When you should allow your daughter, or son in some cases, to get her ears pierced is a matter of some debate. In certain cultures, it is traditional pierce an infants' ears. For those living in the US, UK, Australia or Canada, the age varies, and some girls get their ears pierced prior to attending school, while others have to wait until they are 12 or 13. In some families, girls are not allowed to pierce their ears until they are adults.
If you aren’t fulfilling certain cultural norms by getting a child’s ears pierced, it makes sense to wait until the child is mature enough to take good care of the piercings herself. Pierced ears become easily infected without the proper care, so a girl should be able to follow care guidelines first.
Although some girls can comply with such guidelines before the age of 12, those who are less conscious of basic hygiene may have a hard time performing routine ear care. Children who have difficulty remembering to perform chores or bring home their homework may also be a little too distracted to care for any piercings yet.
For many years, it has been fashionable for girls to have multiple piercings in their ears. You should never allow first piercings in the ears to be multiples. Instead, allow the girl to have one piercing in each earlobe, and wait and watch how she cares for them before allowing any more.
Rarely, piercings through the cartilage in the upper part of the ear can cause serious damage the ear, resulting in difficult to treat infections. Because cartilage does not have its own blood supply, oral antibiotics cannot reach infections there. This can result in serious illness and cartilage deformation. If a child wants multiple piercings, consider waiting until she is 18, and discourage cartilage piercing at any time.
Parents should know to watch for certain signs of problems when they allow their daughters to have their ears pierced. For example, if an earlobe seems red, swollen, or feels hard, it is probably infected. Second, watch for allergic reactions to certain metals, like nickel. Even silver is problematic for some children, so always chose hypoallergenic earrings, and when possible, gold coated studs.
In the end, allowing a daughter to have her ears pierced is a personal and individual decision. It depends upon your personal beliefs, your observations of your child, and the degree to which you feel pierced ears are important. Do recognize that piercings will always carry some health risk for infection and blood-borne diseases, even though it is a common practice. It's up to you to decide if this risk is justifiable.