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Subject: rec.arts.bodyart: Piercing FAQ 3--Getting a New Piercing

This article was archived around: Tue, 02 May 2000 07:17:32 GMT

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Archive-name: bodyart/piercing-faq/getting-new-pierce Last-modified: May 01, 2000 Posting-frequency: Quarterly URL: http://www.cs.uu.nl/wais/html/na-dir/bodyart/piercing-faq/.html
Summary: This posting contains information about body piercing. Anyone interested in the subject and/or who wishes to read/post to rec.arts.bodyart should read the Piercing FAQ first. The rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ is divided into 30 parts: 1--Introduction 2A--Jewelry Materials 2B--Jewelry Sizes & Designs 2C--Facial Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry 2D--Body Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry 2E--Genital Piercings & Their Suggested Jewelry 3--Getting A New Piercing 4A--Professional Organizations, Piercing Instruction 4B--Professional Piercers - United States - Alabama - California 4C--Professional Piercers - United States - Colorado - Iowa 4D--Professional Piercers - United States - Kansas - Nevada 4E--Professional Piercers - United States - New Hampshire - North Dakota 4F--Professional Piercers - United States - Ohio - Pennsylvania 4G--Professional Piercers - United States - Rhode Island - Wyoming 4H--Professional Piercers - Canada 4I--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America 4J--Professional Piercers - Beyond N. America Cont'd 5--Care Of New Piercings 6--The Healing Process & Healing Problems 7--Healed Piercings 8--Historical Information 9A--Resource List 9B--Resource List Cont'd 10A--Personal Experiences - Facial & Unisex Piercings 10B--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings 10C--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd 10D--Personal Experiences - Genital Piercings Cont'd 11A--Jewelry Manufacturers 11B--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd 11C--Jewelry Manufacturers Cont'd This section includes: 3 Getting A New Piercing 3.1 What to Look for in a Piercer 3.2 Assessing Anatomy and Selecting Jewelry 3.3 Piercing Needle or Gun? 3.4 Basic Piercing Procedure 3.5 Methods of Disinfection and Sterilization 3.6 Anesthetics 3.7 Are You Under 18? 3.8 Does It Hurt? 3.9 Making Your Experience More Comfortable 3.10 Piercing Kits and Doing It Yourself All texts written and (c) 2000 by Anne Greenblatt unless otherwise noted. Please see Part 1 of the FAQ for information regarding copyright and dissemination of the FAQ. DISCLAIMER! The Piercing FAQ contains material of a sexually explicit nature. The information contained in the Piercing FAQ should not be construed as medical advice. 3 GETTING A NEW PIERCING 3.1 WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PIERCER Consider first visiting the studio without intending to get pierced so that you are not under pressure or too nervous to be aware of the quality of the services. The best way to judge a piercer is to look at his/her work. If possible, talk to customers about their experiences. Ask to see a portfolio, specifically photographs of the piercing you are interested in and preferably photos of successfully healed piercings. While attendance of a piercer training seminar or class should be considered an advantage, it does not guarantee a piercer's level of skill or experience. Ideally, a training seminar serves as a well-rounded introduction to safe and responsible piercing. The facility should be clean, orderly, and well-lit. All Instruments utilized during the procedure should be sterile. Disposable items such as gloves, needle, cork, towels, cotton swabs, and gauze pads should all be new and sterilized if possible. The piercer should answer any questions before and after the piercing is performed. You should feel comfortable and at ease, not rushed. The piercer should review the piercing procedure and give both oral and written aftercare instructions. S/he should discuss the risks and possible complications associated with the piercing, which may include infection, migration or rejection, scarring, allergy or sensitivity to the jewelry, allergy or sensitivity to the aftercare products, and suggest a course of action in case a problem does occur. A responsible piercing studio will require that you complete a waiver form which describes the limits of piercer liability as well as what you should expect before, during and after the piercing procedure. The waiver serves to protect both the piercer and customer. It is your responsibility to inform the piercer of any medical conditions which may be exacerbated by the piercing procedure or of conditions which may interfere with the healing process. The piercer should practice aseptic technique which includes appropriate sterilization of instruments and jewelry, disinfection of surfaces, and avoiding cross-contamination. Every instrument which comes into contact with your body or with the jewelry should come from sealed sterilization packets with sterilization indicators. The needle and jewelry should remain in sterilization packets until they are used. Jewelry, as it is received from the manufacturer, should be assumed to be non-sterile. Ideally, the jewelry should be sterilized in individual autoclave packages which are opened in front of the customer so that there is no question that the jewelry has been sterilized. Jewelry which has been bulk sterilized must be stored and handled responsibly. Jewelry which has been stored in a display case or handled with bare hands should be re-sterilized. Jewelry which has previously been worn should be sterilized. The piercer should wear new, disposable gloves throughout the procedure and should change gloves when appropriate to avoid cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when a clean or sterile item comes into contact with a contaminated item. Cross contamination also occurs when a clean or sterile item is handled with contaminated gloves or gloves that have been worn to handle contaminated items. To prevent cross contamination of sterile instruments during the piercing procedure, the piercer should change gloves if s/he touches anything that is non-sterile or unsuitably contaminated (ie. handled with bare hands or used instruments that have not been sterilized). After the piercer completes the piercing procedure, s/he should change gloves before handling items that will not be disposed of or autoclaved. 3.2 ASSESSING ANATOMY AND SELECTING JEWELRY Because everyone is built differently, not everyone is anatomically suited for every piercing. Certain daily activities and sports can prolong healing or prohibit certain piercings. An experienced piercer will be able to ascertain if the piercing is likely to be successful. A piercing should not be attempted if there is not enough tissue to support the piercing. Piercings made in flat areas often migrate or reject (grow-out). The optimum area to be pierced is one in which the piercing will be perpendicular to the tissue, like an earlobe piercing. Wearing jewelry of an appropriate metal, design, and dimensions (gauge and diameter) is important for a successful piercing. Jewelry that is too thin in gauge is more easily rejected by the body. Wearing jewelry that is too thin increases the risk of the piercing being torn if the jewelry gets caught or pulled. Wearing jewelry that is too thick and heavy may cause the piercing to migrate or reject. The jewelry must not be so thick that the strength of the tissue is compromised. The diameter or length of the jewelry must be chosen carefully. The jewelry should be chosen after the piercing is measured. Some piercings tend to swell during the healing period. Wearing jewelry that is too small in diameter or length will constrict the piercing and cause the piercing to migrate and scar. The jewelry should be new and should be polished to a mirror-like shine, regardless of the type of metal. Used jewelry has minute scratches which can irritate a new piercing and trap bacteria. Oral jewelry is often scratched even after only a short time of wear. Oral jewelry collects plaque which is very difficult to thoroughly remove. 3.3 PIERCING NEEDLE OR GUN? Ear Piercing Gun The piercing gun or piercing implement was originally intended to be used on earlobes only. Even so, ear piercing studs are usually of one length and too short to accommodate swelling or earlobes which are thicker than average. Ear piercing studs are very difficult to clean thoroughly. The butterfly clip backing can become clogged with hair, discharge, dirt, and bacteria. Studs also have a tendency to become wrapped with hair, embedding the hair in the piercing. The piercing gun procedure causes more tissue trauma than the piercing needle procedure. The studs are considerably duller than a piercing needle and literally tear a hole through the tissue, whereas the needle slices a clean hole the gauge of the jewelry to be installed. A cleanly made hole is especially important in cartilage piercings. Most importantly, the cleanliness of the piercing gun method is questioned. Ear piercing guns are often made of plastic which cannot be properly sterilized in an autoclave. Simply wiping the gun with a surface disinfectant between clients is not adequate when the piercing gun could have possibly been exposed to bloodborne pathogens. Although the piercing studs themselves may be sterile, piercing guns which touch the earlobe before and after the procedure can be easily contaminated with blood. The gun may also be indirectly contaminated if the piercer touches the studs after they are installed and then touches the piercing gun without changing gloves. While some newer piercing guns are designed with sterilized, encapsulated stud cartridges to reduce the risk of contamination of the gun, older models without this safeguard are still used and are readily available for sale. From The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/hiv_aids/hivinfo/transmit.htm "In 1985, CDC issued routine precautions that all personal service workers, such as hairdressers, barbers, cosmetologists, and massage therapists should follow, even though there is no evidence of transmission from a personal service worker to a client or vice versa. Instruments that are intended to go through or penetrate the skin, such as tattooing and acupuncture needles or ear piercing devices, should be used once and thrown away or thoroughly cleaned and then sterilized. Instruments such as razors, which are not intended to penetrate the skin but which may become contaminated with blood should be used for only one client and thrown away or thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use." Single-Use Disposable Needles Piercing needles are hollow, lancet-point needles, beveled and sharpened similarly to the hypodermic needles used by medical professionals. Most are about 2 inches in length. Piercing needles slice a crescent-shaped hole and do not remove tissue. The larger the needle, the more exaggerated the crescent shape of the hole. Most piercers do not perform piercings larger than 10 or 8ga. Many piercers in Europe use cannula needles designed for intravenous drips, which are fitted with a plastic sheath that is used to thread the jewelry into the piercing. The needle should remain in its sterile autoclave package until the piercer is ready to proceed with the piercing. Needles should be used only once and placed in a medical sharps container which is disposed of through a medical waste disposal service. Aside from cleanliness concerns, needles are noticibly dulled from a single use. References: "Complications of Ear Piercing: Treatment and Prevention," W.M. Hendricks, Asheboro Dermatology Clinic, North Carolina. Cutis, 48:5, 1991 Nov, 384-94, ISSN 0011-4162. "Embedded Earrings," H.A. Cohen et.al., Pediatric Community Clinic, Petach Tikvah, Israel. Cutis, 53:2, 1994 Feb, 82, ISSN 0011-4162. "Embedded Earrings: a Complication of the Ear Piercing Gun," H.R. Muntz et. al., Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University Medical Center, Missouri 63110. In J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol, 19:1, 1990 Mar, 73-6, ISSN 0615-5876. "Experts Discourage Use of Home Piercing Kits," WRAL-5, Oct 20 97, http://www.wraltv.com/features/healthteam/1997/1020-ear-piercing/ "Hazards of Ear Piercing Procedures which Traverse Cartilage: A Report of Pseudomonas perichondritis and Review of Other Complications," V.L. Cumberworth and T.B. Hogarth, Department of Otolaryngology, Queen's Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, England. Br J Clin Pract, 44:11, 1990 Nov, 512-3, ISSN 0007-0947. "The Piercing Gun," Association of Professional Piercers Procedural Standards, 1998 edition, pp 31-38, http://www.safepiercing.org 3.4 BASIC PIERCING PROCEDURE Prep The area to be pierced should be cleansed using a surgical scrub. Povidone iodine is most often used for prep. To prevent contamination and preserve efficacy, individually packaged single use disposable swabs and wipes should be used instead of a bottle. Some people are allergic to povidone iodine; an allergy to shellfish is a predictor. Povidone iodine can cause chemical irritation to mucous membranes in areas such as the inside of the nose and genitals. Surgical scrubs containing Chloroxylenol (PCMX) are a more appropriate alternative to povidone iodine. PCMX is non-toxic, more effective against a broader range of microorganisms than povidone iodine, safe for use on mucous membranes, and is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. (1) Chlorhexidine gluconate solutions (name brand Hibiclens) are impractical for use as prep because they require thorough rinsing and should not be used near the eyes or ears. Prior to oral piercings the mouth should be prepped by rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash. After the area has been thoroughly disinfected, placement should be marked with a non-toxic permanent marker, such as a surgical marker or Sharpie brand marker, or a sterilized toothpick dipped in Gentian Violet. Preferably, markers are not used on more than one client; if reused, the entire marker including the nib should be disinfected using an appropriate, non-toxic disinfectant. Markers should never be reused after marking placement for genital or oral piercings or in areas of broken skin. Tools Most piercers use forceps to hold the area to be pierced. Forceps provide a guide for accurate placement and reduce the risk of an accidental needle stick to the piercer. The forceps most frequently used are the Pennington (triangular head) and the Foerster (oval head) forceps. The serrations on forceps are sharp and should be filed down to prevent irritating the skin. The forceps should be secured using a rubberband wrapped around the handles and not by the teeth of the handles. Securing the forceps by the teeth on the handles is extremely uncomfortable and can result in bruising. Most piercers use sterilized, disposable cork to support the side opposite the needle and to prevent an accidental needle stick. Vertical clitoral hood, Prince Albert, nostril, septum, and some ear cartilage piercings are performed with the aid of a needle receiving tube. The jaws of pliers used to open and close rings should be wrapped in surgical tape or padded with gauze to prevent scratching the jewelry. Brass-jaw pliers are less likely to scratch the jewelry than steel pliers. References: (1) Literature provided by Care-Tech Laboratories, http://www.caretechlabs.com, 1-800-325-9681 3.5 METHODS OF DISINFECTION AND STERILIZATION Disinfectants Disinfectants and "cold-sterilization" solutions destroy many microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi) but do not destroy bacterial spores. Disinfection does not replace autoclave sterilization. Disinfectants should be used on hard surfaces (ie. trays, countertop, chair) and reusable, non-autoclaveable tools, such as plastic calipers, before and after each procedure. Product usage instructions vary and some may not be suitable for all surfaces or applications. Some disinfectants are toxic and require special disposal, making them inappropriate for soaking jewelry prior to insertion. Ultrasonic Cleaner Prior to sterilization, instruments contaminated with blood and other debris should be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasonic cleaner uses cavitation (implosion of microscopic air bubbles produced by ultrasonic vibration) to remove debris. The ultrasonic cleaner is usually filled with a disinfectant or ultrasonic-specific solution. Jewelry should not be placed directly in the ultrasonic cleaner or with tools or other jewelry because it will be scratched. Sterilization Sterilization is the process of killing all microorganisms including bacteria, bacterial spores, fungi, and viruses. Improper sterilization can result in the spread of infectious bacteria and bloodborne viruses such as Hepatitis and HIV. Boiling is not an appropriate method of sterilization. Autoclave The most complete and reliable method of sterilization is the steam autoclave or chemical autoclave. The steam autoclave uses pressurized steam; the chemical autoclave often uses Ethylene oxide. Steam autoclaves are used by piercers more frequently than chemical autoclaves because of the hazards associated with Ethylene oxide. Pressure Cookers Pressure cookers may also be used for sterilization but with many disadvantages. Pressure cookers are not as reliable as autoclaves in maintaining temperature and pressure and do not display time, temperature or pressure (PSI). Pressure cookers will not dry the sterilized items; wet sterilization bags are susceptible to contamination. If a pressure cooker is used, items should be processed for at least 30 minutes at 15-20 pounds pressure. Internal indicators which indicate that heat and steam have penetrated the packaging and reached the instruments should be used inside every sterilization bag. Dry Heat While Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards (December 6, 1991; 29 CFR 1910.1030) recognizes dry heat sterilizers, they have several disadvantages. Sterilizing items in a dry heat sterilizer is extremely time and energy consuming. Some jewelry and piercing equipment cannot tolerate the high temperature required for sterilization. Sterilization Packaging Instruments to be sterilized are placed in self-sealing sterilization bags or sterilization tubing sealed with indicator tape. The tape and the outside of the bag or tubing are marked with external indicators which change color when exposed to heat and steam. Internal indicators which indicate that heat and steam have penetrated the packaging and reached the instruments can be used as an added precaution. Sterilization bags should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being removed from the autoclave. Wet bags are susceptible to contamination. Sterilizer Monitoring and Testing Sterilizers should be spore tested at least monthly. Spore testing kits contain two bacteria spore samples, one of which is cycled in the autoclave and the other used as a control. Spore testing systems are available for in-studio testing or testing by an independent laboratory. References: Association of Professional Piercers http://www.safepiercing.org/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Hospital Infections Program "Sterilization or Disinfection of Patient-Care Equipment: General Principles" http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hip/sterilgp.htm Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) "Occupational Exposure To Bloodborne Pathogens Standards" http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshStd_data/1910.1030.html 3.6 ANESTHETICS In the United States topical anesthetics are only available by physician's prescription. Injectable anesthetics are only available to licensed physicians. Topical anesthetics have little effect on areas other than mucous membranes and require a few minutes to be absorbed. Ethyl Chloride spray is used by many piercers in Europe. Frostbite and chemical irritation can result if Ethyl Chloride is misused. Most piercers agree that injectable anesthetics are not advantageous. When performed by an experienced piercer the piercing should require only a second to perform. Injectable anesthetics may interfere with placement of the piercing because the anesthetized tissue will swell. Some people are allergic to anesthetics. A severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, can be deadly. Physicians are trained to look for signs of a severe allergic reaction and are able to treat severe reactions. A piercer may not have these resources available. Some piercers feel numbing the area masks poor piercing technique. Those in favor of using anesthetics feel that piercers should use every tool available towards making the piercee more comfortable. You as a piercee should weigh supporting arguments and make your own decision as to whether or not to allow the use of anesthetics during your piercing. 3.7 ARE YOU UNDER 18? Many states now have laws restricting or prohibiting piercing minors. In the United States, most piercers require that you be 18 or over. If you are under 18 some piercers may perform certain piercings with parental consent and/or presence during the piercing. Most teenagers are still growing and developing. A reputable piercer will refuse to perform piercings in areas that are still developing. For example, navel piercings would not be suitable for a growing body. Most facial piercings are suitable for most teens over the age of 16. Some state regulations explicitly prohibit performing nipple and genital piercings on minors due to the sexual nature of the piercings. Please think twice before getting pierced by a piercer who does not care how old you are. A piercer who is not concerned about your physical development and the appropriateness of the piercing may not care about hygiene and safety either. Parents: If your teen is interested in getting pierced, realize that he/she is probably interested in getting pierced safely. If not allowed to get pierced ptofessionally, some teens will resort to piercing themselves with whatever is available which can result in infection, scarring, excessive bleeding and swelling, or possibly more severe adverse reactions. This publication is designed to help you and your teen make an informed decision. 3.8 DOES IT HURT? Most people experience some level of discomfort or pain during the piercing procedure. The amount of discomfort or pain you feel is influenced not only by the location of the piercing but by your state of mind. When performed by an experienced piercer, most piercings require only a second to be performed and pain is minimized. Many people find breathing exercises helpful towards relaxation, concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply during the entire procedure, even while the piercer is preparing for the piercing. Many piercers will work with your breathing pattern, either by piercing on your exhale or on your signal. Holding your breath will cause you to tense. A feeling of light headedness or slight dizziness during the first 10 to 20 minutes after the piercing is not unusual. Some people feel a rush of adrenaline and endorphins. Both sensations are the part of body's natural chemical response to what it perceives as a sudden injury. Some people do react strongly enough to faint. If you feel faint recline with your legs elevated. People who have not eaten within 6 hours of getting pierced are more likely to feel faint. Most importantly do not feel embarrassed if you do feel lightheaded, faint, or become nauseous. You cannot control how your body reacts and your piercer is already familiar with and prepared to handle these responses. 3.9 MAKING YOUR EXPERIENCE MORE COMFORTABLE Get plenty of rest the night before. Eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids within 6 hours of getting pierced. Do not consume alcohol, large amounts of caffeinated beverages, or blood-thinning medications within 12 hours prior to or 24 hours after getting pierced (or 24 hours after the piercing stops bleeding). If you must take blood-thinning medication discuss this with your piercer and your doctor prior to your appointment. Wear clean clothes. Depending on the location of your piercing, do not wear restrictive clothing. If you are getting a facial piercing, do not wear makeup around the piercing site. If you are getting an ear piercing, wear your hair away from your ear. If you are considering getting more than one piercing in a single session, consider factors such as your body's ability to heal multiple piercings and comfort during the healing period. 3.10 PIERCING KITS AND DOING IT YOURSELF Piercing kits have many disadvantages. Most kits do not include everything considered essential to performing a safe, hygienic piercing. The jewelry and tools are usually non-sterile and have probably been handled with unwashed hands. The jewelry and all tools that come in contact with piercing and jewelry must be sterilized in an autoclave. Piercing kits usually do not contain gloves and skin disinfectants necessary for disinfecting the skin prior to piercing. Piercing kits come with "one size fits all" jewelry which may not be appropriate in gauge or dimensions for your piercing. The instructions, when included, will not explain the anatomical considerations for placement. Nor will the instructions replace the knowledge and practiced technique of an experienced piercer. Some piercings are more easily performed using forceps or a needle receiving tube. Some sizes of rings require pliers to open and close the ring or to remove and replace the bead. If you do not have the appropriate tools, the piercing may be difficult to perform and the results may be poor. When the expense of everything that is required to perform a piercing safely and hygienically is calculated, the cost is often greater than getting pierced at a reputable studio. If you are unable to properly sterilize the jewelry, needle and tools in an autoclave, the cost may be greater if an infection results. -- -- Anne Greenblatt Manager of the rec.arts.bodyart Piercing FAQ Piercing Exquisite http://www.piercingexquisite.com