When it comes to piercing children’s ears, safety is paramount and consent is key. This page is for parents to read with their children to make safe choices when the time comes that your child would like to have their ears pierced.
- What do you mean by a safe piercing?
There are a lot of elements that go into making a safe piercing, but first and foremost we mean a piercing that is done with a sterile needle rather than a piercing gun. To put it simply, piercing guns are unsuitable for piercing for the filling reasons:
-’Piercing Guns’ or ‘Piercing Systems’ can’t be sterilised between clients, meaning that the risk of bacteria or other pathogens remaining on the gun from the previous client is likely. When pathogens remain on the gun, they will often be transferred to the next set of gloves the practitioner dons, and then onto the client should they touch the piercings they have just performed. Many of these pathogens can survive for some time on a hard surface such as a piercing system or gun. In some cases this can result in an infection or the transmission of blood borne pathogens.
-The jewellery used by a piercing gun or piercing system is unsuitable for an initial piercing. Being ‘one size fits all,’ it is often ill-fitting and doesn’t allow room for swelling, which is a common side effect of the trauma caused by piercing guns. The material that the earrings are made from is often labelled ‘Mystery Metal’ by reputable piercers, as it’s difficult to discern exactly what it is made from. Simply this means that it is made from unverified materials that may not be suitable for long term wear in the body or could have a rough surface that irritates the skin.
-A piercing gun causes much more tissue damage than a needle, resulting in potentially more discomfort and swelling during healing.
By contrast, a piercing done by a professional piercer with a sterile single-use needle is likely to cause less discomfort and can be fitted with jewellery made from safe, verifiable materials for much easier healing.
- What age should my child get pierced?
Age limits are likely to vary from studio to studio depending on a studio’s insurance. We would suggest asking a studio you are looking to book in with what age they are insured from for ear piercings (a reputable piercer will be happy to tell you!).
On a more personal level though, the age that feels right will vary greatly from child to child. We suggest waiting until your child begins asking you for ear piercings and then spending some time discussing the idea with them before making a decision. Reading through this guide together may also be helpful. Some reputable studios also offer the option of having a consultation before you and your child make a decision.
- What if my child changes their mind?
Often piercing guns are used in retail establishments that aren’t otherwise used to helping empower clients to make changes to their body. This brings us on to consent. A professional piercer will never pierce a client without their consent. This includes minors. Although the child’s parent will sign a consent form to agree to the procedure, the final say is with the client and if your child asks to stop at any point during the procedure, a professional piercer will stop. Bodily autonomy is crucial when it comes to piercing and your child’s full informed consent throughout the process is the only way that a professional piercer will operate.
- How do I find a studio that offers children’s ear piercing?
First and foremost, we suggest you take a look at our member’s map (https://www.ukapp.org.uk/members-listing/) and find the UKAPP member closest to you. Not all of our members offer a children’s ear piercing service so we definitely recommend you get in touch with them first.
- Older Children and Teenagers
As your children get older and become teenagers, they may start asking for piercings other than their ear lobes. Fairly typical requests are for a nostril or helix piercing (the fold of cartilage at the top edge of the ear). You may well come across studios offering helix or nostril piercings with piercing guns or piercing systems. Fortunately, we rarely hear of anyone offering piercings with a gun or system outside of these three locations. It would be especially poor practice, and rarely heard of, for someone to attempt a navel, or eyebrow piercing for example with a piercing system or gun. Whilst the UKAPP do not believe that piercing with a gun is ever a safe thing to do, it can be especially destructive when piercing other locations such as the helix or nostril. The biggest risk in these areas is a condition especially prevalent with piercing guns due to the high chance of pathogen transmission; perichondritis. Perichondritis is a bacterial infection which can cause ‘collapsing’ of the cartilage in these areas. It is highly recommended that you avoid taking your teenager to have their helix or nostril pierced with a gun.
We hope that this guide has helped you as a parent to make an informed choice. It’s never ‘just a piercing’ and we believe that every piercing should be a safe, positive and empowering experience.