To Pierce or Not to Pierce? The Baby Earring Debate
Pros and cons of piercing Baby's ears
And Not to Pierce …
And then there’s the other side of the coin—the moms who absolutely do not want their young girls’ ears to be pierced. Hillary Slent, a mother of four girls takes a firm stance on the subject. “If any of my daughters want to get their ears pierced or any other part of their bodies pierced, they will not be allowed to until they are 18 years old,” she says. “I do hate it when people get their babies’ ears pierced. They are taking the choice away from them.”
Peggy Winter, a Naperville, Illinois, mom of three children (two are girls), rationalizes that if her daughters had their ears pierced at too young of an age, what would they be wanting next? “There are some things a daughter should have to wait for,” she says.
Piercing and Caring for Little Ears
Nancy Polizzi, RN, at ABC Pediatrics in Naperville, Illinois, says the pediatric practice sees about one to two patients a month who come in to have their ears pierced, most of them infants. The office will not pierce a child’s ears until she has had at least three rounds of shots, which is equivalent to the age of about six months. “This allows the child to receive her series of tetanus vaccines before the procedure,” says Polizzi.
Talk to your pediatrician about aftercare or ask if the piercing can be done in his or her office—a much more sterile environment. Not all ear piercing places have sanitary equipment or staff that is trained to pierce a very young child’s ears.
After the ears are pierced, it is important to turn the posts and cleanse the front and back of the lobes at least twice daily with alcohol or an antiseptic product. Earrings should not be removed until they’ve been in place for at least six weeks so the ears can heal. After the first six weeks, earrings may be changed, but it’s recommended that gold posts be worn for the first year to prevent infections.
The Risks of Pierced Ears
“When ears are first pierced, the body is sensing it has been wounded and tries to heal itself, knowing something foreign has been introduced,” says Polizzi. This is why some may have reactions such as inflammation, redness, or swelling right after being pierced.
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.
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