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What to Expect When You Get Your Ears Pierced

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Many parents wait until their children are preteens or in middle school to allow them to get their ears pierced. Probably not a bad idea, as preteens are usually old enough to take responsibility for the after care of ear piercings, and to understand the importance of keeping the ears clean and free of bacteria.

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

Getting Ears Pierced - What You Need to Know

  • It's not advisable to pierce 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.
  • If your child plays sports, check with the coach to make sure your child won't have to remove her earrings in order to play. 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.
  • 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.
  • The clerk will ask you to pick-out a pair of starter earrings. Be sure you choose earrings that are hypoallergenic.
  • 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.
  • Be sure the clerk washes her hands before the ear piercing. The clerk should also wear sterile gloves before the procedure. Be sure that all the tools used for the ear piercing are clean and germ free.
  • The clerk will disinfect the earlobes with an antiseptic solution before the piercing. Afterward, she 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.
  • Many facilities use an ear piercing instrument, or an ear piercing gun, to pierce the ears. 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 that you choose a facility and a 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.
  • 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.
  • You should receive an ear piercing antiseptic solution to take home with you to help care for the ears. Your child will need to apply the solution to the lobes three to four times a day, and after excercise or showering. It's best to apply the solution with cotton balls, and make sure your child applies solution under and around the earrings and the earring backs.
  • It's important to know the signs of possible infection, including redness, soreness, pain, or the appearance of pus. If you believe your child has developed an infection, immediately remove the earrings, apply antispectic, and call your child's pediatrician for treatment recommendations.
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