Piercing Gun & You

Piercing gun and you by SxEryn at TongueStud.com

You see them every time you walk through your local shopping mall: piercing kiosk full of cheap value jewelries, stores such as Claire’s who pierce their customers for free so long as they purchase their earrings. Untrained, unprepared employees force jewelries through people’s skin with piercing guns and then tell them extremely harmful information about caring for their freshly pierced holes. Most of us know someone who has paid for this type of service, some of us maybe victim to this ourselves. Many loving, however ignorant, parents even go so far as to have their infants’ ears pierced in this way, never knowing the dangers that these piercing guns, their handlers, and their follow up advice pose to them – the misinformed public.

What do HIV, hepatitis B and C have in common? They are all diseases which are transferred through the blood. You would think that the spread of blood borne pathogens would be a primary concern for those in the body modification business; and for most credible piercers, it is. The spread of these diseases can be easily prevented by the use of single use needles and latex gloves, a sterile environment, and most importantly: an autoclave machine. An autoclave machine is a device that sterilizes metal tools meant to be used on or in the body through pressure or steam. Many people would be surprised to find out that piercing guns, however, can not be sterilized in any way. The way piercing guns work is that they force a relatively dull earring through skin tissue. The only interchangeable piece in this equipment is the earring itself, which means there are dozens of metal and plastic parts on these guns which constantly come into contact with blood and open wounds, but are never, ever, cleaned. Sure, one might remember a time in which the operator wiped it down with an antiseptic wipe before use, but this practice is inadequate. What do you think happens when the earring tears through the skin? Blood sprays, it becomes airborne, and gets into unreachable areas of the gun which will eventually come into contact with someone else’s body.

I had to take a sanitation course for my major in college, and the reading material stated that there are groups of people who will always be at a higher risk for contracting diseases. The larger of these groups are infants because their immune system has not fully developed. Now with all the information I’ve given you about the inability to sterilize these piercing guns, I want you to think about how many babies you’ve seen screaming in the mall, squirming on their parents adoring lap, as they allowed some inexperienced teenager pierce their babies’ ears with unclean equipment.

On the subject of inexperienced teenagers, wouldn’t one expect the people operating these machines to be certified in some way? Or at least be made aware of the risks and dangers that this form of piercing can pose? The only requirement that an employee of one of these establishments needs to meet is that they are 18 years of age or older. They are given an instruction booklet, and the only practice or training they receive is to operate this piercing gun on sponges. There have been instances where employees illegally performed such piercings on other parts of the body besides the earlobes, forcing dull piercing studs through their customer’s nostrils, eyebrows, and even nipples.

The dullness of the jewelry which is used to penetrate the body when using this machine is despicably dull. The post, although pointed, is nowhere near sharp enough to make a clean smooth cut through the skin like a hollow piercing needle will. Instead the effect on the body is more of a “crush injury” which can cause damage to the skin tissue and cartilage and swelling to the affected area. You may have heard the term “blunt force trauma”? Well, this is on an extremely commercialized level. In addition to the jewelries’ lack of sharpness is the lack of quality material they are made of. Most ear piercing studs aren’t made of material certified by the FDA as safe for long term implant in the human body, which can prolong healing and aggravate the client’s ears.

The follow-up advice which is given to the customers is just as dangerous as the procedure itself. It is a common misconception that one must remove the jewelry in order to clean it, which should never, ever be done. A freshly pierced hole should never be removed, rotated, touched, turned, picked at, adjusted for any reason. In the healing process, the skin needs to develop a fistula, a sort of skin tube, around the jewelry. Rotating the jewelry can have the same effect as picking a scab off a normal wound; it will just reopen over and over so it takes much longer to heal. Rotating or turning jewelry only serves to prolong and complicate the healing, and can even lead to it being rejected from the body altogether.

It is terrible to think that we would put our children through all this torture with no rhyme or reason to it. For an adult to get a piercing gives them a sense of individuality, or a way to be more fashionable and keep up with current trends; however, for a child to get pierced is simply irresponsible. They lack both the ability to care for their own body or rightly give consent for their parents to alter it for sheer purpose of fashion.