Ear piercing is something a lot of children want to have done. And sometimes parents want to have their child’s ears pierced when they are infants. The reasons behind ear piercing in children can be cultural or cosmetic, but it is not medically necessary. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t something your pediatrician can take care of. If you’re thinking about getting your child’s ear pierced, you should have it done in the pediatrician’s office.
Risks of Ear Piercing for Kids
There are risks associated with ear piercing for kids, with infection being the most common. Allergies are also sometimes an issue, and in rare cases, piercings can tear.
- Infection: There is a risk of all ear piercings getting infected, but with children, the risk can be greater, especially when they are very young. If a child is not old enough or responsible enough to care for their own ear piercings, then it falls on parents to keep them clean and healthy.
Also, in very young infants, the risks associated with infections are greater. If an infection develops in a piercing and presents with a fever, babies younger than three months may have to be admitted to the hospital, depending on protocols. For this reason, many pediatricians will not pierce a baby’s ears until later, usually around 4 months. At the very least, the baby should have received their first round of vaccinations before having their ears pierced.
- Allergies: Sometimes children will have an allergic reaction to the materials used in earrings. That’s because some metals contain nickel, a common allergen for a lot of people. It’s recommended that one use only earrings made of either a precious metal like gold or another nickel-free metal like titanium or surgical steel.
- Tearing: People of all ages are at risk of tearing the piercing site if the earring gets pulled or snags on something. This is mostly an issue with long, dangling earrings. Children should only wear stud earrings that don’t dangle until they are older. After studs, a type of earring called a “huggie” that is more like a hoop, but stays close to the earlobe is recommended.
Why a Pediatrician Should Pierce Kids’ Ears
While there are risks for ear piercing in kids, they can be minimized by having your pediatrician do it instead of having it done at a retail jewelry store. Many pediatricians offer pediatric ear piercing as a regular service. Your insurance won’t cover ear piercing, but the fee is usually minimal and will include the earrings and the piercing itself.
Here are some good reasons to have your child’s ears pierced by a pediatrician:
- They Know Your Child: If you take your child to their regular pediatrician to have their ears pierced, then the doctor will already be familiar with your child and their medical history. They’ll be able to see your child’s vaccination history to ensure they have received the recommended immunizations before piercing.
Also, your child may be more comfortable with a doctor or nurse practitioner they know than a stranger at a jewelry store. The more relaxed they are, the easier the process will be.
- You Know You’re in a Safe Environment: You can be confident that a pediatrician’s office is a safe and clean place for the piercing to take place. The staff of a doctor’s office takes great care to make sure everything is sanitized and all equipment used is sterilized properly.
- They Use the Best Equipment and Materials: Another reason ear piercing for kids should be done by a pediatrician is because of the equipment used. The pediatrician will be able to use medical-grade piercers rather than a standard piercing gun you’d see at the mall or other retail stores. Also, medical providers will use earrings made of the right materials to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Most doctors use earrings made of titanium, surgical steel, or precious metal.
- They’re Medical Professionals: Bottom line is that the pediatrician is trained to give your child the best care in all areas, including ear piercing. They can also offer clear and comprehensive aftercare instructions and are there to follow up if there are any problems like infection after the piercing is done.
Ear Piercing Safety and Care
After your child’s ears are pierced, you should carefully follow the instructions your pediatrician gives you to care for the new piercings. The American Academy of Pediatricians has comprehensive guidelines on how to avoid infections after ear piercing, but here are the basics.
- Leave earrings in for at least 6 weeks after the piercing. This is the standard length of time a piercing takes to heal and if earrings are removed before this point, then the hole may close.
- Stick to post or stud earrings for the first several months after piercing. Very small children should wear studs until they get older.
- Don’t touch a piercing unless you are cleaning it.
- Wash hands before touching a piercing to clean it.
- Regularly clean ear piercings two to three times a day. Use alcohol on a cotton swab and clean the front and back of the piercing. Make sure to get to the actual piercing under the earring.
- Ensure the back of the earring is on and secure (but not on too tight) during cleaning.
- Rotate the post of the earring gently during each cleaning.
- Take care not to pull on earrings when washing or brushing hair to prevent tears.
- Try to keep your child out of hot tubs, pools, and natural bodies of water during healing if possible. A lot of people swim with newly pierced ears and are fine, but exposure to the water may increase the chance of infection. If children do go swimming, make sure to clean the piercings afterward.
- Keep an eye out for symptoms of infection like itchiness, redness, pain or sensitivity, and discharge. Take your child to see the doctor if those symptoms appear.
Make an Appointment at Carithers Pediatrics
At The Carithers Group, we want to provide you and your child with the best pediatric care possible. That includes making sure ear piercing for kids is done safely. We offer pediatric ear piercing so you can be confident you are in a clean and sterile environment and a qualified professional is doing the piercing with the right equipment. To make an appointment at our Riverside office, call 904-387-6200. To make an appointment at our Southside office, call 904-997-0023.