How to Choose Earrings for Sensitive Pierced Ears

Updated on July 3, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Scientist and author, Beth enjoys the beauty and craftsmanship of real gold jewelry.

The right earring tells the world who you are.
The right earring tells the world who you are. | Source

What Are Hypoallergenic Earrings?

If you get itchy or irritated areas around your ear piercings you need to be careful when choosing earrings. The material the earring post is made from is upsetting your sensitive skin. Your skin is producing an allergic reaction.

The term "hypoallergenic" means the material used is less likely to cause such a skin reaction than one not labelled hypoallergenic. However, there is no standard a manufacturer has to meet to use this label. So don't assume a product labelled hypoallergenic is allergy-free. Instead, look for specific materials such as 14k gold or surgical steel as these are less likely to have skin-irritating metals in them.

Gold, Sterling Silver, Platinum, and Titanium

An allergic reaction to pierced earrings can be a problem. Noble metals such as gold and silver rarely cause sensitivity reactions. If you can afford it, choose earrings with solid gold or solid silver posts. Platinum posts are also unlikely to cause any skin reaction, but these are usually more expensive than gold ones.

14 karat Gold

There are different levels of gold. You should aim for something around 14 karats. Twenty-four karat gold is sometimes too soft for jewelry. "Gold plated" is not the same thing as solid gold. A gold-plated item's gold will wear or rub away after frequent use, revealing a lower-quality material below that you may be allergic to.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy made from at least 92.5% silver mixed with another metal such as nickel or copper. It is much cheaper than gold, but easily tarnishes and so needs to be polished regularly to prevent surface oxidization.


Platinum is a rare and expensive metal. It is hard-wearing and few people have an allergic reaction to it.


Titanium is also considered a non-allergenic metal as only about 4% of the population react to it.

Other Hypoallergenic Materials For Earring Posts

Surgical Steel

Earrings with surgical steel posts are a great mid-priced option for those with sensitive ears. I wear a pair of these gemmed studs to sleep as they don't irritate my pierced ears and are very comfortable.

Plastic, Silicone, or Acrylic

Earring posts made from plastic, silicone, or acrylic are very cheap to buy. However, they have little strength and so break easily.

Ear Piercings

Have you any ear piercings?

See results

Do Gold Plated Earrings Contain Nickel?

"Gold plated" means an earring has a thin layer of gold coating an inferior, cheaper metal. It is not solid gold, and the thin gold coating will wear away over time. Often the metal revealed is nickel and this is a common allergen.

The label "hypoallergenic" usually means there is no nickel on the outer surface of an earring’s post. However, many posts are made of coated nickel. As the outer surface of the post rubs, it wears away and the exposed nickel will come into contact with your earlobe and cartilage causing an allergic reaction.

If you wear earrings frequently you need a better, longer term solution to the problem. Now you understand the cause of the localised itching and redness, you can pick earrings that don't cause soreness and swelling.

Keep your piercing clean and hygienic by using an after-care spray.
Keep your piercing clean and hygienic by using an after-care spray. | Source

Acute Pain and Inflammation Due to Infection

Acute or short-term sensitivity at your piercing site is usually the result of a bacterial infection. This can result in swelling, redness, and throbbing of the affected area. The swelling may contain pus. By regularly swabbing the area with antiseptic, it should clear up within a few days. However, if it persists, seek medical advice as you may need to take antibiotics.

When you have a new piercing, wipe or spray it with a saline solution like H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray at least once a day. I find this helps prevent infection of the pierced area.

How to Prevent an Ear Piercing Infection

Chronic or Long-Term Skin Sensitivity

Chronic or long-term sensitivity when wearing earrings is a type of contact dermatitis. It can cause itching, localized skin irritation, redness, and swelling. The most common metal to cause this allergic reaction is nickel, hence a common nickname for this condition is “nickel itch.”

Nickel posts are often found on cheaper earrings and jewelry. One way to prevent the itch is to wear earrings that have posts made of a non-nickel material. The other is to protect your skin from the metal by putting a protective barrier between your skin and the allergen. For a cheap DIY method of creating such a barrier, you could use nail enamel.

Try the Clear Nail Polish Trick

There is an easy solution that enables you to wear cheap earrings. I call it the nail varnish or nail enamel trick.

  1. Before you insert your new earrings into your piercing, paint the posts with a couple of coats of clear nail polish or enamel.
  2. Make sure the varnish is fully dry before you wear the earrings. The nail polish makes a barrier between the nickel post and your sensitive ear.
  3. You will need to re-coat the earrings if you wear them more than a couple of times.

What Should I Know Before Getting My Ears Pierced?

  • Make any decision about getting a piercing when you are sober.
  • Do not try to pierce yourself—even if it's "just" your ears. Go to a licensed piercing professional. Do not get a piercing, including your ears, at any place that uses a piercing gun. Go to a professional tattoo shop or a piercing parlor. Look for a piercer who is part of the APP (Association of Professional Piercers).
  • Always keep the wound clean. You will usually be given some saline spray to keep it clean. If you experience excessive bleeding, pain, or swelling to the pierced area, you should have the wound checked by a medical doctor or nurse.
  • Sleeper earrings are temporary jewelry pieces that hold the piercing open until the skin heals.
  • If you know you have an allergy to a certain type of metal or plastic, tell your piercer ahead of time so that they can help match you with the best jewelry.

Get your ears pierced by a professional.
Get your ears pierced by a professional. | Source

Have Your Ears Pierced by a Professional (Not a Mall Shop)

Getting your ears pierced by a professional is the first step to preventing infections or problems occurring. A piercing breaks through the natural barrier (your skin) and opens it up to invasion by bacteria, so care must be taken to minimize infection. The piercing should be done with sterile hygienic instruments.

You do not want to get your ears, or any other part of your body for that matter, pierced at a location that uses a piercing gun, such as a shop in the mall. Piercing guns cannot be sanitized. That means you could potentially be put in direct contact with bio materials (including blood) from the person the gun was used on before you. Instead, you should go to a professional piercing parlor or a tattoo shop. If you live in the US, look for a piercer who is part of the Association of Professional Piercers. They have strict guidelines and quality standards that must be met before someone can join.

As the wound heals and the pierced hole is formed, it is important that regular cleaning and appropriate after-care is maintained. Many countries have professional bodies that accredit practitioners of ear and body piercing. Using an approved practitioner will provide reassurance that the person understands proper hygienic methods of piercing.

US Federal law and State law determine licensing requirements for their area. For example, a Board of Body Art Practitioners determines applications in the State of Oregon. In US, the Association of Professional Piercers can advise on local licensing requirements. In UK the equivalent industry body is the British Body Piercing Association.

So many  earrings to choose from; be sure to check the post material before buying.
So many earrings to choose from; be sure to check the post material before buying. | Source

What Material Is NOT Good for Sensitive Pierced Ears?


Most metal allergies are caused by nickel. So avoid this whenever you can if your ears are sensitive. It is often used to strengthen expensive and malleable metals, like silver and gold. Even if you're buying expensive jewelry, make sure the post (the part that goes in your ear) is also made of the material you're looking for.

For instance, you might find a nice set of seemingly gold earrings, but they may be either gold-plated on nickel or the post itself is made of nickel. This means the earrings might not be good for your sensitive ears because nickel will be in contact with your pierced skin.

Are Rubber Backs Good To Use For Sensitive Ears?

Rubber and plastic earring backs are cheap to buy and are often used for DIY jewelry. However, if you are using them to replace a lost earring back, be careful as they may not fit as well as the original, and you could lose your earring because of this. It is always better to replace a gold or silver back with a similar one if you can afford to do so.

Plastic and rubber backs may not suit everyone as some people are hyper-sensitive to these materials. Test your sensitivity by wearing them for an hour or two first before selecting them for day-long wearing.

Having sensitive pierced ears is very common. However, there is no need to let it limit your choice of earrings if you follow the tips given in this article.

What's the Difference Between Surgical Steel and Stainless Steel?

Surgical steel is a type of stainless steel. It is manufactured to a higher quality than normal stainless steel and is designed for surgical implants, and other biomedical uses. Ordinary stainless steel is the type of steel used for earrings.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)