One question almost everyone asks when getting their ears pierced is how long they have to wait before wearing dangling earrings. After the initial piercing earrings are put in, your earlobes need time to heal before you can switch to the earrings of your choice. When it is time to don those danglers, remember that these types of earrings should not be worn for long periods due to the risk of stretching or tearing the piercings.
Ear Piercing Procedure
It is always best to have any piercing, including earlobes, performed by a professional body piercer using single-use sterile needles. Unlike ear piercing guns, needles can be sterilized in a machine called an autoclave, which uses high-pressure steam to remove all viable microorganisms from an object’s surface. Plastic piercing guns cannot be autoclaved and can, therefore, spread infection from one client to the next, even if they are wiped down with disinfectant. Piercings performed with sterile needles and surgical-steel jewelry often heal more smoothly than gun piercings, since a gun uses blunt-force trauma to shoot a stud through the lobe.
Ear Piercing Aftercare
Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are too harsh and drying for new piercings as they heal. The Association of Professional Piercers recommends soaking earlobes in a saline solution made of 1/4 tsp. of non-iodized sea salt and one cup of warm bottled water. After soaking, wash the lobes with an antimicrobial soap. Keep your hands off the jewelry when you are not cleaning it, and change your pillowcases frequently. If you follow this aftercare procedure twice a day, you can change your earrings in four to six weeks.
Jewelry for Initial Ear Piercings
The best jewelry for initial earlobe piercings is a surgical stainless-steel captive bead ring. Rings are comfortable to sleep in and move freely through the earlobe, making them easier to clean than piercing studs. The most common gauges for piercing ears are 18 or 20; 20 gauge is slightly smaller.
When you first remove the rings and insert new jewelry, use a high-quality metal such as surgical steel, gold, platinum or titanium. This eliminates or reduces the risk of nickel irritating your new piercings. Choose the lightest-weight dangling earrings you can find, and wear them for short periods of time at first. Be careful of intricate patterns that can get caught in your hair. Although your piercings are healed, they are still new. Hair caught in jewelry can pull or tear a new piercing.
Stretching a Piercing
Heavy dangling jewelry has the potential to stretch your piercings or even rip through the lobes. If you choose to wear heavy earrings, look for small silicone piercing protectors that you can insert into the holes before inserting the jewelry. These protectors provide strength around the piercing holes, keeping the jewelry from stretching or tearing them. They can also protect against metal allergies, a common problem resulting from wearing inexpensive costume jewelry. If you want to stretch your piercings on purpose in order to wear large-gauge plugs, look for a piercer certified by the Association of Professional Piercers to assist you in stretching with tapers.