And if we were talking about ear piercing in children?

And if we were talking about ear piercing in children?

Ear piercing in babies

There are many decisions to be made as parents. Whether it is food, clothing, the choice of daycare and school or even religion, many elements are completely in the hands of those responsible for the education of their children. 

In Quebec, and in many other cultures around the world, especially Latin countries, another question is added for infants, and sometimes infants; that of the piercing of babies' ears. There are two elements to this question. 

  1.  "Are we going to have our child's ears pierced?" Which is rather ethical. 
  2.  “And if so, when and how? Which is more medical and practical.

The piercing dilemma is more controversial than before and every parent will have to make up their own mind. In a context of society where consent and the integrity of the body are the subject of major reflections, here are some elements that will enlighten you on the subject.

Recommendations from piercing professionals and medical organizations

The Canadian Pediatric Society does not offer official recommendations. However, several doctors suggest waiting until the baby has received its first doses of vaccines to reduce the risks, although low, of tetanus and hepatitis B, so after 4 months. Our American neighbors American Academy of Pediatrics suggest having children's ears pierced when they are mature enough to care for the pierced site themselves. 

There is no consensus among piercing professionals, each with their own internal rules. Despite everything, many piercers and health professionals recommend waiting to perform this body modification. They therefore prefer that the child makes the request himself, which generally occurs around 5 or 6 years of age. Consent, bodily and gender integrity are then respected. 

For a great drilling experience

What about the pain of this procedure? First, it is wrong to think that a baby feels pain less, he just remembers it less. The argument of piercing earlier to avoid pain is less valid. However, you have to put it into perspective, because the pain of an earlobe piercing is felt like a sharp pinch similar to vaccines or banging your big toe. It is therefore a tolerable pain, especially if distraction methods are used and the procedure is done calmly. In addition, many parents use an anesthetic gel before piercing, which reduces this pain practically to zero. 

Also, the ritual of having their ears pierced can become an important moment and a pledge of pride for the child who made this decision himself, so why not wait a few years for him/her to choose? Additionally, if the child is old enough to be able to take care of their new curls themselves, it can encourage them to take responsibility. 

Once the decision is made, how to proceed?

First, have the piercing done by a competent professional piercer with sterile, disposable equipment, whether needles or gun cartridges. It is important that he sterilizes the earlobe before the procedure. Thus, the risk of infection will be minimal. After the piercing, you will then have to follow these few hygiene tips: 

  • Avoid touching curls during the day.
  • With well-washed hands, twist the curls in their hole once a day.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment or alcohol twice a day for the first few days.
  • Keep the same earring for at least 6 consecutive weeks to allow proper healing.
  • Avoid swimming in pools, spas, lakes or seas if possible.
  • Consult a healthcare professional if there are signs of infection

On the aesthetic side, some piercers claim that to optimize a good alignment of the holes and a good healing, one should wait until the baby's earlobes are large enough to be pierced, therefore often after 3 months.

Then, it is advisable to use ear chips  rather than dangling rings or loops  to prevent your baby from handling them and snagging them. 

Buckles  should also be made of surgical steel, titanium or 14, 18 or 24K gold to avoid the risk of contact allergies. Nickel is the main metal to avoid.

Finally, the risks of piercing, namely: bleeding, infections, allergies from contact with metals, traumatic tears of the lobe and ingrown earrings, will be greatly reduced by following these simple tips.

So what is the right decision for your child? Ear piercing remains a personal and family choice, but I hope this information will fuel your thinking and allow you to make a well-informed decision.

 

Dr. Claudia Munger, 

24th February 2022

Family doctor, Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada

 Website: https://www.voxandoz.com/

Sources:   

Hopkinsmedicine. (2015). The Risks of Infant Ear Piercing. Available on :
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/articles/the-risks-of-infant-ear-piercing (Accessed February 22, 2022)
DAWKINS, Rachel. (2017). How to Safely Get Your Child's Ears Pierced. Hopkinsallchildrens. Available on : https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ACH-News/General-News/How-to-Safely-Get-Your-Child-s-Ears-Pierced (Accessed February 22, 2022)
GLABEL, Cécile. (2014) Ear piercing: five things to know. Lapresse. Available on : https://plus.lapresse.ca/screens/4d0d-7304-530777e1-baba-6f61ac1c6068__7C___0.html (Accessed February 22, 2022)
RABKIN PEACHMAN, Rachel. (2016) Ear Piercing For Kids: Safety Tips From a Pediatrician. Rileychildrens. Available on : https://www.rileychildrens.org/connections/ear-piercing-for-kids-safety-tips-from-a-pediatrician (Accessed February 22, 2022)
RIVERA-SPOLJARIC, Katherine. (2018) Ear Piercings for Babies | A Cultural Controversy. Childrensmd. Available on : https://childrensmd.org/browse-by-age-group/newborn-infants/ear-piercings-for-babies/ (Accessed February 22, 2022)
HARBER, Richard. To drill or not to drill, that is the question. Montreal Children's Hospital. Available on : https://www.hopitalpourenfants.com/infos-sante/pathologies-et-maladies/percer-ou-ne-pas-percer-telle-est-la-question  (Accessed February 22, 2022)
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2007) Avoiding Infection After Ear Piercing. Available on : https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Avoiding-Infection-After-Ear-Piercing.aspx  (Accessed February 22, 2022)
 

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