Ear Piercing Healing Times
All of us piercing enthusiasts have the memories of our ear piercings. We often remember and share about ear piercings that took a bit longer to heal and why. As individuals, we can heal quicker or slower depending on our anatomy, activities and our aftercare.
Maybe you’re already fashioning a new ear piercing, and you think it may have healed. It’s a great idea to have an insight into the time each type of piercing could take and the outliers that can vary these times.
How long an ear piercing takes to heal depends on the type and location of the piercing:
Piercing Type and Healing Times
Each part of the ear has a name depending on the tissue characteristics. If you’re unsure as to what piercing you incurred, this guide will help you to identify it. Also, certain piercings have exceptions for increased healing times.
The different areas and healing guidelines can be significantly altered as a result of aspects, such as:
- Method of piercing: If it was created by a needle or a gun, the tissue could react in various ways
- Gauge of the jewelry: This correlates to the width of the metal. The bigger it is, the better it is in the long run; however, this can be more work for the ear to heal
- Material/metal used: If you’re sensitive to the metal, a reaction can significantly increase healing and result in complications
- Pressure from sleeping position: Like any wound, air assists in healing, and by sleeping on it, the flow is blocked. Pressure also pushes on the wound and creates more swelling and heat during healing
Ear Lobe Piercing
The lower part of the ear is commonly the first piercing people will opt for. This piercing location is in the center of the earlobe. As this area is soft and flexible, it makes it easier to clean.
If the piercing is higher up on the lobe, you’re moving into denser tissue, and it can be classed as soft cartilage — see below for more info on this.
Cartilage in the ear is the outer rimmed edge, which starts about halfway up. If you move from the lobe, you can feel the gelatinous tissue becomes firm. These piercings include helix and industrial piercings.
Cartilage tissue is very sensitive, and the healing period is normally more painful than other areas of the ear.
Cartilage piercings can also bleed a bit more than other piercings to begin with, so keep this in mind and don’t get worried if you see a little bit of bleeding for the first couple of days.
Bumps or ongoing irritations can increase the healing time between one and two years.
A daith piercing is located in the folded cartilage above the ear canal — almost the beginning of the inner crease of the outer rim of the ear.
As it’s a narrow area of the ear, it can be harder to clean and manage. Healing time can increase to one year.
The protruding tissue immediately forward of the ear canal is the tragus. It extends from your cheek and is the area you would press to close your ears when you hear a loud sound.
Bumps, knocks and a higher risk of keloid development can increase healing time.
Rook piercings are positioned on the inner ridge of the upper ear, which is the step of cartilage upwards from the location of a daith piercing.
These have a very broad healing time due to the tough tissue and the shape of an individual’s ear.
How to Know an Ear Piercing is Healed
The best way to know if it’s thoroughly healed is an evaluation by a professional. Your local piercer won’t want you showing up every week, repeating, “Is it done yet?” Thus, you can make necessary checks before you make that trip.
For the first few weeks, you’ll experience a sharp pain whenever pressure is applied, or if the area is knocked. In due time, daily tasks and movements will be easier, and washing your hair or face will be possible without the fear of a bump.
If the piercing is fully healed, zero raw flesh will be touching any of the metal, and it should be without tenderness or pain.
A healed ear piercing implies the tissue and skin is renewed all the way through — almost like a donut or a tunnel. After only a few days, it may begin to look much better; the redness and swelling will subside.
The appearance of your piercing is a big tell-tale sign of possible infections or irritations. You’ll be able to feel and see if there’s swelling, and you must keep an eye on any bubble-like growths called keloids.
When cleaning, you’ll notice solids, almost scab-like in matter. These exudates are very natural and a sign of healing. Never scrape these off, just use a q-tip with a saline solution to gently remove them.
As an unspoken rule, you should never try to change your jewelry on your own for the first time, even if you believe it’s healed. It’s common to struggle to get the new piercing in and, even if the tunnel’s healed, they’re vulnerable to closing quickly.
The movement of your stud, ring or bar may indicate healing. As you will have been gently turning the piercing during aftercare routines, this will become easier. Never do this when the area is dry as the healing and scab can be over the jewelry, and the action of twisting it opens the wound again.
What Prolongs Healing and Tips to Avoid
There are many common ear piercing problems, with the majority being an aftercare mistake.
Firstly, stop touching your piercing! As tempting as it is, leave it alone unless you are cleaning it. When you do touch it, ensure you have spotless hands.
Head and Hair
Due to the nature of your jewelry, hair will tangle itself within your piercing. Not only does this spread dirt and unwanted bacteria to the wound, but untangling it will be a painful and laborious task. Wearing your hair up, especially at night, can prevent this.
Hair products with their list of additives and emulsifiers can create reactions and increase the risk of keloids, so try to avoid using these as much as possible.
You may need to position your pillow with only the top half of your head on the pillow, or change the side of your head to put the least amount of pressure on the piercing as possible.
A basic saline solution without additives will do an excellent cleaning job. Using this solution with q-tips or placing it in a shot glass, bowl or small container to soak the ear is the best routine.
Specialized solutions can also be purchased if you don’t feel like making the mixture yourself.
The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, 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.
It’s not usually necessary to clean more than twice daily, occasionally replacing one with a chamomile compress to combat irritation.
If it feels slightly uncomfortable or if you want to change the jewelry, don’t remove it! Wait until you get the approval from a professional. If, for some reason, it fell out or you had to remove it, replace it as soon as possible. If the skin has already begun to close, visit a piercer for re-piercing.
Look After Your Piercing for Swifter Healing
The healing process may feel ongoing, and you’re never going to have the comfort of easily changing the piercing or a pain-free stylish embellishment. Be thorough with your aftercare and cautious with your actions — you’ll be glad about the outcome of your decision.