According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, about 20 percent of piercings result in complications caused by bacterial infection. Non-sterilized and improper cleaning techniques of piercing equipment are a noted attribute to increased risk for client health and safety issues.
As a professional body piercer for more than three decades, Patrick McCarthy understands those concerns and has made it his mission to promote safe practices among his follow piercers and educate public health professionals to identify and address issues surrounding the piercing and modification community. Not only was McCarthy the first elected President of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), he also helped write the body piercing laws for the state of Ohio where his studio, Piercology, has provided clients with a clean, safe and sterile environment since 1994.
“All the health departments have my name on speed dial,” McCarthy says.
“When you go into the smaller counties in any state, they might have one health inspector that inspects campgrounds, pools, fast food places, and tattoo and piercing studios at the same time. . .they don’t always understand all the different things that piercers have to deal with,” McCarthy adds. “Piercing and body modification has become huge, and it’s not without consequences for (health officials as well as piercers) that don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not in our nature to want to hurt people, but the health factors sometimes get caught in the middle.”
It’s for that reason that McCarthy launched Stiletto Piercing Supply to bring the piercing industry disposable products — something the tattoo industry has universally embraced.
“It’s a lot harder for the piercing industry to go disposable because we use so many different types of tools,” McCarthy says. “Tattoo studios are missing out on income without piercers on staff, but most aren’t set up for offering the service, and often don’t have a sterilization room or autoclave which are requirements for piercing in most states.”
Armed with his extensive piercing experience and a degree in marketing and industrial design, McCarthy has designed clamps, tweezers, receiving tubes, and piercing sticks from high-grade plastic. Although intended for one-time use, the tools are of the highest quality and functional standards. The clamp, for example, has a self-closer feature that makes it easier to use without using rubber bands, and ergonomic grips provide slip-proof control for holding the skin. As McCarthy notes, many of the existing disposable piercing clamps on the market were designed for other uses and industries — the Stiletto clamp was specifically for the created for the needs of piercers.
Stiletto Piercing Supply products, which also include disposable needles and taper pins, are individually packaged in easy access multi-count boxes. Each instrument is producing in Stiletto’s own FDA-approved facilities and sterilized using the vacuum-based Ethylene Oxide (EO) gas process under strictly controlled conditions.
Because materials sterilized with EO are not exposed to excessive heat, moisture, or radiation, the process is widely used in the medical field for sterilizing complex instruments and devices such as catheters, stents, wound care dressings and even sensitive equipment with integrated electronics. Products are also sterilized in their final packaging, since EO penetrates sealed films and packaging.
According to McCarthy, EO gassing maintains sterilization for up to five years compared to only a year for devices steamed in an autoclave. Each box and individual pouch is printed with a batch number to ensure traceability and guarantee product safety.
With the advent of Stiletto disposable products, piercers can work without the need for in-house sterilization, increasing the ability to meet customer demand.
“At Pierceology, we average 80 to 100 piercings a day, and servicing that amount of clientele usually means extra prep time for piercers to soak, package and sterilize the tools they’ll need for the day — with Stiletto products, you don’t have to do that,” McCarthy says.
McCarthy notes that disposables are a perfect no-hassle solution for piercers traveling for guest spots and working at conventions. He adds that single-use products also put clients at ease in a time when there is much concern about the spread of germs and viruses. Stiletto will soon be adding “piercing packs,” which provides an aseptic surface, and EO sterilized body jewelry.
“Each piercer has their own way of doing things. We don’t want the piercers to necessarily change how they do things, but we encourage them to go disposable,” McCarthy says. “There’s no need for autoclaves and spore testing, and when the client sees the piercer opening a new, sealed packet, they’re reassured that the focus is on sterility.”
Stiletto Piercing Supply