Eww, eww, eww!

Warren writes of this helix piercing done somewhere in Greece, “this is why not to use piercing guns and butterfly back studs!” Yuck!

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

76 thoughts on “Eww, eww, eww!

  1. mmmmmmm… tastes like chicken!

    but seriously though, why would you *ever* let it get to that stage?

  2. Looks like a lymph-buildup crusted around the post and the hair got tangled in that. when I didn’t know any better and gout my cartilage gunned I had the same problem. Though less severe.

  3. I’m with #4. Can’t you take the back off and wash it out, at least?

    I remember in the 70′s it was the thing to get your ears pierced at the mall with a gun, hordes and hordes of people did it and most of them have fine regular ear pierces now to this day (granted, this was lobes, not cartilage, that came later) but the advice WAS at least to wash them, rotate the backs, etc.

    Gun piercing has its issues which I certainly won’t deny but gun piercing and then no cleaning seems even worse, is all I’m sayin’…

    Mmm, ear cheese.

  4. When I was in sixth grade, I convinced my mom to let me get my upper ear pierced. Of course neither of us was educated enough to realize that a gun should NOT be used for this type of piercing, so we went to Claire’s in the mall, and had a typical piercing stud shot through my cartilage.

    It stung like crazy for a very long time. I was told to leave the stud in for sixth months, but of course being the immature 12 year old that I was, I switched to a little hoop after about three months. Now, if I had gotten it pierced with a needle, it would have been healed at this point. But a week or two after I put in the hoop, the scar tissue started to grow over the ring. Finally I had to have my dad force the earring out to replace it with a stud.

    I thought that it was perfectly normal for my peircing to become irritated, red, and very painful for years afterward. Finally, during sophomore year of highschool, I became more interested in piercings, and realized what a terrible idea gun piercing is, and stopped putting jewelry in the piercing. The scar tissue went down, and a year or two later, I was able to put a 16g ring in, follwed by a 14g. It’s now a very decent piercing, with very little scar tissue, but I wish I had known long before that the correct way to pierce.

  5. When I was in elementry school one of my friends had her ears pierced with a gun and her mom didn’t really take care of it, or tell her how. When they were a couple weeks old her skin had grown over the butterfly back. My mom ended up having to dig the studs out of her ears, back in the day when you could do that to someone else’s kid and the cops weren’t pounding on your door an hour later.

  6. all my ear piercings have been done with a gun unfortunately,
    but i’ve never had a problem with any of them
    i’m just curious as to stretching lobes after say 14 years of having the piercing
    would it affect the way they stretch
    as opposed to needle piercing

  7. metal BON3$: I got my lobes pierced with a gun when I was six. At 22 I started stretching them and a year later they are doing great. Even though piercing with guns are a bad idea, the body is amazingly resilient and most people turn out fine if you take care of them. I don’t know about cartilage, though.

  8. metal B0N3$,

    My lobes were gun pierced and they are now 7/16th and i think alot of people here are like that. Cuz we didn’t realize it was a bad idea, until we started stretching and discovered this site

  9. Metal BON3$: I’d had my lobes pierced with a gun 20 years before I decided to stretch them. They weren’t going ANYWHERE. I ended up having them repierced with a 6ga needle, and immediately stretched to 2ga. After that, they’d stretch themselves!

  10. 20 – I had my lobes pierced with guns when I was 10, at the age of 19 I stretched and it was fine…

  11. Those guns really should be illegal.

    They sell them at beauty supply stores… you can buy a “piecing kit” (the gun, alcohol pads, and a couple pair of cheap metal studs) for like $30. A couple girls in high school had them and would charge people $7 to pierce their ears during lunch. Sad thing is, those girls in high school had just about as much knowledge as the girls working in the mall about piercing.

  12. I had my lobes pierced with a gun and I’m not at 15/16. Only ill effect I have had from them being gun pierced is that one of my lobes is thinning more than I would like. I did have my cartilige gun pierced a couple times and that ended with a doctor having to use pliers to get the earrings out.

  13. Yeah, my mom had my ears pierced when I was 4 months old with a gun. Between the ages of 12 and 15 I had about 15 more done all with gun, and started stretched my first two lobe holes at 16. But I definately cleaned them weekly and never had any problems, and now have 00g and 4g in my lobes.

    It wasn’t until I had my navel etc done that I found out piercing guns weren’t exactly the best idea ;)

  14. Yum. Crusties to the max.

    I had my lobes done when I was 15 with a gun at the mall. Probably should have known a little better at that age. They turned out pretty well, all things considered (as far as health of the ears go).

  15. My lobes were done with a gun when i was 12… and they were fine. But then that would be because I constantly cleaned around them and turned the back. And then after 6 weeks, I would take them out every night, clean my ear and the stud and put them back in again.

    I’d had horror stories of others getting infections, so I did my best to avoid it. ;p

  16. I wonder if a licensed piercer were to get a job at Claire’s or one of the places that does gun piercing, if they’d let them do safe needle piercings…

  17. Guns need to be banned. Period. They’re not sterile and use a horrible method plus improper jewerly. I have a few friends who like guns because they’re “faster, cheaper, and hurt less” Yea…right. Keep saying that when you have a big disgusting keloid.

  18. I had my lobes done with a gun back when i was 8. they have always been fine. then when about 13 had helix done – again with a gun. no probs with either. if anything where the helix piercing is, the cartilage is a bit flatter.

  19. I had my lobes gunned when I was about 8, and I ended up with this same problem. The aftercare advice I was given was to rotate the backs of the jewellery a few times a day and to use spray on ear care solution twice a day.

    I have very ([i]very[/i]) long hair which kept becoming tangled around the posts. When my mum took me back to the hairdresser who pierced me to tell them that I was having trouble with my hair getting caught, we were told under no circumstances should we remove the jewellery until the piercings reached 6 weeks old. When we finally did, [i]voila[/i] – gross crusty, hairy, messy build up just like in the picture.

  20. I still remember the tone of excitement my piercer had when I went in to get my lobes pierced for the first time – I was 21 and getting it done w/ a needle. He got a huge grin when he realized he was dealing w/ virgin lobes. Of course I was a “late-bloomer” and got my ears done after the bellybutton and nipples.

  21. I had really good luck with my ears. All of my lobe piercings I had done with guns, 6 times in all, and my helix piercing. I stretched 4 of my lobe piercings, 2 to 00g and the other 2 to 8g, and my helix a couple of gauges and I’ve never had any problems with them at all, short of a little tearing when I stretched too fast, but that was my fault. I look at stuff like this, or huge keloids, and just think, damn, I’m lucky. Haha. I wish I would have known about needle piercings when I was younger but, at the same time, I’ve never had any problems so, yay for luck.

  22. I do understand the danger of gunned piercings but I feel like people need to take responsibility for taking care of their shoddy jewelry. When I was much younger (elementary aged) I had 20 ear piercings done at a mall Claire’s. Since I was only a child at the time (and this was more than ten years ago) I didn’t know about proper piercing. Still, I honestly never ever had a problem. Some may say I’m lucky, but I feel that if a small child can come out of this with absolutely no problems, an adult should know well enough to deal with a piercing before it becomes such a problem. Also, I would like to add that over the years I have stretched my ears to 1 1/2″ and I have no plans on stopping. They are still very healthy and not thinning out in anyway. The key is to listen to your body. Yes, piercing guns are awful; but, if you choose to use them, there is a slight possibility of healing nicely if you take great care.

  23. I got my first and second holes in my lobes done at Claire’s the first time around. The first one is totally fine at 1/2″ now, but the second one only got infected and angry when I started stretching it. And in eighth grade (when I got them pierced) I knew next to nothing about piercings other than that I wanted corset piercings… I was just anal about cleaning them, I guess.

    I think you shouldn’t be able to get your cartilage pierced with a gun. The cartilage is much more prone to infection, and infections can get very bad very quick there…

  24. holy hell thats nasty and thats why i wont go to a certain uk alternative chain store because their piercers use guns stil

  25. I had my lobes pierced with a gun when I was 5. My mom helped me take care of them, though. I never really had much of a problem. I would NEVER pierce cartilidge with a gun, though. That’s completely retarded! My friend got her helix double pierced with a fun about a year ago. I practically exploded at her for her stupidity. But wtv, I guess it’s her choice if she wants to screw up her ears. Also, I’ve been stretching my lobes for about 3 years now, and they’re doing fine, despite being gunned originally. The only problem I have is that my right lobe has more scar tissue and is harder to stretch than the left. It still stretches fine, it’s just a little more difficult.

  26. my mom had my lobes pierced when i was 5 months old. i didn’t really wear anything in them until i started getting interested in jewelry and started piercing my own ears a ton of times when i was 14. it took me about a year but i took the multiple studs out and started stretching the holes i’d had since i was a baby. 21 now, they are a happy 1 1/4″ :)

  27. The nastiness of guns being beside the point…why didn’t they remove the butterfly back and unwind the hair and clean the damn thing? The fact that it was gunned is no excuse for just being nasty ass.

  28. This happened to my gunned cartilage piercing too, to a lesser extent. The problem I had with gunned cartilage piercings was that, even after 3-4 months, the thing STILL hurt like hell when touched, and attempting to get the damn butterfly back off when it had hair and crust stuck in it that the ‘ear piercing cleaning solution’ wouldn’t remove… well, it was difficult! I still have an annoying scar from that piercing to this day. I really wish I’d known better.

  29. it’s really hard to get the butterfly backs off of those piercings studs, when I had my cartilage gunned I was too afraid of hurting myself or having my hole close to really try so that kinda happened to mine, only it was so stuck on to the post that the entire thing came out through the back of my ear.. I was younger then, it was my first cartilage piercing and I’ve got a little scar tissue on the back but other than that it’s a perfectly healthy (and now stretched) cartilage piercing.

  30. the background surrounding this:

    The individual went to Greece for a vacation. She decided to get pierced and they did this piercing with a piercing gun, as apparently how they almost ALWAYS do things in Greece, according to this person.

    She did not receive ANY aftercare instructions at all, they just did the piercing and sent her on her way.

    What you’re looking at is the butterfly back, along with hair, dead skin cells,etc compressed into a thick chunk.

    That chunk of crap was actually compressed INTO her ear causing a rather large crater in the back portion of the helix piercing. It also started bleeding as soon as I removed the jewelry, and the jewelry had been in the area for awhile.

    I really wish I managed to snag a shot of her ear after I removed that garbage and put in a proper piece of jewelry.

    #54: It took me roughly close to 5 minutes of tugging on that butterfly backing to actually get it off of the stud. It was a total pain in the ass.

    And like I said she did not receive ANY aftercare advice on how to take care of it, hence what it looked like…Plus how many people are able to look behind their ears and see what’s going on there? Unless you manipulate your ear, which as you know with a healing cartilage piercing, that can really suck.

    Negligence lies in the fact that the “piercer” used a piercing gun and gave her zero aftercare advice/instructions.

  31. I work for a county health department and we regulate tattoos and piercings…you need to be registered with the health dept and have a permit and ID card if you tattoo or pierce. You also have to take a class on bloodborne pathogens.

    But, if you work at one of those mall stores and use a piercing gun…we don’t regulate them at all. Even though the guns are reused and it can be argued that it’s a public health hazard.

    I talked to Environmental Health at the health dept and asked why these places weren’t regulated with their piercing guns when it seems like they are more of threat to public health. The guy told me there are no regulations for those places because of the piercing gun lobby. They apparently are powerful and have lots of money. He said every once in a while someone tries to regulate those places and it never happens…when it’s brought to a vote, it never passes.

    Money talks.

  32. Piercing guns shouldn’t be used, but giving people no aftercare instructions implies that you don’t need to care for it at all. Which is bull.

    I can’t remember who said something about healing times, but ear cartilage takes up to 6 months to heal even with a needle. Some gunned cartilage piercings take over a year to heal.

    Anyway. I had my ears gunned at a young age like most people, and I actually have a lot of scar tissue – makes it harder to stretch more than about .5mm or so. But I’m not stupid enough to force it, so it’s going to take a while.

  33. i’m at almost an inch with my lobes
    but one of them was blown out pretty bad and i was curious if the fact that they were gun pierced had anything to do with it;
    i find the bigger one harder to stretch cos it had the blowout but it’s too late to repierce now obviously
    so hopefully they don’t rip

  34. It really is monstrously hard to get the fucking butterfly backs off those things.

    And at least in my experience the “piercers” really put the fear of Gawd into you not to do it before a certain time. Don’t take them out! Don’t mess with the backs! and so on. I remember being pretty much deathly afraid to handle my new gunned piercings when I was 13.

    They really have the absolute minimum education necessary to point, shoot and throw their cleaning solution in a bag, so if you have issues with your piercing and want to ask questions … you’re shit out of luck.

  35. #59:: If you try to stretch after a blowout and find it hard, it’s because of the lip of scar tissue the blowout formed.

  36. Knowledge is power… Without it you’re weak! Why enter into something without knowing all the facts!!!

  37. I had both my first ear piercings done with a gun, and never had any problems. However, I had my helix done with a gun at about 14, which was yanked out by a hairdresser (very bloody and painful). It refused to heal after this, and at the age of 17, I discovered I still had a hole there. Eventually I had it tapered to a 14g, and after that I never had a problem with it.
    I guess alot of it is to do with education of the individual(when I was being pierced with a gun, I didnt know any better) and the education of the piercer.

  38. When I was 19 I took a job in a mall jewelry store and was given a gun,a pile of “aftercare” sheets,zero training and was sent to work.I never worked with anyone else.One day a chick came in and wanted her nose pierced and I did it(I just didn’t know it was a BAD idea).A few days later one of my roommates wanted her nose done.Within days,the piercing had sunk into her nose and was terribly infected.We had to take two tweezers,one up her nose into the butterfly loops and one through the top into the infected nose hole.It was an absolute bitch to pull apart and caused her incredible pain!The store went out of business shortly after and she healed up,but I never did know what happened to the other girl.I felt horrible about it.It was 15 years ago,I don’t know if mall “training” ever improved.Just thought I’d share another tale of the evil of piercing guns.

  39. I find it pretty apalling that the person let it go that far. It must’ve been incredibly painful. Any pictures of what their ear looks like now?

  40. oh yuck…i had this problem with a normal lobe piercing…when i had my cartelige done (with an effing gun) the whole stud pulled through the back because they did such a shithouse job.

  41. I had my nipple pierced with a gun at my local hairdressers – about 15 years ago. It stung like a bitch, but I have still got the piercing to this day, though now changed to a standard 1.2mm cbr.

  42. I had my ears pierced twice two times in each ear with a piercing gun. never had problems, had the “buterfly” back on both times, u just need to CLEAN AND ROTATE them like they said

  43. i didnt go to claires to get my cartilige pierced i went to a piercer because i thought they would use a needle not a gun…but they used a gun which i was totally against.

    its been three months and i cant get the earring out, the butterflys completly stuck and its bloody painful.

  44. I had all 4 of my holes in my ears done with a gun, and I took my 3 year old daughter to the mall when she asked to get her ears peirced too. I know I know I am evil. But anyway… the reason that stuff like that happens is that people just do not know how to take care of it. Clean the damn things. Sheesh!!

  45. Ugh, I know the feeling. My mum had my lobes gunned when I was 3 and they turned out alright. The right one bled and oozed until I was about 8 but it’s completely healed up now.
    When I was 15, I decided I wanted to get my lobes pierced again. I knew I didn’t want to have them gunned, but that was all my mum was willing to take me to have done. They used butterfly backs and told me to clean/rotate them and I did. Unfortunately, even though I payed for the upgraded jewelry (since I had problems with my first set of holes), the backing still turned green and my ears oozed like hell. I eventually found enough courage to rip the backs off so that I could clean them. It was nasty. Plus, for those of you who either haven’t been gunned or seem to have forgotten what it’s like, the initial jewelry has a little ridge to lock the back in place and a point at the end which makes pulling the back off really difficult and painful. Then if you do manage to get it off, putting it back on is even worse. I ended up taking mine out long before they healed and clipping off the point just so that I could clean them properly.
    It’s been 5 years and the left one still oozes/bleeds on occasion if I go a without jewelry. Then there’s the fact that the 2nd set of holes isn’t exactly even.

  46. Things I’ve seen in Greece:

    Piercing gun used for ear lobe/helix/cartilage/whatever piercings.
    Piercing gun used for nostril piercings.
    Piercing gun used for eyebrow piercings.
    Piercing gun used for navel piercings.

    Common aftercare instructions include “twisting it so it doesn’t get stuck”, “use a lot of rubbing alcohol” and a variety of others I can’t recall right now.

    I was young and stupid, so my first piercings were done with a piercing gun in a jewelry shop. One in the lobe and one in the helix. I remember the lady telling me to “twist” it a couple times a day. Apart from the hypertrophic scarring, I still get phantom pains in that helix piercing even though I stopped wearing it years ago.

    I was also stupid enough to try the “nostril gun” at some point. The stud was clearly not long enough for my bulky nostril and it dugg in the skin. Fortunately it fell off during the night.

    After learning a lot from BME, I decided to get a helix industrial. This time in a tattoo/piercing studio with real equipment. The alignment of the piercing was perfect and apart from some slightly “unclean” practices (saw him tattoo without a mask, “sterilised” my jewely in a really small thingy instead of his autoclave), I didn’t really have any complaints. Not until the next day, when I realized he used a really short barbell. I went back in and told him it was too short. He told me that’s normal and because of the swelling. I told him to put in a longer one and watch him put my old jewelry in the little “sterilizing” thingy before putting it back on display. A couple days later, the new barbell proves to be too short too. I go back in and he doesn’t have time so I just buy a barbell and change it at home. Needless to say, all this messing about resulted in some hypertrophic scarring.

    It was only thanks to BME that my industrial (and other modifications down the road) turned out pretty much perfect. Nobody ever told me about longer barbells or salt water for aftercare or proper stretching technique.

  47. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » Help An IAMer With A Project! C’mon, Do It.

  48. I had my ears done with a piercing gun when I was six (From a piercing/tattoo place, not a hairdresser), and so long as there’s proper aftercare involved (which both my parents and I were thoroughly instructed on) I reckon lobe piercings can still work fine this way. Both my mother and aunt had theirs done this way too (By their father, no less) and everything turned out fine. It can vary from person to person, but regular lobe piercings done with a gun can work out okay provided they’re well looked-after. Perhaps not a superior option, but certainly an effective way, and DEFINITELY when applying them to a six-year-old (albeit one who really, /really/ wants her ears pierced).

  49. I had my first holes done with a gun when I was a baby. So I really have no memory of them. But I do know when I started stretching them I had like small lumps around the hole at the smaller sizes. like 8-2g. But after I got bigger they seemed to smooth out. I got my second holes in my lobes also done with a gun I bought and brought home. I was about 12 and didn’t really know about needles. And I have 12g in them now and I still do have that lump around the opening more so in the back. I’m not sure if it’s a keloid. It’s very small, But I do believe it’s caused because of the gun. I also have to say I dumb friend of mine got a home gun kit and did his eyebrow with it. That would be a good horror story/picture for this post. It was terrible. :|

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