Leave it the heck alone.

I’m one of those Psycho Moms who researches everything to death, and about seven years ago I ended up on a website talking about The Evils Of Piercing Your Ears With An Earring Gun. It scared me for two reasons. First, it made sense. And second, when they talked about all the horrible things that could happen if you got pierced with a gun, I recognized them because they’d all happened to me

So last week, when my daughter got her ears pierced, I drove an hour to take her to a tattoo parlor rumored to be the safest place to get your ears pierced in the entire universe. I didn’t care that it would cost more or that it was practically a pilgrimage. For her part, she didn’t care because 1) earrings and 2) day out with Mom.

And while there, I got my helix pierced too because I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. So there. If I’m making a pilgrimage to a tattoo parlor, I’m darn well going to come home with a new hole in my head.

For his part, the piercer was very impressed with my daughter.

Kiddo2: “So then they take these awesome sterile earrings, and they stick them in a non-sterilizable piercing gun, and guess what? Not sterile!”

Piercer: “Um…how old are you?”

Afterward, when I’d surprised myself by not turning into a sad, whimpering mess during the piercing (it turns out four unmedicated childbirths are actually good prep for one needle through the ear) the piercer gave us a sheet of aftercare instructions, and then read them to us while I sat there snickering.Finally he asked what was my problem, and I said, “Every single thing here is the direct opposite of what I was told to do the first time, when my ears became a total mess.”

The piercing aftercare instructions can be summarized as follows: Leave it the heck alone.

They take a lot of words to say it, but pretty much: don’t move or twist the jewelry. In fact, don’t touch it at all. Don’t put peroxide, bacitracin, hibiclens, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, betadine…. Don’t touch it. Don’t. You thought about touching it — quit that.

And then, at the bottom, if you really, truly must do something, they suggest soaking it once a day in eight ounces of water with one eight of a teaspoon of sea salt.

Me: “I don’t think you could even taste that.”

Well, since the whole point of this was safety, despite this going against my instincts, we’re doing what he said. Or rather, not doing anything. And you know what? It’s working. Leave it alone. Leave it the heck alone.


  1. Marie

    Well, there goes my argument for delaying piercing. If it needs to be turned a quarter turn every day and other such stuff, then the child needs to be responsible enough to do it. To demonstrate such responsibility, my daughter must brush her hair whenever she changes clothes or before leaving the house without being told.

    But she could certainly do nothing.

    1. philangelus

      As long as it’s done with a sterile needle (not a gun) and she’s old enough not to touch it, she should be good.

      You can also use a very mild baby soap once a day, or do the saline soaks (or a saline spray).

      The “turn it every day” thing is apparently an artifact from when people pierced with string, and the string could adhere to the healing skin. But surgical steel or titanium won’t adhere to the skin, so…no touching. 🙂

      I forgot the sheet also suggested things like “sleep more” and “eat well.”

  2. Ken Rolph

    Tattoo parlour? Whatever happened to a room full of young teenage girls, half apples, ice cubes and a darning needle?

    1. philangelus

      I heard potato, not apples.

  3. Tal

    Wow….I had my ears pierced when I was 12 at a Claire’s with a gun. After a year they never healed up and were always infected, so I let them close up. If I had known…maybe I’d have pierced ears! At this point though, I don’t care anymore.

    1. Megan

      Tal, I think you have my life, except I was 10.

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