Body Piercing: Is Your Child Ready?

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Big Kids, Tweens, Teens

Body Piercing Photo

Does your teen want a navel piercing? Credit: Corbis

It might be hard to imagine your perfect child with a pierced ear, much less a pierced tongue or navel. But in the event they ask you before they pierce, doctors say the same health rules apply for babies, teenagers and adults.

Some parents want their infant's ears pierced, but most doctors suggest waiting until they are at least a few months old.

"I prefer to wait until the child is old enough to care for the piercing on her own," Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann tells ParentDish. The California-based pediatrician will pierce an infant's ears if the parents request it and the baby has had both 2- and 4-month vaccines.

Toddlers are hard to deal with because of the squirm factor and they may have dirty fingers and play with the earrings, which can lead to infections.

"Wait until your daughter asks for it or has demonstrated that she is responsible enough to care for them on her own," Altmann says.

Whether you are piercing an ear or a navel, it's important that the instruments used are sterile to prevent infections. Same for the skin -- it needs to be prepped by cleaning before piercing.

Teenagers are trickier, of course. It's important to communicate, and, if you're lucky, you may be able to compromise, particularly with a younger teen. Altmann suggests using incentives like a second hole in one ear in exchange for keeping grades up.

While the chances of infection are lower if piercings are done in a doctor's office, it's just as likely that your son will show up one day with a pierced eyebrow performed by a friend. Chances are, nothing was sterile.

"In teens, I've treated infected piercings not only in their earlobes, but other pierced body parts," Altmann says.

Serious infections can result from unsterile piercings, Dr. Amy Derrick tells ParentDish. She emphasizes that it's important to keep the area that is pierced clean.

"Children tend to think of piercings as temporary, but there can be permanent complications from piercings," says Derrick, a dermatologist in Barrington, Ill.

Chipped and broken teeth are common with lip, tongue and mouth piercings, she says. Make sure your children know about the possibility of infection, scarring and broken teeth before they head to the piercing parlor.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.