Marking for procedures

I like to keep things simple in my procedures, and attempt to eliminate risk and redundancy for a graceful process. I often skip the step of using ink for skin marking altogether, relying upon indentations made by pressure with a blunt stylus (such as the “blank” smooth end of needle tubing) just prior to piercing. I prefer to confirm placement with the client with a laser pointer, in the mirror.

After cleaning the target site, I will sometimes do a non-sterile marking process prior to antisepsis when the client wants to see the exact placement, which I describe step by step in some detail below. Gentian Violet can also be sterilized as described in Resources below.

To avoid cross contamination, I use a completely separate non-sterile marking setup and a no-touch sterile method for antiseptic prep such as long handled sterile swabs to apply the antiseptic.

A simple aseptic skin prep and marking process:

  1. Don mask.
  2. Clean hands.
  3. Don new non-sterile medical exam gloves.
  4. Pick up items needed for cleaning, marking, and antisepsis.
    *This consists of a sufficient number of packages of antiseptic cleaning agent, sterile gauze, sterile swabs and a clean single use non-toxic marking implement.


    Alternately if you use liquid gentian violet:

    1. Open packages for cleaning gauze.
    2. Dispense a drop of gentian violet and marking implement on to sterile field of the opposite inside panel of the package from the gauze.
    3. Remove gloves.
    4. Clean hands.
    5. Don new non-sterile exam gloves.
    6. Pick up cleaning gauze and marking implement, and sealed sterile swabs.
    7. Dip to apply sufficient gentian violet to tip of implement.
  5. Dispense antiseptic cleaning product onto sterile gauze using a no-touch method.
  6. Clean client area.
  7. Mark cleaned area.
  8. Measure if needed, and adjust marks.
  9. Allow client to confirm marks.
  10. Position client.
  11. Apply antiseptic surgical skin preparation agent using a no-touch technique with a long handled sterile swab according to product instructions for use.
  12. Remove gloves.
  13. Clean hands.
  14. Open sterile glove package, then Statim sterilization cassette or package containing sterile items needed for procedure.
  15. Clean hands.
  16. Don sterile gloves.
  17. Open instrument organizer tray inside Statim sterilization cassette.

    Alternately if needed:

    1. Move the sterile tray to the sterile field of the sterile glove inner wrapper.
    2. Close Statim sterilization cassette with a no-touch elbow or sterile barrier technique.
    3. Open sterile organizer tray.
  18. Perform tissue manipulation and alignment.
  19. Make indentations on piercing entry and exit sites with blunt end of sterile needle or post of sterile jewelry to assess precise marks.
  20. Perform piercing and jewelry insertion procedure.
  21. Remove residue with sterile gauze or sterile saline wipe if needed.

For complicated sets of piercings, I do sterile marking after cleaning, antisepsis and donning sterile gloves (step 17) with a single use sterile surgical marker, and make use of the included ruler for precisely matched placements. I keep a hand mirror within reach for clients to confirm if needed without having to change position.


4 thoughts on “Marking for procedures”

  1. This is awesome that you put this out there at all, but aren't you worried the non-professional plebes will be encouraged by this? I mean, if it encourages them to do things safer and cleaner, awesome, but how often is that the case y'know?

    • I offer my research and informed opinion on a variety of subjects for professionals. Much of this information is already available through APP publications and professional sources such as and and textbooks available in any university library.

      I assume that trained professionals can find the discussion interesting and useful, and that the public may or may not. As you mention, I feel strongly about encouraging everyone to do things safely is important.

      In the interest of full disclosure, I don't make any money from this post or the marking companies linked. Your single-use marker products seem that they could be a safe choice for professionals as long as they are trained to use markers only on one person.


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