5 Signs of Ear Piercing Infection In Children: Here’s What To Do

Ear piercing in children is a widespread cultural norm in many countries and has been around for ages. In some cultures, it is customary to pierce a baby’s ears while they are very young—even just days after birth! 

While it’s generally considered a safe procedure, there are risks, particularly for children. Hence, precautions should always be taken. One of the most common risks associated with ear piercings is infection.

Ear-piercing infections in children could be very painful and uncomfortable, leading to more stress for you! In this article, we at Omega Pediatrics will guide you in looking at the causes of these, what symptoms and signs to look for, and what to do if your child gets an infection.

baby ear-piercing-Otitis Externa

What Causes Ear Piercing Infection in Children?

Many elements can be the source of ear-piercing infections in kids. A few of the frequent causes are:

1.   Bacterial or Viral Infection

It’s necessary to keep the area around the pierced site free of bacteria, which can enter through the tiny puncture and cause infection. Therefore, it’s highly important to take proper sanitary precautions to avoid complications.

2.   Allergic Response

Some children are sensitive to metals used in earrings, such as nickel. When these metals come into contact with your child’s skin, the materials cause severe allergic reactions.

To avoid this, choose hypoallergenic jewelry such as titanium, sterling silver, gold, surgical-grade steel, and medical-grade plastic. Earrings made from these materials will not irritate your child’s skin or cause discomfort or itchiness.

3.   Poor Piercing Approach

Piercing guns, commonly used in mall kiosks and jewelry stores, can cause more trauma to the ear than a piercing needle. Other than that, most reusable piercing guns cannot be sterilized well. This can increase the risk of health issues and other complications.

4.   Poor Post-Piercing Care

Improperly caring for the piercing site can lead to problems. For instance, touching the pierced skin with unclean hands, using harsh cleaning agents, or removing the earring too soon after the six-week healing period can heighten the risk of issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Piercing Infection in Children

The signs and symptoms of an ear-piercing infection must be understood since the procedure has become increasingly prevalent among children. Learn what to look out for to stay safe and avoid long-term health problems.

This information can assist you in seeking immediate medical attention and preventing the infection from worsening.

1.   Swelling and Redness

Typically, an infected ear-piercing area presents inflammation, swelling, and redness. Additionally, discomfort and warmth may be felt in the area. These are all signs of the body’s natural reaction to fight off any potential bacterial or fungal issue.

2.   Pus Discharge

A discharge or pus oozing from the piercing site is another common symptom of an ear-piercing infection. This discharge is usually yellow or greenish and has a foul odor, a sign that the body is fighting the infection. Cleanliness and dryness are needed to forestall infections.

3.   Burning and Itchy Feel

Itching or burning around the piercing site may occur in some children, indicating an allergic reaction. If your child experiences this, remove their earrings immediately and seek medical attention. This could be an allergic reaction to the earring material or the cleaning solution.

4.   Discomfort and Pain

It’s common to experience pain and tenderness near the piercing site due to an infection. Depending on the severity, the discomfort level can range from mild to severe. Any movement or touch of the earring may also cause additional discomfort and pain.

5.   Fever

If your child develops a fever, it may indicate that the ear-piercing infection has spread to other parts of his body! Keep track of your child’s body temperature and see a pediatrician immediately if the temperature rises above 100.4°F (38°C).

quinsy-Otitis Externa-ear

What to Do if Your Child Develops an Ear Piercing Infection

If you suspect your child has an ear-piercing infection, act quickly. Here are some steps to ensure they recover swiftly and safely:

1.   Remove the earring.

It is advisable to remove your child’s earring if the earlobe is puffy, red, or sore. This will minimize irritation from an existing infection. Leaving the jewelry on could escalate the problem, so taking it off as soon as possible is better.

2.   Clean the piercing site.

Practicing good hygiene for your piercing is a must. Daily cleaning with mild soap and warm water helps reduce the likelihood of infection. Additionally, avoid strong chemicals such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to prevent any possible skin irritation.

3.   Apply a warm compress.

A warm compress helps reduce pain and inflammation. To treat an infected earlobe, use a clean and warm cloth. After squeezing the extra water, gently press it against the affected area to start recovery.

4.   Monitor the severity of the infection.

Monitor your child’s condition for 24 to 48 hours. If they show signs of a worsening infection or run a fever, seek medical help immediately. Your child’s pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.

How to Prevent Ear Piercing Infections in Children

It’s important to be proactive and take appropriate steps to protect your child from possible infections or discomfort from ear piercings. Implementing preventive care ensures your child doesn’t have to suffer the pain of an infected piercing.

Taking preventive measures will go a long way toward keeping your kid’s ears healthy and safe.

1.   Choose a Reputable Piercer

Choosing a reputable and professional piercer is one of the most important steps in preventing ear-piercing infections in children. Look for a professionally trained piercer who follows strict hygiene standards.

A reputable piercer should use sterile equipment, wash their hands, and wear gloves before and during the piercing procedure. Additionally, they should provide aftercare instructions to ensure that the child’s ear piercing heals properly.

2.   Keep the Piercing Site Clean

To ensure that your child’s earrings and piercing site remain clean and healthy, regularly cleanse them with soap and water or the saline solution recommended by your child’s professional piercer or pediatrician.

When cleaning, use a cotton ball or swab on both sides of the earlobes. Gently rotate or twist the earrings from time to time as well. But always wash your hands before handling it. This prevents the transfer of germs and bacteria.

3.   Avoid Touching the Piercing

Cleaning the pierced area is essential, but avoiding any unnecessary contact with it is equally important. Kids get attracted to the earrings and attempt to touch or play with them, leading to bacteria being transferred and causing issues at the piercing site.

Encourage your child not to touch or fiddle with their earrings, and avoid sleeping on the side of the piercing until it has fully healed.

4.   Stick To Studs

For children’s ear piercings, jewelry studs are the ideal option. These offer more protection than other types of jewelry during the healing process and are less likely to snag on your child’s clothing or hair. This helps reduce the risk of irritation and injury at the piercing site.

Besides being stylish, stud earrings are also very easy to clean and maintain, thus reducing the probability of infection.

5.   Be Aware of Allergies

Parents should be aware of their children’s allergies to the metal components of earrings. Nickel or other allergens can lead to adverse reactions in certain kids. Thus, it’s safer to check for these beforehand so that the piercing won’t cause any adverse allergic reactions.

Your piercer should tell you about the metal composition used in their earrings and assist you in selecting those that have a lesser chance of leading to an allergic reaction.


Alternatives to Ear Piercing for Children

Though ear piercing is often seen as the only choice, other alternatives can satisfy your child if you don’t want to risk ear piercing infections. You can try these options:

  • Stick-on earrings are temporary earrings that stick to the earlobes using adhesives. This is a good option if you want to try different earring styles.
  • Clip-on earrings are earring clips that attach to the earlobe. This is a good option if you want to wear earrings occasionally.
  • Magnetic earrings use magnets to hold the earrings in place on the earlobe. This is a good option if you’re afraid of the pain associated with piercings.
  • Tattoos are temporary designs you can apply to the earlobe to look like earrings. 
  • Titanium earrings are made from non-toxic and hypoallergenic materials. These don’t require piercings and can be worn like regular earrings. A good option for kids who have sensitive skin allergies.

All these options will equally delight you and your little one without any permanent effects.


Be Watchful for Signs of Ear Piercing Infection

Parents aim to keep their kids healthy and happily content. Ear piercings can be another delightful milestone for every child. Unfortunately, it comes with associated risks that can’t be discounted. The risk of ear-piercing infections in children occurs due to many factors.

You must talk to your child’s pediatrician if you detect something wrong or if your child has been experiencing worrisome symptoms.

We at Omega Pediatrics recommend that you reach out to your child’s primary healthcare physician for treatment advice. Consulting a healthcare professional will give you peace of mind, knowing your little bundle of joy is in good hands.

Looking for a pediatrician in Georgia? Omega Pediatrics in Roswell is here to help you and your child battle their ear-piercing infection. We’ll ensure that your child gets the proper care needed to heal.


Scroll to Top