What should I do if my daughter's piercing site gets infected?

If your daughter gets her ears pierced and an infection results, she should try to leave the jewelry in place during treatment. Removal of the jewelry may lead to closure of the piercing site and may also prevent the infection from draining properly. This can lead to an abscess. In most instances, all that will be needed is for your daughter to apply warm compresses to the infected area and to wash the site with an antibacterial soap. Topical ointments are not recommended. Oral antibiotics and, rarely, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary in certain circumstances where the infection doesn't resolve itself.

To reduce the risk of infection or other complications such as bruising, scarring, and keloid formation, your daughter should take certain steps if she gets a body piercing.

Generally speaking, for non-oral sites she should soak the area in a saltwater solution 2 or 3 times a day and wash it with an antibacterial soap 1 to 2 times a day. She should not use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, Hibiclens, or ointment on the area. She should prevent any bumping, jostling, or rubbing of the site, and she should avoid pools and hot tubs until the piercing has healed. When she takes a shower or bath, she should cover the piercing with a waterproof bandage.

And finally, she should leave the jewelry in place for the entire healing process.

For nipple piercings, your daughter should wear a tight cotton shirt or a sports bra. This clothing provides protection and support, and it won't rub back and forth against the jewelry.

For navel piercings, a woman should cover the area with a hard, vented eye patch to provide protection from clothing and irritation.

For genital piercings, a woman should use barriers such as condoms during sex to protect against her partner's body fluids. Only a water-based lubricant from a new container should be used during intercourse. The site should be soaked in saline or rinsed in clean water after any sexual contact. If the piercing is near the woman's urethra, she should urinate after she cleans the area with soap.

For oral sites, during the entire healing process a woman should rinse her mouth 4 to 5 times a day for 30 to 60 seconds using an antimicrobial/antibacterial, alcohol-free mouth rinse or a package of sterile saline solution. For the first few days after piercing, she will need to avoid hot, spicy, salty, or acidic foods.

What should my daughter know about pubic hair removal and styling?

Another trend that has become quite widespread among adolescents and teens is pubic hair removal or styling. In fact, some girls start removing their pubic hair as soon they notice it growing in. Girls as young as 11 and 12 years old are showing up in their doctor's office with pubic razor stubble. Typically these girls have learned about this practice by seeing or reading about hair removal products or pubic hair grooming in magazines or the Internet, or by hearing about it from an older sister or friend. Often Mom is the last to know and only finds out when the adolescent has injured herself with Dad's sharp razor.

As discussed in the hygiene section, trimming, shaving, or bikini-waxing pubic hair is very common among adolescents. But some go so far as to get Brazilian-style bare waxing, which means complete removal of all pubic hair, or to dye their pubic hairs different and unusual colors, or to style their pubic hairs in different shapes, sometimes using stencils.

If she feels that she needs to, there are several ways your daughter can remove pubic hair. Shaving with a razor is the most common, followed by waxing. Laser hair removal is now offered by many medical offices and, in experienced hands, provides good results. Depilatories[1] are chemical substances and are another common method of pubic hair removal. These products are available over the counter.

Although many females remove hair without a problem, sometimes the following complications can be seen.

Razor Burn—This can be caused by shaving dry skin, making too many passes over the skin, or by using a dull blade. There are many safer versions of razors for women available in drugstores. Razor burn can be treated with a mild steroid cream and moisturizers.

Folliculitis[2]—This is an inflammation and/or infection of the hair follicle and can be seen with many of the pubic hair removal methods. Mechanical folliculitis is inflammation without infection and is caused by hairs that don't grow back straight, usually after using a blade or waxing. Both a steroid cream and a topical antibiotic cream can be used for a few days after shaving to help prevent folliculitis, but if this is a persistent problem, it may be necessary to switch to a safety razor, an electric razor or trimmer, or laser hair removal. Infectious folliculitis is when there is an actual infection of the hair follicle and pimples appear. The infection is often caused by common skin bacteria, such as Staph and Strep, and may need antibiotic treatment to resolve.

Spread of Infection—This can occur with shaving, waxing, and depilation. Because these methods cause injury to the skin, they allow bacteria to enter. Just as with shaving, they can enhance the spread of infection over the surfaces involved. These infections include skin bacteria as well as herpes, molluscum contagiosum, and HPV. Adolescents have been known to shave their pubic hair in order to get a better look at genital warts or molluscum bumps, only to spread the infection even further.

Contact Dermatitis—Any product used on the delicate skin of the genital area can cause a painful or itchy reaction. This can be treated by stopping use of the product, accompanied by gentle cleansing of the area and use of a steroid cream. Depilatories, which are creams that contain chemicals that dissolve the hair, should only be used on the bikini line area and nowhere else because they can cause extreme irritation and skin burns.

  • [1] Products such as creams, lotions, and powders that contain chemicals that remove hair. These products are commonly used to remove pubic hair and leg hair and are available over the counter.
  • [2] Inflammation of the hair follicle. Folliculitis can be painful and is caused by skin bacteria. It is often seen in the pubic hair region and appears as small pimple-like structures. Folliculitis can occur from the use of hair removal products, shaving, or waxing.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >