Having your ears pierced is exciting. Whether it is your second set of earrings or your first, it is important to take care of your piercings to avoid irritation and infection. The typical time frame for healing of pierced ear lobes is four to six weeks. When choosing new earrings, you will want to note any allergies you have to common metals used in earrings, such as nickel or gold.
If your ears were pierced with a piercing gun, you will be wearing studs or posts. A piercing gun uses an earring with a pointed end to force the earring through your earlobe. Most piercing stud earrings are an 18-gauge earring that have a gem or decorative piece attached to a straight post that goes through your earlobe and is held in place with a earring backing. To avoid sensitivity or allergen issues, most ears are pierced with surgical steel earrings that are hypoallergenic. Many tattoo and piercing shops also provide ear piecing services with a small needle. These shops also use hypoallergenic surgical steel jewelry and are considered to be better for your ears as the needle is not as invasive as the piercing guns found in salons and shopping complexes.
The Infinite Body Piercing website notes that after your ear piercings have completely healed, you may change your earrings, but you should always have an earring in each piercing for the first year. Otherwise, the piercing may heal over.
Just because your ear piercings have healed, that does not mean that they are any less prone to sensitivity or infection. Choosing high-quality earrings that are the correct size and kept clean is the best way to ensure your ear piercings will remain healthy. If you have ever worn a watch that contained nickel and your skin broke out or became irritated, you should avoid nickel-plated earrings as they may irritate your ears. Nickel is used in inexpensive earrings that are sold in superstores and other costume jewelry stores. Check the earring package for the metal content of the item. Due to sensitivity issues, many earrings are now nickel free or made with stainless surgical steel.
Standard earrings are an 18-gauge piercing. If you are buying standard earrings, you will not need to worry about purchasing the correct size as nearly all earrings are made for an 18 gauge piercing. If you want to wear barbells or captive bead rings for earrings, you can choose to have an 18-gauge or larger gauge piercing done. If your ears were pierced with a larger needle (16 gauge or higher), you will need to buy earrings that are the same gauge. Body jewelry packaging will have the gauge listed on the package. Unlike piercing earrings, the backing for regular studs and hoops are easy to remove.
When shopping for new earrings, always purchase earrings that are new and unused. If you receive earrings that are an heirloom from someone in your family, you should take extra precaution in cleaning the earrings to avoid the spread of germs or bacteria. You should always wash your hands before cleaning your ear piercing. Use a cotton ball or cotton swab to apply the antibiotic cleanser provided by your piercer to the area around your earring while you gently twist the earring in a circular motion. If you do not have a piercing solution available, the Body Piercing Guide website notes that you may use a mild antibacterial soap instead. You should consult your doctor if you have any signs of infection (red, inflamed, hot skin or puss coming from your piercing) before taking the earring out.
References and ResourcesInfinite Body Piercing: Ear Piercing
Body Piercing Guide: Ear Lobe Piercings