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Before you get your child's ears pierced, do your homework. Although complications are rare, she could develop an allergic reaction (particularly to earrings containing nickel) or an infection. The most sanitary place to get ears pierced is your pediatrician's or dermatologist's office, although not all doctors do the procedure. Find out when the piercer was trained and how many piercings she does in an average day. (Ideally, choose someone who's been performing at least three to five piercings per day for a year.) Ask whether your child's earlobes will be numbed with a numbing cream, and ask what you should do if problems develop later. Prior to piercing, the technician should wash her hands, put on gloves, and cleanse your child's earlobes with an antibacterial cleanser. As for which earrings to get, surprisingly, 14-karat gold isn't safest. Surgical-steel posts are the least likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Your daughter's piercings should heal in four to six weeks. In the meantime, avoid infection by cleaning the area twice a day with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, and prevent scar tissue from attaching to the posts by gently rotating them.
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the January 2008 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.