Cleaning An Ear Piercing: Simply & Effectively
- Written By Dan Hunter on October 15, 2018Last Updated: November 28, 2020
- Medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer T. Haley, M.D., FAAD
Ear piercings are an awesome way to express your personality and sense of style. With the wide variety of piercing types that are available, you have seemingly limitless choices when it comes to what piercings you should get. However, no matter what type of piercing you get, cleaning your ear piercing will be a vital part of the overall healing process.
Make Sure Your Earrings Are The Right Material
New piercings should be made of surgical stainless steel, titanium, or nickel-free 14kt gold and platinum
Make sure jewelry is made with the right material. Surgical stainless steel, titanium, and nickel-free 14kt gold and platinum are typically good. Avoid metal with traces of lead, such as sterling silver.
How To Clean Your Earring Hole According To Experts
Stocksy / Design by Cristina Cianci
In This Article
Piercings are a really fun form of expression, but after each new piercingwhether it be in your ear, nose, or elsewhereit’s crucial to prioritize one thing: cleaning. Ear piercings in particular are often so quick and simple that it’s common for people to overlook the importance of regularly cleaning and care. But we’re here to let you know why it’s important to clean your piercings on a regular basis.
The first thing to understand is that a piercing is a small wound. Your piercing will take time to heal, and during this healing phase you’ll want to keep your piercing clean to encourage healing and reduce the risk of infection. Depending on the type of piercing, healing time could fall anywhere between a couple of months and a full year.
We consulted with Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, and Hadley King, MD, a dermatologist in New York City to discuss everything you need to know about how to clean an earring hole and other types of piercings. Read on to learn more.
Meet the Expert
- Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, who is a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City
- Hadley King, MD, who is a dermatologist in New York City
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And Help Things Along As Best You Can
“It takes a patient mentality to help piercings heal 100 percent. Your body’s job is to get rid of foreign objects, so it’s a little bit of a dance you have to do,” Smith says, “You must be patient and nurse it to health. Sometimes the simple things are the best: Soap and water to clean, and ice for the swelling. If you take your aftercare seriously, you’ll avoid any problems.”
Go Easy With The Sprays And Cosmetics
Your new piercing likes to breathe fresh air. So, if you can, try and keep your piercing away from hair care and cosmetic products, such as hairspray, shampoo, perfume and make-up.
You have to remember that your ear piercing is essentially an open wound that must be kept as clean as possible during the healing process. If you do get a little bit of product on your ears, clean them straight away with the saline solution.
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Things You Should Know
- Start by cleaning the surrounding skin and your hands with a mild antibacterial soap.
- Apply a simple saline solution with clean, disposable gauze or cotton balls twice a day.
- Gently wiggle the piercing back and forth so the saline solution works its way throughout the entire piercing.
- Keep your piercing as dry as possible in between cleanings as it heals.
Caring For Your Piercing
No matter what type of piercing you get, the same best practices apply:
- Wash your hands before touching your piercing for any reason.
- Clean the piercing with either a saline solution, a fragrance-free antimicrobial soap, or both once or twice per day.
- Rinse any soap from the piercing.
- Gently dry the piercing with a clean, disposable paper towel or tissue. Avoid drying with cloth since it may carry germs or catch on the jewelry.
In order to keep piercings clean throughout the day, steer clear of:
- Touching the piercing unless necessary
- Contact with bodily fluid including saliva
- Contact with open water, including lakes, rivers, pools, and hot tubs. Showers are better than baths since bathtubs can hold onto bacteria.
- All makeup or beauty items including lotions, sprays, and powders.
- Antibacterial ointments, as they can prevent the piercing from getting the air it needs to heal.
If you decide you donât want your piercing, you can take out the jewelry. But this can interfere with the healing process. If you do take out your jewelry, be sure to keep cleaning the wound daily until itâs fully healed. â
Tips for sleeping. If you have an ear or facial piercing, put your pillow into a clean t-shirt, changing the side of the shirt from back to front and inside to out daily. This gives you a clean surface for your piercing. For body piercings, go for loose, comfortable clothes at night.
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How To Clean Your Piercing
A few more helpful tips from our experts:
- Try to avoid touching the area around your piercing with your hands.
- Don’t clean your earring or piercing in a public bathroom or other public settingthere’s a higher risk of infection if you do so.
- As an alternative to saline, you can also clean your piercing with a gentle cleanser and water. This can be a great option while you’re in the shower or while washing your face.
- Aim for at least two gentle cleanings each day. One can be with a gentle cleanser and water, and the other can be with saline solution, King says.
How To Care For Pierced Ears
Unfortunately, your piercing wont heal overnight. Its going to take time and patience depending on where you got it. According to Dr. Erin Gilbert, an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant, piercings in different areas of the body run into specific kinds of challenges to cleanliness, and their care thus differs. For example, while soap and water or a disinfectant are typically great methods for sanitizing earlobe piercings, cleaning piercings closer to the ear canal would benefit more from an earwax cleaner.
That being said, youll still want to leave your piercing in your ears at all times for at least six weeks to prevent your hole from closing, per the AAD. Here is everything else you need to about the aftercare:
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Causes Of Infections Later After The Pierced Ear Has Healed
- Not cleaning the earrings and posts daily
- Touching earrings with dirty hands
- Earring backs that are too tight against the earlobe. Reason: pressure from tight earrings reduces blood flow to the earlobe.
- Not taking the earrings out at night
- Anything that causes a scratch or tear in the ear channel. Examples are a heavy earring or a rough area on the post. Reason: any break in the skin can become infected.
- Putting the post in at the wrong angle also can scratch the channel. Use a mirror until putting the earring in becomes routine.
- Posts that have nickel in them can also cause an itchy, allergic reaction
How Do You Know If You Have An Ear Piercing Infection
Right after your ear piercing, its common for the area to be a bit swollen and sore, but this typically goes away after a few days, Dr. Farber says. In the days and weeks after that, keep an eye out for the following signs of an ear piercing infection: oozing, spreading redness or signs of inflammation , tenderness, the area feels warm to the touch, or you develop a fever. You should call your primary care doctor or dermatologist if you have any of those symptoms.
If its specifically a cartilage piercing that appears to be infected, youll definitely want to call a doctor sooner rather than later. The same concerns apply to any location, but the cartilage will take longer to heal and has a higher risk of keloid scars or the piercing becoming embedded under the skin, so it is more important to intervene early, Dr. Farber says.
As you wait to see your doctor, keep the piercing area clean and covered with a cotton pad adhered with paper medical tape from your first aid kit or local pharmacy because you dont want additional dirt or bacteria to get in the piercing and cause further irritation, Dr. Gohara advises. Also, fingernails contain tons of bacteria, so keeping the piercing covered can stop you from touching it and adding potentially harmful germs, she says. Once your doctor sees you, they may take a culture , and they could possibly give you a prescription for a topical or oral antibiotic, depending on the severity of the infection, Dr. Gohara adds.
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Tips For Overall Care
Before we get into cleaning specific sites, we need to address protocol for overall care. While each location dictates healing time and types of products to use, there are some general rules you should follow no matter the type of piercing you have:
Can I Change My Earring After 1 Day
Changing your earring after 1 day of it getting pierced is a painful and dangerous ordeal. Not only are you exposing the flesh wound to dirt and bacteria but also increasing its healing period. By changing your earrings this soon, you are prone to get the piercing infected, especially if your hands are dirty.
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Follow Up And Aftercare
After the medical piercing procedure you will receive detailed printed aftercare instructions, as well as have ongoing access to our aftercare video.
Your doctor or nurse will review the necessary daily cleaning procedure with you to ensure that you know what to expect, and what to do to keep your child free from infection.
In the written aftercare instructions you are advised to clean the new piercing twice a day, using soap and water or Blomdahl Piercing Aftercare cleansing swabs, which are gentle on the skin and easy to use.
You will be given your doctors phone number for quick access should you have any questions or concerns during the healing period. Complications like infection are rare with our procedure when the aftercare instructions are followed and you will have the security of knowing that our doctors are ready to help if needed.
Safe & sanitary piercing to a medical standard of care.
New Ear Piercing Care:
This video has some great tips for piercing after care as far as what to avoid and the best after care products.
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How Long Does It Take An Ear Piercing To Heal
Earlobe piercings are the quickest to heal. They typically take about 1 to 2 months to fully heal.
Cartilage piercings elsewhere on your ear will take longer to heal. It may take up to 6 months or even 1 year before a helix or tragus piercing is fully healed.
While your piercing is still healing, dont take your jewelry out for an extended period. Doing so may cause the hole to close.
Look Out For Earring Infection
What you certainly dont want is an infection. Sometimes, despite all best intentions, you may have a reaction to your piercing. We suggest you keep a close eye on things for a few weeks, so you can nip any issues in the bud as soon as possible.
If you notice any redness, burning sensation, pain, tender or swollen skin, discharge with an unpleasant odour, or ongoing itching around the piercing, please seek medical advice from your GP straight away.
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Keep Your Earrings In
After all the excitement of having your ears pierced, youll want to make sure that the piercing heals nicely yet doesnt heal and close over. This means you should keep your earrings in.
In the first six months, we recommend you dont go without your earrings for longer than 24 hours. If the piercing does heal shut, you wont be able to get your earring back in.
How Often Should I Clean My Piercing
The soap cleaning should be done once per day and salt soaks one to two times per day. As important as it is to clean piercings, you dont want to overdo it.
Cleaning your piercing means touching your piercing, and too much touching will irritate it. This is especially true during the first couple of weeks of healing.
Some piercers even recommend sea salt sprays, so you can avoid touching the piercing during cleaning. However, the topic has some debate. Some say sprays should be used in addition to saline soaks, and others advise against them entirely. Ask your piercer for a recommendation.
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Whats The Best Way To Clean A New Piercing
For non-oral piercings, like those on the ear, you want to clean it twice daily with a mild aftercare product like a wound wash sterile saline cleanse, either on a sterile wipe or by soaking. When washing hair, try to keep products out of the piercing and irrigate the piercing afterward thoroughly to wash out any soap residue.
What Earrings Should You Wear After A Piercing
When you first have your ears pierced, you will be given piercing earrings, which will have to be kept in for a minimum of six weeks . Whilst it may be tempting to wear the earrings youve been promising yourself for ages, its not advisable to wear anything but your piercing earrings until things have healed nicely.
Once the time is up and all is well, you can swap to some gorgeous light stud earrings for around six to twelve months. Keep those stunning drop earrings for a little bit longer if you can.
Are you ready to get your ears pierced, or know someone who is? Why not book an appointment at H.Samuel today? Recently purchased some earrings and want to find out more about how to clean them? Take a look at our earring cleaning guide.
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How To Clean A Belly Button Piercing
The 2000s have made a comeback, and some folks are fully embracing the movement by incorporating one of the eras most popular trends: belly button piercings . To clean a belly button piercing, says you must first dip a Q-tip into warm water, then gently dab the area to clean off any crust that may be forming as the piercing is healing. Next, create a sea salt solution by stirring ¼ teaspoon of sea salt into eight ounces of boiled water that has been cooled. Gently move the piercing as needed so you can get the top and bottom. Dab the area to get rid of any excess, and voila!
Looking For An Aftercare Piercing Cleaning Product
If youre looking for a safe and effective product you can use to clean your piercings, you may want to give Dr. Piercing Aftercares medicated swabs a try. These swabs are designed to soothe, clean, and protect your piercing while it heals. Its saline-based. Each pack contains 72 medicated swabs.
At Dr. Piercing Aftercare, weve developed convenient medicated swabs that you can use to clean your piercings and keep infection away. We are proud of our products. They are made and tested in a cGMP compliant and FDA-registered facility in America.
We use advanced technology on our swabs for easy application. Each pack contains thirty-six medicated swabs that are proven and tested to promote your bodys natural healing process while preventing infection. Contact us today, or check out our website to learn more about our products.
- Dr. Piercing Aftercare is distributed exclusively by:Broadway Products LLC
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