Piercing Rejection: A Lesson in the Unexpected Challenges of Motherhood

I think all moms have a folder named “I didn’t even know this was a thing”.  The latest addition to my folder is “piercing rejection”, specifically “ears” in my case. This is how it all started…

After being nervous for years, my 13 year old daughter finally decided she was ready to have her ears pierced. We chose a business that does piercings as opposed to the mall. I have nothing against the mall, my oldest daughter had hers done there with no issues at all.  However, several friends suggested a piercing business was a better option so that’s what we did. They were very thorough with aftercare procedures and their piercing procedure was meticulous, clean and sterile.  We left feeling great about the whole experience.

fun fact: the oldest known earlobe piercing was found on a 5,000-year-old mummy in an Austrian Glacier in 1991. The earlobe piercing was enlarged to 7-11mm diameter, and it is believed to have been part of a spiritual practice.

My daughter took great care of her new piercings. Soaked them daily with a saline solution and washed them in the shower as advised. She was told to wait 6 months before changing her earrings. This seemed excessive (to me) but she listened to them and waited.

Sometime around 6-8 weeks after the piercing, she started saying her ears hurt. I looked at them…they looked fine. No redness, no swelling. I told her they were probably still healing.

A couple more weeks went by and she still had pain. I looked again. This time I noticed a lot of swelling on the back of her ear lobes. The piercing site still looked fine. The inflammation was next to the piercing. At this point (3 months since the piercing), I decided we needed the doctor.

The doctor said it was a reaction to the metal since it was happening in both ears. She advised us to remove the earrings for at least a week, (she said they were fully healed at 6 weeks) and to use warm compresses along with a prescription antibiotic ointment.

We did as instructed and her ears healed within a couple of weeks. Then we put gold earrings in thinking that would solve the problem. After 2-3 weeks, the infection came back in both ears. We took the earrings out, continued with warm compresses and prescription ointment.  This time after having the earrings out for almost 2 weeks, one of the piercings closed. 

At this point, she has decided she’s had enough and is going to let the other side close. Maybe she’ll try again in the future. Maybe not.

After this experience, and talking to a friend, I learned about piercing rejection. Sometimes your body just isn’t having it and will reject a piercing. The area around the piercing can become inflamed and actually force the piercing out. Infection can also develop with redness and fluid drainage.

In my daughter’s case, it could have been a reaction to the metal or it could have been piercing rejection. I’m honestly not sure. But this experience, like most in motherhood, opened my eyes to another thing that I had never heard of before.

If you or your child is experiencing pain or discomfort after a piercing, please consult your doctor. For more information on piercing rejection signs and symptoms…


Have you or anyone you know experienced piercing rejection? Share your story in the comments below.

Written by Gina Austin

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