Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

What Should I Do If My Child's Pierced Ears Get Infected?

What Should I Do If My Child's Pierced Ears Get Infected?

About 83% of Americans have pierced ears, and that includes plenty of kids. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says ear piercings are generally safe, it’s important to remember that a piercing does create a hole through your child’s tissue. That means the lobe area is exposed to bacteria and other germs, which increases the risk of infection.

Fortunately, infections are uncommon — and when they do occur, they’re generally pretty easy to treat. At Fayrouz Pediatrics in Clifton, New Jersey, Hisham Gadalla, MD and his team use antibiotics and hygiene techniques to heal piercing-related infections, tailoring treatment to each patient’s needs. If your child’s ear piercing is infected, here’s what you can do.

Treating an ear piercing infection

Most piercing-related infections are caused by either staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. Although these germs are found normally on your skin, that doesn’t mean the infections they cause aren’t serious. In fact, these and other bacteria can cause severe infections that can quickly spread to other areas — including your child’s bloodstream.

If your child’s piercing gets infected, early treatment is very important. It’s normal to have some pain, tenderness, and even some mild redness in the area of the piercing, especially soon afterward. But there are some key signs of infection, including:

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s important to call the office immediately so we can provide treatment. Most infections are mild and can be treated with careful home hygiene and topical antibiotics, sometimes combined with oral antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

Preventing infections in the first place

Maybe your child hasn’t had their ears pierced yet, or maybe they’ve had a recent piercing. In either case, there are some important steps you can take to decrease the risk of an infection.

Choose the right piercing provider

Ear piercing doesn’t require a medical degree, which is kind of unusual, considering it involves creating a hole in your body. To reduce the risk of unwanted “side effects,” you should schedule your child’s piercing with a licensed medical provider, like the team at Fayrouz Pediatrics. Our team is trained in the most advanced, safest piercing techniques, along with proper follow-up protocol to prevent infections.

Choose the right earring

The AAP recommends a round gold post as the best choice for a first earring. Gold reduces any risk of an allergic reaction or inflammation that could lead to infection or hole closure. Wires shouldn’t be used until the area is fully healed to prevent the hole from closing. 

Practice good hygiene

Make sure your child washes their hands before touching their earlobes or earrings. Wash the piercing area and apply rubbing alcohol to the area twice each day while the area heals.

Leave the earrings in place

Don’t remove the earrings for the first 4-6 weeks (even while you sleep). This is the time it takes for the opening to heal. If you remove the earring too early, the opening can wind up closing — quickly. 

During those first 4-6 weeks, rotate the earrings a few times each day to keep the hole open and prevent the earring from “sticking” to the tissue. Once your child is able to change their earrings, they (or you) should clean the earrings each time they’re removed, so they’re clean and ready for the next time your child wears them.

Take infections seriously

An earlobe infection may not seem like a big deal, but even a seemingly minor infection can quickly spread. Keep a close eye on your child’s piercing, and if you notice any signs of infection, call the office immediately. We may recommend home care and close monitoring, or we may advise an office visit if the infection shows serious symptoms. 

To learn more about piercings or how to care for a potential piercing-related infection, call 973-834-5539 or book an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Vaccines and Boosters That Every Child Should Have

Vaccines play a critical role in keeping kids healthy, yet with so many vaccines available, knowing which ones your child needs can be confusing. This post provides a quick overview to help you find the answers you’re looking for.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has Asthma

Asthma affects millions of kids, causing symptoms that can interfere with plenty of activities. Without treatment, asthma can cause serious breathing problems — but treatment can help. Here’s what to do if you think your child has asthma.

What's Included in Newborn Care?

As a parent, your goal is to do all you can to give your child a happy, healthy life. Newborn visits help you achieve that goal, setting the stage for better health throughout childhood and beyond. Here’s what to expect at your visit.

Telehealth: The Advantages of Telemedicine

Struggles to get to the clinic? Trying to reduce your exposure to COVID-19, as well as other contagious illnesses, and still need to see your doctor? Telehealth is safe and easy — receive quality care from anywhere.