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Getting my daughter's ears pierced: The mall vs. tattoo parlor

American Academy of PediatricsGoogle Inc.

My 8-year-old daughter had been begging for a few years to get her ears pierced and I recently decided to let her go ahead with it. It seemed important to her, she's pretty responsible, and -- as she has pointed out to me numerous times -- many of her friends have pierced ears.

When I got my ears pierced some 30-plus years ago it was done with a gun at some random store, although neither I nor my mom can remember which one. It stung for a few minutes but was no big deal. So I figured my daughter and I would probably just head to the mall and get it done at one of those  jewelry stores aimed at the kid and tween set.

Then I did a Google search and changed my mind. I started reading articles that claimed piercing guns often aren't cleaned as well as they should be and that other people's bodily fluids could come in contact with my daughter. I also worried about having the piercing done by someone with limited experience. (It should be noted, though, that this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't warn people against using a piercing gun).

So I kept Googling and read reviews of local places that do professional body piercings and finally gave a call to Mr. B's Tattoos and Body Piercing on Belair Road in Baltimore's Overlea neighborhood. They were so kind and patient and answered all my questions that I decided to take my daughter there.

The place was spotless and although some of the paintings were risque, there was nothing that made me feel I needed to shield my daughter's eyes or run screaming from the place. Our technician, Al, was soft spoken and sweet and took great care with daughter. He used a red Sharpie to mark the places the holes would go, and even after I approved them, he brought out a ruler and measured the dots on both ears to make sure they were perfectly even.

He used two fresh needles -- one for each ear -- and advised that when having any type of piercing or tattoo that the customer always watch the technician open the package and take out a fresh needle. He also cleaned off her ears prior to the procedure and he wore rubber gloves.

My daughter was fine during the procedure -- although it made me feel faint, hence the rather blurry photo that I snapped as I reeled backwards -- and she sat calmly playing a game on my phone while Al stuck the needle through her non-numbed ear. Then he removed the needle and inserted one of the silver earrings we'd brought along (he advised us to bring our own gold or silver earrings because he doubted they'd have any in stock that would appeal to my daughter; she chose glittery pink hearts, proving him right).

Afterward he gave us a pack of sea salt to mix with warm water -- rubbing alcohol is too harsh, he said -- and directions about how to care for her ears.

My only concern now is over the future battles I know we'll have about which earrings are appropriate for a second grader to wear.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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