What are the Real Risks of Body Piercing? — Advice for Parents & Teens

Are you or your teenager considering a body piercing? Is it difficult to see eye-to-eye on this subject, or are you just not sure what the real risks of body piercing are? Sometimes it’s hard to separate the facts from the myths surrounding body modification. When that happens, it can make it even harder for parents and teenagers to come to an agreement on whether a body piercing is an acceptable form of self-expression.

First, you should understand that the risks of body piercing are very real. There are genuine problems that can and do arise, and these shouldn’t be ignored. On the other hand, by taking certain precautions and taking proper care of your piercings, you can minimize your chance of having a problem and greatly increase the chances that you will be one of the millions of people who will end up with a healthy, normal piercing.

What are the health risks of body piercing?

Infection. Without proper care, infection can lead to scarring and even blood poisoning. Infections of piercings are unattractive and can be very dangerous.
Allergic Reaction. Some people are sensitive to certain metals and only discover this when they are pierced and have a severe reaction to the jewelry. The rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing can lead to shock and hospitalization.
Nerve Damage. If a piercing isn’t placed carefully, it can be pushed through a nerve, severing it and making the surrounding area permanently deadened to any feeling.
Excessive Bleeding. This is just what it sounds like. If you get pierced and happen to hit a large blood vessel, you could have difficulty stopping the bleeding and may end up in the emergency room getting it cauterized. Not pretty.
Risk of Cross-Contamination. You may become cross-contaminated by Hepatitis, the HIV virus, or another blood-borne pathogen is you are pierced by improperly sterilized needles.
Keloids. These are toughened knots of scar tissue that look like cysts at the base of a piercing that sometimes form for no reason at the site of a piercing.
Can’t donate blood. Is it important for you to be a blood donor? Is there someone in your family who is ill and may need blood donations in the near future? Don’t get pierced. You cannot donate blood for one year after getting pierced — no exceptions.
Dental Risks. There are several problems that can arise from oral piercings, including chipped teeth, worn tooth enamel, damage to the gums and jaw line from wear, and even aspiration (inhaling) of a loose piece of jewelry into the lungs. Infection and swelling of the tongue is also a possibility, and is very unpleasant.

Are there other body piercing risks?

It depends on what you consider a risk. There are certainly things you should consider that you could call potential drawbacks to getting pierced. Among these are:

Pain. How much of a weenie are you? If you can’t tolerate pain, you may be risking suffering more than you like for your vanity. Some piercings hardly hurt at all, others can be pretty rough for a few weeks.
Cost. Do you have the money to pay not only for the piercing and jewelry, but for the aftercare products, such as Provon® or Satin® and H2Ocean®?
Commitment. You are putting yourself at risk if you can’t clean your piercing every day, twice a day. Period. End of discussion. And you have to do your sea salt soaks or H2Ocean® treatments without fail.
Judgment of Others. Let’s get real. You may not want to hear this one, but face it; others may judge you based on your piercings, so really think this one through. Will it bother you if others stare as though they are afraid of you? Do you want to have to explain yourself or remove your piercing for job interviews? Will you feel badly if your piercing upsets your grandparents or family friends?

Okay, we’ve looked at the risks of body piercing, and you (or your teenager) are still certain that a piercing is a “must have.” How do you prevent all of those scary possibilities we mentioned in our list of health risks? By doing your homework! A good piercing with a low risk of infection or other complications is the result of choosing a good, professional piercer and having the piercing done in the proper environment.

What should you look for in a piercing parlor that will reduce the risks of body piercing?

First impressions count! When you walk in the door, scan the waiting area. Is it clean, neat and professional looking? If the front of the shop isn’t clean, it’s a sure thing that they can’t keep the back area clean. If you first impression makes you wary, turn around and walk out the door.

Credentials

Check to make sure they are licensed by the local board of health to operate as a piercing studio, and make sure their license hasn’t expired. Also look for membership in a recognized group such as the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), which sets high standards for membership and requires extensive training. An APP certification will indicate that the piercers have taken classes and been through a rigorous apprenticeship program.

Helpful, Knowledgeable Staff

Ask questions, and lots of them. If the employees don’t know the answers and are more like sales clerks pushing jewelry than anything, you should be wary. They may have a high turn-over of staff for some reason; this is also a red flag. If, however, they can answer your piercing questions and give you good, clear advice, then they have been well-trained by someone with experience.

The one exception may be if the studio is very large and they have a few sales people who only work the front counters. If this is the case and you begin asking questions, they should answer honestly that they are salespeople, and be willing to refer you to a piercer or apprentice who can discuss your concerns with you. There should always be a piercer on location at the studio or parlor when it is open — always.

Printed information

Ask to see the aftercare information they provide to individuals getting pierced. If you hear, “Oh, your piercer will explain all that to you,” insist on seeing the printed version before getting pierced. If they don’t have printed, step-by-step instructions, walk away. It is too easy to forget what you need to do, forget the name of the product you should be using, etc. if you don’t have printed instructions. If they aren’t willing to spend the money to print the instructions for their clients, who knows where else they might be cutting corners!

Read through the aftercare instructions and see if they are current with the prevailing standards. A good way to evaluate this is by checking them against what you see on sites such as BME, Tribalectic and APP. If the piercing literature still recommends using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, for instance, to clean your piercing, then the studio is not keeping up with the current research in body piercing care and may cause you unnecessary suffering and longer healing times.

The rules are there for a reason

If you’re a teenager and they don’t ask for I.D. or tell you to come back with a parent or guardian, do not thank your lucky stars. Leave! The law says your parent has to be present, and any studio that bends or breaks the rules on one issue will do the same on others.

In other words, if they are willing to “ignore” one rule to grab your money, they will ignore others to turn a higher profit. They may decide that the expense of an autoclave is unnecessary, or that reusing piercing needles is a great way to save some money. You are a minor and have little or no protection without your parents present, and they know this — that’s why they do it — to take advantage of you, pure and simple. If you are going to get pierced, make sure you take a parent or guardian with you for your own safety. If they’ve been cool enough to get this far with you, they’ll survive going to a piercing parlor, trust me.

The rest of the place

We’ve made it past the waiting room and decided that the piercing parlor seems okay so far; they have current credentials and health certificates, their aftercare instructions look good, and they had Dad sign a consent form. Are we ready to go? Not yet. You still need to check a few more things. Don’t be afraid to interrogate them about the piercing room and the sterilization process itself. These are two of the most important things to consider.

Ask these questions before ever getting pierced:

Do you sterilize your tools in an autoclave? May I see your most recent spore test results? If they don’t do spore testing at least once a month, don’t get pierced there. Spore testing is the only way to know if an autoclave is effectively sterilizing the equipment, and autoclave sterilization is the only method approved by the Association of Professional Piercers.
How long have you been piercing, and how did you learn? Body piercing is complex, and any piercer who is a professional will gladly explain where he learned and from whom. It takes quite a while to learn what types of jewelry and needles are best for each piercing and to learn how to place the piercings optimally. If a piercer seems defensive or less than forthcoming, be hesitant to let him touch you with a needle.
May I see the room where you’ll be doing the piercing, and can I watch you set up? Check out the area where the piercings are done. Do they wipe down the area before and after every piercing? Do they maintain a clean, dust free environment at all times? When setting up, make sure that the sterilized instruments are put on a tray and not touched except with washed, gloved hands. Make sure the piercer uses gloves for the entire piercing and changes them frequently.
What type of piercing needles do you use? There is only one correct answer: Single-use, pre-sterilized, disposable needles. These should not be opened except in your presence at the time of the piercing. If they use a piercing gun for any piercing, leave immediately. No body piercing should ever be done with a piercing gun, which causes bruising, trauma and excessive tearing and bleeding.

“I’ve chosen the parlor and piercer and I got a really cool body piercing. Now what?”

AFTERCARE!!! There is nothing as crucial to addressing the risks of body piercing as properly following the guidelines for piercing aftercare. Since you’ve chosen a reliable, professional piercer, you will have a set of aftercare instructions that will tell you what to do to properly care for your piercings.

Do not skip a day because you are too tired, too busy, or because you “forget.” Aftercare is literally preventative care — you are taking care of your piercing in order to prevent an infection and to enable the wound to heal properly. While following your aftercare instructions, watch for signs of trouble so that you can address them early on before they turn into real problems.

Signs of a potential problem that you should bring to the attention of your parents (if you are a minor) or your piercer are:

Discharge that is green or yellow from the piercing
Splitting, oozing or cracking and bleeding of a piercing more than a week old
Swelling and redness after the first few days
Pain and redness or red streaks radiating out from the piercing
Migration (movement of the piercing) up through the layers of skin
Difficulty breathing and swelling of the tongue within hours of a piercing, especially an oral piercing
A rash or hives soon after a piercing
A lump or bump forming at the base of the piercing

In some cases, you will need to see a doctor; in others your piercer will be able to advise you on the proper steps to alleviate the situation. The important thing is to catch any small problems before they turn into big ones. If you follow your aftercare instructions and monitor your piercing carefully, you can minimize the risks of body piercing so that you can enjoy your new body piercing completely!

This article “What are the Real Risks of Body Piercing?” reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

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Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials

The most important thing to keep in mind after your body piercing has been performed is that you have essentially just sustained an open wound, and you should be caring for it exactly like you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleanliness and attention that you would to a serious injury to make sure that you don’t scar or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercings to consider: non-oral and oral.

Non-oral body piercing aftercare Keeping your piercing clean can’t be stressed too much! It just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No excuses. Use a mild antibacterial soap that doesn’t have fragrances in it, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both of which are approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually in the shower, where the warm water will help you loosen and remove those crusties around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or a Kleenex to remove these, and then throw the swab or Kleenex away. Never use a washcloth — these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! The same for bath towels after your shower! Then, with clean hands, gently cleanse the area with the soap and turn the jewelry so that the soap gets in the piercing and let this sit for a minute or two. After rotating it again, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water. Make sure you get all of the soap out to prevent irritation. The rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It often helps to cup your hands and drizzle water over the area, since the shower stream can be a little too hard to aim directly on the area. Don’t forget your sea salt soaks After cleansing, a sea salt soak helps to draw out any piercing infection and impurities while soothing the area and calming any inflammation that may be present. Mix about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Using a disposable cup, soak your piercing in this for ten minutes the first time, and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a location that makes this difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues or some other disposable product that’s soft and clean. Never use a hanky, washcloth or any other item that is going to be reused. Always pat your piercings dry with cotton balls, cotton swabs or tissues — don’t rub them, pat them. This reduces irritation and possible tearing of the skin and helps promote healing. Although it seems to be a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces the opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love a warm, moist place to play). If you aren’t sure about mixing your sea salt soaks properly or it’s too inconvenient, there’s a new alternative on the market that’s less messy and is portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a pre-mixed sea salt solution containing lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle to the skin. Simply spray it on the area and allow to drip dry; it’s easy to use because of their patent-pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in only a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities like BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, which makes piercing aftercare away from home easier. X-pressions Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for both oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol, pump spray with a pleasant, peppermint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you’ll be unnecessarily irritating the area), check that the ends of your piercing jewelry are firmly screwed on. But wash your hands with antibacterial soap first. And now, a few “don’ts”

Don’t ever put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing — they are too drying and will delay healing.
Don’t ever use Neosporin on a piercing — it can actually trap bacteria. Read the label; it actually says, “Not for puncture wounds.” Guess what? A piercing is a puncture wound.
Don’t ever remove your piercing jewelry before the piercing is completely healed, which may take months or up to a year. If you suspect a piercing infection, see your piercing professional or doctor first.
Don’t sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is over.
Don’t wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.

Oral piercing aftercare During the first three to six weeks after an oral piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after every meal to kill bacteria and make sure not tiny food particles aren’t lodged around your piercing just waiting to fester and turn into problems later. There are several excellent products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; these have the proper ingredients and have the right potency to get the job done without being too strong. Don’t bother with mouthwash, because it’s not strong enough to do anything but cover your bad breath, which won’t be much consolation when you have a swollen, tender tongue because of improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so that it isn’t too strong. If your tongue develops a whitish or yellowish look, your mouth rinse is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar warm water solution of 8 ounces water to ¼ teaspoon sea salt and swish this in your mouth for 15-20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. It’s not only an aid to healing, but can be very soothing to the pierced area. If your oral piercing is sore or swollen, you can find some relief by allowing crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream and the like also work, but will need to be followed up, like everything else, with a sea salt rinse (or H2Ocean®). Brush, brush, brush You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you’ll still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try to brush your teeth three times a day during the first several weeks of healing. Buy a new soft-bristle brush that will be gentle on your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you’ve already used before your piercing, as it will harbor old germs. You should also gently brush the balls on the ends of your piercing jewelry to prevent the natural build-up of plaque on your jewelry. Oral piercing “don’ts”

Don’t smoke, chew gum or use snuff or rub during the healing period; these increase the risk of piercing infections astronomically.
Don’t play with the piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; this can cause cracking of your tooth enamel.
Don’t engage in any activities, including kissing, that exchange body fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.

General tips to improve healing success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successfully healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you take care of yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are run-down or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, you should keep in mind a few things whenever you have any kind of piercing in order to help ensure that your piercing aftercare measures are given the best chance of success:

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses of day at the very least.
At least eight hours of sleep a night
Try to limit the amount of stress in your life
Vitamin C and Zinc supplements to help speed the healing process
Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multi-vitamin if needed
If the pain bothers you, take Ibuprofen. If you are comfortable, you are less likely to fidget with the piercing.

Signs of trouble Even with excellent piercing aftercare, there will be some swelling at the site of a piercing for a few days. You’ll also have some clear, watery discharge and perhaps some mild bleeding. The bleeding will usually stop within 24 hours, while the discharge may last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage of the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that the piercing is in trouble include:

Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign or infection and should be checked by a doctor.
Inflammation that lasts longer than a few days, with redness and irritation. See your piercing professional or doctor.
Red streaks from the piercing site and a fever, along with body aches. See your doctor.
Hives, redness, itching and irritation around the piercing, which may signal an allergic reaction to the piercing jewelry. Your piercing professional can try replacing it with an alternative metal.
Difficulty breathing or wheezing after your piercing, or a feeling that your mouth or throat are swelling closed. Seek emergency attention immediately!

So how long does all this healing take? If you perform your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration or keloids. The time it takes to achieve this, however, will vary depending upon what kind of piercing it is. The general timeframes listed below are just for reference. All of these depend upon your individual body’s response, how much stress you are under and a thousand other variables. Earlobe or Eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Labret/Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3 – 6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided herein is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a guideline for body piercing aftercare, but a starting point in making an informed decision concerning body piercing. If you have any questions or proceed with a body piercing, please be sure to discuss the procedure with a medical or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood piercing aftercare instructions at that time. Evaluseek Publishing claims no responsibility for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the piercing community, which is constantly evolving and changing. This article on the “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

How Body Piercing Works — The Ins and Outs of this Cutting Edge Process

Body piercing (defined as any piercing beyond the standard earlobe piercing) has become such a popular form of body modification that between five and ten percent of the population of the United States has indulged in at least one form of it at some time in their lives. In most cases, once a person gets a body piercing, they follow the first one with more. There are lots of considerations; however, for making sure that your body piercing is done safely so that you don’t end up with either an infection or a poorly done piercing that could leave an unsightly scar.

It ain’t ear piercing, honey…

The procedure for a good body piercing isn’t the same is for getting your earlobes pierced. Most earlobe piercings that you see done in a mall or jewelry store involve using a piercing gun that quickly shoots the actual earring post through the earlobe. This may be fine for an area of the body that has soft tissue and is easily pierced, but it isn’t a good idea for other parts of the body for a few reasons.

First, it isn’t as accurate as a needle, so lining it up won’t always work. Just as with any gun, there is a recoil that will make the aim inaccurate. Second, the force of the gun will cause bruising and damage to the skin that isn’t necessary and will slow the healing process. Third, a piercing gun can’t be sterilized completely, so there is a higher risk of infection. The message is clear — never get a body piercing done with a piercing gun. Always go to a professional who follows procedures approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP).

Once you get to the piercing parlor, there are several steps to the body piercing process that will take place to ensure both the success of the piercing and your health and safety. Each of these steps should be followed and nothing skipped.

Getting the preliminaries out of the way

You must be comfortable in the environment and comfortable with your piercer before moving ahead with anything. If he or she attempts to rush you through the procedure without answering your questions or putting you at ease, do not continue. This is a long-term commitment you are making, so it’s up to you if you want to go through with it.

There is paperwork to be filled out, and don’t let a piercing parlor tell you otherwise. A good piercing studio always keeps accurate records to ensure the health and safety of their clients. If there would ever be a question of contamination or some other health hazard, they must be able to contact you. If you are a minor, they must have the signature of your parent or guardian, who must be present at the time of the piercing.

Sterilization — the only route to safe body piercing

Sterilization is all-important in body piercing — the piercing area must be sterile, the piercer’s hands must be sterile, the tools used must be sterile, and the piercing needle must be sterile.

A separate area for sterilization should be available in the piercing parlor where a steam heat autoclave is operational. The autoclave is the only approved sterilization device that can sufficiently heat tools such as forceps to a high enough temperature to kill all bacteria. Before beginning any piercing, all tools will be sterilized in an autoclave and laid out carefully on a clean tray. After this, they will not be touched until your piercing begins, and then only by your piercer when he has safely cleaned and gloved his hands, just as a surgeon would.

You can’t be too clean

The piercing chair or table will also be cleaned, usually by being wiped down thoroughly with an antibacterial spray and disposable cloths or paper towels to prevent recontamination. You will not be allowed to enter and prepare for your piercing until the area has been prepped and sterilized.

The needles used for body piercing are sterile and individually packaged, and no reputable piercer will ever use a needle that has already been used once. When you are pierced, the sterile needle’s package should be opened in your presence just before your piercing. The same is true of your starter jewelry — it should be sealed in sterile packaging and only opened in your presence.

The piercer will wash his hands and wrists with an antibacterial liquid soap and dry them before donning disposable gloves. At this point, he will be ready to begin your piercing.

Prep work means straight piercings and fewer complications

With properly gloved hands, your piercer will first check the area you want pierced to determine if you are really a candidate for the type of body piercing you’re seeking. In some cases, he may tell you that the conditions aren’t appropriate.

For instance, if there is damage to the cartilage or heavy scarring in the area you want pierced. He will also tell you if you have a current cut or skin condition that means you should postpone piercing. If this is the case, in order to protect your health and prevent possible problems down the line, he will not go any farther with the procedure. If everything looks fine, he’ll tell you so and you’ll move on to the next step.

He’ll change to a fresh pair of gloves after having handled your skin to examine the area.
He will clean the area to be pierced with an antibacterial solution.
He will mark the area to be pierced with a sterile, disposable marker.
You’ll have the opportunity to check the marking (in a mirror if necessary) before he proceeds to the piercing stage.
He will ask you if you are ready for the piercing procedure and allow you a moment to get comfortable.
He will arrange his tools at hand and open the sterile package with the piercing needle.

And now, you’re ready for the real deal — the piercing itself!

But first, a word about those piercing needles…

Piercing needles are not your average sewing needle or push-pin. Piercing needles are highly specialized and were designed specifically to pierce the flesh while causing the least amount of pain possible. They also help encourage faster and cleaner healing than a regular needle.

These needles also come in a variety of gauges suited for specific types of piercings. For instance, if you are getting a nipple pierced, the piercer will probably not want to use anything smaller than a 12 gauge (the smaller the gauge, the larger the needle), while a lip or nostril could be pierced with a 14 or 16 gauge. Thicker gauges prevent migration in areas prone to this movement of the jewelry, and prevent tear-out of piercings in more delicate flesh.

Piercing needles are made from surgical steel — the same material that hospital scalpels and lancets are made from. This ensures that they are biocompatible with all skin types and won’t cause an allergic reaction. They are also extremely sharp because they are laser cut with precision edges so that they slice cleanly through the skin without tearing or pulling. The piercing needles are hollow rather than solid so that they actually cut a tiny hole through the skin being pierced rather than punching through the skin.

These hollow needles leave a clean-edged, precise hole in the flesh that will heal relatively quickly, while a regular needle (which is much duller by comparison) actually pushes its way through the skin, tearing and bruising the skin along the way.

This is why a professional piercing needle provides a much less painful piercing with minimal bruising, and is much safer and easier for your body.

The main event — the body piercing

The basic procedure is the same for most piercings, but all piercers have their own way of handling the process. Some piercers will clamp the area with forceps to stabilize the area before putting the needle through, while others prefer to use a steady hand and their own eyes to guide the needle. If the person being pierced seems like they may flinch, it is more likely the forceps or surgical pliers of some type will be used to steady the area and hold the skin in place. This doesn’t hurt, and is simply to make sure you don’t get a crooked placement.

When the needle is lined up with the marking, the piercer will ask one last time if you are ready, and then quickly push the needle through. Some piercers use a cork as a backing, others don’t. This usually only takes a moment and feels like someone is pinching the skin hard. In most cases, the build-up to the moment is far worse than the actual piercing. Areas that are more sensitive include the genital area and the bridge of the nose.

Starter jewelry needs to be high quality

After the needle is removed, the starter jewelry is immediately put into place. One of the most important things to know about starter jewelry is that it is being put into an open wound, which is what a fresh piercing really is. Obviously, you don’t want your starter jewelry to be something that can cause an allergic reaction or infection.

There are three materials recognized by professional piercers as acceptable for starter jewelry for their high quality, purity and their low incidence of allergic reactions:

Surgical Steel
Titanium
14K or 18K gold

Other materials are more likely to cause either an allergic reaction, rejection of the piercing by your body, or migration of the piercing.

Starter jewelry is generally a captive bead ring or barbell. The piercer will choose an appropriate size for the area that is slightly larger than what you would normally wear to allow for some swelling, which is normal for the first several days after a new piercing. He will screw the ends onto the new jewelry and make sure it is securely in place.

At this point, the piercer will remove this set of gloves and put on another fresh set, clean the area around the new piercing and examine it one last time. He will let you take a look at your new body jewelry while he explains the aftercare and any potential problems you should watch for. He will also give you a sheet of detailed aftercare instructions to take home with you.

Before you leave, take a few moments to relax either in the piercing room or the waiting room, as sometimes the adrenalin rush and its aftermath can leave you feeling a bit light-headed. Once you feel steady and sure of yourself, it is a good idea to get something like fruit juice to drink or a light snack. Your piercing is done!

What if I want to try body piercing myself?

If you love body modification, you may be considering piercing yourself. It’s really not a good idea for a number of reasons. If you want to try piercing, do it the right way — become a fully trained, licensed professional. Without the proper training and an understanding of proper sterilization techniques you risk scarring, infection, and permanent damage to the area.

Using makeshift piercing tools like sewing needles is also a great risk because they simply cannot be sterilized properly. Even heating over an open flame (such as a lighter) will not kill all bacteria. The only guaranteed way to kill all germs is with an autoclave or by using packaged, sterile surgical needles. Even then, the entire area and all tools must be sterilized properly.

If you are truly interested in piercing, consider it not as a hobby or a momentary activity but as a career. Becoming an apprentice at a piercing parlor means learning proper technique and learning a trade at the same time, combining your interests with a way to make a living.