To Pierce or Not to Pierce

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

When her parents gave Cheryl Bals a set of diamond earrings for her 18th birthday, the intent was for their daughter to have her ears pierced. But, as they soon found out, she simply was not interested in wearing earrings.

Years later Bals is now mom to four children, two of them girls. Just like their mother, neither Samantha, 14, nor Isabella, 10, have their ears pierced, though many of their peers do.

Ear piercing is truly a trend for all ages - it's not uncommon for young children and even newborns to be decked out in the ear bling.

"Piercing has become such a cultural influence," said Kevin Lowe of Piercology in the Short North. "Younger kids want to look like their idols. And many parents will bring their children to nurses or doctors right away when they are infants."

Although it's not uncommon to see an elementary school-aged child in the seat of an ear-piercing station at the mall, some argue that they are too young.

Patrick McCarthy, Piercology's owner, explained that kids' bodies often are not developed enough when they come to get a piercing, so their piercings may shift as they get older.

Kids with piercings can also run into other complications. Many sports leagues do not allow participants to wear earrings. This causes problems for those with freshly pierced ears since they cannot remove their jewelry until it is fully healed. Another issue that has become more frequent is metal allergies, which force people to find special jewelry that accommodates their sensitivity.

"We used to do ear piercings for babies," said McCarthy. "But we ultimately stopped because we believe kids should make their own choice. It is something that should be based on maturity level."

Even though Piercology does pierce minors, there are still requirements that must be met. Those under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent, and both parents and children have to present some form of government-issued identification.

Bals' philosophy with her daughters matches that of McCarthy.

"I told the girls they needed to wait until they were 18 to be sure they really wanted it and were mature enough to wear and care for them," said the Dublin mother.

Isabella would like to have her ears pierced and has even worn clip-on earrings, but Bals remains firm on the idea of making sure it something her daughters truly want.

"Tastes and trends change," said Bals. "The novelty can wear off quickly, and ear piercing is permanent."

Piercing Aftercare

Aftercare is an important part of the piercing process. These techniques ensure the piercing will heal quickly and effectively:

*Use a mild soap or natural product to clean the piercing. These tend to be gentler on the skin.

*Soak your piercing with salt water to soothe and prevent infection.

*Encourage children to wash their hands before touching the jewelry or piercing.

*Avoid touching a piercing and removing jewelry until the piercing is completely healed.