This post veers off the fashion path slightly (but it’s jewelry related so I think it still fits). I love researching. Anything. They call me “The Google Queen” because of how quickly I can pull up information. So when I went to get my ears pierced for the first (and probably only) time ever I HAD to research it. It’s a hole being put into my body, who wouldn’t research it? After countless Google searches, articles from scholarly journals and professional piercing organizations. Everything those chain piercing stores tell you are LIES. They aren’t medically or professionally backed. So what are some things to avoid? (These mostly apply to ear piercings, but I’m sure some of the aspects apply in general)
1. Piercing Gun. It’s probably the most common method of ear piercing in America, and why wouldn’t it be? Drive to any mall and you’ll see a sign in the window at those kitschy jewelry stores. But professional piercers (no, those mall associates don’t count) won’t go anywhere near them. Why? While quick, they are no where near the most hygienic or efficient method. There is no way to clean or sanitize every part of the gun that most places use, so skin cells and possibly even blood from others before could be in the nooks and crannies that your now open wound can come in contact with. This increases the chances of infection and contracting a bloodborne pathogen. The starter stud itself is placed into a spring loaded mechanism that forces the stud through your ear, but it’s not sharp enough to do so cleanly (imagine a dull pencil being forced into a piece of stretched latex). This is definitely not a method you’d want to try with cartilage piercings, as it could shatter the cartilage.
Instead Try: Needle piercing or single use cassette guns. The single use cassette gun is completely sterile and made of medical grade plastic that is designed for one use. There is the possibility of blunt trauma injuries to your lobe (just like a regular piercing gun), but at least this one is sterile. A needle is also completely sterile and just makes an incision in the lobe. This was the method I chose and I can tell you it was not painful (I think Left Brain was in more pain watching the procedure). I felt so at ease when I saw the piercer spray down EVERYTHING with antiseptic, and made me and Left Brain wash our hands up to our elbows.
2. Alcohol or Peroxide based cleaners. You went and got your ears piercing with a gun anyway. But you’re about to use the cleaner they gave you.
It will dry out the skin around your healing wound, irritate the piercing and delay the healing process.
Instead Try: Sea salt is much more piercing (and budget) friendly.
8 oz. Warm water + 1/4 tsp non iodized sea salt mixed in a cup.
Soak the piercing in for 10 minutes, 2 times a day. Use a q-tip to clean around the piercing thoroughly, rinse with water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Don’t use Neosporin on it either (look at the label, it says “do no use on puncture wounds”)
3. Timeline. Think that piercing looks healed? It probably isn’t. Everyone heals differently but it takes about 3 months for the hole to fully heal. At 6-8 weeks you should be safe switching out to other studs. Heavy earrings or ones on a thinner wore should be avoided for a year (that’s how long it takes for the skin around the hole to thicken up). Not doing so, you risk the hole being deformed or stretched out.
Try Instead: Patience. It sucks. I know. You’ll be able to switch out all your stud earrings for fancy ones if you so choose. This is your body, don’t rush the healing process.
Are there success stories for people who did all of the things to avoid? Yes. The risk is much much higher for some complication (infection, irritation, etc.) and I was not comfortable knowing all the information and putting myself at risk. I have the sources for all the statements I’ve made above.
Be fearless (and educated),
P.S: Don’t twist or play with your earrings. They aren’t going to get stuck in your ears. As long as you keep them clean and use salt water, that will be enough. Twisting and touching the piercing just opens more of a chance to infection from stuff on your hands. Ew.