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



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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.

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