Ear piercing is one of the oldest forms of body modification. Its origin dates back to several cultures and traditions around the world as a known form of art that has been passed on through generations. Today in the modern world, ear piercing is no longer a traditional customary practice that bears a deeper meaning. Rather, it is just simply an ornamental routine by most women, as an added beautifying factor. Thus, it is not surprising to hear that some mothers are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to pierce their daughter’s ears.

Before deciding on this ear piercing matter, every parent should know that this does not come without risks. If proper sterile equipments and techniques are not used, there is a risk of passing on infections to your child like tetanus, Hepatitis B and C, and HIV. If proper wound aftercare is not done, there is a risk of infection at the site of the piercing, which can become severe, and may need antibiotic treatment. Although it seldom happens, there could be bleeding at the site of the piercing. And if your child is a predisposed keloid former, she may form a large scar from a small wound of the pierced site. Furthermore, your child can have an allergic reaction to the metal used as an earring, especially if made of nickel. In one study, there is a clear relationship between ear piercing and induction of nickel allergy.

The decision of a parent to have her daughter’s ears pierced is a personal one. There is no medical reason to do it. Those who decide to have their daughter’s ears pierced chose to have it done at a young age for the following reasons:

• They believe that the younger the age of the child, the lesser the hurt she would be able to feel.

• The child will forget the pain relatively quickly.

• Some parents have it done while their daughter is still a baby to spare their child from the pain of remembering.

• Lastly, so that their baby girl will not be mistaken for a baby boy

Since ear piercing carries with it certain risks, it is very important for every parent to bring her child to a reputable piercer. While it is true that there is no formal training for ear piercers and some of them are readily available anywhere; it is still best to go to a reputable piercer because they have more knowledge regarding the right size and type of metal that should be used as earrings and correct positioning of the piercing using some knowledge of the human anatomy. Most of all, they observe sterility in their equipments and on the manner of performing the ear piercing

Healing time for ear piercing varies from a couple of weeks to months depending on the specific part of the ear pierced, the body’s reaction like allergy to the type of earrings used, and how well the wound is cared after the piercing. Allergy and infection are the common causes of delayed wound healing. To prevent this, the following general guidelines in caring for the pierced ears should be observed: 1) do not touch the wound with dirty hands; 2) clean the area morning and night with alcohol; 3) do not remove the ring or stud within 6-8 weeks, instead move it in the hole so that it doesn’t get stuck; and 4) see a doctor if the area that is pierced is swollen, foul-smelling, has discharges or pain, and other signs of infection.

Ear piercing is now commonly available in physician offices. If you have made up your mind on having your baby’s ears pierced, it is safer to ask your pediatrician if she’ll do it for you. Rather than having it done somewhere else, ear piercing done in the clinic gives you an assurance of a good aseptic technique, sterility and thorough after care instruction.