Congratulations! Getting your ears pierced is a special milestone, one which many people 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 own 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 will help you avoid infection, and will help your ear piercing at home heal more quickly.
Continue reading to learn how to care for your newly pierced ears, and the “do’s and don’ts” of proper earlobe piercing aftercare!
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 you have gotten your ears pierced, and will occur 2-3 times per day and continue for a full 6 weeks. It is a good idea to get into an aftercare routine early on, 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 in 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 either saline or salt-based solution, anti-bacterial soap, or an ear piercing solution. 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 you are performing ear piercing aftercare, make sure to pull back your hair so it does not get caught in the earring!
While cleaning the piercing area, rotate the earring 360 degrees, or one full turn. Only turn the earring during aftercare, when the piercing site is wet. When the piercing site is dry, it may feel crusty or sticky –and turning earrings at other times will lead to irritation and infection.
Always leave a space between the back of the ear and the earring back. Do not push earring backs up 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 earlobe piercing may be tender or painful for up to 3-5 days after the procedure was performed. This is normal. Note that sleeping directly on your ears or side may prolong the tenderness on the earlobe due to the pressure on the piercing site.
Beyond this time frame, be on alert for a potential problem, and make sure to look for signs of infection. This includes redness, swelling, heat, pain, itching, 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.
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 Earring Club, which are always hypoallergenic and nickel-free earrings.
How long do ear piercings take to heal?
The original piercing stud should remain in the ear for 6 weeks or more, even at night. Removing the starter earrings too early may cause the earring hole to close. After this time, it is safe to change the earring, but continue to wear 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 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 an sensitive earrings on clothing such as a tight-fitting top, sweater, turtleneck, or a 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.
Check out all of the hypoallergenic earring options Rowan has to offer. The Rowan earring club provides a new earring every month, celebrating milestones both big and small!