A Guide to Ear Piercings
Ear piercing is the oldest form of body modification, with references dating back to the early history of mankind.
- Carvings from various parts of the Persian Empire displayed soldiers wearing ear rings. Tribes would perform ear piercings, among other kinds, as a rite of passage, whether it be puberty, marriage, or war.
- In southern India, most children have their ears pierced before they were five years old. Today, many children get their ears pierced around seven months to one year of age.
Ear piercings also extend further than just the lobe. Today, we have industrials, rook, daith, helix, inner, and outer conch, anti-tragus, orbital, and reverse lobe piercings.
In this article, learn about:
- The healing process, after you've gotten your ears pierced.
- Placements for ear piercings.
- The different kinds of jewelry that are available.
- Various do's and don'ts.
- Piercing guns.
- Piercing needles.
- Stretching a piercing.
The Healing Process
- Most piercers will recommend cleaning the jewelry and area around the jewelry with a mild soap while in the shower. Make sure to thoroughly rinse it. You do not want to leave any soap to irritate it.
- You can, also, clean with saline. Soak a cotton ball, and hold it to the piercing for 10- 15 minutes, 2-3 times a day.
- Try not to play with the jewelry unless you are cleaning it. The more you irritate it, the harder it will be to heal.
- Do not over clean, as drying it out will, also, irritate it.
- The average healing time for most ear piercings range from 6-10 weeks. Cartilage piercings take longer to heal.
- Lobe: This can range from a single piercing to several. It's fastest to heal, and usually placed at the fleshy portion of the bottom of the ear.
- Orbital: A ring through two piercings, usually in the outer conch area
- Industrial: A barbell pierced through two sides of the ear. The standard industrial crosses the top of the ear.
- Inner Conch: A barbell or CBR pierced through the inner portion of the cartilage.
- Daith: A piercing made through the inner-most ridge of cartilage above the tragus. The daith is not subject to pressure from sleeping and irritation from daily activities.
- Helix:Through or around the upper, curled edge of the ear, including the curled edge towards the face.
- Rook: Pierced through the antihelix, the ridge above the Daith ridge. Prone to rejection/migration.
- Snug: Horizontal piercing of the antihelix, across from the tragus.
- Tragus: Prominence of cartilage in front of the opening of the canal. Tends to take up to 12 months to heal.
- Transverse: A horizontal piercing through the lobe with a barbell
- Captive Bead Ring (CBR): A ring with a gap left to insert the ring through the ear. A ball to sits in the gap once the jewelry is in.
- Circular Barbell (Horseshoe): Similar to the barbell, with one permanent ball on one end and a screw in ball on the other. But, the barbell is bent in the shape of a horseshoe, leaving the jewelry easy to insert and remove.
- Banana Barbell: Sometimes banana barbells are used. Similar to a regular barbell—with one permanent ball and a screw in ball, except the barbell has a slight curve to it.
- Flesh Plugs: Short cylinders with flared ends to hold them in place. Some require small rubber rings (O-rings) to keep them in place.
- Flesh Tunnels: Also called eyelets. Similar to flesh plugs, but they are hollow in the center.
- Studs: Studs are very difficult to clean thoroughly. The butterfly clip backing can become clogged with hair, discharge, and dirt. This make the piercing more prone to bacteria and infection.
Do's and Don'ts
- Clean the piercing once a day in the shower.
- Check it every morning to ensure that your hair hasn't become entangled in the jewelry.
- Be careful not to knock on it while it is healing.
- Use clean pillowcases and bedding to reduce the likelihood of bacteria getting into the wound.
Turn the ring in the wound for the first 2-3 weeks, as this aggravates the wound.
Remove the jewelry during the healing phase. Pulling it in and out can increase the likelihood of infection.
Put methylated spirits, tea tree oil, peroxide, betadine or alcohol onto the wound as they are too astringent or damage the cells which form the scar tissue.
Get hairspray or cosmetics on it while it's healing.
- The piercing gun was originally intended to be used on lobes only. But, the piercing studs are usually too short to accommodate swelling and thicker earlobes.
- Piercing gun procedure can cause tissue traumas. The studs are considerably dull and can literally tear a hole through the tissue. A cleanly made hole is especially important in cartilage piercings.
- Most importantly, cleanliness is questioned. Ear piercing guns are often made of plastic which cannot be properly sterilized in an autoclave. Simply wiping it with a surface disinfectant between clients is not adequate when the piercing gun could have possibly been exposed to blood borne pathogens. Although the studs themselves may be sterile, piercing guns which touch the lobe before and after the procedure can be easily contaminated with blood. The gun may also be indirectly contaminated if the piercer touches the studs after they are installed, and then touches the piercing gun without changing gloves.
Piercing With Needles
- Piercing needles are hollow, beveled, and sharpened similarly to the hypodermic needles.
- Most are about two inches in length. Piercing needles slice a crescent-shaped hole, and do not remove any tissue.
- Because single-use needles are very sharp, they easily glide through the skin, causing very little, if any, tissue trauma.
- Needles are autoclaved appropriately before use, and are only used once.
- Using needles is much more sanitary, and causes less trauma to the body than a piercing gun.
Stretching an Ear Piercing
Stretching any piercing can be a permanent move to undertake. So, before stretching a piercing, make sure that you know what you want and can live with the enlarged hole permanently.
- When stretching a piercing, any piercing, make sure that you only move up one gauge at a time. Meaning if you're at a 14g ring, you will want to purchase a 12g ring.
- Slow and steady wins the race. Never rush a stretching. Make sure to let the newly stretched piercing heal and relax for at least two weeks.
- When stretching too quickly too soon, you can suffer ear tears, ear blowouts, and infection.
- If you choose to attempt to close an enlarged piercing, leave it free from any jewelry. If the piercing is noticeably large, (I'd say over 0g), you can insert smaller gauged jewelry to make the hole less noticeable until the hole is smaller or closed in.
- Also. remember that larger gauged ears will never shrink fully back to size once you hit the end of no return point, which is usually a 0 gauge hole.
- It will take much patience to close a piercing fully, especially one that has been stretched.
Inner Conch Piercing
More by this Author
Although it is fairly old process, it is now pretty popular for today's younger people to not only get piercings but also stretch them. Even if you have a piercing that was pierced to a standard size—generally...
Learn about how your tongue piercing heals and view a variety of different pictures.
Learn some of the signs of infected belly-button piercings and what to do about them.