Ear Piercing Safety and Aftercare

Cropped Image Of Person With Earrings
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Many parents wait until their children are preteens or in middle school to allow them to get their ears pierced. This is probably not a bad idea, as preteens are usually old enough to take responsibility for the piercing. By their early teen years, kids should be able to manage the aftercare of ear piercings and understand the importance of keeping the ears clean and free of bacteria.

What You Need to Know

If your child is asking to get their ears pierced, here's what both of you should know.

Go to a Professional

It's not advisable to pierce anyone's ears at home. You want to choose a facility that regularly pierces ears and does so in a clean environment.

Many jewelry, department and accessory stores offer ear piercing. Be sure you choose a facility and a clerk that has a great deal of experience piercing ears. Ask friends, relatives, and neighbors for recommendations.

Is Now a Good Time for Athletes?

If your child plays sports, check with the coach to make sure your child won't have to remove their earrings in order to play. If so, you might have to wait until the season ends before getting their ears pierced.

The earrings will need to stay in the earlobes for four to six weeks, without being removed. If they are removed, the holes may close up and re-piercing may be required.

Check the Piercer's Availability

When you've decided on a facility, call ahead to make sure they will have someone on staff with ear piercing experience when you arrive.

Choose the Right Starter Earrings

The clerk will ask you to pick out a pair of starter earrings. Be sure you choose earrings that are hypoallergenic. Remember, these will be in for a few weeks, so it is important to choose the right earrings from the beginning.

Sign the Parental Consent Form

You will be asked to sign a release or a waiver before the ear piercing. The release will state that you understand the risks of ear piercing and that you assume all responsibility.

A clean piercing environment. Be sure the clerk washes their hands before the ear piercing. The clerk should also wear sterile gloves during the procedure. Be sure that all of the tools used for the ear piercing are clean and germ-free.

Feel free to ask the piercer questions about the cleanliness of their tools. If you have any doubts, walk away and find another place that pierces ears.

Is the Piercing Where You Want It? 

The clerk will disinfect the earlobes with an antiseptic solution before the piercing. Afterward, they will mark the lobes with a water-based marker. Be sure you check the markings to make sure the holes are aligned and where you want them to be!

Those Free Piercings May Not Be Best

Many facilities use an ear piercing instrument, or an ear piercing gun, to pierce the ears. Piercing guns are most common at mall jewelry stores that offer free piercings and they can be tempting though there are some drawbacks.

While ear piercing guns are widely used, critics claim that the instruments cannot be thoroughly sterilized and, therefore, pose a risk of infection. Be sure you do your research beforehand, so you choose a facility and method that you're comfortable with.

If you have questions about the safety of the piercing instruments, be sure to share your concerns with the clerk and ask any questions you may have.

Expect a Pinch, Not Pain

Ear piercing shouldn't hurt. However, your child might feel a slight pinch as the instrument drives the earrings through the lobes. After the piercing, the earring backs will be put into place.

Know About Piercing Aftercare

You should receive an antiseptic solution for ear piercings to take home with you to help care for the ears. Have your tween listen to the instructions and read through any aftercare tips so they can take care of their piercing.

  • Your child will need to apply the solution to the lobes three to four times a day and after exercise or showering.
  • It's best to apply the solution with cotton balls. Make sure your child applies the solution under and around the earrings and the earring backs.

Watch For Infection

It's important to know the signs of possible infection. Talk to your child about warning signs that the piercing has become infected and keep an eye on the piercing yourself as it heals.

  • If you believe your child has developed an infection, immediately remove the earrings, apply antiseptic, and call your child's pediatrician for treatment recommendations.
  • Signs of infection include redness, soreness, pain, or the appearance of pus.
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Article Sources
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  1. National Environmental Health Association. Policy Statement on Ear Piercing Guns. Updated June 25, 2018.

  2. Metts J. Common complications of body piercingWest J Med. 2002;176(2):85-86.