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Published Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Why You Shouldn't Be Pierced With a Piercing Gun

You probably think this entry is going to begin with a discussion of HIV. Actually, I’d like to introduce you to a pathogen named Hepatitis C. Hep C is seven times more infectious than HIV, can live four days outside of the body, and eats your liver. There are treatments, and some people clear the virus from their system even without treatments, but for most people infected it’s a big problem and it can certainly lead to death.

Can you get Hep C from a piercing gun?

In theory, yes.

Article over.

Man, that was a short one. Buy some sweet jewelry from Bodyartforms to celebrate.

Okay, fine, I’ll expand on that. The truth is that folks at the CDC and Hepatitis Central and the Association of Professional Piercers all say that theoretically you can get Hep C from a piercing gun. The gun can’t be sterilized properly without serious expensive equipment (Mall kiosks and chains stores do not have this equipment. Trust me.) and people are basically wiping the gun down with sterile wipes. Hep C can still get into the gun, all over the parts that hold the earrings, and the person responsible for cleaning the gun may not clean it properly.

Know that

Many of those piercing with guns have only had a couple weeks training. One employee at a chain which will remain nameless (But which is responsible for literally tens of millions of piercings) said her training involved piercing a teddy bear and watching a co-worker do a few piercings. Another said they pierced a piece of paper for training. Both said the training took approximately two weeks.

Both also said they would never have anything pierced at those establishments. Ever. In fact, if you google it, there seems to be a never ending supply of people who worked at places like the Nameless One who just pop into discussions to tell people, “Nooooo!” anytime someone mentions it.

But has anyone ever really gotten Hep C from a piercing gun?

Here’s the terrifying part: No one knows. It’s being tested and investigated, and some states have made piercing anything other than ears with a piercing gun illegal. The truth is that approximately 40% of people infected with Hep C don’t know how they got it. They just have it one day and that’s it. It’s also possible to have it and never show symptoms, but still spread it to other people.

And yeah, piercing guns do cause more damage to tissue than needles. And yeah, professional piercers train for years and take infectious disease courses and have studios with autoclaves and never reuse needles. So of course it’s safer, better and you definitely should do that.

But seriously, Hepatitis. I mean, that’s case closed right? All the other points I could make after that really should be moot.

PS: Don’t Share Jewelry

When doing research for this, I came across a number of mentions of jewelry sharing as a method of transmission for Hep C. It’s highly infectious, and many people don’t know they have it until they start having symptoms, and when you read about that, you read things like, “If symptoms occur”.

IF. Yeah, like I said above, you can be infected and never have symptoms. You can spread this virus to other people without ever showing symptoms yourself. If you’re sharing jewelry with someone, how well healed is their piercing? Is it irritated? Crusty? Potentially brimming with Hepatitis?

I mean, I get it. It’s jewelry. I’ve got great jewelry. You’ve got great jewelry. Let’s swap jewelry! But really don’t do that. It needs to be sterile. Like medically sterile. I asked professional piercer, APP member and infectious disease class instructor Rick Frueh how you and your friends can share jewelry safely.

Rick: “I am going to suggest they don't share jewelry.”

There you have it.

Rick went on to say that you could, theoretically, share jewelry as long as you sterilized it the same way they sterilize surgical tools. Rick is for real about this stuff. And I know, I work for a place that sells jewelry, so it sounds self-serving for me to spread this message, but for reals it is dangerous and you shouldn’t do it. I mean, unless you’re already exchanging bodily fluids with someone, in which case I guess go for it?
But if you’re like me and have no friends, you can still get sweet, sweet body jewelry from Bodyartforms. Which you should.

Find a professional piercer here.

Learn more about Hepatitis here.