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Girl getting ears pierced

What is it?

Body piercing is putting jewellery through the skin. There are many things that you and your body piercer can do to reduce any risks.

What should I Look For?

Ask for a consultation visit with your perspective body piercer. Have a good look around the piercing studio and ask lots of questions. You can also call the Health Unit to see if your chosen piercing parlour has been inspected and request the results of the last inspection. To speak with a Public Health Inspector, call our intake line at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475

Your piercer should have knowledge and skills for the procedure, and know how to prevent infection. Ideally the piercer would have a certificate that they have completed a course provided by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on infection prevention and control in personal service settings

Look for:

Frequent handwashing

Hands should be washed before and after each client, before and after wearing gloves, and between breaks in service.

Disposable gloves

Should be worn when a piercer is performing any procedure.

Ask About:


Only disposable needles should be used.

All jewellery should be sterilized onsite and individually packaged, or should be purchased by the studio in sterile individual packages. You should examine the package for any openings and should check the sterilization expiry date.

Type of piercing gun used, there is one type that should never be used on cartilage (only earlobes)

Gun that should only be used on earlobe

Gun that may be used on earlobes and other body areas

Infection Control

How does the studio clean and disinfect? How does your body piercer prevent skin infections?

Your body piercer should provide you with after care instructions and tell you to seek medical attention without removing the jewellery if complications arise.


Ask your body piercer what type of jewellery is made of and what type of gloves they use. If you are allergic to latex, tell your body piercer prior to any contact.

What Are The Risks?


Viral Infections - life threatening viral blood infections (Hepatitis  B, Hepatitis C, and HIV).

Some infections or allergies can cause speech/swallowing problems, or swelling that can block the throat.

Nipple infections can lead to breastfeeding problems.

Dental Health/Oral Piercing

Jewellery in the mouth can cause chipping/cracking of teeth, gum irritation, and problems chewing or swallowing.

Belly Button/Naval Piercing

Jewellery in the naval can get caught on clothing and be irritated, which can delay healing up to one year.

Genital Piercing

Genital piercing can cause injury to you or your partner, or could cause condom breakage. Penile piercing can cause erectile dysfunction.

Medical Imaging

Body piercing can also cause problems with medical testing procedures. It may need to be removed depending on the test needed. If not removed the jewellery may be pulled out or the imaging may be compromised leading to possible misdiagnosis.

How Can I Reduce The Risk?

Unlicensed Body Piercing Parlours

Never visit an underground (unlicensed) body piercing parlour. Please report such places to the health unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.

Please be aware that not all municipalities require a health inspection prior to issuing a business license.

Pre-Piercing Skin Condition

Avoid piercing skin that is red, inflamed or covered with a rash.


Follow all aftercare guidelines given by your body piercer. Some general after care instructions are:

  • Keep area dry except for normal showering or bathing.
  • Clean hands immediately before touching piercing.
  • Ensure wound is not dry when turning jewellery.
  • Allow air to access piercing to promote healing.
  • Do not remove potentially infected jewellery until seen by a medical professional.
  • If you notice signs/symptoms of infection (increased redness, swelling, tenderness, heat when touched and appearance of pus) please visit your healthcare provider or nearest walk in clinic


Durkin, S. E. (2012, March). Tattoos, body piercing, and healthcare concerns. Journal of Radiology Nursing, 31(1), 20-25.

Davis, C. (2014, November 7). Caring for......patients with tattoos and body piercings. Nursing Made Incredible Easy!, 49-51. Retrieved from

Infection Control Unit- Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. (2009). Infection prevention and control best practices for personal service settings.

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