Baby ear piercing has always been a milestone for baby girls – and excited parents. It’s something that mums are excited to do with their daughters.
Traditionally, parents get their kids’ ears pierced at a later age, when their pain tolerance is low. Nowadays, the trend is to push through with ear piercing when kids are still in their infant stage to avoid feelings of trauma from painful piercings.
Ear piercing at birth or at the infant stage of the child has become a norm today. But like everything that is accepted as the norm, it’s good to question both risks and benefits.
Is it really okay to pierce a baby’s ears as a newborn? Will it not lead to an ear infection? When is the best time to pierce a child’s ear? These are some of the questions we’ll answer for you in this article.
Best Time for Baby’s Ears to be Pierced
When it comes to ear piercing, the parents’ thinking is they have to do this now before their child turns into the age where painful experiences become traumatic. But, there is also the concern of whether doing it too early can cause infection or worse.
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s best to wait until your child receives her six-month vaccinations at the very least. That way, you’re reducing the possibility of tetanus and other blood-borne infections.
Apart from ensuring your child has already had their tetanus vaccinations, you can proceed with piercing their ears at a time aftercare is going to be possible and uninterrupted. Aftercare is crucial to prevent infection.
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Baby Ear Piercing Infection and Other Risks
With ear-piercing, a 12- to 18-gauge needle is pricked through the child’s earlobe. A piece of jewellery is then placed into the resulting hole. The process usually just takes a few seconds. It’s so quick, you could hardly feel the pain.
The discomfort usually comes afterwards, once the earring is in place. Because there is a hole in your earlobe, and a foreign object is lodged into the hole, it can feel quite itchy.
As ear piercing involves penetrating the skin, a wound is produced. In general, the torn skin on the ear may lead to:
- An allergic reaction as the needle touches the skin
- Disfiguring the ear, which happens frequently with ear piercings in higher parts of the ear
- The wound recovering, which causes the earring or clip to become lodged into the ear
- Having an infection that releases pus; infections occur in roughly 24 per cent of ear piercings
- Developing keloids, a harmless skin condition where scarred tissue grows over a healing wound
According to a study conducted in 2005, most patients suffered from keloids when their ears were pierced while they were at least 11 years old.
People at risk of keloids should not have their ears pierced or have their ears pierced when they’re younger than 11 years old. Otherwise, the risk of them getting keloids increases.
Parents with children who have congenital heart disease (CHD) may have to think twice about getting an ear piercing. This is because people with CHD who acquire infections can experience much more serious consequences.
This is a large enough concern that in another study, 53 per cent of medical personnel who were looking after patients affected by CHD frowned upon ear piercing. Many of these medical professionals would also have advised antibiotic shots after getting an ear piercing.
Baby Ear Piercing: Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
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Knowing the risks of baby ear piercing, you are now better informed to get it done safely if this is something you choose to do. In Singapore, the risk of infection is very low, especially if a paediatrician does it for you. Still, it’s good to keep these safety tips in mind:
When you’re going to get your baby’s ear pierced, you want to make sure that the technician’s tools are sterilised before using them on your baby. Unsterilised equipment is one of the main reasons why ear piercings lead to infection. So, make sure you watch the technicians sterilise their tools before proceeding.
Always choose a reputable place to do your ear piercing. Ensure that an experienced professional is piercing your child’s ear in the cleanest conditions possible.
Asking for a cold compress before the process can help in numbing your child’s ear. In doing so, you can minimise her pain from the piercing.
What Earrings Should You Put on Baby?
Use gold earrings where possible. Jewellery made of gold can lessen the likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction and inflammation.
You might want to do away with dangling earrings too, as they can easily get tangled in hair and other things. Use screw-back earrings. They hold better and are less likely to get dangled with your child’s hair or clothing.
Jewellery made of lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel are toxic and dangerous metals, so make sure that the earrings going into your child’s ears are made of gold only.
Caring for Baby’s Pierced Ears
Do not allow your child to play with the earring. The natural reaction is she will touch it because it gets itchy after the piercing. But be on the lookout that she doesn’t.
If the paediatrician or clinic gives you an antibiotic cream, apply it religiously to the wound as per their instruction. This will lessen the likelihood of an infection. Always remember to ask the paediatrician or clinic how to care for your baby’s piercing at home, including looking after a minor infection.
Help monitor that the earring doesn’t come off. The earring should stay on the ear for four to six weeks. Gently turn it every day. Always wash your hands before turning your child’s earrings to avoid bacterial contamination.
Signs of Baby Ear Piercing Infection
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What you essentially want to avoid after the ear piercing session is infection. So, knowing the signs of one will help you in getting ahead of treating it. The following are signs that you ought to be on guard for:
- yellow, pus-like discharge
- ongoing pain or tenderness
- itching and burning
If your child experiences any of these signs, consult your child’s doctor for the next steps. Most likely, they will prescribe some antibiotic meds for your child to take.
When to See a Doctor
In rare cases, your child might experience symptoms or signs that are beyond an infection. So, bring your baby to a paediatrician immediately if:
- The earring doesn’t move.
- The earring clasp is embedded in the skin.
- The infection doesn’t improve with home treatment within two days.
- Your baby gets a fever.
- The infection spreads beyond the piercing site (indicated by redness).
There you go. Hopefully, this article guides you towards making a clearer decision about when and how to get your child’s ears pierced. If this decision is stressing you out, do not feel pressured. If you feel that delaying it is a good idea, do so. The pain that comes with ear piercing is not at all troubling. So, your child should be fine should they go through with it.
Updates from Kim Brua
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