Congratulations! Getting your ears pierced is a special milestone that many experience at some point in their lifetime – whether as an infant, child, teen, or adult. Regardless of when you have your ears pierced, it is exciting to know that you will soon be able to wear earrings that complement your sense of style!
Despite the anticipation leading up to the moment of ear piercing, the most important part of ear piercing is actually the ear piercing aftercare, which happens in the 6 weeks following the piercing. Good piercing aftercare and high-quality aftercare products will help you avoid infection and help your ear piercing heal more quickly.
Continue reading to learn how to care for your newly pierced ears, the “do’s and don’ts” of proper earlobe piercing aftercare, and some tips and tricks to follow for changing your earrings for the first time!
What is ear piercing aftercare? When does it start?
Because ears will be swollen and tender immediately after piercing, it is best to wait 24 hours before touching them. Piercing aftercare begins 24 hours after your ears are pierced and will occur 2-3 times per day and continue for several weeks. This timeline is different depending on where in the ear you get pierced; your nurse will give you the specific timeline appropriate for your piercing. Getting into an aftercare routine early on is a good idea, so caring for your ear piercing is incorporated into your everyday routine. For example, clean your ear piercings when you brush your teeth in the morning and the evening. This is one way to remember to do it!
How to clean ear piercings
The most important aspect of caring for your ears is good hand hygiene. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching your earrings. While it may be tempting to touch your new earrings (they are beautiful), it is important to avoid playing with them. You should only touch your new earrings when you are cleaning your ears.
You will need to clean the piercing site 2-3 times a day with an aftercare solution. Your nurse will help you find the best solution for your piercing and your body. Spraying or squirting the pierced area directly will ensure the piercing site is soaked properly, but you may also saturate a cotton swab (Q-tip) to clean the piercing site around the earring. We do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or antibiotic ointment on the skin. While performing ear piercing aftercare, make sure to pull back your hair so it does not get caught in the earring!
Always leave a space between the back of the ear and the earring back. Do not push earring backs close to the back of the earlobe, as the piercing needs plenty of room to breathe and heal. For many starter earrings, the earring back will click into a notch towards the end of the post and should remain at this location.
Lastly, avoid letting regular soap, shampoo, conditioner, or hair products sit or remain in the ear piercing site. After your piercing comes into contact with soap or other products (which will happen when you wash your face or shower), the piercing site should be thoroughly rinsed. You may opt to perform one of your daily cleanings after you shower to ensure the piercing site is clean.
Signs of an infection
It is important to note that your piercing may be tender or painful for up to 3-5 days after the procedure was performed. This is normal. Sleeping directly on your ears or side may prolong the tenderness due to the pressure on the piercing site.
Beyond this time frame, be alert for a potential problem, and look for signs of infection. This includes redness, swelling, heat, pain, yellow-green pus, or fever. In addition, look for signs of poor or slow healing, which may indicate a metal sensitivity or allergy. An infection may be caused either by bacteria or by an allergic reaction. At Rowan, we only use hypoallergenic and nickel-free jewelry, which is the safest option for your ears.
It is also important to consider that not every kind of metal will work well for your body. Jewelry comes in a range of metals, including yellow, white, or rose gold; stainless steel; titanium; sterling silver; nickel and more. Knowing which metal is best for your body may not be obvious immediately. If you are performing proper piercing aftercare and the piercing site is still not healing well, you may have to switch to a different type of metal due to a possible metal sensitivity or allergy. Nickel allergies, for example, are quite common. It is best to avoid nickel or nickel alloys by selecting hypoallergenic earrings, like the Rowan Bestsellers, which are always hypoallergenic and nickel-free earrings.
How long do ear piercings take to heal?
It takes a year for a piercing to heal entirely, and removing the starter earrings too early may cause the earring hole to close. Your nurse will tell you at what point it will be safe to change your earring. Once you’ve reached the point when you can change your earrings, continue wearing lightweight earrings, including to sleep, until the ears have healed completely. We recommend wearing earrings consistently for one year after piercing. If you are physically active or playing sports, it is recommended to wear small sports studs instead of hoops or dangly earrings, which can get caught or tangled.
It is generally a good idea to wait 2-3 weeks after the piercing is done to go swimming, as the bacteria in pool water may cause an infection, and the chlorine may cause irritation. Also, make sure to avoid additional trauma to the piercing site. Many irritations occur from snagging sensitive earrings on clothing such as a tight-fitting top, sweater, turtleneck, or fuzzy scarf.
Taking care of your new piercings is simple and will not take up much time once you get into a good routine. It may be tempting to skip one of your cleanings now and then, but remember that proper care will promote healing and reduce your chance of an infection.
Changing your earrings for the first time
What you put in your ears is just as important as when you change your earrings - stick with only hypoallergenic and nickel-free earrings, and avoid wearing heavy jewelry in the piercing for one year. Our lightweight hoops are a great option, as the hoop style allows optimal airflow around the piercing, which is important in the healing process. Looking for more inspiration? Check out all of the hypoallergenic earring options Rowan has to offer.
The first step in changing your earrings is to start with clean, sanitized hands. This will help prevent infection and ensure that your ears stay healthy. Next, you need to sanitize your earrings with isopropyl alcohol. Make sure the alcohol has completely dried off of the earring before attempting to place the earring in your ear.
Now you’re ready to remove your current earrings. Removal will be nuanced depending on what kind of earring you started with, but not to worry! We will provide tips and tricks for all styles available at Rowan, making you a pro in no time.
Be Prepared to Go Fast
Your body is working hard to heal your piercing, which means that even a minute without an earring in your new piercing can cause the hole to begin to close. Focus on one ear at a time - removing and replacing earrings on one side, then the other.
If you are having pain when attempting to place a new earring in your piercing, stop and do not force the earring through! Not only will forcing the earring through worsen your pain, but it can cause trauma to your ear. It’s better to re-pierce the hole than to force a blunt earring through a partially closed piercing.
If you can feel a small amount of resistance and no pain, lubricating your ear and the jewelry with your aftercare solution can help the earring go into place smoothly.
You might see a small amount of bleeding when you remove your earrings for the first time. Don’t worry, though! A piercing is a wound that heals from the outside-in, and the healing process takes approximately a year. Use your aftercare to remove any blood from your skin once you have placed your new earrings in the piercing.
Firmly grasp the front of the earring between your pointer finger and thumb, and do the same with the earring back. Pull the earring back from the post in one fluid, strong motion, then gently remove the post. The bell-back is very secure to the post, and it will take a little more effort than a butterfly-back.
Butterfly Back Earrings
Similar to the bell-back styles, you’ll firmly grasp the front and back of your earring and gently remove the back off the post. Butterfly backs are not as secure as bell-backs and thus don’t require as much effort to remove.
Flat Back Earrings
Flat back earrings insert from the back of the ear instead of the front like traditional earrings. For removal, you’ll grasp the front and back of the earring and pull the front of the earring away, leaving the back side in place. Once the front of the earring has been removed, you can then take the back of the earring out of the ear.
Caring for your new piercing by following proper aftercare instructions and wearing only hypoallergenic, nickel-free jewelry will ensure you have a healthy piercing you love! Changing earrings is a quick and easy way to express your individuality, and with a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time! To book your appointment at Rowan click here!