What is Body Piercing?

J. Beam

Body piercing is the practice of puncturing any part of the body for the addition of jewelry or ornamentation. This practice is governed and regulated by various regional agencies, most frequently health departments. A body piercer must meet specific requirements and have specific training before he or she is lawfully permitted to perform this activity on the public.

A specially designed gun is used to pierce ears.
A specially designed gun is used to pierce ears.

It may surprise many people to learn that, before a person can offer body piercing to the public in a lawful environment, he or she is required to have health-related training. A basic study of both anatomy and physiology, along with a course in preventing transmittable diseases and blood borne pathogens, is required in most locales. Other courses may be necessary to obtain a license and registration.

In some families, girls may not be allowed to pierce their ears until they are adults.
In some families, girls may not be allowed to pierce their ears until they are adults.

Many people mistakenly believe that piercing is unsanitary and a high health risk. It’s true that infections can occur, even in a sterile environment with a properly trained piercer, but in actuality, there are many studios that provide a more sterile service than a mall jeweler shooting a piercing gun all day. In fact, experts often recommend that individuals do not get their ears pierced with a piercing gun, because the machine can not be properly sanitized and because it creates unnecessary blunt force to the skin and tissue, The person wielding the gun is also probably not licensed or trained in any way.

A piercing by a licensed and registered professional will be accompanied by thorough instructions regarding caring for the fresh piercing and preventing infection during healing. All body piercing done by a licensed piercer uses sterile needles, which are disposed of after single use. Any equipment that is reusable is capable of being thoroughly sanitized.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to follow expert advice and skip the mall piercing gun when young girls want their ears pierced, because some licensed piercers will not pierce children under a certain age, even with parental consent. It’s also important for people to realize that no one under 18 should be able to receive a body piercing without parental consent. People who are interested in getting a piercing should check with local licensed professionals regarding the risks and procedures.

All body piercing done by a licensed piercer uses sterile needles.
All body piercing done by a licensed piercer uses sterile needles.

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Discussion Comments


There are all kinds of weird piercings you can get now. People are all trying to one up each other with their types of body piercing.

I've seen body piercing galleries with pictures of people who have had their uvula pierced (that's the dangling bit at the back of your throat) or their genitals (in various ways) or everywhere around the face and tongue and ears. Even sometimes down on the throat.

And then there are the people who insert beads or other shapes under their skin, or enlarge holes in their ears.

I think it is fascinating, but I'm only going to watch, not participate!


One of my favorite body piercings is the corset piercing. I would never do it myself, but I think it looks awesome.

Apparently it only lasts a few weeks, if that, because the rings are not in a place that will accept a long term piercing. Eventually they will be rejected and that can leave a scar, so it's better to just take them out. So, you probably don't ever get to enjoy them without pain.

They are just a showy kind of extreme fashion, and whoever came up with the idea has my respect.


You should be especially careful if you decide to pierce your ears or somewhere else on a whim while overseas.

Some places don't have any legal regulations for their piercing studios. There are international organizations which will accredit piercers with official standards.

If you find one that follows the guidelines of an international body then go for it. But make sure they have the documents to back it up, because you don't want to end up with a massive infection, a botched job, or worse, a disease.

Although I have to admit I got a piercing while traveling, I wouldn't recommend it.

It takes longer to heal because you are sleeping in different places and you are tired anyway. Wait til you get home and you can do it properly.

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