Some people think that piercing themselves, or getting their friends/family to do it is a good thing to do, because it saves both money and a trip to a piercing studio. However, there are reasons why only a professional should be allowed to pierce people, which are discussed below.
A piercing involves a wound being made in your body, and a piece of metal placed in it so the hole can heal. This is something that causes pain, although the amount varies on the person and the piercing, and if done wrong can cause permanent damage to your body. Professional piercers are trained to perform piercings, using the right equipment, and know the best ways of piercing, with the least chance of infection or hitting a nerve.
If you are having a pair of piercings that need to be in alignment, self-piercing will make this very difficult. You are unable to see both ears at once, so checking the placement will be guess-work.
A professional will mark with a pen where you want your piercings, and will check they are in the right place, and ask you to check if they placement is right for you.
Common materials used for self-piercing are sewing needles and safety pins. Even if they are new they are not sterile, and they require the needle to be pushed through the skin, taken out and the jewellery put in, while piercing needles are hollow so the jewellery can slide in as the needle is pulled out.
The equipment used by a professional is sterile, needles and other things are used only once to minimise the risk of infection from previous customers, and they use the most appropriate equipment for the piercings, such as the gauge of the piercing.
Even new jewellery is not sterile, unless stated on the packet. A lot of people self-pierce on impulse and will use the first thing they find, which is often an old earring that they may wipe with some disinfectant. This does not mean it is clean, especially clean enough for a new piercing.
Professional piercers will use jewellery that is sterile, and that hasn’t been used before (or rather, they should, if they don’t, walk out). They will also use the jewellery that is the most appropriate for a particular piercing. If there is more than one option, they will ask you to decide which one you prefer, although in some cases they price will be slightly more for a bar rather than a ring, for example. The jewellery professionals use will also be made of materials such as titanium, to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction and irritation to the piercing.
Self-piercing is often undertaken in an environment that is lived in, such as a bedroom or bathroom. Even if they have been recently cleaned, they will not be sterile. Bacteria can be picked up and transferred to the piercing, even if the piercer is wearing gloves.
A professional studio will be designed specifically for piercing, and all the equipment will be cleaned regularly, and used only once. Gloves will be worn when touching the jewellery, so the opportunity for bacteria to be transferred is minimal.
A professional piercer will give you proper aftercare instructions, and will possibly recommend something to clean them with. When a piercing is not done by a professional, it is more important than ever to keep it clean, and the temptation may be to clean it more than it needs. Twice a day at the most is sensible, any more than that and you will clean the new cells that are forming, which will prolong the healing time.