How To Look After A New Ear Piercing

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 14, 2018
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Getting your ears pierced is something that most people decide to do at one point or another. From little kids to full-grown adults, the idea of being able to wear ear jewelry that complements your own unique style is enticing to many people. However, ear-piercing care should never be overlooked.

Sure, you’ll get instructions from your piercer about how to care for your piercings, but it will be up to you to follow those instructions and make sure that your piercings are healthy for years to come.

Here is an overview of what you’ll have to do in order to help your ear piercings heal perfectly.

How Long Does It Take for Ear Piercings to Heal?

Ear piercing healing times are dependent on the type of tissue that has been pierced within the ear. Earlobe piercings will usually take 6-8 weeks to heal, while cartilage piercings can take between 4-12 months depending on the exact location of the piercing.

Care and Cleaning Instructions

The cleaning process is actually pretty simple. You’ll use a cleaning solution that you purchased from the studio, bought from a store, or even made yourself.

The right solution will be a saline or salt-based solution. You should absolutely not use any kind of soap for cleaning your piercings. There are also special piercing aftercare sprays available to help speed up healing times and effectiveness.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

Make sure to wash your hands before you clean or touch your piercings. If you’re using a saline solution, you’ll want to spray or squirt the pierced area with it so the piercing can “soak” properly. Cotton balls soaked in the solution can also do the job effectively.

Aftercare: First Day

Alright. So you went to the studio and picked out your jewelry. You sat in the chair, got past the scary part of actually getting your ears pierced and now you’re ready to get on with the rest of your day. What should you expect for the first day as far as aftercare is concerned?

You might expect that you’ll need to rush home right away and thoroughly clean your new piercings, but that’s actually not recommended in most cases. In fact, you usually save the cleaning for the next day.

Your biggest job for the first day is to simply avoid any activities that are going to get your piercings dirty or irritate them in any particular way. This means being very careful about bumping or rubbing up against things with your ears, which would only serve to irritate your new piercings.

You may be tempted to touch your new piercings. However, this is something you should avoid. Even if you feel like your hands are clean, they can contain many germs and bacteria that can lead to infection if you’re not careful. If you must touch the area for some reason, wash your hands thoroughly first.

For the Rest of the Aftercare Period

Aftercare can be a pretty long process, but the good news is that it’s also a very repetitive process. Once you learn what you’re supposed to do and get into a good cleaning and aftercare routine, it will feel like second nature.

The word “routine” here is significant. The best way to handle your aftercare is to work your cleaning and care tasks in with the rest of your day on a set schedule. For instance, cleaning your piercings when you brush your teeth in the morning and in the evening is one way to remember to do it.

About 24 hours after you get your piercings, you’ll want to do your first salt/saline clean. Afterward, if you feel the need to dry your piercings, use a clean paper towel instead of a regular towel or washcloth to minimize the transfer of bacteria.

One important thing to remember is to avoid letting regular soap or shampoo get into your piercings. It’s really easy for this to happen, particularly when you’re washing your face or your hair. To prevent this problem, do one of your two daily cleanings after you shower. It should also go without saying that you should also avoid getting hairspray or other items in your piercings too.

Common Ear Piercing Care Mistakes

By now, it’s pretty obvious that you won’t be able to go for two months without touching your piercings in one way or another. However, you should really try to avoid touching them if you haven’t washed your hands immediately beforehand, and you should avoid making contact with them whenever possible besides when you’re doing your regular cleaning.

If you do touch your earrings, avoid the temptation to move them around or manipulate them. It may be tempting to push them back, but try not to do so as this may delay the healing process.

Try not to mess with the backs of your earrings either, unless you have reason to think they might be positioned incorrectly. After all, you don’t want your backs falling off of your earrings, but you also don’t want them on too tightly, constricting blood flow and increasing the risk of infection.

Finally, don’t try to change your jewelry until your piercings are fully healed. We’ll discuss that more in-depth in a little bit.

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Ear Piercing?

Cleaning your piercings isn’t exactly hard or time-consuming, but most people are still pretty happy when the day comes that they can stop going through the process twice per day.

While some people have been able to stop regular cleanings after four weeks, it’s safest to go for a full 8 weeks before you stop your twice-daily cleanings. This gives your new piercings plenty of time to heal properly and decreases the chance of painful infections.

If your piercing is through cartilage, you may wish to continue cleaning it for a while longer as healing tends to take a while compared to lobe piercings.

When Can I Remove the Jewelry?

One of the most exciting times for any person who gets their ears pierced is when they can finally remove their starter jewelry and put in new earrings. As you may have expected, the timeline for this milestone is generally about six weeks.

If you haven’t had any problems with your piercings, replacing earrings after six weeks is just fine. However, you should definitely avoid putting anything except post-type earrings in for the first five months for earlobe piercings. Those hoops or hooks will have to wait!

For materials, make sure your new earrings are hypoallergenic. Stainless steel is an excellent choice for posts and your first few earrings.

What about cartilage piercings? Those take at least 12 weeks before you can put in a new type. After that, it’s recommended you avoid changing to anything except other kinds of barbell-type earrings for the first full year.

Try not to leave your jewelry out for too long, however, as ear piercings can begin to close up relatively quickly.


Ear piercing care is actually pretty simple, and if done properly, won’t take up too much time of your day either.

It may be tempting to skip out on your cleanings now and then, but remember that doing so drastically increases the chances of contracting a painful infection.

It’s always a good idea to follow your piercer’s instructions to the letter, which will help your ear piercings heal quickly, and let you switch out your jewelry as fast as possible.

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