How Long Does It Take For An Ear Piercing To Close Up?

If you’ve recently gotten your earlobes pierced, you may be wondering how long you can keep your earrings out for. You’ll notice that those who had their ears pierced as children can go for weeks without earrings and nothing happens.

How fast your ear piercing will close up depends on a bunch of factors. The most important one of those being how long you’ve had the piercing for.

The healing process for ear piercings can take about four to six weeks. Keep in mind this only applies to earlobe piercings. A piercing through the cartilage of the ear, such as the tragus, can take months to heal fully. Luckily, earlobe piercings don’t come with many complications and usually close up without any scarring or bumps.

How long it takes for an ear piercing to close depends on how old it is:

  • New: A few hours
  • Less than a year: A couple of days
  • Several years: Many weeks

How Do Piercings Heal?

When you pierce your ear — or any part of your body — you’re basically creating a tunnel through your skin. This tiny flesh tunnel is referred to as a fistula. The healing process is centered on making sure this fistula grows strong. This is done through the production of new skin cells in the affected area.

The strength or thickness of the fistula depends on the body part. Your piercing is considered wholly healed when the fistula has completely formed. For ear piercings, this can take up to six months. If you remove your jewelry before the full development of the fistula, you risk the chance of the hole closing up.

This is why people who’ve had their ears pierced since childhood can keep their earrings out for weeks with no issue. The fistula has formed and is strong enough to resist your body’s instinct to heal the open wound. Your immune system will jump into action to quickly close up that hole.

Your Body’s Reaction to Piercings

Sometimes you find yourself in situations where you have no other option but to take your jewelry out. Since the fistula hasn’t fully matured and is still pretty weak, the hole can close up in a few hours.

When you insert jewelry into the hole, your body detects this as a foreign object that needs to be removed. Your body will use all of its power to try to reject this object and heal the wound. When it realizes that it can’t be removed, it begins the fistula growing and strengthening process. This takes several months and even years for some piercings.

For ear piercings, this fistula process won’t happen until a minimum of six months after the initial piercings. That’s why most professionals will recommend not taking out your earrings for two to six months after your procedure.

How to Keep the Piercing Hole Open in Emergency Situations

If it’s necessary to remove it for an operation or x-ray, you should consider putting in plastic or non-metal earrings. You can also insert an acrylic container in the hole until you reinsert it.

It’s not recommended to remove your jewelry frequently in the first couple of weeks or months after the procedure. This can irritate the hole and expose it to more bacteria and dirt. It can also be tricky to reopen a closed piercing, as we explain here.

The Bottom Line

How soon your piercing hole will close depends on how long you’ve had it. It also depends on how frequently you’ve taken your earrings out. It’s best if you leave your jewelry in as often as you can for about a year. After that, you can go extended periods without them.

Without an earring in place, the diameter of the hole will begin to shrink and can completely close up. The general rule is to not remove your earrings at all for the first six weeks. After that, you can remove them for cleaning, but you should quickly put it back in place to prevent closure. This should be done with precaution for about a year.

What to Do If the Hole Closes

If the piercing hole begins to close or you’re unable to reinsert the earrings, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Wipe the earlobe with rubbing alcohol or saline solution
  2. Stretch the earlobe to widen the hole
  3. Try to reinsert the jewelry at a different angle

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.

Summary

How long it takes a piercing to heal varies from person to person. This is the same for how fast piercing holes can close up. It depends mostly on how old the piercing is. If you’ve had it for years, you can leave it out for weeks without worrying. If your piercing is fresh or less than a year old, try to hold off on removing it often. Give the fistula time to fully develop and mature. Be patient!