The biggest question in the piercing world is which is better: gun or needle? Jewelry stores, such as Claire’s and Icing, use a piercing gun to pierce clients’ ears whereas piercing shops, like HTC Body Piercing, use needles.
The Association of Professional Piercers does not support the use of piercing guns because they can’t be sterilized using APP approved equipment, such as an autoclave. Without proper sterilization, the risk of spreading diseases, such as Hepatitis and staff infections, increases.
Laura Gutierrez has been piercing ears at Claire’s for more than two years and said she uses alcohol wipes to clean the gun before and after each use. She said the earrings are pre-sterilized and pre-packaged, so it is a safe and clean procedure.
“The ear piercing piece fits in our gun,” she said. “The gun never touches the ear.”
However, HTC piercer Mat Corper said there is still risk even if the gun never touches the ear.
“You get microspray where blood can go back on the gun,” he said. “Alcohol doesn’t kill anything, it just removes dirt.”
Piercers at Claire’s have a two week training process, which consists primarily of watching colleagues perform piercings.
The piercers at HTC are required to work at the piercing shop for at least five years before they can pierce someone. They also take classes every year on piercing procedure, wound healing dynamics and many other topics that are provided by the APP.
According to the APP website, guns force a blunt stud through the lobe or cartilage, which can cause tissue damage and is more painful than a needle. HTC piercers use individually packaged needles to lower the risk of problems and infection.
“The needle is not used for anything else, just for the piercing,” Corper said. “It’s quick and low trauma because the needle is so sharp.”
The bottom line is using a needle is the safest and most sterile way to get an ear piercing.