Getting ears pierced by my pediatrician!?

A doctor that pierces ears???
I never thought I’d end up piercing ears when I went into medical school.  Heck, I’d never even SEEN an ear pierced until about a year ago.  However, I got sick of treating infected ear lobs from patients who got their ears pierced at the mall by a clerk not old enough to drive to work (sorry tweens, offense intended).   I quickly found that patients like getting their ears pierced in the office and it’s fun for me, too.  Unlike the mall, I’ve got access to medical grade plastic earrings which have no chance of causing allergy.  My office is also a place where children already feel comfortable and secure.
What age is best?
Some parents want their little baby girls to have ears pierced.  I prefer patients to wait until after the two month checkup when they’ve had their first round of vaccines.  This gives the ear lob time to grow and develop.  I actually prefer to do pierce ears of children who ask for it – so usually around age 5 and up.  1-4 year olds are often quite squirmy and don’t like to be held still.   Since it is an elective procedure, I don’t like to hold toddlers down to pierce their ears.  Until age 5, those that say they want their ears pierced often decide after one side that they’re done with it and then it is a struggle to get the other side done!  Many choose to come in on their birthday and I am happy to be a part of their celebration!
What studs do you use?
I only use medical-grade plastic. You child can pick either pink or clear – both sparkle plenty.  The plastic decreases risk of irritation, infection, and allergy.  I use a piercing gun which makes it a breeze to pierce quickly and with as little discomfort as possible.  Everything is completely sterile!
How do you decide where on the ear lobe to pierce?
Fortunately, I don’t! I have the parent (usually mom or grandma) decide and mark where they want the piercing done.  The way my piercing gun works, I hit that spot every single time so it’s exactly where it was requested.  No one has perfectly symmetric earlobes anyways so a tiny discrepancy is not noticeable.
Other factors to consider:
Make sure your child does not have soccer, karate or another sport where she has to remove piercing studs for at least 2 months or holes will close.  Also, it’s best to avoid hanging or heavy earrings for at least 6 months after a new piercing as it can pull on the hole and create a larger or elongated hole.
How long should you wait before changing earrings?
Ideal time to leave in piercing studs is 2 – 6 months because piercing studs are a bit thicker and over time the holes contract.  If piercing studs are left in place too long, you may end up with a larger hole.  For infants, I like to wait 3 months, but older children and teens can switch out their earrings after 2 months.
What’s the best way to care for earlobes after piercing?
You’ll have everything you need when you walk out of the office.  I will provide instructions and swabs for cleansing.  Always wash hands before touching ear lobes as initially the hole is essentially an open wound.  You can also use rubbing alcohol to clean the front and back twice a day for the first month, then at night or after bathing for the next month.  Continue cleaning your earlobe and earrings with rubbing alcohol every time you put new earrings on to prevent infection.
What are the risks?
Infection is a risk with any procedure.  I make sure everything is sterile and as long as you cleanse appropriately this shouldn’t be an issue.  If there is any soreness, redness or pus at the site of piercing, see your doctor within 24 hours.  Sometimes, if it is a mild infection or irritation I can save the earring, by cleaning and using a strong antibiotic ointment at the site.  In rare cases (especially when pierced elsewhere) if the infection is worse and the earring needs to be removed, oral antibiotics are prescribed and after a period of time (6 to 12 months) the ear can be re-pierced.
In other rare cases especially with tiny earrings, the stud or earring can be “swallowed” up by the earlobe and pain/discomfort/infection can result.  It’s actually quite easy for me to fix this (thank goodness for numbing medicine!) if it does happen.   The studs I use have large enough front and back pieces so it would be very difficult for these studs to get stuck in the lobe.
Ready?
Call and setup a piercing appointment.  It takes about 5 minutes to complete and can often be arranged at the same time as a well visit if your child when you child is due!
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