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Ear Piercing

printable fact sheet for operators

What is the health risk? 

Instruments and equipment used for ear piercing may become contaminated with blood that carries blood-borne diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C or other infectious agents such as bacteria or fungi.

Ear piercing guns and studs should only be used on the fleshy part of the ear lobe.  Piercing guns crush delicate tissues, causing trauma to the body and increase the risk of infection.

You do not have to see blood or body fluids on instruments for an infection to occur.
Clean and disinfect or sterilize instruments between clients.
Both the worker and the client can develop or spread an infection during ear piercing.

  • Thoroughly wash hands before and after each client using liquid soap and warm water and use disposable paper towel.
  • New, single-use, disposable gloves must be worn for each client and discarded after each client.  Wash hands before and after using gloves. 
  • Discard any needles immediately after use into a labeled sharps container. Never overfill, empty or touch the contents of a sharps container.
  • Do not discard sharps into the municipal garbage.  Sharps containers must be picked up by a licensed biomedical waste hauler.
  • Get vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccination is strongly recommended.
  • The piercing site must be cleaned with an antiseptic, such as iodine, using a disposable swab. 
  • If marking the piercing site, the skin should be cleaned with a skin antiseptic, then marked with an iodine felt tip pen. After the mark has dried the site should be cleaned for a second time, just prior to piercing.
  • Sterile, pre-packaged jewellery must be used for ear piercing.  Avoid direct contact with jewellery to prevent contamination.
  • Do not spray sterile earrings with disinfectant prior to piercing.
  • Discard disposable capsules, adapters, and cartridges immediately after every client.

Adapted from and used by permission of the Durham Region Health Department and Toronto Public Health



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Revised: Friday May 06 2011

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