Gloves- Your Safety and the Law in Some States
Written by Lynn Loheide and Edited by Margo Dellaquilla
Let’s talk gloves. It seems like it’d be obvious not to let a piercer touch you with bare hands, but many assume its not necessary to glove up. And more assume that as long as gloves are being worn, everything is fine. But there is more to it then that! Piercers should be following the same rules of cleanliness as physicians, dentists, and other similar professions. Not only is it common sense for piercers to use gloves, but its the law. Here in the state of Tennessee we are required by law to wear gloves, but sterile gloves are suggested to do a body piercing. In other states such as Oregon. and Florida, sterile gloves are required by law. “When performing body-piercing procedures, piercers shall wear disposable sterile medical gloves. Gloves shall be discarded after the completion of each procedure on an individual customer in accordance with Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C. Should gloves become torn, punctured, or otherwise contaminated, piercers shall rewash their hands immediately using the procedure described in subsection (1) above, and put on a new pair of sterile gloves.” Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C.
So what does all this mean? Well, if you are getting pierced in the state of Florida or Oregon, then the gloves that are worn to preform your piercing must be sterile. Even outside those states, sterile gloves are still a good sign of your safety. Gloves should come out of a special sealed package that is marked as sterile; which means if your piercer is taking gloves from a box off the wall to perform your piercing, they are violating some state laws and putting your health at risk. Sterile gloves also need to be donned correctly, and removed correctly. It is important that they are doing these things the right way, in order to keep you safe!
There is a major difference between exam gloves and sterile gloves. Typically exam gloves are what most folks are used to seeing. These are usually packaged in bulk cardboard boxes, and you can find them in the rooms of your local piercers, tattoo artists, dentists and doctors. They work great for flu testing, checking your teeth, or prepping your skin before piercing, but they’re whats considered “clean” rather than sterile. These clean exam gloves are safe to use on healthy unbroken skin, but only that. Because these gloves come in cardboard bulk packs, they can have a higher chance of being contaminated. The boxes they come in can be dented and/or damaged exposing the gloves to things like dust, bugs, and bacteria. Even if the box is perfect when you open it, once its opened it can become contaminated simply by someone reaching into the box incorrectly. And in order to truly remain clean for every client we would need to open a new box for each client. Again, these gloves are perfectly fine to use on unbroken skin, because your bodies natural barriers and defenses are still intact; but exam gloves should not be used for performing a body piercing. The jewelry we pierce you with is sterile, so are the needles we use, even the gauze and tools are all sterilized, so shouldn’t our gloves be sterile too? If your piercer is going to the length to sterilize everything else in the procedure but isn’t wearing sterile gloves- why?
Never be afraid to ask to see your piercers sterile gloves and watch them be opened and put on. We are always excited to show our clients this, and explain the level of care and detail we are putting into the safety and health of their piercing. Touch contamination is mainly what we have to worry about. By breaking the skin (i.e. piercing the body) you’re creating a pathway for organisms to enter. To avoid any risks or compromises, a piercer should practice safe technique. Of course this means using a sterile single use needle, using new, implant grade jewelry, and properly cleaning any tools. But it also means not allowing anything non-sterile to contaminate sterile objects and sites. If exam gloves were used for piercing, they may introduce bacteria, microorganisms, and contaminants on or near the piercing site, or any of the tools used during the piercing. Clean exam gloves just aren’t ‘clean’ enough to use on or near fresh piercings. We are only human so if something happened to contaminate our exam gloves and we didn’t realize, wearing them to do work on your brand new piercing could put your health at risk. This same concept is seen in surgery, where doctors and surgeons also wear sterile gloves. Even dermatologists often wear sterile gloves to suture, as do plastic surgeons and ER staff. Thats the primary reason why here at Icon, we only work in sterile gloves for any new piercings or any piercings fresh or irritated enough to require it. We will always strive to offer the cleanest, safest, most advanced services and procedures that we can. We do our best to remain abroad of changing medical science, updated journals, and new studies published each year in order to bring you the best services possible. Our staff undergoes specific procedure training and does twice-annual refreshers on the correct opening, handling, donning, and removal of sterile gloves. We pride ourselves in maintaining a high level of sterility and cleanliness.
Am J Surg. 2012 Dec;204(6):976-9; discussion 979-80. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2012.06.003. Sterile gloves: do they make a difference? Creamer J1, Davis K, Rice W.CHAPTER 64E-19 Florida Administrative Code Edited by Margo