For many, going to get your ears pierced is a rite of passage. But in North Carolina, how regulated are businesses that perform piercings?
We took a closer look at the piercing industry in North Carolina and found out that regulations are few and far between. In fact, other than parental consent, North Carolina does not regulate piercings.
Mecklenburg County Environmental Health Supervisor Tim Dutcher said county health departments do regulate tattoo studios, but even if those studios offer piercings, they are only allowed to check tattoo equipment during inspections. You can find the county's regulations and policies regarding tattoo parlors here.
"Making sure they're keeping things clean keeping things in good repair, not spreading disease from one person to the next," Dutcher said.
Dianna Brown, who is a piercer at Sadu Body Piercings and Modifications on Central Avenue, said that even though it's not required by the state, standards for tattooing carry over to her piercing equipment as well.
"We offer, make sure that everything is sterile. We're using single use needles. We're using high quality jewelry," Brown said.
Brown said this could be why recently, her studio and others are seeing an increase in the number of parents bringing their kids in for ear piercings.
"I got my cartilage pierced in my teens and I went somewhere else with a friend that wasn't Claire's, and they told me a bunch of stuff that made me not want to go back," Ashley Tolley said, who is a client at Sadu Body Piercings and Modifications.
Brown said without laws to guide them, many piercers follow recommendations from the Association of Professional Piercers.
One thing the association suggests is to steer clear of piercing guns. On their website, the association states piercing guns can "put clients in direct contact with the blood and body fluids of previous clients."
A quick internet search shows companies like Claire's and Walmart do use piercing guns, and Brown said that could be another reason why more parents are turning to tattoo shops.
"Those cause a lot of damage because it's more of a blunt force trauma," said Brown.
Earlier this year, a North Carolina State Representative proposed a bill that would regulate piercings. At last check, the bill passed a third reading in the house.
Brown said she would welcome the legislation.
"As a professional, I'm completely willing to open any resource we have to be looked at to be inspected to pay whatever I have to obtain a license."
South Carolina does have piercing laws that regulate piercing facilities and lists requirements for piercing technicians.