Ask Dr. Marla: Is it OK to have my six-month-old’s ears pierced?

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on January 10, 2014

Question:

Is it OK to have my six-month-old’s ears pierced?

Answer:

I don’t think I can give you a medical answer, as this is a personal decision parents make for their children. It is not a question of your child requesting this on her own! There are several things to watch for in this situation. First, make sure that the actual procedure is done with sterile earrings in completely hygienic and sterile conditions, and be aware of the possible complications that can ensue. Toronto’s SickKids Hospital further notes the following concerns:
  • Allergic reactions. Most piercing jewelry has some form of nickel in it. This can be a source of possible allergy.
  • Skin infections, which would present with redness, swelling, warmth, pain and a pus-like discharge. 
  • Scars and keloids. A keloid scar is a raised area caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue. 
  • Blood-borne infection. If the equipment used to do the piercing is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract various blood borne diseases – such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus and HIV. 
  • Tearing. Earrings can get caught and accidentally torn out of the ear lobe, potentially requiring stitches or other repair to the ear lobe.

Caring for your child's piercing:

  • Wash your hands before cleaning your child’s piercing.
  • Clean the area with warm water and antibacterial soap twice a day.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These solutions will dry the skin, which can prevent the piercing from healing quickly and properly.
  • Remove the earrings from your child’s ears if the infection persists or spreads despite regular cleaning.
  • See your child’s doctor if she develops a fever over 37.8°C (100°F).

Got a health question? Submit it to Dr. Marla.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| January 10, 2014

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