Recently I’ve gotten a lot of parents very excited but also anxious about getting their child’s ears pierced. The practice of getting ears piercing is very common, more with some cultures compared to others.
So it’s important to know all the facts and make an informed decision.
Is my baby too young to get ears pierced?
The AAP recommends getting ears pierced “when the child is old enough to take care of it themselves”
However, this procedure can be done at any age. If it is done correctly with all the precautions taken before and after (by parents and person piercing), the complications are few and far in between.
I usually recommend 2 months – a few weeks after the first set of vaccinations as the best age.
- First, they’ve gotten their first tetanus shot.
- Secondly, 2-month old’s may cry and act fussy if they are in pain but they are less likely to pull/tug at their ears due to discomfort. The risk of them grabbing the studs and putting them into their mouth also increases closer to 4- 6 months (least at 2 months)
What are the risks of this procedure?
- Pain and swelling at the site- usually lasts for 1-2 days. Pain medications should help ease the baby.
- Bleeding from the site.
- Allergic reaction to the earring
- Risk of choking/foreign body aspiration
- Discharge from the site/ infection
What should I do to decrease these complications?
- Get your babies ears pierced at your doctor’s office or at a license jeweler it is very important that the procedure is done using the right technique and sterile instruments
- Use rubbing alcohol 2 times a day for the first month and once a day for the next 4 weeks after the procedure. Hydrogen peroxide is another option.
- Wash your hands before touching your child’s ears. If the child is old enough to take care of the piercings by themselves, make sure they are not unnecessarily touching their ears.
- Rotate the earrings twice a day for 4 weeks
- Ideally, gold/titanium studs are preferred. Nickel and other metals can cause irritation/allergic reaction
- The size of the studs should be slightly bigger than the piercing hole size. This decreases the chances of the stud getting stuck in the opening.
- Avoid swimming or any water sports for 4-6 weeks after the procedure. It’s important to keep the area dry to avoid an increased risk of infection.
- Also avoid contact sports (football/soccer) or any helmets to avoid irritation to the ears.
When should I be concerned?
If the ear is progressively getting more swollen or red, or has a yellow- green discharge or bleeding, please have your pediatrician assess it immediately.
Depending on the reaction, antibiotic ointments might be needed. If the infection is severe, oral antibiotics and removing the earring might be the next step. If that happens, it is absolutely okay to get your ears pierced again after the infection has subsided!
Dr. Vasudha Mahajan