Every year, thousands and thousands of people have their ears, nostrils, and in some cases, other body parts pierced with an instrument not fit to pierce an animal with. Sadly, this has become an 'accepted' standard, and most barbers, jewellers, even some body art studios, still use this dated and dangerous method. It is partly because of the use of this instrument that body piercing has attracted so much negative press, and it is responsible for more infections, discomfort and abandoned piercings than anything else. I refer to the humble ear piercing gun.
Many thousands of young mothers have their small children's ears pierced, and many teenagers have ears and nostrils pierced in this way, assuming it to be less painful - often not the case - unaware of the risks associated with it. The 'Claire's Accessories' chain of shops' staff - often very young themselves - wear badges which say, 'I Am An Ear Piercing Specialist'. These people do not know the first thing about this machine or the dangers and impracticalities of using it. THEY ARE NOT EXPERTS AT PIERCING OF ANY KIND.
You do not need a licence to obtain or use one of these machines, and they can be bought openly - and cheaply - from barbers supplies shops, and various websites. Anyone can set themselves up as an 'ear piercing expert' with no experience, certification or kudos at all in skin piercing practise.
Here are some key reasons for making the banning of the stud gun across the UK a legal requirement;
- The gun cannot be sterilised in an autoclave machine. This means that it is never cleaned to the kind of standards tattooists / body piercers accept legally. There is a risk of cross-contamination associated with this practise. Wiping the instrument with alcohol or other cleaning solution is not the same as an intensive steam clean which can only be provided with an autoclave of medical standard.
- The studs it fires go through at such a velocity the piercings are rarely accurate, and more often than not heal 'wonky'.
- Due to this speed, when the gun is fired, it disperses a very fine (invisible to the naked eye) mist of blood and bodily fluids, which is then virtually impossible to clean from in the studio.
- The gun method, which fires a stud with a dull point through the flesh, rips through and displaces the flesh around the piercing site - as opposed to actually removing a sliver, as is the case with proper cannulae / needleblade piercings - and therefore many people, especially on cartilage piercings, experience the forming of lumps (keloids), bruising, infection due to itty bitty bits of shattered bone and torn tissue still being present inside the piercing wound.
- Even for normal ear lobe piercings, the posts on the studs are so short they often cannot accommodate swelling, therefore causing pinching, discomfort, can end up embedded in the lobes and can lead to ever more risk of infection. They are also too thin - being 1mm, as opposed to the generally accepted standard 1.6mm used in body piercing - which means if caught on clothes, etc the piercings tear far easier.
- The jewellery used is not of a standard / accepted grade for use in skin piercing techniques.
- Despite being quicker and cheaper, the gun method is actually more painful than the proper needle method, due to the factors listed in points 3-5. The needle can pass through almost as quickly, and will not traumatise or permanently damage the tissue, and the risk of infection, if pierced in this way will be down to poor aftercare, as opposed to bad piercing technique. On top of which, the gun makes a loud 'click' when fired, which can cause the subject to jump, and result in an even more inaccurate and uncomfortable piercing.
- The discharge of lymph - a thin, whitish fluid - is a natural, normal part of the piercing process which is often mistaken for the onset of infection. If the jewellery from the gun fits the piercing too tightly, this fluid may become 'trapped' in the piercing, thus leading to further complications. It can also 'seal in' fluids and germs which can lead to serious infection. There are a number of isolated cases of infected cartilage piercings resulting in loss of hearing.
Let's put a stop to this accepted barbarianism before too many people catch infections, and give proper body piercing a name it does not deserve. Please sign the petition below, and thank you in advance for your support.
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