Where to get your ears pierced
Learn how to find a safe, reputable place to get your ears pierced and what to avoid in choosing a piercing salon.
Photo Credit: Karina Tischlinger
After deciding to actually get your ear pierced, the most important decision in the process is probably where to get your ear pierced. Piercing opens the body up to infection. Unclean piercing equipment can spread any disease carried through the blood or bodily fluids; with deadly viruses such as HIV potentially being passed through contaminated piercing equipment, the importance of choosing a clean and reputable piercing place is obvious.
First of all, avoid doing your own ear piercing or having a friend do it for you. A lot of teenagers think that they can save money and get around the legal age limit (18 in most states, or any age with parental permission) by doing the piercing on their own. However, at-home piercing nearly always leads to infection since there is no access to sterile and specially designed equipment. The pain involved is greater (again because there will not be the right type of needles and other equipment available) and the trauma to the piercing site is far worse. Simply put, there is too much risk, danger and pain involved.
Choosing a reputable piercing place is important. When looking for a place, ask around; friends, neighbors or relatives in the area may be able to help you find a place that will work. Once you have narrowed your search for potential piercing places, make sure that they live up to their good reputation. First of all, make sure that the piercer is registered with the APP (Association of Professional Piercers). The APP is responsible for making the guidelines for safety regarding piercing nationwide; the piercing place you choose should have visible documentation of their registry. Some states also require that piercers be certified. Find out if your state requires certification and make sure the piercer has it if necessary. The goal is to find a reliable, experienced piercer and piercing salon.
After you think you have found your piercing place, take a visual inventory of the store. It should be clean, first and foremost. The lighting should be good as well, especially where the actual piercing will occur; you want the piercer to be able to see well while performing his or her job. Check to make sure that the location has a wide selection of piercing studs as well; you want to be able to choose not only a style, but a piercing metal that will give you the best results. They should have a good selection of hypoallergenic metals (18-karat gold, titanium, platinum and stainless steel).
A potential deal-breaker is the method of piercing; if they use a piercing gun, leave. Piercing guns are unsanitary, no matter how clean they look. They work by forcing a sharp stud through the ear; their inner mechanics are impossible to thoroughly sanitize and thus leave you vulnerable. There are new, single-use disposable "guns" that are made of plastic that are okay; each one is loaded with the stud of your choice and is thrown away after being used. They come in individual sanitary wrappers and are often designed so that they become non-functional after being triggered. Some places also use a hollow, stainless steel needle for piercing. Again, make sure that the needles are single-use, disposable ones, or sanitary, well-cleaned and disinfected reusable ones; both types should come in sealed containers that your piercer will unwrap in front of you.
Remember also that it is your right to insist on a clean and sanitary procedure. Do not feel silly or stupid for asking questions and checking the place out before getting pierced. It is your body and it is up to you to make sure it gets properly taken care of; if you feel unsure about the location, or have second thoughts about getting pierced, it is okay to change your mind and walk away. Above all else, stay safe.