Updated: Jul 12
The summer holidays are the perfect time for your child to get their ears pierced, as it gives them the whole summer to heal them properly before having to go back to school, where they might be asked to remove earrings for PE or other school uniform reasons.
With that in mind, we at Athame Piercings wanted to give you all the information to be able to make a safe and informed choice about ear piercings to ensure the health of your young one.
Previously, it was very common to pop down to your local high street accessory store or neighbourhood hairdresser to have a quick piercing. Unfortunately, these places can be very hit and miss in terms of quality and training, and often use piercing guns, which we’re totally against here at Athame. Many of these places claim to be 'industry approved' when in fact no gun or 'hand pressure system' is approved of by the UK Association of Professional Piercers (UKAPP).
Ear piercings are a rite of passage for many young children, but they are a serious responsibility, and it’s important to do your research beforehand to ensure the piercings are done professionally and heal properly.
Important questions to ask your child’s piercer
Here is a list of questions to ask when you go anywhere that offers piercings.
Ask to see their licence. Anywhere that offers ear or body piercing must be licensed by the local authority and inspected by the Environmental Health Service, and this licence should be displayed. It is a specific licence, so even if the establishment has another licence eg: for hairdressing, they must ALSO have a piercing licence. If they do not they should not be offering ear piercings as they have not met the hygiene and training requirements.
Ask them about their sterilisation procedures. Any reputable establishment will be happy to talk you through their sterilisation procedure, not just their cleaning routine! Ask how they sterilise their tools and equipment. They should not be performing any other services in this same room as the piercing, especially not hair cutting as this can lead to hair and other dirt in the piercing area which can greatly increase the risk of infection.
Ask if they use “piercing guns”. Piercing guns are very common in high street piercers. Unfortunately, these “guns” are readily available to buy online very cheaply and have very little to no oversight over their manufacture or distribution, often being imported from places like China or other countries where manufacture is cheap. They can be bought without a licence or training for almost anyone to use. Most places that offer piercings using guns have not had piercing training, or at most have had basic instruction on how to use the device.
The problem with piercing guns
These guns usually come in one of two types: disposable or reusable. The disposable type is becoming more common as they become more readily available. Although they are less likely to transmit disease than reusable guns, which cannot be properly sterilised between uses, they are still dangerous. More and more often they are being called "hand pressure systems" as the public are becoming more aware that piercing gun are not suitable for piercing. "Hand pressure systems" are guns that use the strength of the operators hand to squeeze the device thus forcing the earring through the skin. Single-use piercing guns or "hand pressure systems" often come from other countries that do not have the same hygiene legislation that we have here. Even if they are correctly sterilised before being shipped, the packaging can be damaged during transportation which means bacteria can become present within the equipment which can lead to infection when used to pierce your or your child's ears. Piercing guns and "hand pressure systems" ) are also known for being unreliable, jamming or even breaking while performing the piercing, leading to jewellery remaining attached to the equipment while also being lodged in the ear. The gun, of course, then has to be removed from the ear which can be very painful and traumatic. Finally, the way the gun pierces the ear causes damage to the tissue and can lead to a much longer and more painful healing period. Many people who use these guns have started saying that the jewellery is thin or "fine" however it will never be as sharp or as clean as a piecing needle. The idea of a sharp needle may seem off putting but it causes far less pain and an easier piecing than any gun or hand pressure system.
You may have seen the type of jewellery that is used with piercing guns. They are often spikes with a shiny jewel on the top that are forced through the ear lobe. This tears the tissue and rips the lobe. Once through the ear lobe, you are left with a sharp spike which can be very uncomfortable to lie on, as it digs into the soft area behind the ear when lying down.
The jewellery used is often a gold or silver-plated nickel alloy which, whilst pretty, are more likely to cause a reaction or trigger infection than implant-grade titanium. Others offer "surgical steel" jewellery. Unfortunately, "surgical steel" is not a protected term meaning anyone can call any steel "surgical". The original term referred to the sterilisation process the steel item had undergone making it ready for use in surgery. It has since been co-opted by those wishing to make their items sounds higher quality than they actually are.
Straight to the point
At Athame Piercings in Stafford, we only use needles to carry out piercings. Although that might sound scary, needles are far and away the safest and most effective way to carry out piercings.
All needles used at Athame are sourced in the UK and professionally sterilised. Most importantly, needles don’t cause unnecessary blunt-force trauma and are only ever used by fully-trained, accredited staff, meaning piercings heal much faster.
If your child is nervous, it’s possible to hide the needle so they aren’t uncomfortable. The jewellery used has a flat back and is much more comfortable to wear long-term.
Overall, traditional needle piercing is safer, cleaner, and an all-around more comfortable experience. By taking your child to a dedicated piercing studio, you’re guaranteeing that their piercing will be carried out by a trained professional, with a sterile needle, in a clean area, minimising the chance of infection as much as possible.
All piercings carried out Athame Piercings come with up-to-date piercing aftercare advice, and your piercer will always be more than happy to answer any questions.