Understanding the importance of Ear Piercing Safety
Practice Body Piercing Safety
Whether you're piercing your ears, your tongue, or other body parts, you have to consider safety. Choose a licensed piercing studio and take care of the area afterward to prevent an infection.
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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People adorn their bodies in many ways, through hairstyles and hair colors, clothing and accessories, tattoos, and even body piercing. Decorating yourself with body piercing jewelry is a unique method of self-expression, but it can quickly turn into a health problem if a piercing infection develops.
Body Piercing Step-by-Step
Body piercers use a needle to puncture a hole in an area of the body, so that a piece of body piercing jewelry — small hoops, bars, or other decorative pieces — can be inserted into the puncture site. Piercing the ears is extremely common, but eyebrows, nostrils, the navel, and just about any other area of the body can be pierced.
Here's what you can expect if you plan to have a body piercing done:
- The skin, save for a tongue piercing, is cleansed to destroy germs.
- A needle is inserted into the skin to form a hole.
- The piece of sterilized body piercing jewelry is inserted into the hole.
- The skin is cleaned again and the jewelry is fastened or tightened as needed.
The area that is to be pierced isn't typically numbed prior to the piercing, so the procedure can be painful, but it only takes a few seconds.
Avoiding a Piercing Infection
That punctured hole opens the door to a possible infection. You'll need to make sure that you choose a professional body piercer who follows health and safety standards. Check that these safety measures are in place before you agree to be pierced:
- The body piercing studio and all work areas are clean; be wary of any studio with dirt and grime on the floors or elsewhere.
- The body piercer carefully washes her hands with a germ-killing soap before piercing any clients and puts on a clean pair of sterile gloves before working on a new client.
- All piercing instruments are sterilized before every use.
- A new, sterile needle is taken out of the package and used for each client, and needles are never re-used.
- Needles and bloody bandages are properly disposed of in separate waste containers and are not thrown in with other garbage.
Metal allergies are common, so it's also important to ask questions about the types of jewelry that the body piercer uses. You'll want to be sure that nontoxic body piercing jewelry is offered, including those made with the metals titanium, platinum, niobium, or solid gold. Surgical-grade steel posts are also safe to use.
Warning: Don’t Pierce Yourself!
You may be tempted to save yourself money and pierce yourself with just a needle, but the few dollars saved aren't worth the risk.
Professional body piercers must meet strict health codes and follow health and safety regulations for good reason. These regulations are all in place to reduce the risk of infection. These professionals are licensed and taught to perform body piercing properly — education you just don't have. Piercing yourself will increase your risk of developing a serious infection and scarring your skin.
How to Care for a Body Piercing
Before you get pierced, you'll have to head to the doctor for immunizations if yours aren’t current. You'll want to be vaccinated against tetanus and hepatitis B, which can be transmitted through contaminated or dirty needles.
Once you've gotten your body piercing, you should be provided with care instructions to help reduce your risk of infection. These should include advice to:
- Always wash your hands carefully before you touch or clean your piercing to avoid introducing bacteria and germs to the vulnerable skin.
- Gently clean the area once or twice daily with antibacterial soap and thoroughly rinse with plain, clean water.
- Soak the piercing in a saline solution each day, for up to 10 minutes at a time, then rinse carefully.
- Carefully dry the pierced skin with a clean, dry paper towel.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash solution after you eat to keep a mouth piercing clean.
Signs of PiercingTrouble
Health complications that could result include:
An infection may develop at the site of the body piercing and will need prompt treatment. Warning signs of an infection include these symptoms:
- Swelling or redness around the piercing
- Discharge from the punctured skin that is yellow in color or smells bad
An infection requires treatment from a doctor. In some cases, you may require an oral antibiotic; in others, a topical antibiotic ointment may be recommended.
By carefully choosing a professional body piercer and properly caring for your piercing, you can help it heal properly and enjoy sporting your new body piercing jewelry.
Video: WHAT'S INSIDE THE NEEDLE AFTER A PIERCING??
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