Is My Child’s Ear Piercing Infected?

baby earingsOnce you have decided to have your child’s ears pierced, it is important to know the signs of an infection. Infection in an ear piercing is common within a few days of the piercing, but also throughout the normal wearing of earrings after the piercing is healed. Proper care, cleaning, and maintenance are vital in avoiding an infection.  Here are the signs of an infected ear piercing, as well as a few tips on how to clear the infection and avoid another infection in the future.

If your child develops a fever of more than 100 degrees, or if the swelling or redness spreads, seek medical attention.

Signs of an Ear Piercing Infection

If your child is complaining of tenderness, or if you see redness, swelling, bleeding, or yellow puss around the piercing, it is likely infected. An infection can be caused by a variety of things, including unsanitary piercing equipment, improper care and cleaning of a fresh piercing, damage to the piercing channel, and an allergic reaction to the metal used in the earring's construction. Handling of the piercing by dirty hands and improper hand washing prior to cleaning can also introduce bacteria into the ear piercing, causing infection.

Addressing an Infected Ear Piercing

If the piercing becomes infected within the first six weeks, you should:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Apply the provided cleaning solution to the front and back of the ear and piercing with a cotton swab, without removing the earring.
  • Rotate the piercing three times to work the cleaning solution into the ear-piercing channel.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the front and back of the ear.

If your child’s ear becomes infected after the initial six weeks, it is important to address the infection as soon as possible. You should:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Remove the piercing, and apply a mixture of antibiotic soap and warm water to the area with a cotton swab.
  • Clean the post and backing of the earring with rubbing alcohol or ear piercing cleaning solution.
  • Coat the post with an antibiotic ointment and insert back into the ear.

Regardless of whether or not the piercing is new or old, the cleaning process should be done three times a day, until the infection clears.  If your child’s piercing does not show signs of improvement within 48 hours, if your child develops a fever of more than 100 degrees, if the swelling or redness spreads, or if the earring becomes stuck in the ear, seek medical attention.

 How To Avoid Future Infections

Keeping the piercing infection-free is important for your child’s health and well-being.  For optimal results, Dr. Barton D. Schmitt recommends that earrings are made out of 14-carat gold or stainless steel, and that the posts are inserted loosely, not tight against the ear. You should routinely clean your child’s ears, clean all piercings in rubbing alcohol before and after inserting them into the ears, remove the earrings at bedtime after the six weeks of healing is complete if your doctor says it's okay, avoid touching or changing the piercing with dirty hands, and make sure that the earring does not contain nickel. 

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Is My Child’s Ear Piercing Infected?

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5 comments

  1. Profile photo of mommy nhoj mommy nhoj says:

    Glad she’s good when we’ve done the piercing when she was 3 months old 🙂 cried a bit and then forgot about it!

  2. Profile photo of Erin Erin says:

    Why subject your baby to unnecessary pain simply for aesthetics? It’s ridiculous to me! I got my ears pierced when I was 7 and I remember it as a special and fun day with my mom. It must have hurt, but I don’t remember that now…what I do remember is catching my dad with a tear in his eye because his little girl was growing up =) But seriously, why pierce a little baby? It’s just awful!

  3. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    Why do people want their babies/young children to have pierced ears? Did the baby ask to have them pierced? Does the baby even care? No. So that tells us that this is done for the parent(s). Why would you subject a baby/young child to the pain (yes, it does hurt) and the possibility of an infection? Not to mention the aftercare! All of which is unnecessary. Ear piercing should be a choice. And when a parent just goes ahead and does something like this, they take away that child’s choice. Plus, doing this at an age when the girl understands what is going on and can make that choice for herself goes a long way in teaching her about choices and can boost self esteem. This doesn’t even happen until a child is much older – and will occur at different ages, depending on a child’s maturity level. Not to mention buying new earrings! New jewelry is a great reward for, say, a job well done or completing something. This should never be done because it is what a parent wants – it’s purely cosmetic. It should be done because it is something a young girl wants for herself. We, as parents, are to protect our children, not take unnecessary risks with them. That’s our job. We should strive to do it better than any other job we have!

  4. Profile photo of Theresa Theresa says:

    This is very helpful info as I m incredibly wary about getting my daughter’s ears pierced. Her daddy wants to do it more so than i, but only because I had a bad earring experience when I was a kid. Fortunately, i didn’t get an infection, but it felt much worse.. the backs of both earrings went inside of my ear lobes. I had to go to the hospital to get them removed. At the time i was 9 y/o. The piercings were done when i was 7. The docs told me that if i ever wanted my ears pierced again, i had to wait until age 14.. Well, now i’m 30 and still refuse to get them re- pierced!

  5. Profile photo of ramiheid ramiheid says:

    This article is very helpful. Thank goodness my baby’s ears haven’t had an infection and hope she doesn’t. I decided to get her ears pierced exactly when she turned 4 months the process was very quick. Of course, at first I was a little unsure about having my baby go through the pain of having her ears pierced. Don’t worry, if your thinking about getting your baby’s ears pierced research a place, the kind of earing’s you will need, and be sure to read this article in case your baby does get an infection. My baby has had her ears pierced for two weeks already with no infection and the pain of having them pierced lasted a few seconds.

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