Kan Phutano Ceremony (Ear Piercing)88
The kan phutano (ear piercing) shonkshar is a religious and cultural tradition practiced extensively in our country. While some believe that the pierced ears help ward off evil, others believe that it has a scientific basis. Acupuncturists suggest that the ear lobe is the acupuncture point for vision, and that ear piercing may have a therapeutic value. Some pierce their ears for purely aesthetic reasons.
When should I get my baby’s ears pierced?
Traditionally, a baby’s ears are pierced in the first or third year. In many parts of the country the baby’s ears are pierced on the day of naamkoron, that is on the 12th or 13th day after birth. While in some areas parents may wait until the mundan ceremony.
Most parents believe that ear piercing done early is best as the baby’s skin is soft and pain is far less. However, most doctors recommend piercing the ears after the first or second round of tetanus (DPT) vaccinations when your baby is between three to six months old. At this age your baby is older and better equipped to handle any infections or skin irritation.
Who should pierce my baby’s ears?
Traditionally ears were pierced in professional salon or family jewellers. In some places a dai or a maalishwaali would offer ear piercing services as well. They might just do it with a warm needle which may become septic later. It is best to avoid people who do not have proper equipment or staff trained to pierce your baby’s ears.
It is important that the piercing is done in hygienic conditions, so do check the hygiene levels at the doctor’s clinic or jeweller’s shop before making the decision. You could ask a friend or relative who has had her baby’s ears pierced to recommend a good doctor or jeweller.
How do I prepare myself and my baby for the piercing?
It is important that your baby is in perfect health when you get her ears pierced. Ear piercing is usually done without painkillers because the piercing itself hurts less than a shot of anaesthetic would.
Talk to your doctor beforehand if you are getting your baby’s ears pierced by your jeweller. Your doctor may recommend a dose of infants' acetaminophen or ibuprofen before the procedure if you want.
Also ensure that you:
- choose a pure gold wire/or a tiny ear stud for the piercing. (Other metals may cause infection and irritation – especially if they have nickel)
- choose a time when the doctor’s clinic or the jeweller’s shop is least crowded
- avoid getting your baby’s ears pierced during the humid months
- dress your baby appropriately with clothes that are buttoned down. This will make it easy for you to remove the clothing without pulling it over her head or irritating her ears
- carry a toy to distract your baby. If your baby is on solids, you may want to carry her favourite snack in a colourful tiff-in box.
How should the piercing be done?
While ear piercing guns are popular, it is important to keep in mind that several parts of the gun cannot be sterilised. This may leave your baby prone to infections. Alternately, you could get the ear pierced with a needle designed for this purpose. Please remember to sterelize the needle in anticeptic solutions before piercing.
The piercing is done at centre of the ear lobe, avoiding the nerve and cartilage. An experienced ear piercer or doctor will be able to locate this spot easily. Do not allow the practitioner to make a mark on the ear lobe with a ball pen, marker or sketch pen as that increases the risk of infection due to the dyes in the pen ink.
Do ensure that the practitioner washes his hands with antiseptic solution and wears surgical gloves during the procedure. Antiseptic solution should be used to clean your baby’s ear lobes, piercing gun, studs or the gold wire.
You may be anxious about how your baby will react but stay calm. Hold your baby comfortably but firmly so that her head does not move about too much while the ear is being pierced. Piercing the first lobe is usually easy, however once the lobe is pierced your baby may cry and seem very upset. Offer a toy or walk around a bit to divert her attention and to calm her. Wait till she settles down – only then move to the other lobe. Do not rush the procedure with a crying baby. Handling a fidgety baby may be difficult for you and the practitioner may not be able to get the right position to pierce the lobe.
Precautions and aftercare
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If using a gun, do ensure that the gun and the studs are well sterilised.
- If choosing studs -– ensure they have a lock or screw on back. Avoid studs that can be pulled off easily as they pose a choking hazard.
- If you have chosen a gold wire avoid removing it for at least six to eight weeks after the ears have been pierced. Jewellers say that the wire can be comfortably worn for over a year.
- Do not remove the stud/wire during the healing phase as the punctured area may be sealed as well.
- Use any pain relief medication or an antiseptic solution before or after the piercing as per your doctor’s advice.
- Always wash your hands before touching your baby’s ear. Every few days gently rotate the earrings in the ear so that the skin remains free. This will also prevent grime from settling around the pierced lobe.
- Take special care when bathing or changing your baby - the back of the earring should not get caught in her clothing or towel. Keep the area dry and clean.
- Ensure your baby’s bed linen is clean and changed frequently to reduce any chances of germs getting into the pierced lobe.
- Watch out for an infection – the earring sticks to skin, swelling, redness, fever, foul smelling fluid or pus oozing from the pierced site and any skin rashes. In case you suspect an infection go to the doctor.
- Traditionally a neem twig is inserted in the pierced hole – it is believed to have healing and disinfectant properties.
- Try to distract your baby if she tries to pull on her ears and earings.
- Avoid the urge to change earrings for the first few months as the lobe is still healing. Healing may be delayed due to infection or allergy from inserting different metals.
- Avoid large hoops (baalis) or danglers (jhumkis) as your baby may pull them or they may get caught in her clothes and bathing towel and hurt her.
- Choose simple earrings for your child – expensive jewellery may be a safety hazard and may attract unwanted attention. There have been numerous instances where miscreants have pulled off earrings from babies’ ears often causing serious injury. Take special care when visiting busy market places, malls or even the local park.