Ear Piercing a guide to safe practice

This page provides guidance on how to obtain permission to carry out ear piercing together with how to pierce hygienically and safely.

If you wish to pierce other parts of the body you should contact the Health and Safety Team.

What must I do If want to do ear piercing on my premises?

It is a legal requirement that any business carrying out this activity is registered with Breckland Council. You will need to complete an application form and return it to our offices with the required one-off registration fee.

Why do I need to be registered?

Any activity that involves piercing the skin creates a risk of infection and the transmission of blood borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B. It is necessary to check operators to ensure adequate standards of hygiene and safety are maintained.

What must I do?

Your premises must meet certain standards with regard to structure and cleanliness, operators must be properly trained and it is important hygienic piercing is carried out.


All parts of the premises where the piercing takes place must be kept in good repair so that they can be effectively cleaned in particular:

  • The piercing station and any furniture and fittings must be provided with a smooth impervious surface that can be kept clean.
  • There should be adequate storage for all piercing equipment.
  • A supply of hot and cold water should be available nearby preferably with liquid soap dispensers or disposable paper towels.  Approved antibacterial hand disinfectant can be used at the piercing station.


All equipment must be cleaned and where necessary sterilised before use to eliminate the risk of infection. It is important that:

  • Piercing guns are cleaned before and after use by wiping down with disinfectant e.g. alcohol swab.
  • Work surfaces are cleaned down with hot water and detergent at regular intervals during the day.
  • Smoking, drinking or eating do not take place in the piercing area.
  • Jewellery is kept sterilised until use and if it is unable to be used it is either disposed of or re-sterilised before use.


All employees involved in piercing must be appropriately trained and follow good personal hygiene.

All employees have to prove they are competent to pierce safely. They should be trained on:

  • The need for good hygiene.
  • Cleaning routines.
  • Use of relevant gun system.
  • Aftercare advice.
  • Basic first aid.
  • What to do when piercing goes wrong.

It is strongly recommended that this is documented.

Personal hygiene

This is important to maintain a safe working environment:

  • Hand washing must be carried out before and after piercing.
  • Cuts, sores or open wounds must be covered with an impermeable dressing.
  • New disposable gloves should be used for each client.
  • Clean washable clothing should be worn.

Ear piercing procedure

Only recognised ear piercing systems should be used and the correct procedure should be followed:

  • Hands should be washed and gloves put on.
  • Skin should be cleaned with a suitable alcohol wipe.
  • If ear is to be marked a water soluble pen should be used.
  • A check to ensure stud cartridge packing is intact should be made.
  • Cartridge should carefully be inserted into the gun.
  • Gun should be cleaned according to manufacturer's requirements.
  • Waste must be disposed of safely and collected by a competent waste contractor who is registered to take clinical waste.

Client information and records

It is important that the client signs a consent form and although there is no legal age for piercing it is recommended you obtain parental/guardian permission for anyone under 16 years of age.

You need to check if a client is suffering from any condition such as rashes and cysts which may prevent piercing taking place.

Aftercare advice must be given preferably before piercing on:

How to clean the wound.

  • Turning jewellery.
  • Healing times.
  • Complications and how to deal with them.

Ideally this should be given in writing. You should aim to keep client records for at least three years. This information is important should the client suffer a subsequent infection.

What else do I need to do?

There are a number of other things you need to do:

  • When you receive your registration it should be displayed on the premises near the piercing workstation.
  • You should have employer's liability insurance and it is recommended you also have public liability insurance.
  • You will also need to comply with general health and safety requirements and the Breckland Council Byelaws in respect of acupuncture, tattooing, cosmetic piercing and semi-permanent skin colouring.

Where can I get further information?

Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact the health and safety team at

Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1EE

Tel: 01362 656870 or Email: foodandHealth&Safety@breckland.gov.uk

Last updated: 16/02/2021 12:20:30