Between 80-90 percent of American women have their ears pierced, and men are also joining the ear-piercing ranks. Body modifications have been trendy for centuries, first discovered in Otzi, the famous “Iceman” mummy that lived between 3400-3100 BCE. In earlier centuries, ear piercing was a sign of nobility. Today, it’s simply a fashion statement. Of course, getting ears pierced do come with some potential risks, which is why it might be best to skip that local jewelry shop’s ear-piercing services and turn to a qualified ENT doctor instead.
The Risks and Complications of Ear Piercing
While getting your ears pierced by a trained medical professional can greatly lessen the risk of infections and complications, sometimes issues still occur after a piercing. Common problems caused by ear piercings include:
- Allergy to certain metals: If you have an allergy to certain types of jewelry or your skin is particularly sensitive to metals, talk with your doctor about getting jewelry made from materials such as stainless steel or titanium, which are less likely to cause a reaction.
- Infections: We know that it’s fun to fiddle and play with your piercing, but it’s important to leave it alone while it heals and to practice proper aftercare to prevent infection. If you continue to mess with the piercing before the skin heals, bacteria from your hands can lead to irritation or infection. If you develop redness, swelling, pain, or pus, these are all signs of an infection.
- Scarring: Certain individuals are prone to scarring, particularly keloid scars (excessive buildup of scar tissue). Keloids scars can be unsightly and uncomfortable but can be treated with laser therapy, steroid injections, or surgery
Certain Medical Conditions Could Make Piercings an Issue
Certain individuals may want to talk with their ENT doctor before getting their ears pierced, as there may be an increase in complications. Let your doctor know beforehand if you,
- Are pregnant
- Have diabetes
- Have an autoimmune disorder
- Have a blood clotting disorder (e.g., hemophilia)
If you want to get your ears pierced, an ENT specialist will be the best doctor to turn to, as they can provide a clean, sterilized environment to reduce the risk for infection and piercing-related complications. Turn to an ENT doctor for your professional ear piercing.