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Kids and Piercings

Kids of all ages are begging to put a ring on it—their ears, that is. Fortunately, for the school-age set that mostly means the traditional single hole, but the popularity of cartilage and belly-button-piercings is also on the rise with middle schoolers. What to consider if your kid wants to go under the earring gun:

Piercings are forever. "Kids-especially young ones—usually don't think about or grasp the long-term consequences of getting a piercing. It might seem cool to pierce her nose now, but how could that affect her in a job interview when she's 25? Or at a PTA meeting when she's 35? Those are all issues worth talking through," says Jonathan Pletcher, M.D., a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Yeah, she can always take the ring out, but the piercing may leave its mark forever.

If you give her the green light, pick a reputable place that uses good sterilization techniques. Everything (skin and jewelry) should be swabbed with a sanitizer before and after the piercing is done—and the person doing it should sterilize her hands and wear gloves.

Choose 14-karat gold or stainless-steel posts and backings. They tend to be a bit pricier, but less expensive bling often contains nickel, and 15 percent of people are allergic to it. A reaction can lead to scarring or infection.

Keep it clean. You or your child will need to swab the pierced area with a sanitizing solution, like rubbing alcohol, two or three times a day until it heals.