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Piercing Baby’s Ears: Everything You Need to Know

Baby Health / Aug 25, 2022 / Vetted by Dr Sandip Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
Piercing Baby’s Ears

In some cultures, it's a common practise to pierce a baby's ears. Although it can be scary for mothers to put their child through this procedure, they usually do it out of respect for tradition.

The majority of parents prefer to pierce their child's ears at a young age because they think the procedure will be less painful and take less time to heal.

As a parent, you may wonder about the right baby ear piercing age to undergo the procedure. In addition to this, you may also have several safety concerns regarding the piercing.

We will discuss some important points worth considering before you decide to get your baby’s ears pierced.

What is the right time to get my baby’s ears pierced?

It is customary in some traditions to pierce a baby’s ears within a few days of birth. Although the baby ear piercing age depends mostly on cultural and family preferences, it is best to consult your paediatrician and follow his/her advice for the right time for baby ear piercing.

Most paediatricians recommend delaying ear piercing until the child has received the initial tetanus vaccine doses per the immunisation schedule. Parents are also counselled to wait until the child can take care of the pierced site independently with no chance that he/she might pull the earrings out and swallow or choke on them.

These mishaps can be prevented by avoiding the use of earrings until the age of four, when the risk is highest, or by choosing earrings with screws or locking backs that only adults can remove.

Whom should I get the ear piercing for my baby done from?

The technique of ear piercing has evolved over the years from the use of needles to piercing guns. It is common to get ear piercings done at earring kiosks or jewellery shops. However, when it comes to ear piercing in babies, it is best to seek your paediatrician’s advice.

It may be unsafe to get an ear piercing for your baby from an unauthorized, unlicensed technician. Make sure to get it done by a paediatrician, nurse, or an experienced technician who can perform it in a safe and sterile manner.

What are the necessary precautions for ear piercing in babies?

If the ear piercing is done carefully and the pierced site is taken care of properly, the risks involved are low irrespective of your baby’s age. You need to take the following baby ear piercing precautions:
  • Avoid touching the pierced ears or earrings and, if you need to, wash your hands first.
  • Gently rotate the earrings a few times every day.
  • Do not remove the starter earrings early. Leave them on for at least six weeks after the piercing, even during the night.
  • Use round gold posts for the first piercing.
  • Keep the pierced sites clean to avoid infection.
  • Apply petroleum jelly around the ear opening.
  • Remove the earrings every night for six weeks, and clean the earrings and earlobes with rubbing alcohol before you put them back in the next morning.
  • Use cotton dipped in ‘pierced ear solution’, which contains benzalkonium chloride, to clean the earring, posts, and earlobe.
  • Brush your baby’s hair carefully.
  • Use a clean pillow cover while sleeping.
  • Avoid earrings that are heavy, dangling, or have tight backs and rough posts.

Are there any risks associated with baby’s ear piercing?

While slight pain, crusting, and redness are common in children after ear piercing, the following are the baby ear piercing risks:
  • The earring or the backing may get embedded in the ear and need to be extracted by a doctor.
  • A thick scar may form at the piercing site.
  • Accidentally pulled earrings may injure or tear the pierced earlobe.
  • There could be a minor ear infection.
  • An itchy, allergic rash may be caused by earrings that contain nickel. Hence, paediatricians advise the use of gold-post earrings for the initial piercing.

What should I do if something goes wrong while piercing the ear?

Consult your paediatrician if you notice any problems with the ear piercing or signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pain, or crusting at the site of the piercing. If your baby has an unhealed infection with fever or worsening symptoms, take your baby to the clinic at the earliest.

With proper care and following baby ear piercing precautions, you can get your baby’s ears pierced without any baby ear piercing risks. Your paediatrician can guide you to make this milestone safe and hassle-free.

 

References:

  1. Health University of Utah. Ear piercing: How young is too young [2021].
  2. Healthy Children. Ear piercing symptoms [2021].
  3. American Academy of Dermatology. Caring for pierced ears [2021].

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