It's convenient and seems simple. Maybe it's what you did as a kid: Pop into the cheap jewelry store at the mall and get pierced at Claire's.
Except -- yuck. Just because you did it, doesn't mean you shouldn't do better for your own kids.
Here's the difference between getting a piercing at Claire's or at a professional body modification studio.
Note: This goes for any ideas you may have for piercing your own body at home (or at a party after a few drinks), too.
Please. Don't be disgusting.
Piercing Guns vs. Needles
Claire's uses a piercing gun that forces the jewelry through the skin. A trained piercer (who has likely gone through years of an apprenticeship and this is their career -- not a teenage retail clerk who does this on the side) uses a hollow-point needle that is only used once. A piercing gun is made of a plastic material that simply can't be properly sanitized due to the pores in the material.
A typical Claire's piercing earring isn't as sharp as a needle, so when you ram it through the skin, it causes unnecessary pain, damage, and inflammation to the body (and can make the healing process longer and more difficult).
Because the needle comes to a sharp point, it makes a clean cut and minimal force is required to puncture the skin. Less trauma = fewer complications.
That sales associate watches a quick video on how to pierce ears, whereas a professional piercer not only has to go through extensive training (one year or more) and then supervised piercings, but our piercers are also required to be trained in safe handling of blood-borne pathogens -- above and beyond what the county requires. Even if you don't think you care about the risk for complications, consider the possibility of infecting your blood with a disease that you may have to live with for the rest of your life. Body modification is no joke and should be left to a professional.
This is where it gets real nasty. Claire's reuses their plastic gun. They just wipe it down with an alcohol swab between uses -- but alcohol is far from sufficient for proper sterilization. This leave you or your child at risk for infection. And a piercing infection can be very serious, even lead to the hospital.
We use single-use, sterilized needles. We sterilize all jewelry and tools in an autoclave. We set up an entire sterile area, and all surfaces (everywhere!) are intensely cleaned between piercings using medical-grade cleaners (that kill e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g).
We do everything possible to keep you clean and safe (and keep our piercers safe, too).
Get a Safe Piercing at a Tattoo Studio
The Mayo Clinic has advice on how to get a safe piercing (hint: Zero times does it recommend using ice and a safety pin in your dorm room).
From Mayo's mouth:
To make sure your piercing is done safely, ask these questions:
Who does the piercings? Don't attempt to pierce yourself or allow an untrained friend to do the piercing. Go to a reputable piercing studio where employees are properly trained.
Does the piercer wear gloves? Make sure the piercer washes his or her hands and wears a fresh pair of disposable gloves for each piercing.
Does the piercer use proper equipment? While some venues use piercing guns for earlobe piercing, the Association of Professional Piercers cautions that reusable piercing guns can't be properly sterilized and can damage ear tissue. For earlobe and other body piercings, look for a piercer who uses a fresh, sterile, disposable needle to create a hole and then inserts a piece of jewelry into it.
Does the piercer sterilize nondisposable equipment? Make sure the piercer uses a heat-sterilization machine (autoclave) to sterilize all nondisposable equipment after each piercing.
Does the piercer use hypoallergenic jewelry? Look for surgical stainless steel, titanium, niobium, or 14- or 18-karat gold.