Keep It Clean: Piercings & Infection Prevention

Piercings

Millennial moms are on the rise!

There are around 17 million millennial moms in the United States alone. While getting your child’s ears pierced is an exciting milestone for any parent, it’s extra special when you’re a first-time parent.

To help your child have the best experience possible while also minimizing the risk of infection, we’ve created this complete piercing guide. From learning how to clean piercings to picking a hypoallergenic metal, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

So take a look! The information you’ll learn in this article will keep your child safe and happy.

What Age Is Appropriate for Ear Piercings?

When is the best time to get your child’s ear pierced? It depends on a few factors. First, it’s always a good idea to check in with your child’s pediatrician before committing to piercings. After getting a green light from your pediatrician, you’ll have to decide what matters to you the most.

Do you like the idea of your child being able to choose whether or not they want to pierce their ears? If yes, we suggest waiting until your child’s 10 years old so that you can have a thorough discussion. Waiting until your child’s older will also make caring for the piercing easier.

Baby Piercings

If you want to pierce your child’s ears while they’re still a baby, wait until they’re at least 2 months old. Why? Around 2 months of age, your child should be up to date on their first round of vaccinations, including the tetanus vaccine.

While there’s almost no risk your baby would get tetanus, it’s better to play it safe. Lastly, if you wait until your baby’s 5 or 6 months old, you could have problems with them pulling at the jewelry.

Go to a Reputable Piercing Company

Once you know what age you want to pierce your child’s ears, you can begin looking for a quality piercing location. Since 35% of the nation supports piercings, you’ll discover there’s a ton of places to choose from.

However, you should start your search by asking your pediatrician if they perform any type of piercing services. While it’s not common, some pediatricians will have on-site staff that can do the piercing for you.

If they don’t provide piercing services, ask your pediatrician for a referral. When all else fails, you can always call up a different pediatrician’s office to ask for their advice on where to go.

Avoid Jewelry Stores

You should avoid going to a jewelry store or mall kiosks at all costs when it comes to ear piercings. First, jewelry stores and mall piercing locations don’t always train their employees on proper piercing procedures.

You could wind up with uneven piercings, or worse unsterile conditions. Another reason to avoid the mall piercings is that they typically use piercing guns rather than needles.

You can thoroughly sterilize a piercing needle, but piercing guns are harder to clean. Lastly, jewelry store employees usually have very little supervision, so it’s more likely a piercing mistake will happen.

Minimizing Pain During Piercings

Next, let’s look at how you can minimize pain during the piercing procedure. Ask your child’s pediatrician to prescribe a topical anesthetic that contains lidocaine derivatives. The anesthetic will gently numb the earlobes to minimize pain.

For the best results, apply a thick layer of the anesthetic about 1 hour before the piercing takes place. If you don’t get an anesthetic, you can also try numbing the area with ice.

About 15 minutes before the piercing, carefully plastic wrap a small piece of ice to each ear. Keep in mind that an anesthetic or ice won’t completely remove the pain. However, these methods can minimize the pain so that it only feels like a tiny pinch.

Best Jewelry Metals for Kids

Once you have a safe location and a way to minimize the pain, you’ll need to pick out the earrings you want to use. On your search for the best kids jewelry, focus on finding hypoallergenic metals.

Here are the top 6 hypoallergenic metals that are kid-friendly:

  1. Surgical stainless steel
  2. Titanium
  3. Niobium
  4. 14K and 18K gold
  5. Platinum
  6. Pure silver

Surgical stainless steel is a great choice because it’s both affordable and hypoallergenic. There are different varieties and grades of surgical stainless steel. However, when it comes to piercings, it’s best to stick with either low carbon or vacuum produced metals.

Next, titanium costs a little more; however, the high-quality material is very durable. The titanium’s biocompatible properties make it easier for your body to accept the metal rather than creating an adverse reaction.

Niobium is also biocompatible, and it has an attractive shine to it. You can find niobium in a wide range of colors, which makes it easier to find the perfect pair of earrings for your child.

Moving on, both 14K and 18K gold are the perfect types of gold for piercings. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of jewelry out there that claims to be gold.

However, it is just gold plated metals that can rub off and cause infections. To avoid getting gold-plated metals, buy the jewelry from a reputable company and verify the karats.

Next, platinum and sterling silver are also great choices when it comes to hypoallergenic metals. Both metals provide an attractive shine and come in all sorts of styles. Lastly, you’ll want to opt for stud earrings so that they’re comfortable for your child to wear.

How to Clean Piercings

The first step will be to prepare your cleaning station with a cotton swab, antibacterial soap, and a bowl of warm water. You’ll want to avoid using things like isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide since these chemicals can be too harsh for your child’s delicate skin.

The next step towards clean piercings is for you to wash your hands. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. While you’re washing your hands, cover every area of your skin, including under your fingernails.

Now that your hands are clean, dip the cotton swab in the warm water, apply soap, and begin swabbing the piercing area. Double-check that the earring backing is secure, and then slowly rotate the earrings.

Everything you do should be slow and concise so you can avoid pushing or pulling on the earrings. You’ll need to clean the piercing site at least 2-3 times a day, or whatever amount your pediatrician recommends.

What Not to Do With Piercings

Whatever you do, don’t take out the ear piercings at any time. The piercings should stay in place for the entire time your pediatrician recommends.

You can expect to wait anywhere from 5-6 weeks before it’s safe to take the piercings out. If you take the piercings out too soon, the holes can close up, or infection can form.

Fidget With the Piercing

Clean piercings reduce the risk of infection, but only if you avoid fidgeting with the piercing area. Avoid touching your child’s ears unless your hands are clean and you’re cleaning the piercing site.

If they’re old enough to understand, let your child know the importance of leaving the earrings alone while their ears heal.

Fit Earrings Too Tight

When the earrings are clasped too tightly, this can also cause an infection. If it appears that the earring backs are pressed tight against the skin, loosen them slightly.

However, be careful not to loosen the backings so much that the earrings fall out. We find that using earrings that have a comfortable clutch or a screw-on clasp work best.

Swimming

Your child should avoid swimming in any body of water after the piercing takes place. This includes lakes, rivers, hot tubs, and swimming pools. 

Rigorous Sports

It’s never a good idea to wear earrings during sports activities. However, it’s even more dangerous after a recent ear piercing.

If sweat and dirt get into the piercing site, it’s likely an infection will occur. However, once the ears are fully healed, the risk of infection goes down.

Signs of an Infection

Of course, your main goal is avoiding infection after piercing ears. However, even if you do everything right, it’s still possible infection will occur. The good news is that by quickly identifying an infection, you can take swift action to protect your child.

Here are the top signs that an infection is forming:

  • Pain at the piercing spot
  • Swelling
  • Yellow discharge at the piercing spot
  • Fever

If your child develops any of the symptoms on the list above, reach out to their pediatrician right away.

Protect Your Child

There you have it! The best advice around for getting your child’s ears pierced. When you take the time to clean piercings the right way, you can greatly minimize the risk of infection.

However, the location you choose to get the piercing done is just as important as keeping things clean. Reach out to your child’s pediatrician today and ask them if they can recommend a reputable piercing location. For more pro tips like these, check out another article.

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