Infection: Parents need to watch their child's ears for signs of infection, which include redness and/or swelling of the earlobes, a crusty substance coating the earring, scabs, or in some instances, even fever. Polizzi warns that in some cases she has seen swelling so severe that the earring actually gets pulled back through the earlobe, and the doctor has to pull the earring apart to remove it. This situation, while rare, usually requires a round of antibiotics to heal the infection.
Additionally, if an infection is severe it may be recommended that the piercing heal and close up, which can lead to keloid formation. "Typically, the ear cannot be pierced again in the same spot because the tissue in the lobe scars and becomes dense when it heals," Polizzi says.
Allergic Reaction: "If there is a hypersensitivity to certain metals, the ears will also become infected," notes Polizzi, who says nickel is the most common culprit for causing allergic reactions, and not too many children have a reaction to gold, which is why gold posts are recommended the first year. If you think your daughter may have an allergic reaction to nickel, choose nickel-free earrings, 14 karat gold, surgical steel, or earrings labeled for sensitive ears.
Aspiration: If you're having a baby's ears pierced, be sure you select earrings that will not easily fall out. You don't want your daughter to "lose" an earring only to find and swallow it later.
- Is your child old enough and responsible enough to care for her ears by herself, or are you prepared to handle daily cleaning of the ears?
- Is she too young to understand the importance of keeping the ears clean to prevent infections?
- Is she old enough to be bothered by the sensation and young enough where she might play with her ears or pull out the earrings while they are healing?
There are varying points of view on whether children should have their ears pierced and, if so, at what age it is acceptable. While some may think a child under a certain age is just too young to be wearing earrings, to others the image of a little toddler with tiny gold posts in her ears is darling. If your daughter does have her little lobes pierced, be certain you take the care and health of her ears seriously.