As a body piercer I am constantly surprised at how casual people can be about the whole profession.
On nearly a daily basis I have customers refer to the whole experience as “sure it’s just a piercing” when I am explaining how to look after their new piercing, and I have found that people are just as relaxed about who they let pierce them, i.e.: people piercing with guns, who ever offers the cheapest rates, or the even more surprising are the people who let friends TRY and pierce them.
I will address the whole piercing gun situation in another blog post so keep an eye out for that, for now I will address the other issues.
Because body piercing is an unregulated industry a lot of cheap piercers tend to operate under the illusion that there are no regulations, just to clear it up for you there are regulations, quite a lot actually but they just aren’t enforced in Ireland at present so anybody that isn’t operating under these specific rules and laws are free and clear to get away with it, so being casual about who pierces you is actually quite dangerous because as with any surgical procedure there are a lot of risks involved, These risks can be anything from irritation to infection to hepatitis and hiv.
One thing I always tell our customers who are moving abroad or going to college in other counties who are likely to get piercings when away is to ask questions, these questions are vital.
1. What metal they pierce with.
2. Has it been autoclaved (sterilised).
3. Have they completed health and safety courses.
4. What kind of training do they have?
5. How long has that training been?
The metal they use is very important, Literally all a body piercer should be using to pierce with is titanium, if they are using anything else just leave, I’ve often asked piercers that have been piercing for years what they use and I get the same answer about 7 times out of 10, high quality steel. For years this was illegal under the EU NICKEL DIRECTIVE; in recent years the EU REACH Regulation 1907/2006 has relaxed these restrictions slightly, however it remains highly inadvisable to be pierced with anything other than high-grade titanium, mostly due to the high occurrence of Nickel allergies (around 1 in 10 people suffers from this). Basically steel has a high content of nickel (this includes surgical steel), this nickel will release into the body while healing if you are pierced with steel preventing the piercing from healing while also heavily irritating the skin, in some cases leading to infection. I have heard of piercers saying they are piercing with titanium when they are actually using steel so just like you would choose a tattoo artist research your body piercer. Remember cheap isn’t good and good isn’t cheap, special offers are fine but it’s just like anything, if your cheap all the time on everything something has to be compromised.
If the jewellery hasn’t been autoclaved then your dancing with the devil himself, All piercing jewellery has to be autoclaved prior to use, they will be individually pouched and there will be instructions on the pouch to let you know if it has been sterilised properly or not, ask to see the pouch and read it.
The health and safety training is a big one, if they haven’t completed blood borne pathogen training then they have no right going near you with a needle, there will be a cert on the wall of they have completed this.
Ask your piercer how long they have been piercing including training and how many times they have performed your specific piercing, though they can lie most often they won’t, There is nothing wrong with being pierced by an apprentice, I am very grateful for every single customer I’ve ever had especially when I started my training, a qualified piercer should be observing all early piercings and at least be present for all piercings in around the first year. What really annoys me a lot is people asking me to train them how to pierce and tell me they have a few weeks free in the summer or a few months between courses. It takes YEARS of training to be a piercer, just like plumbing or carpentry or any specialist jobs. I’m sure a first year apprentice carpenter can hang a door but you’re not going to get them to fit out your whole house. Though there are no apprenticeships in Ireland at present, apprentice like training should be carried out on all piercers in shop.
The last and most shocking thing I want to discuss here is people letting friends pierce them or a dope with a needle kit that’s willing pierce you in your house or in a field or anywhere at all really, It’s shocking to me that when the average person on the street thinks you sterilise something by putting it in boiled water from the kettle or burn it with a lighter that you will let this person pierce you. That is not how you sterilise, I will not tell you how to sterilise but that will not clean bacteria off a bar, yes they will mess it up, yes it will hurt a lot, yes you will be coming to me to try fix it, most often that is done by me taking it out, letting it heal for 6 weeks and then piercing it properly for you, and that is the best case scenario, the worst case is the same as above, infections, hepatitis, aids
I don’t mean to be a kill joy or sound like an ass but piercings aren’t very expensive but they are very dangerous, please get them done right by a trained professional 🙂