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Do Ear Piercings Close: Facts and Factors to Consider

A womans ear with her piercing getting closed
Delve into the question of ear piercings closing and unravel the factors influencing their longevity. Discover how proper care and attention can preserve the openness of your ear piercings, ensuring a lasting and fashionable accessory.

Ear piercings are a popular form of body modification, and many people wonder if their piercings will close up if they stop wearing earrings. The answer depends on several factors, including the age of the piercing, the type of piercing, and the person's individual healing process.

When you first get your ears pierced, it's essential to follow proper aftercare procedures to ensure that the holes remain open and heal correctly. This typically involves cleaning the area and avoiding touching or twisting the earrings for a few weeks. After your ear piercings have healed, you may decide to remove your earrings temporarily or permanently.

For some, ear piercings may close up quickly, while for others, it could take months or even years for the holes to shrink significantly or disappear. Older piercings are less likely to close entirely, while newer piercings tend to close faster if earrings are removed. Ultimately, the way your body reacts to the absence of earrings will vary, and there's no guaranteed timeline for when or if your ear piercings will close up completely.

Understanding Ear Piercings

A lady getting her ears Pierced

Types of Ear Piercings

Piercing Type Location
Standard Lobe Piercing Earlobe
Helix Piercing Outer rim of the ear
Tragus Piercing Small, cartilaginous flap in front of the ear canal
Rook Piercing Inner ridge of the ear cartilage
Conch Piercing Inner or outer part of the ear's cartilage
Daith Piercing Inner cartilage fold above the ear canal
Industrial Piercing Two piercings connected by a single piece of jewelry

There are various types of ear piercings that you can choose from, each with its unique style. The most common is the earlobe piercing, which is placed through the fleshy part of the earlobe. Other types include cartilage piercings, such as helix, forward helix, rook, daith, conch, and tragus piercings. Cartilage piercings penetrate the harder, upper portion of the ear, which can take longer to heal than an earlobe piercing.

Choosing the Right Jewelry

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Selecting the right jewelry for your piercing is important, as it can affect both the healing process and the overall appearance. Make sure to choose high-quality materials, such as surgical or implant-grade stainless steel, titanium, or gold. Avoid using materials known to cause skin sensitivity or allergic reactions, like nickel or brass. When deciding on a jewelry design, consider factors like comfort, practicality, and your personal style.

Here are some popular types of jewelry used in ear piercings:

  • Studs: small, simple, and suitable for most types of ear piercings
  • Hoops: versatile and available in various sizes, suitable for earlobe and cartilage piercings
  • Captive bead rings: a circular ring with a bead that fits snugly in the opening, commonly used for cartilage piercings
  • Barbells: straight, curved, or circular, suitable for various cartilage piercings

The Role of the Professional Piercer

Seeking the services of a professional piercer is crucial for a safe and successful ear piercing. The Association of Professional Piercers is a reputable organization that offers guidelines and recommendations on best practices for piercers. A professional piercer should be well-trained, adhere to strict hygiene measures, and provide proper aftercare instructions to ensure your new piercing heals properly.

When visiting a professional piercer, don't hesitate to ask about their experience, credentials, and the quality of jewelry they use. Taking the time to find a reputable piercer can help reduce the risk of complications and ensure a positive experience with your new ear piercing.

Healing and Aftercare

A lady taking care of her ear after getting it Pierced

The Healing Process

During the healing process, your body works to create a fistula around the piercing. This tunnel of scar tissue protects the hole and anchors your earrings in place. Healing times can vary depending on the type of ear piercing, ranging from six weeks for lobes to six months or more for cartilage piercings. It is important to remember that the healing process is unique to each individual, and some people may experience longer or shorter healing time based on their body's response.

Keep the area clean and free from bacteria to encourage proper healing. This involves the following steps:

  1. Clean the piercing site with a saline solution or warm water daily.
  2. Avoid touching the piercing with dirty hands.
  3. Refrain from removing or changing your earrings during the healing process.

Proper Aftercare Techniques

Following proper aftercare techniques is crucial in promoting healing and preventing infections. Here are some tips for maintaining your ear piercing:

  • Gently clean the area with a saline solution or warm water using a cotton swab at least once a day.
  • Frequent hand-washing with soap helps avoid introducing bacteria to the area.
  • Avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, or open water sources until the piercing is fully healed.
  • Regularly check for signs of irritation, infection, or an allergic reaction such as redness, swelling, painful sensations, or unusual discharge.

Infection Prevention and Management

To prevent infections, always make sure to follow the proper aftercare techniques listed above. If you notice any warning signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, and pain, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

In case of a confirmed infection, your doctor might prescribe medication such as antibiotics to help manage it. Do not attempt to self-treat infections or switch or remove your earrings without consulting a doctor or professional piercer. Remember, the proper management of infections is essential in preventing complications such as keloid formation or the piercing hole closing.

Potential Complications

Ear of a lady with too much Piercing

Recognizing and Treating Infections

Infections are a possible complication you might face after getting an ear piercing. If you notice redness, swelling, pain, or discharge around your piercing, it could be the sign of an infection. To treat an infection, you should:

  1. Keep the area clean: Clean the affected area with a saline solution or mild antiseptic.
  2. Avoid touching the piercing: Touching the piercing with dirty hands can introduce bacteria and worsen the infection.
  3. Consult a healthcare professional: If the symptoms persist or worsen, consult a doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics.

Keloids and Scarring

Some individuals may develop scarring or keloids after getting their ears pierced. Keloids are thick, raised scars that may extend beyond the original wound area. To prevent keloids and scarring, you can:

  • Apply silicone gel sheets or ointments to the piercing area, as they have shown to be effective in reducing scar formation.
  • Do not remove the earring prematurely, as it may lead to improper healing and scarring.
  • If a keloid does form, consult a dermatologist, who may recommend treatments such as corticosteroid injections, laser therapy, or surgical removal.

Allergic Reactions and Metal Sensitivity

Some individuals might experience an allergic reaction to the metal used in their earrings. This is often due to a sensitivity to nickel, which can be found in some jewelry. Signs of metal sensitivity include a rash, itching, and swelling around the piercing.

To avoid an allergic reaction:

  • Choose hypoallergenic earrings made from materials such as titanium, surgical stainless steel, or gold.
  • Swab rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic solution on your earrings before wearing them.
  • If you experience an allergic reaction, remove the earrings and consult your healthcare provider, who may prescribe a topical steroid or antihistamine to reduce inflammation and itching.

How and When Ear Piercings Close

Factors Influencing Closure Rates

Several factors influence how quickly and whether ear piercings close up. Firstly, the age of the piercing is important, as fresh piercings tend to close up faster than older, well-established ones. Other factors include the location of the piercing, with cartilage piercings taking longer to heal and potentially closing more slowly than soft tissue piercings 1. Your body's personal healing rate and potential sensitivity to jewelry materials can also contribute to the closure process.

Reopening Closed Piercings

In some cases, it may be possible to reopen closed piercings. To attempt this, you should consult with a professional piercer who can determine if a safe reopening is feasible and avoid causing trauma to the tissue. If reopening is not possible or safe, they may recommend re-piercing the area.

The Possibility of Permanent Holes

For certain individuals, the hole from an ear piercing might not ever close up entirely, causing a permanent hole. This outcome typically occurs in cases where the piercing has been kept in place for many years. However, it is important to note that individual experiences may vary, and even long-standing piercings can sometimes close up when the jewelry is removed.

In conclusion, whether or not an ear piercing closes depends on several factors, including the age and location of the piercing as well as your body's natural healing abilities. To reopen closed piercings or explore re-piercing options, consult a professional piercer for their expertise and guidance.

Ear Piercing Maintenance

A woman taking car of her Ear Pierced recently

Routine Cleaning

To maintain your ear piercings, it is essential to follow a strict cleaning routine. Cleaning your piercings daily can prevent infections and promote healing. It's important to avoid using rubbing alcohol as it can be too harsh on your skin and cause irritation. Instead, opt for a saline solution or a gentle soap.

  • Start by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your piercings.
  • Apply the saline solution or gentle soap to a cotton pad or clean cloth, and gently clean around the piercing site.
  • Make sure to remove any build-up of debris or crusts around the earrings without forcibly turning or twisting the earrings.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel or cotton pad.

Jewelry Changes and Selection

It's crucial to consider the type of earrings you choose, especially during the healing process. Avoid using earrings made of low-quality metals to minimize the risk of irritation or allergic reactions. Instead, opt for hypoallergenic materials like titanium, stainless steel, or gold.

Additionally, it's important to wait until your ear piercings have completely healed before attempting to change your earrings. The healing time may vary depending on the type of piercing:

During the healing process, avoid applying products like Vaseline or Aquaphor around your piercings, as they can trap bacteria and hinder the healing process. Stick to the cleaning routine mentioned above, and be patient while your body works on healing the piercings effectively.

Remember, proper ear piercing maintenance not only ensures a quick and healthy healing process but also helps you enjoy your piercings for a longer time.

Considerations for Repiercing

A womans ear with three earrings

When to Seek Repiercing

If you previously had an earlobe piercing that has closed, you might be thinking about getting it repierced. In general, it is advisable to wait at least a couple of months after the initial piercing has closed to give your earlobe time to heal properly. However, the exact time can vary depending on factors such as the extent of the injury and how well your body heals. It's crucial to consult with a professional piercer to determine the best course of action for your situation.

During the healing process, it's essential to keep the area clean and free of any irritants or infections. You can also use over-the-counter skincare products to help promote proper healing and reduce the chances of scarring, though it's a good idea to consult a piercer for specific product recommendations.

Choosing a Piercing Studio

Finding the right piercing studio is critical when it comes time to repierce your earlobe. There are a few key factors to consider when choosing a studio:

  1. Hygiene and cleanliness: Make sure the studio you choose maintains a clean and sterile environment. This can help minimize the risk of infections and other complications.
  2. Experience: Look for a piercing studio that employs professional piercers with training and experience in repiercing closed earlobe piercings.
  3. Reputation: Check customer reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues who've had similar experiences.
  4. Credentials: Ensure the piercer holds a valid license, certification, or membership in a professional organization.
  5. Customer service: Your piercer should be able to answer your questions confidently, openly, and honestly while addressing your concerns.

Some studios, such as Studs, offer a more modern and hassle-free approach to ear piercing. With experienced piercers and knowledgeable staff, they can help guide you through the repiercing process.

Myths and Realities of Ear Piercings

A womans ear with 5 piercing

Debunking Common Misconceptions

There's a lot of misinformation surrounding ear piercings, and it's important to separate fact from fiction. One common myth is that all ear piercings are prone to infection. In reality, proper care and hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of infection. To maintain your ear piercing, make sure to:

  1. Clean the area with a saline solution regularly
  2. Avoid touching the piercing with dirty hands
  3. Use hypoallergenic jewelry made from materials like surgical steel, titanium, or gold

Another widely-believed myth is that ear piercings cause keloids. While it is true that some people are more susceptible to developing keloids due to their genetics, not all piercings will lead to keloid formation. If you have a history of keloids, discuss your concerns with a reputable piercer who can advise you on the best steps to take before getting an ear piercing.

Understandable Concerns and Precautions

Even with the proper care, it's normal to have some itching and redness around a new piercing. This is part of the healing process, and it should subside over time. However, if the itching becomes unbearable or you notice pus or increased redness, consult a professional immediately, as it might be a sign of infection.

People looking to get an ear piercing might also worry about acne and other skin issues. While it's true that some piercings can trigger acne or irritation, keeping the area clean and using hypoallergenic jewelry can help minimize these risks.

Lastly, it's important to raise awareness about the potential risks and precautions associated with ear piercings. Educate yourself and others about the importance of seeking out experienced professionals who use sterile equipment and follow proper procedures. This helps ensure a safer and more enjoyable ear piercing experience for all.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I need to wait for a new ear piercing to heal before it won't close?

For a new ear piercing to heal properly, you typically need to wait between 6 and 8 weeks for earlobes and around 3 to 6 months for cartilage piercings. This allows the piercing hole to fully heal and reduces the risk of the hole closing up if you remove the earring.

Are there differences in closure times between lobe and cartilage piercings?

Yes, there are differences in closure times between lobe and cartilage piercings. Generally, lobe piercings tend to heal faster and may close more quickly than cartilage piercings. Earlobe and cartilage piercings have their own healing and closure times due to the difference in tissue composition and blood supply.

Can an old ear piercing that's been stretched close completely?

An old ear piercing that has been stretched may not close completely, especially if the stretching was significant. In such cases, the stretched hole might shrink but may still remain open to some extent. If you want it to close completely, you may need to consult a professional for possible surgical intervention.

Is there a risk of a piercing closing overnight if it's recently done?

Yes, there is a risk of a recent piercing closing overnight if the earring is removed. This is especially true in the initial weeks after getting the piercing. To minimize this risk, it's a good idea to avoid removing the earring until the healing process is complete.

What factors affect the closing process of ear piercings?

Several factors can affect the closing process of ear piercings, including the age of the piercing, the individual's healing ability, the type of tissue pierced, and how well the piercing was cared for during the healing process. In some cases, genetic factors can also play a role in how quickly a piercing closes.

How can a previously pierced ear be allowed to close permanently?

To allow a previously pierced ear to close permanently, you should remove the earring and keep it out of the hole. Keep the area clean and avoid inserting any objects into the hole. If the hole does not close on its own over time, you may need to consult a healthcare professional to discuss other options, such as surgical intervention.


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