Getting your child’s ears pierced may seem like a major step. But in practice, there’s relatively little to worry about. Let’s run through some of the things that consider before going ahead with it!
What are the Legal Restrictions?
In England and Wales, there’s no age limit on piercings – though many reputable salons will impose their own. In Scotland, things are a little bit different: under-16s will need parental consent before they get their ears pierced.
Is the Salon Reputable?
When you’re asking a stranger to pierce your child’s ears, it’s sensible to do a little background check. Piercers don’t need a license to practice, so you’ll be relying on the testimony of their previous clients. If you already know someone who’s visited a particular piercer, the so much the better – provided, of course, that their experience was a good one.
Will my Child Suffer an Allergic Reaction?
Some children suffer allergic reactions in response to piercings. Hypoallergenic metals are often touted as a solution to this problem. These might include purer golds, sterling silver and stainless steel. But there’s no real way of entirely eliminating the possibility of an allergic reaction: the nickel content in stainless steel, for example, might cause irritation over the long term. Generally speaking, this is an issue that most parents don’t need to worry about; allergic reactions will occur only in a very small minority of children, and, for the most part, they’ll be mild.
What will happen?
Before getting started, the salon staff will sterilise the jewellery you’ve chosen. This takes a few minutes, so it’s worth turning up ahead of time so that your child has the chance to choose some appropriately gorgeous earrings. The piercer can then do some minor cleaning work on your child’s ear and mark the position of the piercing. The actual procedure is painless, and over in a few seconds. In the immediate aftermath, the ear may become sensitive, but this will go away in time.
Getting the piercing in place isn’t the end of the process. Left to its own devices, the body will heal the piercing in the same way as it would any other injury.
Earrings should therefore be kept in place for six weeks. This will allow the ear to heal around them. You’ll need to keep up with regular cleanings during this period to minimise the likelihood of infection. This is actually a pretty elaborate process, and one that’s easy to neglect. Take a cotton swab and dab it with alcohol. Then clean the piercings, front and back.
Older children should be encouraged to take care of the cleaning independently, in the same way that they brush their teeth. Younger ones will need to be supervised more closely. Outside of cleaning times, it’s best to keep the ear covered up with a plaster. This will prevent it from snagging
(and possibly tearing) on a hairbrush or comb. Swimming, and any activity which involves excessive dirtiness, should be avoided.
If you do notice the symptoms of an infection, then seek medical attention. These symptoms will last for longer than a day or so, and include redness, swelling and weeping pus. Describing these symptoms to your child should encourage them to stay on top of the matter!