Importance of Sterilization of Piercing Tools

Sterilization is all-important in ear piercings- the piercing area must be sterile, the piercer’s hands must be sterile, the tools used must be sterile, and the piercing needle must be sterile.

The human body reacts to inclusion of any foreign object and may initially try to repel it. This manifests itself in the form of allergies and infections, which are the two of the biggest concerns faced by us during piercings.  Allergies are caused by sensitivity to certain metals like nickel and are easily avoidable. Use of jewellery and piercing instruments which are made of hypoallergenic metals prevents any allergic reactions. Infections on the other hand are a little trickier and proper care is required before, during and after the piercing to successfully avoid it.

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As we have discussed in our earlier post choosing a safe and trusted studio which is hygienic is the first step towards an infection free piercing experience.  Your chosen studio must not only be hygienic but it is also necessary that they must sterilize all the equipment they use or reuse during piercing. Check out their sterilization procedure and notice if they strictly adhere to it. All good piercing studios must have an autoclave where they sterilize all their reusable piercing equipment between each piercing.

It is essential to clean all tools before sterilization as unclean tools cannot be sterilized effectively. The person performing the procedure must wear clean disposable gloves the entire time. Instruments must be placed in water, disinfectant or detergent immediately after every use, to prevent drying of client material and to make cleaning more easy and effective. This cleaning can be done either through scrubbing with soap or preferably with a mechanical device like a covered ultrasonic cleaner. There are many methods used for sterilization but not all of them are as effective. The autoclave which sterilizes through heat and pressure is considered the most ideal method of sterilization when it comes to piercing equipment.  Any instrument that can withstand heat must be sterilized through autoclaving. There are many other methods too like flaming, boiling, bleaching, rubbing alcohol but they are not sufficient or effective enough especially when it comes to piercing equipment.

These sterilized instruments must not be touched until your piercing begins, and then only by your piercer when he has safely cleaned and gloved his hands, just as a surgeon would. The piercer should wash his hands and wrists with an antibacterial liquid soap and dry them before donning disposable gloves.

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If you are not sure if the studio is following the proper sterilization techniques or if they are practicing it regularly, then avoid using non disposable guns as they cannot be sterilized. The safest bet in such situation is to use disposable piercing guns such as single use pre-sterilized cartridges by Studex.

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Choose the Right Studio for your Piercings

Allergic reactions and infections are the two main concerns of piercings. In our last post we discussed the importance of hypoallergenic jewellery, and how it helps reduce the occurrence of allergic reactions. But just use of hypoallergenic jewellery is not enough to prevent infections. The first step to an infection free piercing is choosing the right piercing studio.

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How to choose the right piercing studio

  • Search the internet or look in the yellow pages for piercing studios. Do your research on them and look for online reviews on the same.
  • Ask family and friends for recommendations of studios they have had experience with. Enquire with them about the studios you found details of online. Word of mouth is a reliable source when it comes to body art, so if you see someone with piercings that you like ask them where they had it done.
  • Pick a properly licensed piercing studio. Check the credentials and licensing information of the studio by visiting the studio’s website, or by calling the studio directly and asking for the necessary information. If your country or state has no recognised certifications or regulations about piercing standards, then pick the most trusted brand name of salon or piercing studio.
  • Pay the studio a visit and ask to be given a tour. The studio most importantly must be clean and hygienic. If possible try and watch them at work performing a piercing or two to observe their procedure. Check out their sterilization procedure and notice if they strictly adhere to it. All good piercing studios must have an autoclave where they sterilize all their reusable piercing equipment between each piercing. 
  • Ask to look at their piercing equipment and jewellery and make sure it is from a trusted brand.  Take a look at the storage facility of the instruments and piercing tools and make sure it is dry and hygienic.
  • Enquire about the artist who will be performing your piercing. Try to find an experienced one and certifications are always an added bonus. Ask to see his portfolio to see how his piercings have healed. All artists must wear medical gloves during the entire procedure.  Never let an inexperienced hand pierce you.
  • Ask to see the aftercare information. Make sure the information is current and is keeping up with the latest research in body piercing care.
  • Also avoid any studio which uses non disposable guns for body piercing, as piercing guns cannot be sterilized. Piercing guns such as STUDEX offer single use pre-sterilized cartridges for piercing in which the only item that comes in contact with the client is the barbell which has sterilization lot info branded on packaging. Select studios that only such trusted brands as piercing instruments and jewellery.

A good studio will always be willing to show you their facilities and answer any questions you have in mind. They will most importantly make you feel comfortable enough with the studio and the artist to put your confidence in them. This coupled with Interacting with the artist and staff must give you sufficient information to make a decision. Don’t pick a studio only because it is cheap and affordable. In the case of piercings, it is always wise to shell out a little more and choose a legit and reputed studio for an infection free piercing experience.