What you need to know before getting your ears pierced

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Ear piercing is a very popular procedure that can be performed by healthcare professionals and non-doctors. Ear lobe piercings are the most common, although other parts of the ear can be pierced, including cartilage. Nose and navel piercings are also popular.

Achisata Khamsuwan / Getty Images

Before piercing your ears

Before piercing your ears, nose, navel, etc., there are several things to keep in mind to avoid health problems:

Have you had large keloids or scars?

Do you have a family history of keloids or large scars? Keloids are large scars that extend beyond the area of injury. If you have a personal or family history of large scars, your risk of having a large scar after piercing increases .

Ear piercing keloid.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Are you allergic to metal?

If so, what metals? The earrings are made of different materials. Initial earrings are usually made of sterling silver, which is not irritating. If you are allergic to certain metals, you should definitely avoid those metals. If you don't, you may develop an allergic reaction , including redness, swelling, irritation, itching, or pain, even after the piercing has healed. Also, the cosmetic appearance of the piercing can deteriorate as a result. Nickel is a common metal that people are allergic to .

Contact dermatitis of the earlobe.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Where to get my ear pierced?

The earlobes are usually the first part of the ear to get pierced. Look at your ears. Most people have some kind of asymmetry. You want your earrings to be flush. Also, do not place the holes too low on the earlobe, as this can cause it to split .

In addition, the hole can be placed perpendicular to the surface of the ear or at an angle. Sometimes people prefer to angle the hole so that the earring faces forward. Decide what style of starter earrings you want.

How the ears are pierced

There are quite a few different techniques for ear piercing. Local anesthesia may or may not be used prior to the piercing procedure. Ice can also be used before the procedure to achieve some numbness.

  • Ear piercing kits. Many jewelry stores and ear piercing professionals use commercial ear piercing kits, also known as guns. Ear piercing guns have built-in bolts that are automatically inserted into the piercing hole after the trigger is pulled.
  • Single needle technique. In this technique, a needle with a hollow hole is inserted into the desired location for the earring. The earring shank pin is inserted through the hollow hole in the needle and the needle is pulled out, leaving the post in place. Then the shackle backing is installed to secure the shackle.
  • Two-needle technique. A smaller needle is used to make a tract in the desired area of the hole. Then the larger hollow needle is slid over the smaller needle in the opposite direction and the smaller needle is withdrawn. The earring shank pin is inserted through the remaining larger needle hole and the needle is pulled out, leaving the post in place. Then the base of the earring is fixed.

Should you get your ears pierced at home?

In a word: no . Although you can purchase sterile needles, starter earrings, and ear piercing kits, ear piercing professionally reduces the chances of complications such as infection and misplacement.

Any piercing, whoever it is, is a risk. Kiosks in shopping malls are generally a safe place to get your ears pierced, but it is still a risk. You can make an appointment with a dermatologist or other health professional to have your ears pierced.

Caring for freshly pierced ears

Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your ear piercing specialist. Initial earrings should be left on for a few weeks to heal. The exact duration may vary depending on the part of the ear that is pierced. You will probably also be advised to clean the piercing with sterile saline and rotate the piercing post so it does not get stuck.

Complications

There are several complications that can arise with a new piercing, even if it is cared for properly. Infection, pain, inflammation, and an allergic reaction can occur. The piercing can get stuck in the hole and the lower earlobe piercing can crack and leave scars. Avoid these complications by regularly cleaning and caring for your piercing.

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