Process
Your practitioner should be more than happy to show you around the sterilization room within their premises – as long as they aren’t mad busy of course! If this is the case, they should be happy to arrange a time and date with you in order to show you the method by which they ensure the jewellery and equipment used for your piercing is absolutely sterile.
Minimum industry standard would suggest the use of a 2 stage cleaning process, which involves using an ultrasonic and an autoclave to sterilize jewellery and equipment.
If possible, a 3 stage cleaning process is much preferred. This would involve the following:
- Cold soak
This involves soaking any re-usable items that come into close contact with client tissue, such as forceps and receival tubes. The cold soak solution contains a chemical which kills any tissue or blood or bacteria/viruses on the equipment – essentially this stage kills, but does not physically clean. The equipment is thoroughly rinsed of all chemicals with fresh water prior to moving onto the next cleaning stage.
The ultrasonic contains a detergent and cleans using vibration to remove debris from equipment at the microscopic level. This process mechanically and chemically cleans the equipment. The equipment is thoroughly rinsed of all chemicals with fresh water prior to moving onto the next cleaning stage.
This uses extreme pressure and heat up to 134°C to fully sterilize and dry the equipment. Every item placed in the autoclave is medically bagged prior to insertion, to ensure that the equipment within remains sterile until the bag is opened just before use.
Before your piercing:
You MUST ensure that all alcohol (and drugs) are OUT of your system before any piercing. You should question the ethics of your practitioner if they consent to pierce you knowing you are under the influence. This isn’t because your practitioner is a kill-joy or T Total, its because you’ll bleed more and prolong your healing time if you have alcohol in your system before you get pierced.
Rest assured, for all NON oral piercings, it should be fine to have a tipple AFTER your piercing. However, for any oral piercings including lip, tongue, frowney, smiley, tongueweb, madonna, medusa, cheek etc, it is very important NOT to drink alcohol after your piercing for at least a few days (weeks in the case of cheek piercings). Alcohol is an irritant, and will make your new oral piercing bleed and swell like a balloon – give it at least 5 days (weeks for cheeks) but listen to your own body – if your still sore and swollen after this time, give yourself more time before having a hard beverage…
When selecting your new piercing – think carefully regarding your lifestyle and if your piercing with fit in around your job, and bear in mind that it may affect sleeping in a certain way for a while. Consider your initial jewellery choice carefully as you may not be able to change it until the piercing is fully healed.
We have a strict code of ethics when it comes to whether or not we will perform a piercing. If we don’t think it will work (has a very high likelihood of rejection due to your anatomy or lifestyle), we will be honest. We would rather turn a piercing away and have a happy healthy client than take your money for an unethical job.
We have a strict age policy for all piercings, tattoos and modifications; which is as follows:
Piercing age requirements:
Earlobes (only) – from age 8+ with parental consent. Please note both the parent and child will need to present valid photo I.D. We will not accept other adults giving consent for a child to have their lobes pierced – strictly a parent must be present. Please note the child needs to have grown enough ears to support a healthy piercing (if their ears are too small they will have wonky/stretched piercings as an adult!) and the child must be mature enough to ask for the piercing him/her self and also explain proper aftercare to us. We reserve the right to politely ask you to return in a few months if we feel your little one isn’t quite ready.
Nipples, genitals, surface piercings, microdermals, cheeks, translobes and large gauge piercing strictly 18+ with valid photo I.D.
All other piercings (including ear cartilage, navels etc) strictly 16+. Parental consent is not required but we will need valid photo I.D.
For Tattoos and all Body Modifications you must be over 18 years of age and we will ask for a copy of valid photo identification – it is the law. Parental consent is not accepted below this age.
There is no law in the UK at present regarding body piercing and age restrictions, however our ethics are in place to ensure our clients have healthy happy piercings. Cartilage piercings (such as upper ear or the nostril) take a very long time to heal, sometimes more than 6 months, during which time the jewellery must not be removed. Until healed, a piercing is an open wound, and all a client has to do to gain an infection is touch a surface containing bacteria, then touch the piercing – this is often a problem in our more youthful clients. Schools often have a problem with visible piercings other than lobes and they often have to be removed before they have healed which sometimes results in extreme scarring. Until the late teens, the body still has significant growing to do so any piercing will likely stretch and migrate before the client reaches adulthood, leaving an undesirable result. This is a particular problem with surface piercings, hence our age restriction of 18+ for these.
If you’re considering a piercing but aren’t quite old enough, once you reach this age we would be delighted to offer you a discount if you are still interested in having this piercing done – please do get in touch at that time!
We made this little section as we like to reassure our clients that every piercing is not without its complications! Relax, we got you covered!
Aftercare Rule Number 1 –
Please do not expect too much too soon!
Please visit: www.holier-than-thou.co.uk/services/piercing/piercing-healing-times for a full list of healing times.
General aftercare for all piercings:
Clean your piercing twice daily using either Stericlens or H2Ocean or a single use sterile saline pod. Make sure your hands are clean before cleaning your piercing!
Spray the solution onto a piece of clean lint free kitchen roll and ‘soak’ the piercing for a couple of minutes. Then use a clean cotton bud dipped in the solution to remove any ‘crusty’ bits of secretion that should now be nice and soft thanks to the soak.
Pat dry with clean kitchen roll following cleaning.
When cleaning, ensure any balls or attachments on your jewellery are tightened as they can come loose easily due to the natural movement of the area.
What should I clean my piercing with?
You want a 0.9% sterile saline solution to clean your piercing with. It should be Sterilised, pre-mixed, and have a sterile delivery method like a can spray that ensures bacteria cannot enter the can once opened.
We recommend Stericlens or H2Ocean. You can purchase this from us in the studio or online.
You can also use single use 0.9% sterile saline eyewash pods (these can be purchased from Boots etc. but work out around 50p each, and as you need to clean your piercing twice daily this is a very costly method.)
DO NOT USE Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Lavender oil, Tea tree oil, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc – DO NOT USE THESE to clean your piercing! These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
DO NOT USE contact lens solution or similar to clean your piercing – these contain preservatives and chemicals not suitable for the skin.
DO NOT USE any bottled re-sealable piercing solutions like those from Claires Accessories or online. Despite the fact that these are marketed as a piercing aftercare solution, they often contain nasty preservatives and do not have a sterile delivery method – this means that once opened they carry a high risk of causing infection due to growth of Pseudomona aeruginosa or Notuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM). The only way to protect yourself against this is to buy a sterilised product, with a sterile delivery method such as H2Ocean or Stericlens.
Whilst it is possible to mix up your own saline solution, we no longer recommend you do so.
Is it infected!?
- Often, what is believed to be an infection is actually a build up of perfectly healthy lymph or fluid – this is absolutely to be expected following a piercing. If you suspect that your piercing might be infected, please pop into the studio or give us a call and we will do our best to advise you on the best course of action. Please don’t ignore a build up of any kind!
- The symptoms of a localized infection include:
- Red skin that’s swollen and tender and quite warm to the touch
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pus that is green in colour and smelly
Infections do happen – at the end of the day, your piercing is a wound and the jewellery in it keeps the wound open for a long time, meaning infection is always a possibility (just touch a surface containing bacteria and then touch the piercing – its that easy!) The body will usually get rid of a minor infection all on its own. IF you are able to take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or arnica, do so according to the manufacturers instructions and continue with hot chamomile compresses (described overleaf) twice daily.
Nip to see your GP right away if your symptoms last for a week or more or get any worse in the meantime. You may just need a course of antibiotics.
If you do decide to visit a walk-in clinic, pharmacy or your doctor, please bear in mind that not all doctors are understanding of body modification and you’d be surprised how many nurses/pharmacists etc advise for you to immediately remove the jewellery without thinking about the consequences. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR JEWELLERY – ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE AN INFECTION! The jewellery provides a drainage point for the infection to exit the body. If you remove the jewellery before the infection has cleared up, you could well trap the infection inside the body leading to excess scarring and taking much longer to heal.
Could it reject!? Is it rejecting!?
Unfortunately this is a possibility with all piercings. If the body decides that it wants the foreign object (i.e. your jewellery) out – it will do its best to produce scar tissue behind the offending object and push it out through the surface of your skin.
Some piercings are very unlikely to reject (ear piercings for example), whereas some are more prone to rejection (such as navels, eyebrows, or surface piercings).
If you see a red line connecting the entry/exit points on any of your piercings, it could well be a sign that it is rejecting. Please pop in and see us for advice.
Often piercings are just irritated and not rejecting, but if you are concerned that there is even a small possibility that it may be rejecting please pop into the studio and let us take a look for you – we may be able to save it by changing the jewellery!
If your piercing is irritated, try the chamomile compress method described below to help calm it down.
Surface piercings often shrink as they heal, this is totally normal but they may need to be downsized – if you experience one ‘leg’ of your surface bar sticking up more than it used to please pop into the studio ASAP so we can downsize it for you. Failure to do so could lead to rejection.
There’s a Bump! What is it & what can I do?
Almost all piercing related bumps that we see are NOT keloid or hyphertrophic scars. They are almost always fluid build-ups and are most commonly seen in cartilage piercings but can occur anywhere. They often secrete fluid that looks like pus if knocked – this does not mean they are infected – they often flare up and go down of their own accord and eventually will go away but you can speed the process up by two methods.
Firstly, ensure the jewellery is not too long and irritating the piercing – if it is, you can try adding a silicone disc to the jewellery to help compress the piercing site and reduce the fluid build up.
Secondly, you can speed up fluid draining by using hot chamomile compresses. Get some pure chamomile tea bags (make sure there is no real tea or caffeine in the teabags), steep the teabag in boiling water for a few minutes then fish it out and let it cool ever so slightly just to a point where you do not burn yourself, but you still want it to be as hot as you can stand. Wrap it around the piercing and hold it there under gentle compress until the teabag has gone stone cold. Repeat. Do this instead of both of your daily cleans and within a few weeks the fluid build-up should have gone. Note it may look worse before it looks better as the fluid starts to drain it may look like a spot – do not pick it – you will just increase scarring and delay healing – it will drain of its own accord as doing the compresses opens up tiny blood vessels in the area and just increases the speed in which the fluid will drain away back into the body.
Scarring – what can I do?
Jewellery in a wound means the body has a lot more work to do to heal. It takes much longer to heal a piercing with jewellery in it than it would a normal wound, and the area will likely swell regularly throughout the healing period. Both of these factors can increase the risk of your body producing excess scarring. This is most common in darker skin types but can affect anyone, anywhere on the body.
Hyphertrophic scarring is a lump of scar that sits above the flat surface of the skin, they are far more common than ‘keloids’ and the two are often mixed up (even by doctors) as they do look very similar, though hyphertrophic scars are smaller and tend to be much easier to treat. Hyphertrophic scars often reduce on their own over time as long as correctly fitting jewellery is worn, and can often also be reduced by massaging the piercing site with vitamin E oil such as bio-oil.
A keloid scar is a very large and usually thick lump of scar tissue that can become several times larger than the original wound. Keloid scars are difficult to treat and cannot be simply ‘cut off’ as the body usually grows another keloid, even bigger than the original.
If you are worried that you may have a hyphertrophic or true keloid scar that isn’t improving in time, visit a dermatologist who may be able to help.
My stretched ear is suddenly SORE and looks weird and lumpy!
If you recently stretched up or have worn a new piece of jewellery or experienced trauma to the ear, it sounds like you may have a blow out – DOWNSIZE IMMEDIATELY (perhaps several sizes!) to a piece of jewellery you’ve worn in the past or something that you know you are not allergic to. If in doubt, something single flared and inert such as borosilicate glass is your best bet.
Clean the area twice daily using Stericlens or H2Ocean as described overleaf. Make sure your hands are clean before doing so!
Once the lobes are no longer sore (it may take a few days or longer for this to happen) start massaging them twice daily with a vitamin E oil such as Bio-oil to improve elasticity and reduce scarring.
Wait AT LEAST 4 weeks before attempting to stretch again and stretch no more than 1mm every 4 weeks. If you believe it was a reaction to the jewellery you wore that caused your blow out, do not attempt to wear that type of jewellery again. Do not wear porous jewellery (such as wood, bone or horn) until the lobes are very well healed.
I’m worried I might be having an allergic reaction to a new piece of jewellery…
An allergic reaction is where your immune system over-reacts when your skin touches a particular material. This can happen with any material. Sometimes the material may not be harmful at all (in the case of titanium, for example) – allergic reactions to metals like this are very rare.
Allergic reactions to more harmful materials such as Nickel (which is present in silver) are much more common as most people’s bodies will be trying to “fight” the material. Remember you can be allergic to ANYTHING – silicone, metals, organics etc. so always pay attention to how your skin reacts to any new piece of jewellery.
Usually within 24 hours an allergy will become apparent.
Contact dermatitis is the main symptom – the skin around the piercing will become red, swollen and unbearably itchy. In more severe cases, the skin can blister, crack and break leaving you open to infection.
If the material causing the allergy is removed, the reaction should cease and the skin should heal in time. Be sure to wear jewellery you know you are not allergic to in the piercing to ensure it doesn’t close down whilst its recovering from the reaction.
Problems with jewellery choices / Does it really matter what material I wear in my body?
Yes! It is vital that you understand the differences in piercing jewellery materials and quality to make sure you are not risking your long-term health, and also risking your appearance (some materials can permanently discolor the skin or cause a nasty reaction which can lead to extensive scarring). Be sure to buy quality jewellery form a reputable supplier and take a read of our Materials Guide for more information about what materials jewellery can be made from and which choices are good and bad for various reasons and stages of healing.
If you have ANY concerns, questions or queries PLEASE get in touch.
If you are ever in any doubt in regards to you stretch (regardless of where it was done or what advice you have been given) please pop in and see us! We will always help as much as we can. : )
A lobe with a permanent blow-out. This could have been avoided had the wearer downsized immediately after the blow-out happened.
Stretching and Large Gauge Piercing
Stretching involves enlarging a piercing over time to allow gradually larger and larger pieces of jewellery to be worn until the desired size is achieved. Once the piercing is healed, larger gauge jewellery can be fitted with the aid of an insertion taper and some lubricant. Stretching is most common in the earlobes but many people also stretch the lip, septum, tongue, navel, cheek etc. Cartilage piercings are more complicated to stretch as they are more prone to scarring – dermal punching yields a better result if large gauge piercings are desired in cartilage – please chat to us about this if it something you are interested in.
Stretching a piercing is more time demanding than most other body modification and requires dedication to the way of life. Do not stretch any part of your body unless you are certain you will be happy with it forever (or want to undergo our reconstruction service!) Some people can stretch their ears to 8mm-10mm and still have enough tissue elasticity to go back to normal if the jewellery is removed, but there are no guarantees that this could happen thus this should be seen as a permanent modification.
How to stretch safely:
The very safest method of stretching is to stretch naturally – this is where you wear a piece of inert jewellery such as borosilicate glass for a few weeks/months until it feels ‘loose’, then you can put the next size up in without feeling any discomfort whatsoever.
Assuming you do not want to naturally stretch, existing jewellery should be removed and the area cleaned and dried. Water-based lubricant should then be applied onto the tip of the taper, inserted skinny-end-first into the fistula and gently pushed through in a twisting motion. Once the thickest end of the taper is flush with the surface of the lobe, the jewellery can be aligned and guided through (resulting in the taper being removed and the jewellery sitting in the stretched area). Clean the area thoroughly to remove any traces of lubricant. Treat the stretch like a fresh piercing for the next 2-4 weeks and then massage daily with a vitamin E oil such as Bio Oil to increase moisture and suppleness in the area. Do not use petroleum based lubricants such as Vaseline to stretch your lobes.
The jewellery you choose to wear in a fresh stretch is really important! Ideally you want it to be single flared and inert such as borosilicate glass or titanium or PTFE. As long as you do not have any nickel allergies implant grade surgical steel is an acceptable alternative. Do not wear any double flared or porous or organic jewellery such as wood, horn or bone in a fresh stretch.
Please try to ensure a piece of jewellery is worn in the stretch at all times, if jewellery needs to be removed for any reason, it is advisable to wear a flesh coloured retainer to ensure your stretch does not heal up or shrink down.
Please always follow the rule of thumb – stretch no more than 1mm every 4 weeks. Thus if you want to achieve a 2mm stretch, ensure it is at least 8 weeks since you last stretched the area (though please note we really do recommend you stretch no more than 1mm each time). If you plan to stretch a fresh piercing, ensure it has been healed for at least 8 weeks before you start to stretch, then follow the rule of thumb.
Stretching an area to quickly or prematurely can result in tearing of the fistula or a ‘blow out’. This leads to a build up of scar tissue (usually at the back of the fistula). If you stretch improperly and get a blowout or very thin lobes, downsize your jewellery immediately (perhaps several sizes) to reduce pressure on the area and massage daily with oil and allow to fully heal for at least 8 weeks before attempting to stretch again. Hopefully by doing this the body will reabsorb the scar tissue. If you are concerned a blowout may occur again, or if your lobes are too thin, but you want to upsize, please speak with us about ear scalpelling as this could be an option for you.
How to care for and things to expect from your stretch:
- Soon after the stretch, it may bleed a little if knocked. This is common and perfectly normal! Just apply some sterile gauze and pressure for a couple of minutes until the blood clots.
- For the first week, expect the area to be red, swollen, tender, puffy, and sometimes bruised.
- • Expect the piercing to secrete clear/white/pale yellow fluid throughout the healing process. Many people mistake this fluid as a sign of infection – please don’t worry. A green smelly fluid indicates infection. Stretches can smell if they are not kept clean – this does not mean they are infected! Ensure they are cleaned twice daily with an antibacterial handwash and flushed with clean water. Alternatively use H2Ocean or Stericlens twice daily.
Things to avoid:
- Soap, shampoo, and chemical residues from showering/bathing. Be sure to rinse the piercing with clean water following a shower or a bath!
- Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc –DO NOT USE THESE to clean your piercing! These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
- Playing or fiddling with the piercing using dirty fingers. This will likely increase healing time, cause it to swell, and/or cause an infection.
- Moving or twisting the piercing whilst dry. If any secreted discharge has hardened on
- the jewellery, turning it may tear the fistula or surrounding tissue and prolong the healing process.
- Knocking the piercing or causing any trauma.
- Swimming pools for the first week following a stretch.
If stretching is too labour intensive, and you would like a large hole right off the bat, we will be happy to pierce at large gauge (up to 6mm) for you. This option is a safe way to achieve a large gauge piercing much faster than stretching. Large gauge piercing does not remove tissue in the way a dermal punch would (see modifications) but as with a stretched piercing – there is no guarantee the tissue would shrink down to how it was originally.
*We can stretch for you!*
If you have ANY concerns, questions or queries PLEASE get in touch.
If you are ever in any doubt in regards to you stretch (regardless of where it was done or what advice you have been given) please pop in and see us! We will always help as much as we can. : )
What are microdermal implants?
These are a cross between an implant and a piercing. Microdermals are a T shaped piece of jewellery, the base plate rests under the skin and a thin post protrudes through the surface – a variety of attachments can be screwed into the post – these attachments are interchangeable. All our Microdermals are made of ASTM F136 implant grade titanium.
These take no longer to install and are no more painful than a ‘normal’ piercing, and have the added benefit of being able to be positioned almost anywhere on the body.
Microdermals are essentially surface piercings, as such there is the possibility that the body may attempt to reject them if they are exposed to stresses such as excess movement or knocks (catching a microdermal placed in the nape with a hairbrush for example!) They occupy a much smaller surface area of skin than a traditional surface bar, as such have a much higher success rate.
We call these ‘semi-permanent piercings’ but should you need your Microdermal removing, these are removed as easily as they are installed but do need to be removed by a professional. If you need to have a microdermal removed please pop into the studio – just ask!
Why Guns are Bad and why we do NOT use them (not even for earlobes…)
- Bloodborne disease transmission: Piercing guns cannot be autoclaved or sterilized appropriately. Aside from the day-to-day infection risk, say the gun was used on someone with Hepatitis B – the gun fires, this aerosolises the blood, the blood lands on the gun, that’s insufficiently cleaned, then used on the next person. Hepatits B lives for up to a week in dry blood outside a host. Ick.
- Blunt force trauma: Piercing guns force a blunt stud through your skin like a bullet wound. The scarring caused by guns is astonishing. This is bad enough in an earlobe, but in upper ear piercings it can actually separate the skin, cartilage and perichondrium (the layers in your upper ear) causing fluid to fill into the tissue, which can even cause cartilage collapse or “cauliflower ears” – this is permanent and irreversible.
- Pain – blasting a hole through your skin with a large blunt stud is excruciating by comparison to a swift, sharp piercing from a professional piercing needle which causes as little trauma as possible.
- Poor quality jewellery – Most gun piercing studs cost only a few pence per pair wholesale. This is only made possible because of the very poor quality metal they are made from (almost always ‘plated’ alloy metals) – see our materials guide as to why this is wholly inappropriate for a fresh piercing and putting your health at risk, not to mention frankly ripping you off! Implant grade Titanium and Niobium jewellery can cost in excess of £10 per piece even at wholesale without a name brand – you get what you pay for.
- Post-piercing infection risk: The butterfly design on the back of a gun piercing stud collects blood, lymph and other secretions that will normally come out of a fresh piercing. This is very difficult to clean properly and this build up of body fluid will become a breeding ground for bacteria and presents a huge infection risk. The design also means you have to spin or twist the stud to avoid your skin growing over the butterfly – the act of spinning a piece of jewellery in a fresh piercing tears the fistula and delays healing whilst increasing scarring.
- Dangerous aftercare advice – offering re-sealable solutions such as “Studex” presents a huge infection risk. A solution that once opened is exposed to bacteria in the air, is then kept with you at room temperature for weeks on end – it creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that you are then expected to wipe on a healing piercing.
- Most people do not have tiny skinny earlobes: The studs are a standard length and whilst they’re an ideal length for most healed lobes, they do not allow for initial swelling which can cause the skin to rupture and cause a host of problems, including delayed healing and increased infection risk due to it being almost impossible to clean around the piercing.
- Badly Uneven piercings – it is very difficult to ‘aim’ a gun accurately, the inaccuracy can be as much as 6mm depending on the gun design. It is therefore very difficult to get even piercings.
- Lack of piercer knowledge – most retail establishments offering gun piercings give staff just a few short hours (or even minutes) of training. A body piercer will train for up to (and exceeding) 3 years before being considered ‘qualified’ to safely carry out piercings without the near supervision of a mentor. Do not let someone inexperienced carry out your piercing! Not only could it mean uneven piercings as a result, lack of understanding of cross contamination could put your health or even your life at risk!
These following photos were taken of piercings performed with a piercing gun – these were NOT performed at Holier Than Thou but are intended as a visual guide to show the real problems associated with piercing guns:
Awful piercing placement, performed much too shallow. If these were left and the client attempted to heal them, they would almost certainly have rejected leaving atrocious scarring.
A tragus pierced with a gun. Guns cause massive trauma and the jewellery is not sufficient to allow for swelling. This client also suffered an infection and extreme scarring (the piercing was performed at a terrible angle and could not be saved).
Cartilage collapse caused by a gun piercing. There is nothing aside from plastic surgery that could improve this appearance.
A pair of ordinary lobes that were pierced with a gun. This client experienced too much pain and swelling from the gun piercing, so removed the jewellery after just one week of being pierced. These photos were taken by our artists 6 months after the jewellery was removed, when the client came to Holier Than Thou to have her ears re-pierced. There is still far too much scarring present to re-pierce the exact same area, and this client was unfortunately advised to wait to see if the scarring could improve with time. This could take months or years, or could never be possible.
Never, ever, let anyone pierce you with a gun!