Rhonda Patt

Ask the pediatrician: Earlobe tear takes time to heal

Q. My daughter's earring was pulled and and almost ripped through the earlobe. Now the hole is elongated. What should we do?

Elongation of earlobe piercings is a common problem that can occur over time from wearing heavy earrings or abruptly from a snag or pull on the the earring. The best solution to the problem is to remove the earrings and allow the earring hole to heal for 6 to 12 months. If the hole does not close on it's own during this time, then it is unlikely to spontaneously heal.

At that point, you could consult with a plastic surgeon regarding surgical repair. The repair is more involved than a simple stitch because the edges of the skin have to be re-opened in order to create a skin-healing response. For adults and teens, this may be an office procedure. However, smaller children would likely need to be sedated in an operating room setting.

Once the surgical repair is healed, the ears could eventually be re-pierced.

Dr. Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and past president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. Dr. Patt answers questions from local parents in her weekly "Ask the Doctor" blog. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email Dr. Patt at: living@charlotteobserver.com and put “pediatrician” in the subject line.