This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.
In the United States topical anesthetics are only available by
physician's prescription. Injectable anesthetics are only available to
Topical anesthetics have little effect on areas other than mucous
membranes and require a few minutes to be absorbed. Ethyl Chloride
spray is used by many piercers in Europe. Frostbite and chemical
irritation can result if Ethyl Chloride is misused.
Most piercers agree that injectable anesthetics are not advantageous.
When performed by an experienced piercer the piercing should require
only a second to perform. Injectable anesthetics may interfere with
placement of the piercing because the anesthetized tissue will swell.
Some people are allergic to anesthetics. A severe allergic reaction,
called anaphylaxis, can be deadly. Physicians are trained to look for
signs of a severe allergic reaction and are able to treat severe
reactions. A piercer may not have these resources available.
Some piercers feel numbing the area masks poor piercing technique.
Those in favor of using anesthetics feel that piercers should use
every tool available towards making the piercee more comfortable. You
as a piercee should weigh supporting arguments and make your own
decision as to whether or not to allow the use of anesthetics during