Can Earrings Cause Sports Injuries? Understanding the Risk

Understanding the Risk

Can Earrings Cause Sports Injuries? Understanding the Risk

 Having an active lifestyle and participating in sports is something that all age groups enjoy.  As many as 57.4% of all high school students participate in one school or community sporting activity, and 58% of children aged 6 through 17 (edweek.org).  Coincidentally, the most popular ages for getting a first ear piercing at Rowan are around 8 years old and again in the later teenage years.  This begs the question, how can one safely navigate sports with earrings?


Understanding the Risks

Wearing earrings anywhere in your ears while playing sports can be potentially harmful, and the risk is greater for those participating in contact sports such as soccer, boxing, or football.  In some cases, injuries sustained from wearing jewelry can be severe and require surgery.  Anything from a torn earlobe to a major infection, such as perichondritis, can result from trauma caused by contact sports (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).  Other risks include minor infections, bleeding, or stretched piercings, which also require medical treatment.

 

Any of these injuries could affect your ability to wear earrings in the future, making prevention of these outcomes critical.


Choosing Earrings for Sports

Depending on your sport, age, or state, there may be regulations in place that strictly do not allow earrings or any jewelry to be worn during practice or games.  For example, it’s common for gymnasts to have to remove their earrings before training, regardless of the type of earring in place.  In other sports, like softball, earrings may be allowed.  

 

If your sport allows you to wear earrings, it’s important to choose the safest option.  Simple studs, such as our gold or silver globe studs make great earrings to wear during sports.  A little tip: be sure to thoroughly clean and polish your earrings after wearing them during sports, as sweat can dull their sparkly luster over time.   The best option, however, is our sports studs.  Made of soft, hypoallergenic silicone, these are light and flexible enough to fit comfortably in your ear without causing distraction. 

 

Regardless of which earring style you choose, it’s best to avoid hoops or any other dangling earrings, as these can easily get caught on clothing or equipment or accidentally grabbed and torn from your ear - ouch!  


Safety Tips for Wearing Earrings During Sports

In order to keep your ears healthy and safe, it’s important to regularly clean and sanitize your earrings, especially if you are wearing them while playing a sport or sweating.  The best way to do this is by using applying alcohol to the earring and allowing them to air dry completely.  

 

If you have a piercing that is less than a year old, it’s critical that you also clean your piercing as soon as you can when you have finished training for the day.  Removing the dried sweat from your skin will help keep your ears from developing an infection in your piercings.  

 

Some regulations allow “taping” of your earrings while participating in a sport.  Be sure to use tape that isn’t so strong that it leaves a residue on your skin or jewelry.  A bandaid cut to fit your ear may work well, however, try to keep the adhesive of the bandaid off of the piercing/jewelry.  If you are sensitive to latex or adhesives, medical-grade paper tape will be much more gentle on your skin.

 

Lastly, be sure your earrings are secured properly but not too tight to cause pain or discomfort!

 

Sports-Specific Recommendations

Depending on where you live and what age and sport you are participating in, there may be regulations that dictate whether you can or cannot wear any type of jewelry while playing sports, as well as what kind of jewelry is okay to wear.  If you’re not sure, check with your coach and/or umpire, as well as your state regulations.

 

  • High Contact Sports:  In general, it’s not a good idea to wear any earrings or other jewelry while participating in contact sports like soccer, basketball, or football.
  • Low Contact and Water-Based Sports: Silicone-based sports studs or small globe studs are your best bet!  Avoid hoops, dangling earrings, or anything that is large and heavy or has a lot of prongs that can get easily caught in hair, helmets, etc.

Preventing Infections

When it comes to keeping your piercings healthy and infection-free, prevention is the best medicine!  First and foremost, only hypoallergenic and nickel-free jewelry!  This will help you avoid infection or develop metal sensitivities/allergies (Peate, 2000).

 

Second, keep your jewelry and your piercing clean by using aftercare spray immediately after training/games and gently washing jewelry in alcohol (and be sure to let the jewelry air-dry).

 

Third, do not share your earrings with anyone else!  As tempting as it may be, be sure that your earrings only go in your piercings.

 

Fourth, keep an eye out for any signs of infection, including redness, swelling, yellow-green discharge, or fever.  If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical care with your primary care provider for treatment.  We are also available to help you with any issues you may have at our nurse helpline.

 

Advice for Athletes Wanting New Piercings

If you want a new piercing as an athlete, timing is everything!  On average, your new earring needs to stay in place for anywhere from 3-12 weeks.  On top of that, an earring needs to stay in the piercing for one year; otherwise, you risk the tissue healing closed.  

 

Talk with your coach or sports official as well as your healthcare provider to determine the best timing for your new piercing.

 

Bringing it All Together

Depending on the sport you play, there may be risks involved with wearing earrings.  Practicing caution and taking any necessary precautions will help keep you and your piercing safe.  If you’re unsure, the best answer is not to wear jewelry at all.  As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

 


References:


Peate, I. (2000). Body piercing: Could you answer your patient’s queries? British Journal of Nursing (Mark Allen Publishing), 9(20), 2163–2168. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2000.9.20.2163


https://www.edweek.org/leadership/statistics-on-school-sports-how-many-students-play-sports-which-sports-do-they-play/2021/07


https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23222-perichondritis

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