Different types of ear piercings
The safest place to go to get your ears pierced in the doctor's office. Mall piercing venues are often not as sanitary or professional, and attempting to pierce your own ears is even more unsafe.
Photo Credit: Judith Bicking
The safest place to go to get your ears pierced is a doctor's office. If you go to a doctor, you can be assured that everything will be sterile and sanitary, and you can also be sure that it will be done professionally. There is a significantly reduced risk of infection when you go to a doctor to get your ears pierced rather than opting for another method. Your doctor will be comfortable performing the procedure (remember - as low-scale as it is, getting your ears pierced is still a surgical procedure), and you won't have to worry about having a sloppy job done.
Teenagers often think it's not as much fun to go to the doctor's office for piercing as it is to have a friend do it or to get it done at the mall, but parents should really be firm if they want their child to have it done at the doctor's office. Give your child an ultimatum: no ear piercing at all or ear piercing at the doctor's office. Surely, they'll give in if they know it's the only way - and they'll be glad that they did in the long run (especially if they see their friends with red infected ears thanks to the faulty piercing job at the mall jewelry store).
Almost every mall in the country has ear piercing available. Most of the time, it's in department store jewelry sections or in small jewelry shops. If the piercing is done properly and according to code, then it is absolutely and 100% safe to get your ears pierced at the mall. However, the problem is that there is no way for you to really be confident that everything is being done by the book. For one, often times, the piercer is a teenager. That's a little scary in and of itself. This is probably a part-time job - maybe it's even the person's first time doing a piercing. Do you really want to run the risk of being a human guinea pig?! Even if you don't get an infection, you could still wind up with two very uneven holes in your ears.
If you've decided to take the gamble of getting your ears pierced at the mall, at least you should make sure that everything is safe. The equipment should be sterilized, and the piercer should be experienced and should wear a new pair of latex gloves for your procedure. Ensure that ear piercing studs come from sterile, one-time-use containers, and check that the work surfaces are sprayed down with disinfectants before your procedure is begun. The ear piercer should also clean your ear lobes with an antiseptic before piercing your ears as another safeguard against infection.
While it is somewhat risky to get your ears pierced at the mall, it is extremely risky to attempt to pierce your own ears or to have a friend do it. Granted, this is something that's been happening forever - but that doesn't make it safe. Improper piercing can lead to skin infections, hepatitis, HIV, tetanus, and other blood-borne illnesses. It is not safe - and it's certainly not sanitary -- to hold a potato or an ice-cube behind your ear lobe and then jab a needle through it.