In 2012, a writer for TIME magazine wrote an article in the Health section about her decision to take her 7-year-old daughter to a tattoo parlor to get her ears pierced.
Bonnie Rochman did what any good journalist/parent would do, she researched. She was surprised to find out that doctors and mommy bloggers both felt that the piercing kiosks at the mall were not the optimal place for this permanent decision.
The stigma surrounding tattoo and piercing parlors is that they are not appropriate places for children but that was not how Rochman and healthcare professionals felt.
The piercing guns used in malls are not the most sanitary way to poke a hole in your lobe. The guns are hard to sanitize and some claim that they are not always cleaned between ears.
Contrary to popular belief, licensed tattoo and piercing parlors are regulated in some states, and reputable ones use disposable needles and sterilize their equipment in an autoclave. To compare, mall piercers and many jewelry stores use piercing guns that have been associated with complications and can’t be completely sterilized.
The mall piercing workers are usually young and inexperienced piercers who are not required to go through a lot of training. Piercers at parlors have usually had extensive training and have been piercing for a long time.
According to Rochman's research: 'at tattoo parlors, piercers use hypodermic needles to core out a sliver of skin, making room for an earring — a relatively painless procedure. In contrast, at the mall, the piercer uses a gun that painfully jams a blunt-tipped earring stud into the ear lobe; the process does not remove skin, but effectively pushes it aside.'
In a recent article for Seventeen magazine, they consulted Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain who recommended getting pierced by your doctor or at a tattoo parlor since you can be sure they have the proper training.
Dr. Lain also suggests asking the technician at any place that you go how long they have been doing it and if they have ever seen any complications. He also said that you should insist on watching them sterilize the piercing gun if you want to use that method.