It makes sense, if you want your car fixed you go to a trained professional auto mechanic, if you’re sick you go to a doctor, if you want a hair cut you go to a hair salon, and if you want a piercing… you go to a piercer (duh). I don’t know who would ever think that a mall kiosk, staffed by a teenager with very little training who is equipped with a piercing gun would be a better option than a trained professional piercer. The piercing parlor is not scary. Ear piercings are just the same as any other piercing and should not be treated lightly, and according to the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) getting your child’s ears pierced at a piercing shop is always the better choice.
Professional piercers are extensively trained, going through an apprenticeship with an experienced professional long before they pierce on their own. They learn about anatomy and how piercings affect the body. Piercers learn about where to pierce, infection control, and how to prevent the contraction of blood borne pathogens, Hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases. They also know where nerves are and how to make their procedures as pain free as possible. Piercers are used to dealing with people who are nervous or uneasy, and can maintain a steady hand in this situation, while stud guns are clumsy and make it much easier to pierce crooked. Crooked piercings are sometimes painful, may have difficulty healing, and make it harder to stretch or add more piercings later. My piercer has the most calming and gentle voice; he explains everything as he’s doing it, and puts my mind at ease. When I have children, and if they decide that they want to have their ears pierced, I will definitely take them to him.
Piercing guns are a bad choice for many reasons, the most important being sterilization. These guns are usually made of plastic and cannot be autoclaved. An autoclave machine is an oven of sorts that uses intense pressure and heat to sterilize surgical and piercing tools. Cleanliness in general is one of the deciding factors in going to a piercing parlor over a kiosk. Piercing shops are completely disinfected (in much the same way as a doctor’s office). The piercing is always done in private room (not with a million people watching). Plus, the piercer will wear sterile gloves and use only sterile and fresh tools.
The extremely sharp, hollow needle that a piercer uses creates a much healthier puncture rather than the blunt tissue trauma that occurs with a stud gun. Earring studs used in guns are very dull comparatively, which requires much more force to poke through. The stud earring is abruptly shot through the flesh, essentially ripping the skin, and the wound is capped off with snug fitting jewelry that generally has a butterfly backing. There is no way for the piercing to breathe and heal. Also, if you have ever inspected the butterfly back of an earring you will see a good amount of gunk. The crevices can trap bacteria, hair, and other fun things.
A professional piercer would never subject a new piercing to that kind of treatment. The needle slices safely through the skin, quickly and mostly painlessly. Jewelry must be surgical grade stainless steel or titanium, including barbells and BCRs that are specifically designed to be in a new piercing. Piercers always consider swelling and make sure that the jewelry is long enough to accommodate this. They will also usually offer a free jewelry change when the piercing is healed enough and the swelling goes down. Anatomy will decide the shape, size, and gauge needed to allow easier healing, better blood circulation, and prevent migration.
I remember getting my ears pierced when I was 10 years old. My parents made me wait until they knew I was prepared enough to take care of them. It was the beginning of my lifetime love affair with piercing. It’s important to make that initial experience as safe and painless as possible. You can always follow up with your piercer if you have issues or concerns. As long as a parent or guardian and the proper identification are present, you should be good to go. Do your research, as depending on age each state may have different laws about children and piercing parlors. You can never put a price on safety and piece of mind.