Do It Yourself Piercings - How to Pierce at Home
There are many people who choose to do their own piercings. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. However, if you have a good idea of what you are doing, what you should use (and shouldn't use), how you should care for your piercings you can do a good job doing several piercings and types of piercings.
It should be noted that the advice and information provided here is the information and experiences I have had. I am not a doctor (or other medical professional) and have no training in piercing. Therefore the results can not be guaranteed and you are piercing yourself at your own risk.
What Types of Piercings Can Be Done At Home
Ear and cartilage piercings are the safest options for doing your own piercings. While cartilage takes a long time to heal, these are relatively safe piercings with few complications.
If you approach the piercings and their care correctly it is also safe to pierce the lip, eyebrow, nose, and belly button at home.
On the other hand, you should never pierce your own tongue, nipples, or genitals. There is a lot more risk in these piercings. You can cause nerve damage and infections are much more likely. It is always best to go to a respected professional for these piercings.
When dealing with piercings needles and body jewelry the question of gauge will come up. Gauge is the size of the whole that you want to make with 20 being the smallest (usually used for nose piercings) to a 00 which requires a plug rather than an earring. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your earring and the jewelry you want to use.
- 20g is typically used for nose piercings and it is hard to find a nose "bone" in any other size. It can be used to pierce the ears if you can't find 18g needles.
- 18g is the size of most standard earrings. This size works well for your ears and cartilage if you want to wear standard earrings in the piercings.
- 16-14g can also be used to pierce your ears, cartilage, and other body piercings. These are good sizes if you want larger jewelry in your holes. However, you shouldn't pierce at a larger gauge even if you are wanting to make really big wholes.
To increase your gauge. Should you want to make your wholes larger you will simply put in larger jewelry. This will stretch the whole out. This process if often called gauging and should be done slowly (usually one size at a time). You place your new jewelry in and let the whole heal for at least a week. Then you put in the next size and so forth till the whole is the desired size.
People use a lot of different things for piercings of all sorts. Here is a list of some of the common ones and why you shouldn't use them.
Piercing gun. When piercing became more popular so did piercing guns. They are still used in many locations that sell earrings. However, a piercing gun causes blunt force trauma that isn't good for your ear and it should never be used on other locations (including cartilage and body piercings).
Sewing needles, safety pins, and such. A lot of people pierce themselves in the spur of the moment and grab whatever they find. This causes more trauma too and is often unsterile which increases the risk of infection. It is also important that you use a hollow needle to remove flesh in piercings of larger size.
Should you use either of these methods you can still follow the after care methods below to help keep yourself from getting an infection or to help get rid of an infection should you have one.
It is important that you keep things sterile. This is the biggest thing when it comes to piercing at home. You want to get supplies that are completely sterile. Equipment needs really depend on what you are piercing.
Ears - To pierce your ears you will need:
- straight, hollow piercing needles. They should be sterile and in a sterile package. You will need one for each piercing and you should never reuse them. Standard jewelry found in all stores that sell earrings is an 18 gauge. For the easiest results you will want a needle that fits the jewelry you want to wear.
- cork. The best thing you can do is buy a package of piercing corks. They are really inexpensive and are the best material to put your needle into. They come in standard cork and rubber. The standard option is fine.
- jewelry. You will want sterile jewelry of high grade. It is important that you are using something that can stay there for some time without causing a problem. Titanium is often the best choice.
- skin marking pen. It isn't safe to use a magic marker and getting an ink pen to make a small dot is hard. The best option is to invest in a skin marking pen which can be purchased for a small fee.
- rubbing alcohol. The best option is to get individually packaged wipes.
- rubber gloves. With piercing of the ears you can usually get away with a good washing. However, there may be bleeding and the safest option is always going to be the most sterile option.
Body piercings. Most body piercings will require a fair amount of additional equipment.
- needles. You will still need sterile needles in a gauge that works for the jewelry of your choice. For most body piercings you will want a curved needle. The one exception is the lip which can be done with either since you can pull it out. One needle per piercing!
- jewelry. You should always have sterile jewelry to place into your piercing. Alcohol and fire aren't good ways to try to make your jewelry sterile.
- skin marking pen. This is the safest and easiest option and it isn't expensive.
- rubbing alcohol.
- rubber gloves.
- piercing forceps. These will hold the flesh while the needles are put in.
It is a very good idea to have someone help you, especially with body piercings. You can guide them through the piercing and it can go very well. This will make it so that you won't feel like you need an extra set of hands to get the piercing done.
Piercings hurt. Some worse than others. We all have a different level of pain tolerance which should be kept in mind when getting a piercing. Ice is the best way to numb the area and should be done before the rubbing alcohol. However, it should be noted that ice makes the area stiffer and harder to get the needle through. This could lengthen the time that it takes to get the piercing done with.
Step by Step Instructions
- Wash the area. You want to be as sterile as possible. So make sure you wash the table before laying out your sterile supplies.
- Wash your hands. If you are getting help, and I would suggest it a lot, then you will want everyone to wash their hands and wear gloves.
- Put on gloves.
- Wipe down the area where you will be piercing. This should be done with rubbing alcohol and on both sides of the piercing to make it as clean as possible.
- Mark the spot. For accuracy it is best to mark the location you would like the piercing. This will make it a lot easier to pierce and will also make it more likely that you will like where the piercing ends up. Use a skin marking pen for safety reasons.
- Prepare your needle. If you are using a stud and have gotten the correct size needles you can place your stud into the needle and slide the needle through and the earring into place. This makes it much easier. Either way you want to open your sterile needle now.
- Hold the flesh with the forceps or the cork in place. For body piercings you will hold the flesh with the forceps. Your dot should be in the middle and your needle will go through the eye of the forceps. For ear piercings the needle will go through the skin and into the cork so you want to hold the cork on the other side of the ear.
- Push the needle through. You will need to push the needle through. In most cases this will require quite a bit of pressure and may include several "pops". The needle will feel different going through skin, cartilage, and other types of tissue. Cartilage is the hardest to get through so be prepared if piercing the top of the ear or the nose.
- Pull your needle the rest of the way through. Just as if you were sewing you will need to pull your needle through the other side. If you are doing an ear piercing you should simple pull the cork away from the ear with the needle in it.
- Put your jewelry in. You will now want to put your jewelry in the new piercing. If you used a stud (such as one your ear and it went into the hollow needle) then you only need to put the back on. Other types of jewelry will need to be put into the hole. You will want to do this quickly to make it easy to find the whole.
- Wipe up any blood and clean with rubbing alcohol. Some piercings will be very blood, others won't bleed at all. Sometimes one ear will bleed a lot and the other one not at all. Just clean it up and wipe the wound (yep you just wounded yourself) with rubbing alcohol.
If you are doing more than one piercing you can mark them ahead of time, but you should open your needles and finish the rest of the steps one piercing at a time.
There is a lot of debate about the best after care methods for keeping your piercing clean, healing it, and making sure you don't get infected. There is even a lot of debate about what you should do should you get an infection. Here are my suggestions.
- After care is important. Sure it is easier to just leave it alone and hope for the best. However, you are likely to have more pain, get an infection, and have a problem. If you take care of your piercing you are much less likely to have these problems.
- Salt water (known as saline) is better for after care than rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol will clean it, but it also slows down healing. Saline will clean it, sooth it, and will aid in healing.
- Always, Always, Always wash your hands before you touch your piercing. The idea is to keep it clean and healing. If you don't wash your hands you are introducing germs. Germs are bad.
Ears. Your ear lobes are one of the easiest places to keep your piercing clean and healing. Healing takes about six weeks. Once a day you should wash the piercing with salt water (either purchased as saline or made with salt dissolved in water). Leave the earrings in for the six weeks that it takes to heal it.
If you get an infection start washing with it with antibacterial soap once a day. Try not to remove the jewelry because this could cause more pain. Make sure that you rinse it really well.
Cartilage. The upper portion of the ear is a lot harder to heal. Many believe that this is the hardest part of the body to heal. It takes at least six months, but often an entire year to heal. You will want to make sure that you take care of it the same way you would a lower piercing, but for a lot longer. Don't remove your jewelry for at least three months. Always soak new jewelry (or clean your old jewelry) in saline solution.
If it gets infected then you should wash with antibacterial soap and make sure that it is rinsed really well.
Body piercings. Most body piercings should be taken care of in the same manner. You will want to make sure that you keep them clean and don't snag them with clothing (should you be piercing your body).
Around the mouth. It is important that you work on keeping your mouth clean if you have pierced the area around your lips. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss, and use mouth wash to reduce the bacteria in the mouth. Also clean the piercing area with saline (it is best if you clean both sides with saline. While salty it is safe for your mouth).These piercings also take longer to heal, often about three months.
*If any of your piercings get infected really bad then it is best to see a doctor or a piercing specialist. If you are careful to keep things sterile during the piercing and you clean once a day then you shouldn't have this problem.
*Some are sensitive to metals. If you are using an inexpensive earring such as steel (even surgical steel) you may have a problem with the jewelry. You can often get a better result by replacing it with something of better quality (gold or titanium is preferred over sterling silver because sterling silver may tarnish in the piercing. However, sterling silver is better than steel).
*Some say that if you remove the piercing due to infection that you will spread the infection throughout your body and that you can even die from it. This is an exaggeration. You won't die from it and if your piercing is bothering you badly you can remove it and allow it to heal up.
With care you can do a number of piercings at home. It is easier with a friend, but can be done on your own. Remember that you should plan ahead and buy the proper supplies. While you will need to wait longer than if you did it without the proper supplies, you will get much better results with the right supplies. Now is the time to make your statement, but make sure that you are making it safely!