Look around and you'll notice lots of people have their ears pierced. Is this safe? Is it a good idea? And what should you be aware of if you do decide to get your ears pierced? Before you get your ears pierced, talk to your parents, consider what risks are involved and how best to protect yourself from infections and other complications.
Is it safe?
Piercings are usually safe, but are some safety concerns. Sometimes piercings do not heal well. If the pierced area gets red and swollen, don't ignore it. It will just get worse.
Sharing piercing instruments can also spread infections and diseases. Only a trained specialist working in a safe, clean, and professional environment should do the piercing -- not anyone else. The piercing needle should be brand new and only used once. So, make sure you see the needle come out of a package and that it is sterilized.
The guns they use at some piercing stations actually damage more tissue and cannot be completely cleaned. A safer alternative is to go to a piercing studio, where they will use a needle.
Is it painful?
Most people feel a sharp pinch when the actual piercing happens. For a few days after the piercing, the area usually feels sore and might feel like it is burning. Piercings on the ear lobe hurt much less than piercings on the harder parts of the ear –- the higher areas.
What kind of jewelry should be worn in a new piercing?
For a new piercing, only use non-toxic or non-corrosive metal, such as titanium, niobium, surgical stainless steel or solid 14K or 18K gold. Using any other metal will cause an infection.
How do you take care of a new piercing?
Follow the instructions that the piercing studio gives you. It is important to take care of the new piercing and avoid infection. Make sure you do not touch the area very much. The hole is open at first and you could easily get an infection.
Always wash your hands before you touch the earring or pierced area, so that you don't spread an infection. The area needs to be clean in order for it to heal. Use a salt-water soak or an antibacterial soap to gently clean the pierced area twice a day. Make sure all crust is removed from the skin and the jewelry. Do not swim in public pools or Jacuzzis until the healing process is completely finished, about six weeks.
By Julia Ransohoff, high school student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content Committee of PAMF
Body Piercing, KidsHealth.org.