Tender Tome of Touching

by Jordan

Friends, Portlanders, countrymen, lend me your ears, but please don’t touch them!

Anyone who’s been in our studio with a piercing-related agenda is familiar with one of our cornerstone rules: Keep your hands off your piercings.  Return clients grin and look abashed when we ask them to clean their mitts with an antimicrobial hand wipe each time they touch their piercing.  First-timers give us a quizzical look.  Employees from any sort of medical field nod approvingly.  The real question is why?  Why do we wince each time someone removes their jewelry in our lobby or touches their nostril and exclaims “I think this is infected!”  The reason is friends because we care.

We live in a dirty world.  Elvis only knows the germs, bacteria, and viruses that have made their way from the infected hosts onto dollar bills, doorknobs, keyboards at work, buttons on the ATM, etc.  The bacteria that is passed on by touch, coughs, and sneezes have a pretty amazing shelf life outside of the human body.  Many of these diseases and viruses live for hours, days, and even weeks on a surface just waiting for the chance to attack you.  The guy who sneezes into his hands wipes them on his jeans, and then opens the door to the coffee shop has just left some of those germs for someone else to pick up on their way out.

Of course, we don’t want any of our lovely clients to come down with the sniffles, but that’s not the reason for our hyper-vigilance and ever-ready hand wipes.  There are much worse things lurking just below the surface that concern us.  Blood Borne Pathogens, diseases like Hepatitis, HPV, H1N1, and HIV to name a few.  These nasty buggers are transferred through all types of bodily fluid’s that can find their way out through tears or punctures in the skin.  These punctures are more commonly referred to as “piercings”. Piercings in the skin?  Hmm…  sound familiar? There really are places in the city where people who have these “piercings” in their skin, are touching them and then door knobs, counter tops and the like thus leaving trace amounts of body fluids around for strangers to pick up when they touch the very same surfaces.  Yes, my friends, I’m afraid it’s so.

Now you might find yourself asking, “If the world is as gross, diseased and bleak as you say, wouldn’t we all be half dead, stumbling around coughing up crud like some sort of bad zombie movie?”  Humans are a resilient folk, we come equipped with a great instrument to keep infections from getting into our bloodstream: our skin.  As long as our skin is intact it keeps us protected from the microbes that threaten our health and life on a day-to-day basis.  However, if our skin is broken for any reason, then these microbes have a free pass into our bodies until the skin around the puncture is healed.  This healing process can take months,  but fear not!  Even if someone was careless enough to transfer trace amounts of some bacteria or virus by touching their own piercing and then a doorknob or handrail somewhere, it’s not like you are walking around rubbing your ear piercing on the joysticks at the local arcade.  Even if there is something living there it’s not getting in.  In fact, the only way those germs could get into your fresh piercing would be if you put them there by touching the germy surface with your fingers and then touching your piercing.  If that first contact wasn’t enough for something nasty to take hold,  you probably touched your jewelry too, so the infected cell has somewhere to live while it tries to break into your body.

So, friends, that’s the scoop.  When we ask you not to touch your piercings it’s for the protection of ourselves and all of our clients, yourself included.  Even healed piercings can still have micro tears and abrasions from all sorts of daily jostling of your jewelry, so hands off!  Have a wonderful, germ-free day and keep the world out of your piercing.