How piercings and tattooing work

To do an earlobe piercing, most places use one of these methods:

  • A needle: The person who is doing the piercing pokes a hole in your earlobe with a needle, and then puts in the earring.
  • A piercing gun: A piercing gun kind of looks like a mini staple or glue gun. It shoots the earring into your ear. Usually the earring is a "stud," which is a post with a ball on the end.

Both are very fast, and kind of feel like a pinch for a few seconds. Piercing other parts of the body pretty much works the same way. Most tattoos are done with a special electric gun. Here's what usually happens:
 

 

                A piercing needle A needle used for piercing.

                A child getting her ears pierced A child getting ears pierced with a piercing gun.
  • The tattoo artist draws an outline of the tattoo on the skin.
  • The gun makes very fast punctures in the skin with a needle that's got ink on it. 
  • The ink goes into the second layer of the skin, called the dermis. If it only went in the top layer, the tattoo would fade. Because it goes deeper, the tattoo pretty much stays there forever.
 

 

                A woman getting a tattoo A tattoo gun is use to give a woman a tattoo.


It takes a long time to get a tattoo, and it can hurt and bleed. Getting it removed is worse: It can take longer and hurt even more. And it costs a lot of money!
 
Here are some other things you should know:

  • Children shouldn't get tattoos. Doctors say because of the risks, kids should avoid them. If you like the look, why not try a temporary tattoo you can buy at the store?
  • Here are some reasons they are better than permanent tattoos: 
    • All it takes is a little water and a sponge to put it on.
    • When you're tired of it, you can wash it away. Not like the real thing!
    • Henna tattoos can be dangerous. While on vacation or at the mall, you might see some people giving henna tattoos. They are made from the leaves of a plant. These tattoos usually are brown, green or red, and don't last. Be careful, though, because some henna tattoos are longer-lasting black tattoos that contain a dangerous chemical. This chemical can cause itchy skin, blistering, or even a scar.

Next: Things that can happen with pierced ears.