Ear Piercing Q&A with Pediatrician Dr. Norman McLean

We recently sat down with Dr. Norman McLean, beloved pediatrician from Winnipeg, Canada.  Dr. McLean kindly shared his insights on the piercing process, safe aftercare, and why he chose the Inverness ear piercing system.

Q: Why did you decide to offer ear piercing?

A: When I opened my practice in Winnipeg 3 years ago, we discovered that no pediatricians in the area were offering ear piercing.  For a variety of cultural and personal reasons a lot of families choose to have ear piercing done at a young age, but are very selective about choosing a provider, and we wanted our patients to be able to go to someone they trust. We started by offering the service to parents within my practice and then expanded by offering the service to other parents in the clinic, and now to the general public.

Q: How often do you perform ear piercing?

A: Right now, I offer ear piercing a few Friday afternoons a month when I don’t have regular clinical hours. Two of us – a colleague and I – perform about 20 piercings per session.  The service is quite popular, and we are considering training a third colleague to help.

Q: Why did you choose Inverness?

A: The Inverness ear piercing system has everything I would have asked for in a product. It’s guaranteed sterile, easy to use, and hypoallergenic.  When I used to work in the minor treatment area of the children’s emergency department, I spent a lot of time digging out embedded butterfly-style earring backs, so I particularly like the Inverness Safety Back™ because it covers the sharp earring tip, and doesn’t squeeze too tight during the healing period.  This prevents embedding and makes it easier to keep the pierced lobe clean during the aftercare period.

Q: What can families expect during the piercing process?

A: I usually explain the process first and show families a picture of the piercing earring before the procedure so that they understand that there is no needle or gun involved.  After sterilizing the lobes, I like to mark the ears with a sterile surgical marker to make sure that family is in consensus with the aesthetic of the location.  The piercing itself is actually the quickest part!  In one simple step, the earring is in and the family is free to admire the results.  Some kids feel a bit of a “warm” feeling in the lobes for a period, but the procedure is generally very well tolerated.

Q: What type of earrings do you recommend for piercing?

A: Fortunately, all Inverness piercing earrings are hypoallergenic. We offer a range of options in 14KT yellow and white gold, and titanium. Titanium earrings are an excellent choice for the prevention of nickel allergies, and in children and families with known metal sensitivities or nickel allergies.

Q: What ages do you pierce?

A: We offer ear piercing for children ages 2.5 months up to 8 months and starting again at ages 3 years and older. We intentionally avoid the window between 9 months and 3 years when “stranger danger” is strongest for children.

Q: What advice do you offer parents about the healing period?

A: During the piercing, I review the care instructions thoroughly and stress that a new piercing is an open wound that needs proper care. I tell parents to cleanse and turn the piercing earrings at least 3 times a day for the entire 6-8 week healing period. I’ve found that some people get comfortable by the one month mark and start to skip cleanings, but that can invite trouble. To avoid infection, it’s important to care for the new piercing for the entire healing period. I also remind them not to remove the starter earrings during that time or the piercing holes will close.

During the winters I mention exercising caution with knit scarves and blankets, or anything the earrings could catch on, especially in infants who are rolling.  During the summers I remind kids to tape the earrings during sports (and not remove them), and to take extra care with cleaning the ears if swimming activities cannot be avoided.