Growing trend: Tattoo parlor ear piercings for minors

More moms take unconventional route for children

By Tera Roberson Stidum

HOUSTON - Cousins Marin and Anna are on the hunt for a new pair of earrings after recently getting their ears pierced  -- for a second time.

“I saw a bunch of people in my class and all that and they looked really good with their ears pierced, and so I wanted to try it out," Anna said. "And when I tried it out, it was like, 'Yeah.”

Marin originally had her ears pierced at a boutique, but after several infections, her mother decided to remove her earrings. When it came time for round two, her mom, Angela Fowler, decided to take a more unconventional route for piercing.

“I really wanted to do a little more research," she said. "After talking with some friends and looking at my mom Facebook page, (I found that) that going to a tattoo parlor was a much better option."

You heard right: a tattoo parlor.

Anna's mom, Nancy, admitted she had to get over her initial reservations about taking her 10-year-old daughter to a tattoo parlor.

“What kind of environment am I bringing my child into?" Fowler asked. "We walked in and it was clean and bright."

Charlie Ramirez is a tattoo artist and body piercer at Electric Chair Tattoo Shop. He said he's noticed an uptick in moms bringing their daughters in for piercings.

What's the driving the trend? Ramirez said safety.

“Our piercing room is set up more like a doctor's room," he said. "Everything is sterile. Everything is single use. Along with knowing cross-contamination risks, because that's a big concern with the amount of disease and infections,” Ramirez said.

They're also regulated by the state of Texas because they perform body piercings in areas other than the ears.

[Click here for more information about state tattooing regulations

Ramirez said another difference is the tool used. In the tattoo parlor, Ramirez uses a sterilized needle instead of a piercing gun.

“We're using an actual needle that takes the tissue out as we're going through with it, which allows for a better healing, and it's less traumatic,” he said. “It's basically a blunt force needle-type deal that actually shoves through the skin, and you're actually pushing the skin or cartilage away from it.”

Ramirez compared the blunt force caused by the piercing gun to dropping a can into a container filled with water. The needle, he said, is like dropping an open can into that same container of water.

“Less trauma, better healing time along with it, too,” Ramirez said.

It's been two weeks since Marin and Anna's piercings and they've had no problems.

Anna said the pain is almost non-existent.

“It only hurt 1 percent,” she said.

The moms gave it a thumbs up, too.

“Marin has had her ears pierced for two weeks now and all is well," Fowler said. "She's cleaning it with a saline solution and having no pain. Sleeping has not been a problem, and, in fact, she has had no pain since day one. The tattoo parlor offered a much cleaner, safer, knowledgeable experience in general.”

The moms warned that since tattoo parlors are traditionally adult environments, parents should have a discussion with their children about the images and artwork they may see.

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