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 Piercing Frequently Asked Questions

I get asked lots of questions about tattoos and piercings, that's because for some there are lots of questions to ask right?. I've put together some of the most often asked here for you to read at your own pace. If you are curious about getting a Piercing or would like to know more have a scroll through the list below, if there is something else you would like to know  contact me. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       Thanks, Charlie

Does piercing hurt ?


Of course it does, but the real question is how much? Often thinking about or waiting to have your piercing will increase your anxiety and fear about the process. The piercing itself is brief, but pain is relative to each person. Talking through any fears or concerns that you may have with your piercer will help.


How old do I have to be to have a piercing ?


If you are under 16 years old you need to have consent from your parent or guardian, they will also need to attend our studio with you. Skin Graphics studio will not pierce younger children’s ears respect your piercer’s views and try to avoid emotional blackmail.  A professional piercer will want to know that the child understands what it means to have a piercing, along with the parent or guardian taking responsibility for the aftercare of the piercing.  There is some debate regarding the age of genital piercings, our understanding is that it is an offence if you are under the age of 18. If you are over 16 years and are lucky enough look under the age of 25 years be prepared to be asked to provide ID. Here at Skin Graphics, we offer a child friendly environment, as an alternative to overpriced high street chains.


What should I do before having a piercing ?


Having your piercing done on an empty stomach is never a good idea.  Eat a good meal before getting pierced to keep your blood sugar steady. If you have not eaten all day your blood sugar will be low, and low blood sugar could cause you to feel dizzy or, in some cases, to faint.  Don’t have a drink to steady your nerves. You should also be asked to complete a consent form; this form should also provide you with information regarding side effects of having a piercing.


What should happen immediately after my piercing ?


You should never feel rushed after you have had a piercing.  Some people can feel shaky or their new piercing could feel slightly ‘strange and new’ so take the time that you need to feel comfortable to move.  Tell your piercer if you feel unwell or faint; don’t be embarrassed you won’t be the first! Some new piercings can take a couple of days to settle and look like they belong, especially if there has been some swelling, be patient. A good studio will provide you with written aftercare information and should have an aftercare solution available for you to purchase.


Choosing the right Studio for you ?


The process of choosing the right piercing studio is a vital one. People spend time seeking out their preferred tattooist, but the majority of people will get a piercing spur of the moment.  Take the time to meet your piercer, ask to look around the studio and ensure that you are given enough time to ask any questions that you may have.  Getting to know your piercer will improve the experience. The studio that you choose should also be registered with the local authority if the certificate is not on display, ask to see it and a copy of the authorities by-laws; legally these have to be at the studio.  The studio should also have a fully operational ultra-sonic cleaner and autoclave. You should feel comfortable in the environment; you shouldn’t be rushed and should be given time to ask all the questions that you need to.  If you are not happy with what you see or hear, leave and find another studio. Sometimes spending a little longer looking around or spending a bit more will provide you with not only the service you deserve but also the piercing experience that you want.


Can I get an infection from being pierced ?


Yes potentially you can, especially if your piercer does not follow even the basic infection control principles, but this is very rare.  If a piercing becomes infected it is usually due to the person not following the aftercare guidelines that they have been given.  Blame is then automatically and mostly unfairly placed on the piercer or studio. When asked your piercer should be able to fully explain to you about infection control, blood borne pathogens and how to properly sterilise their instruments.  Ideally studios should be able to provide you with autoclave readings that correspond to packaged sterilised jewellery and a studio cleaning schedule.  The clamps and forceps used do not need to be packaged for sterilisation as they do not normally come into contact with bodily fluid; they should be ultrasonically cleaned prior to being sterilised in an autoclave. It goes without saying that the needle is for single use only, and should be un-wrapped in front of you.  Jewellery should also be sterilised with packaging again opened in front of you. Work stations should be fully disinfected before and after every piercing procedure, your piercer should wear disposable gloves throughout the procedure, and disposing of needles in a clearly marked sharps container.


Is there any pain relief that i can use?


There are various options available; some people will choose to take ibuprofen prior to a piercing especially for oral piercings as it is also an anti-inflammatory.  Your piercer may offer you a freeze spray which can ease any immediate pain.  Try to avoid numbing sprays where possible, but if you choose to use one during your piercing you should be given the products details as you could be allergic to some of the ingredients. Contra-indicators for products are available on the internet and it is worth looking them up prior to using a product. Do not take aspirin as this will thin your blood and could pose problems should you bleed.


If in any doubt PLEASE seek advise from your own professional health practitioner.


Will my piercing bleed ?


Sometimes yes a new piercing will bleed.  A small amount of bleeding the first day or two is not uncommon especially when you are cleaning your piercing. Sometimes even the most experienced piercer can catch a vein which cannot be seen, you may have to have the piercing removed immediately to stop the bleeding so that the area can heal.  This is a very rare occurrence however.  Sometimes there can be bruising to the tissue around the piercing site which causes discoloration to the skin, but this isn’t usually anything to worry about.


What can and can't I do during the healing period ?


Treat your new piercing like you would a wound.  For the first couple of days avoid anything that you think is likely to irritate your piercing.  Treat your fresh piercings as gently as possible, this will help your body to heal as quickly as possible. Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before touching your healing piercing. See our aftercare section for more information.


How long before I can change my jewellery ?


Healing times can vary from person to person. The first part of the healing period is when your body creates a layer of skin between you and the first piece of jewellery used; the full healing period is when your new piercing is completely healed.  Ask your piercer about the healing times for your particular piercing. Changing your jewellery before your piercing has completely healed remember that you could be re-opening the ‘piercing wound’. This will slow your healing process and will require thorough aftercare to prevent any possible infection.  When you change your jewellery you are likely to irritate your new piercing, no matter how careful you are.  If you are still keen to change your jewellery we advise that you wait until your piercing is no longer tender to touch (with clean hands) or sleep on.


Why do I have to start with titanium, stainless steel, or gold jewellery ?


Titanium (our preferred jewellery all purchased in the Europe) and High-grade Surgical Stainless Steel, which is virtually nickel-free, will give you the best chances of an infection and reaction-free piercing. Jewellery used by professional piercers is specially designed to allow removal of dirt and bacteria effectively during the healing process. Allowing for full movement of the jewellery makes it much easier for you to clean your piercing properly. The metals that are used in this jewellery are also better for your skin and less likely to cause a reaction. There will be plenty of time to change your jewellery to reflect your personal style later.


How long should I wait before stretching my piercing ?


Ideally you should wait at least three times as long as the advised healing period before attempting any stretch. Stretching piercings takes time and patience. Scar tissue can build up and create ugly, problematic piercings that can be difficult to stretch. This allows the new skin some time to thicken and toughen up before it gets traumatized by the enlarging process.  If you do decide to start to stretch your piercing keep the area clean, you may find that your stretch will smell this is due to a build-up of dead skin cells and bacteria.


Needle versus Gun ?


Using a needle for the piercing process itself is much safer and less painful than having a blunt stud forced through your skin. A piercing needle is not only hollow but it is also extremely sharp. It slices through the skin, safely pushing the tissue aside to make room for the jewellery to be inserted. Whilst this may not sound too appealing, it is actually a very quick process and the method is virtually painless for most body parts.  Piercings that have been done by a needle will heal quicker than those done by a gun. The only piercing that should be done by a gun is the lobes.  However ask your piercer how they clean the piercing gun.


Do piercing guns hurt less than needles ?


The piercing gun supposedly hurts less as it is quicker; however in our opinion a needle is still the better choice for the majority of piercings we will only use a gun for ear lobes.  Body piercing done with a needle and by a real professional is quick clean and very safe.


If I have a skin condition can I have a piercing ?


If you have a rash, burn, broken skin, or sunburn in the area that will be pierced, you must wait until the skin has healed before you can receive the piercing. It is possible to pierce through scar tissue (to re-pierce an area where you used to have a piercing, for example), but the scar must be completely healed. If you remove a piercing and wish to re-pierce the area, in most cases you should wait one to two months after removing the jewellery for the old piercing to fully heal.


Why is my tongue really white with a whitish ring around my piercing ?


This can be caused if you are using mouth wash too frequently and/or it contains alcohol.  As it can destroy the layer of healthy bacteria on the top of your tongue. If this is the case reduce the amount of times you use mouth wash.


What can I do to help my piercer ?


Be honest about any health concerns, your piercer is a professional and has a responsibility under data protection to work in a confidential manner. Be honest if you do not like the position your piercer has suggested for your piercing.  It is your piercing, take the time to look at where the potential piercing will be sited, for example with facial piercing smile/frown/pout etc. with body piercings stretch and twist etc. Keep calm, try and relax, take a deep breath and slowly let it out as the piercing takes place.  Tensing up can cause some difficulties with piercing certain areas e.g. Nipples. Follow the aftercare advice given to you by your piercer; whilst friends and relatives can be well meaning and may consider themselves an expert because they also have a piercing your piercer is in the best position to advise you. 

If you have any other questions that we haven’t answered here, please feel free to contact us.

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