Body piercing is fashionable at the moment, and piercing is available in specialist studios as well as some hairdressing salons and tattoo parlours. If you’ve decided to take the leap and have a piercing, there are things you should look out for to make your experience one that you won’t remember for all the wrong reasons.
Ask friends and family with piercings who they would recommend. Find out if they used a reputable piercer – and ask them whether they were told how to look after their piercing properly, or how to remove the jewellery. Research online; ask for testimonials and pictures of happy clients. Any decent studio will be more than happy to show these off!
Some local councils keep a register of their approved piercers, premises which have passed strict hygiene and safety standards, and are regularly inspected by health and safety officers. It’s a good idea to contact your local council to find out if they have any approved piercer lists or schemes.
There are also professional piercing associations such as the Association of Modern Professional Piercers.
If a studio belongs to the association, they must display the AMPP Clients Charter in their salon…and follow it!
Check The Place Out
A few days before having you have the piercing, drop in to the shop and have a good look around.
- Do the premises look clean, and have wipe-clean surfaces (including the floor?) Ask to see results of spore tests – tests run to make sure that the sterilising equipment is working properly.
- Are they wearing surgical gloves, and can you see that they are changing them between customers?
- Do piercers look clean and tidy? Do they wash their hands regularly, and are any cuts on their hands covered?
- Are they using single-use needles and throwing them away after each client? Are they using a gun? Avoid anywhere using a piercing gun, as they can’t be sterilised properly, and they use so much force to drive the stud through skin, they can cause tissue damage.
- Are other instruments left in the autoclave (steriliser) while not in use?
- Ask lots of questions. Find out about their experience, how long they’ve been piercing and where they learned. Do they have any specialist qualifications? Ask advice about the most appropriate jewellery for your piercing – any experienced piercer will be able to recommend what’s best, advise you about aftercare and explain the risks without any hesitation
- Ask for their aftercare sheet, and read it before you even have the piercing done! A good piercing studio should have a standard aftercare sheet. If it tells you to use hydrogen peroxide, for example, it could indicate that they are not keeping up with industry standards.
Why Hygiene is So Important
If you don’t pay proper attention to hygiene, you could end up with hepatitis or even HIV, Some strains of hepatitis can live for up to eight hours on dirty instruments if left at normal room temperatures. You could also end up with a nasty bacterial infection if the studio isn’t following proper hygiene rules, which can develop into septicaemia or toxic shock. Both can be fatal.
What You Can and Can’t Do
There is no statutory age limit for ear or cosmetic piercing in England or Wales, but some London Boroughs do impose license conditions which relate to the age of the client.
Under English law, anyone under the age of 16 can’t have a genital piercing, as genital piercing under 16 is actually classed as an indecent assault. The same applies to female breast piercings, although boys under 16 may have their nipples pierced.
Body piercing needn’t be painful in the long term. With some careful research and common sense, you can have a piercing to be proud of with no problems.