Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been there and done that, getting your ears pierced is a pretty big deal. The fact is, while your most recent Google search is likely along the lines of, “do piercings hurt,” there’s more to it than potential discomfort and how great those new earrings are going to look with an updo. Just like tattoos, piercings require their own list of aftercare necessities.
Knowing how to properly care for a piercing—including how to clean ear piercings and how to treat an infected ear piercing—are two of the many essentials you should brush up on prior to making an appointment. What should and shouldn't you do after getting your ears pierced? We’re sharing the 4-1-1 on getting your ears pierced (including how to get rid of keloids), below.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GET YOUR EARS PIERCED
Before we talk aftercare, there are certain things you should know prior to even getting pierced. Here are three things to keep in mind before you book an appointment.
1. Research where you go. First and foremost, going to a safe piercing place is a necessity. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), states that you should make sure the place you go to takes measures to be sterile, your piercer washes their hands and wears gloves, and that the earrings used are made of surgical steel, titanium, 14- or 18-karat gold, or niobium.
2. Understand it won’t be painless. For an earlobe piercing, there are two methods that can be used. If your piercer uses a needle, they will first create the hole using a needle, per the AAD, then put the earring in. If your piercer uses a gun, it will shoot the earring into your ear, creating the hole and putting in the earring in the process. While it won’t be pain-free, rest assured the AAD says that both methods are fast and will resemble the feeling of a pinch for a few seconds.
3. Be aware of the aftercare. Ear piercings are mighty cute, but it’s important to know that you can’t put holes in your ears and then expect them to heal all on their own. Aftercare is a must! In fact, it’s wise to understand what goes into caring for new piercings before you get them. That way, you can stock up on the necessary supplies you need prior to your appointment, and you’ll know what you’re getting into before you've made a commitment.
HOW TO CARE FOR PIERCED EARS
Speaking of aftercare, let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s what you need to know.
How Long Does It Take for a Pierced Ear to Heal?
Unfortunately, your piercing won’t heal overnight. It’s going to take time and patience. According to the AAD, you’ll want to leave your piercing in your ears—even at night—for at least six weeks to prevent your piercing from closing.
How to Clean Ear Piercings
Knowing how to clean piercings is actually quite simple. The AAD recommends following the steps below.
Step #1. Wash your hands. Be sure to start with clean, freshly-washed hands to avoid bacteria getting near your new piercings. Dirty hands could lead to an infection!
Step #2. Use soap and water. Yes, plain old soap and water will do the trick. Carefully use both to wash your piercing at least once a day.
Step #3. And rubbing alcohol. Wondering, “Is it okay to clean an ear piercing with rubbing alcohol?” Yes! In fact, it’s actually recommended. Dip a cotton ball, pad, or swab in rubbing alcohol before carefully cleaning the skin around your piercing twice a day. This will help keep germs at bay and prevent scabbing.
Step #4. Twist, twist, twist. It’s important to twist your earrings a few times daily—making sure your hands are clean, of course. This will help keep the holes open.
How to Treat an Infected Ear Piercing
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is possible for your piercings to become infected. Here are three common signs of infection to look out for.
1. Redness. According to the AAD, the metals in some jewelry can bother your skin, leading to an allergic reaction. The AAD recommends looking for a piercing place that uses nickel-free earrings.
2. Pus. If you notice a yellowish liquid or pus coming out of your piercing, you likely have an infection. Be sure to consult your doctor.
3. Bumps. Bumps, also known as keloids, can form on your piercing. Wondering how to get rid of piercing bumps? According to the AAD, these bumps are hard to get rid of completely, but surgery, medicine, and freezing them with a special chemical can help reduce them in size.
Editor’s note: If you are still curious about whether getting a piercing is right for you, speak to your doctor.
Phew—that’s a lot of info! Next, find Your Skin Care Routine for Tattooed Skin.