Ear Piercing & Sports

Female footballers (11-13) standing arm in arm, smiling, portrait

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Children and adults with pierced ears must take special precautions while playing sports. Especially in the first months after piercing, the ears are susceptible to damage and infection. Pediatrician William Sears, MD advises that parents should not pierce their children's ears until the child is able to competently care for her ears herself. Adults with pierced ears must also be careful to avoid serious injuries.

Piercing Pains

Having pierced ears poses serious risks when the person plays sports. A blow to the ears or face -- even a light one -- can drive the ear posts into the skin on the head and neck behind the ears, causing serious injuries. Tugging, pulling and running can pull studs out of the earlobes and rip the surrounding skin, according to pediatrician William Sears. This injury is extremely painful and can leave permanent scars.

Infection Issues

Newly-pierced ears are highly susceptible to infections because the body treats the piercing as an open wound, according to Sears. Sports expose the ears to more pathogens because of the close physical contact and increased likelihood of falling. Exposure to dirt, sweat and other substances during sports may cause newly pierced ears to become infected. Once the holes have fully healed, the ears are less likely to become infected, but you should avoid wearing earrings during sports.

When to Pierce Your Ears

Wait until sports season is over to have your ears pierced. After your ears are pierced, the studs need to stay in for four to six weeks. Because when you remove them to play sports, the holes may close up. If you've had your ears pierced recently and plan to play sports anyway, take precautions to keep your head and ears safe. Place foam covers on the pointy backs of earrings and use tape or gauze to hold earrings in place. The best strategy, of course, is to remove the earrings and try piercing again later.

How to Care for Your Piercings

The safest metals for ear piercings are generally gold and titanium, which are unlikely to provoke allergic reactions or infections. Four to six weeks after piercing, begin removing earrings and cleaning the posts with alcohol or saline solution daily. If have swollen or inflamed ears, consult your doctor and avoid wearing earrings until the inflammation goes away.