Piercing guns — the typical tool used at your local shopping center — are fast and cheap, but they can put your health in danger. “From a medical standpoint, any object that is purposefully introduced through the skin should be sterile to decrease the probability of infection,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, dermatologist and founder of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City .
And while some mall stores state that they disinfect their tools beforehand, you can’t actually sterilize a piercing gun. And this is important because sterilization kills all “viable microorganisms,” while disinfection simply “reduces the number of viable microorganisms,” according to the Duke University and Medical Center.
“Piercing guns can not be sterilized because they are made of plastic. The plastic would melt in an autoclave, which is what we used to sterilize instruments like needles, jewelry, and any tools we might use during the piercing,” says John Joyce, a professional piercer with 18 years of experience and the owner ofScarab Body Arts in Syracuse, New York.
Even if a piercing gun is wiped off with an antiseptic wipe, there’s still a risk of spreading diseases (think hepatitis and staph infections) after multiple use, according to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). And sadly, it’s the people most likely to have their piercings done at the mall whose health is the most compromised. ” Babies, young children, and others with immature or compromised immune systems may be at higher risk for contracting such infection.”