Why You Should Fear Piercing Guns

Blog By M. Mitera

Say no to piercing guns!

Almost everyone who is in their mid twenties or older had their earlobes originally pierced at the mall. Maybe it was at a kiosk or a store that sells feather boas next to their body jewelry. Chances are the person piercing was using a piercing gun, a horrendous contraption made of aluminum and plastic. These mechanisms were the popular way to get your earlobes pierced for a long time. While once imagined to be a great way to adorn your lobes and sometimes cartilage and even occasionally other parts of the body, piercing guns are not the most sanitary or safest option to go with when choosing where you go to get your ears pierced.

The piercing gun originates from livestock and farms. Farmers used a similar tool to tag the ears of their cattle. In order to keep track of which cow belonged to which who, farmers would tag the ears of the animal with a specific number or name. That way, when Bessie wandered over to Bill’s farm, he could send her back to Jim’s farm because of the tag on her ear. Then, somewhere, someone decided to begin using these tools on humans in order to pierce ear lobes. The guns usually work on a spring, pushing a “starter stud” (an earring with a sharp end that acts like a needle but in fact, is not) through the lobe, in to a traditional butterfly backing. While it may seem like a good idea because it’s “quick”, piercing guns can lead to a plethora of issues ranging from infection to never fully healing.

Since the piercing guns are constructed of cheap plastic, they can not be run through an autoclave. An autoclave is a machine that uses heat, pressure, and steam to sterilize tools on a microscopic level. Steel tools can survive the intense sterilization process of the autoclave; a piercing gun would melt. Most mall shops and kiosks don’t even mind that their tool can’t be properly sterilized; they simply swab up the gun with a rubbing alcohol towelette and move on to the next customer. Since alcohol swabs don’t totally kill germs, the guns are still dirty when they’re used on the next customer. Even if the gun itself did not touch the client and the cartridge is disposable, there is a huge risk of cross contamination since the entire tool can not be completely sterilized. This lack of cleanliness can lead to easier transmission of blood borne pathogens.

Photo by AJ Goldman

Since the gun does not use a needle and simply shoves the not-very-sharp jewelry through tissue, this tool is extremely traumatic for the lobe. In fact, the medical term for something such as a piercing gun would be “blunt force trauma”. While the end of the earring used is slightly sharper than normal, it still isn’t as sharp as the hollow needle used by piercing professionals. The gun can also sometimes stop halfway through the piercing and what follows is a terrible event for all involved as the person piercing with the gun has to remove the jewelry all together or attempt to puncture the earlobe with their hands and the earring. Both options are not good. 

All of the jewelry used in guns is the same size but every human body is different; some people have thicker lobes than others and the shorter jewelry can cause severe scarring and swelling, coupled with a high rate of straight up rejection. With the swelling, it can get so bad that the earring becomes completely embedded in the tissue and must be removed by a professional piercer or in the worst case scenario, a doctor. Since professional piercers fit all of their jewelry to the individual client, this kind of intense reaction is much less likely to happen in a professional setting. Tight jewelry also doesn’t leave room for proper cleaning, leaving germs trapped between the jewelry and the skin and free to roam about in the new piercing.

Look, mom! No gloves!

To make an already long story a bit shorter; it is not a good idea to get your ears pierced with a piercing gun. Actually, you should never get anything pierced with a piercing gun. These mechanisms are not clean, are ill fitted, and uncomfortable. A professional shop may not offer free ear piercings with the purchase of the jewelry but a professional shop is going to be using implant grade titanium, individually fitted jewelry, and sterilization techniques that mall kiosks don’t have access to. It’s your body and you need to treat it right. Say no to piercing guns for the sake of your lobes!


About the Author: M has been a professional blogger for six years and has contributed to various websites. When she is not writing, she is a professional body piercing apprentice. M can be reached at piercingsbymorgan@gmail.com and you can find her piercing only blog HERE.

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