New Piercing Regulations

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

February 17, 2006

It's not for everybody, but in recent years body piercing has become quite popular, and some changes could be in store. They're changes that could affect businesses like Bigg Dawg Tattoo, piercing kiosks at the mall, and people who do the piercings. The goal is to make these procedures as safe as possible.

"Unfortunately right now there really isn't anything regulating piercings, and it's been that way for a long time. It's rather disturbing, considering how many people get piercings," said Alicia "Jackie" Rice, a tattoo artist and body piercer at Bigg Dawg Tattoo.

Rice has been doing body piercings for several years now and she's had some 1500 hours of training, including CPR and classes on disease. However, she got that training as a tattoo artist. Body piercers in Virginia don't have to have any formal training. Rice said that's risky.

"Anytime that you break the skin, there's a possibility of infection and disease transmission, and I'm really glad that people are finally starting to take notice of that," said Rice.

In March, the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology in Richmond will hold public hearings that could require piercers have the same training as tattoo artists, and that could hurt businesses like popular mall kiosks that pierce only ears.

"It will probably mean that they will have to spend a lot more money on fresh equipment and also training their employees," said Rice.

Annette Watt, who has been piercing ears for ten years, said she's just as qualified as anyone else.

"They start you out cleaning and dotting ears before you start piercing," said Watt. "And then you practice on fake ears."

She also said kiosk ear piercing is just as sterile as in a tattoo studio.

"The ear piercing companies actually encase the earring in a plastic capsule, and then the plastic capsule actually fits into the gun, so the gun doesn't actually touch the ear at all," said Watt.

There are differences between body piercing and more common ear piercing, but both require sterile tools. Both tattoo parlors as well as piercing kiosks they say they meet that requirement.

A decision on the new rules will be made on March 7.

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