Ears can be pierced for cosmetic reasons at any age. However, if the right preventative care is not taken, this simple procedure can lead to infection.
As a starting point, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this procedure be done by a doctor, nurse or experienced professional.
Rubbing alcohol or other disinfectants should be used to minimize the chances of developing an infection. For the piercing, a round gold-post earring should be used. Some piercing instruments can actually place the gold posts at the same time of the piercing, avoiding the need for an additional insertion, which can increase the chances of infection. The gold in the posts also reduces the risk of an allergic reaction as well as inflammation in the area.
After the piercing, apply rubbing alcohol or an antibiotic ointment to the area twice a day for several days. Doing this will reduce the chances of an infection and will speed up the healing process. Do not remove the earring until a maximum of six weeks after, but it should be gently rotated every day.
If the area of the piercing turns red or becomes sensitive, an infection could be developing, and you should seek prompt medical attention.
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