Read this before you pierce your kid’s ears
By Aimee Heckel
Although the sight of pierced ears is far from controversial in mainstream America, there’s plenty controversial about piercing your kid’s ears.
Some parents question whether it’s appropriate to make the choice for your children at all. And many professional piercers warn against the piercing kiosks in the malls — you know, the ones with the piercing gun.
In fact, the Association of Professional Piercers has publicly spoken out against “gun piercings.” Professional piercers warn that these booths are not held to the same sanitation standards as a professional shop. Just think about it. Anyone can walk past the kiosk and chair and touch/sneeze/cough on it. It’s simply hard to keep clean, and the jewelry-store gun-holders are rarely (if ever) trained in blood-borne pathogens and important sanitation and safety methods.
Then there’s the gun, which was originally made for tagging cattle. If not autoclaved after every use, which is very rare, the machine isn’t sterile, and it can pass a disease into your child’s body — even HIV. The alcohol wipes commonly used at piercing stations are far from sterile.
We talked with professional piercer, Savannah Watson, of Colorado, about safe ways to pierce your children’s ears. Here is what she recommended:
1. No one, regardless of age, should ever get pierced with a gun. In addition to their inability to be fully sterilized, they basically use blunt-force trauma to pierce your ears.
“You could achieve the same thing by just pushing the earring through your ear,” Watson says. “The guns just do it faster.”
2. The jewelry is not safe at mall kiosks. Most earrings used in kiosks are not big enough to accommodate for swelling. In a professional setting, your ears will be measured and fited with the correct size for the piercing.
3. Guns increase the risk of infection and disease. Because they can’t be fully sterilized, the guns push leftover bio-hazardous materials (blood, plasma) into your child’s brand new piercing.
4. Minimally trained piercers might not line up piercings properly, leaving your child with crooked earrings for the rest of his or her life. There’s a reason so many people who go to these places are told, “The piercings aren’t crooked, your ears are,” Watson says. It’s really the piercings.
5. If your child wants to get a piercing, do your homework. Look around on the Internet and in real life. Research piercing facilities. Does it have good reviews online?
6. Visit the shop first. Take the time to go in. Is it clean? Is everyone wearing gloves? Do they have enough sinks to accommodate the number of artists working? Do they adhere to health department standards? Are they licensed and do they have any first aid training? Where is the piercer’s blood-borne pathogens certificate and is it current? Will they show you their sterilization area?
7. Visit the bathroom, too. That’s a good indicator of a shop’s sanitation. Is it dirty with an overflowing trashcan?
And remember, just because you walk in to a shop, does not mean you have to leave with a piercing.
8. Beware of too-good-to-be-true prices. Body modification is not the place to save money. If the price seems low, there’s a good chance they’re cutting corners on the quality of jewelry — and other areas as well, Watson says.
9. Ask about after-care practices. A good piercer should provide you with some sort of after-care sheet. If you are very worried, take a copy home and run it by the Association of Professional Piercers website. If recommendations are wildly different, go somewhere else. Beware of after-care recommendations to use Neosporin, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Saline solution is the way to go.
Looking for another alternative to piercing? Poppy Drops sells temporary-tattoo “earrings” for kids, made out of natural food-grade vegetable dyes. Stick them on for a few days, or switch them out whenever desired, with no permanent modification to the body or risk of infection.
Save money on other purchases for your family with these babies and kids coupons.
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