Children and Jewelry: Avoid Making These Health Mistakes

Ear piercing has become an unspoken global rite of passage for girls. In some cultures, the practice of ear piercing is performed during infancy. In the U.K., the average age for ear piercing is seven, while in the U.S. the most popular time for piercing varies but usually hits during the impressionable pre-teen years.

My first ear piercing was in kindergarten…I was five, and I’m actually still donning those original studs (faux opals!). In kindergarten, all my friends were getting their ears pierced. Many sported tiny gold hearts and stars. I still remember going to the jewelry store, picking out my first pair of earrings and having two ladies (one on each ear) shooting those studs in my ear. I honestly don’t remember the pain, but I know I cried. I can say that the stress of piercing was much worse for my second set of holes…in my adult years!

In an article for Vogue, writer Patricia Garcia discussed the pressure she felt in having her infant daughter’s ears pierced. In Latina culture, Garcia said that the tradition is to pierce the ears in early infancy, and the piercing usually happens in the hospital. Garcia’s own piercing was performed during her first days of life, and her family expected the same for Garcia’s daughter (who also received many gifts of earrings!). Garcia’s interviews within the article reveal that infant ear piercing also is a cultural norm in the Sephardic Jewish tradition. And, sometimes, infant piercing has nothing to do with culture, but, rather parents’ personal preference.

Ear piercing during infancy and toddlerhood, however, means that the piercing care falls to the parents—not the child. Piercings require daily care—especially as the holes are healing. For many parents, the care isn’t an issue. And the care of the piercing seems to pale in comparison to the thought of their child remembering the pain of the piercing.


Caring for jewelry and piercing holes must be a priority for those who elect to have ears (or any body part) pierced. Dirty jewelry creates a breeding ground for bacteria and increasing the risk of infection. For parents opting for early piercings for their little ones, or for parents whose kids love their jewelry, follow these guidelines to ensure good hygiene, proper care and to help lower the risk of infections and skin sensitivities or irritation.

Opt for Surgical Steel

Many people have sensitivities to certain metals, and, unfortunately, discovering those sensitivities is through trial and error. Ear piercings should first be performed using surgical steel posts. This type of metal is typically hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive ears.

Keep All Earrings Spotless

Earrings end up with smelly mucky gunk when they are worn for too long and not cleaned. New piercings cannot be removed for a designated period to ensure the holes don’t close, so be sure kids disinfect around the piercing and wipe off the earrings! Use rubbing alcohol or witch hazel. When ears are healed, remove earrings and clean them thoroughly…scrub out all the gunk from the backs, too. Never allow kids to sleep in hoops or other larger earrings…they will irritate the holes!


A child’s jewelry collection isn’t limited to earrings! Keep rings clean, too. And be sure to opt for natural metals…like sterling silver. Plated metals can leave a green residue on the finger. To clean rings, soak in mild dish detergent and then scrub gently with a toothbrush. Make sure to get all the debris out of nooks and crannies. Any residues from soaps, lotions and even dirt and dust can irritate the skin and cause itching and discomfort.

Necklaces & Bracelets

Most kids usually don’t have many issues with their necklaces or bracelets, but you should help kids keep them clean in order to avoid skin irritants from building up on metals. Again, soak in a mild dish soap and use a soft toothbrush to wipe away any build-up and grime.



For many young ladies, pierced ears are not only a rite of passage but also a cultural tradition. Piercings must be kept clean to keep bacteria away and decrease infection risk. But while earrings and piercing sites must be sanitized, don’t forget the rest of the jewelry box! Skin irritation and infection isn’t just limited to piercings but anywhere that comes into contact with jewelry. Parents should help kids wipe and disinfect all jewelry to preserve the life of metals and protect sensitive skin.



“Megan Scott is a writer and mother of two beautiful twins. She wants to use her knowledge and expertise to help others lead a better life. Her hobbies include writing, long distance running and travelling with her beloved family. Follow her on twitter as @meganscotts!”


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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