How Long Does It Take for a Piercing to Close?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 21, 2020
    Last Updated: November 21, 2020

You may have had your piercing for days, weeks, months, or even years. Perhaps you need a break from it from time to time, or you forgot to put in your jewelry for a given duration. The question is: how long is too long to wait before wearing your shiny trinkets again?

The short answer — it depends. Several factors may contribute to piercing closure and how long it takes before it’s too late for reinsertion. 

The information below provides some guidance on what exactly may make you more prone to piercing closure, which body parts are more susceptible to sealing up, how to avoid this from happening altogether, and what to do in case your piercing does close.


Different Factors Affecting Closure Time

Even if you are extra mindful about piercing maintenance, there are many other elements that can affect how quickly a piercing will close. 

Your original piercing’s quality, age, the life of the piercing itself, hole size, and piercing location on the body can also have immense impacts on the fistula’s resistance (the tube of skin that connects two ends of a piercing). 

Initial Piercing Quality

You probably did some extensive research before choosing the who and where for performing your piercing. Mistakes happen, though, and reviews can be deceiving. 

If the original piercing location or practitioner doesn’t practice proper hygiene, the hole probably won’t heal properly. When you do leave jewelry to the side, this tunnel might seal up more quickly. 

Another consideration is the placement of the original jewelry. A hole in the wrong part of the area may cause the skin to contract more quickly — or in cases where you do indeed want the piercing to close — not seal at all. 

Age of the Person 

You may prefer to pierce your infant or child’s ears while they’re young, but you may also want to consider their developing immune systems as a factor in fistula closure. Young patients’ piercings may take longer to heal, as immunity to infection and disease is often lower at these ages. Fistula formation and maintenance can take longer in such cases.

On the other hand, if you received your piercing in your youth, there are some advantages. The skin could take longer to heal as an adult, so you may not need to worry about your piercing closing as quickly. Your childhood piercing might stand the test of time not only due to its maturity but to the healing process that took place at an early age.

Experts generally advise that children and infants wear post earrings for six months following insertion, as closure can occur within a day. However, it’s worth noting that many reputable tattoo shops and piercing studios will decline to pierce underage children at all since they cannot yet give consent.

Piercing Size

Those with larger piercing sizes often wish for quicker closure periods but may have to exercise patience. Gauge piercing owners, for example, generally wait at least two months before their lobes close completely. 

One recommendation for larger piercing owners is to gradually decrease the gauge or other large jewelry pieces’ size until reaching the smallest one available. From that point, the hole should seal naturally.

Aftercare

Your decision to follow the instructions that your piercing professional provides makes all the difference regarding fistula closure.

Consistent jewelry wear in the given timeframe for each body part is essential to the healing process. It is best to keep these items in place as much as possible to avoid the hole from sealing. 

Proper cleaning often plays a crucial role in whether the fistula will form and heal properly. Ultimately, the quality of this tunnel and how you maintain it can largely help determine whether it will quickly close when you leave jewelry aside.

Piercing Maturity

It may naturally come for you to ask yourself whether the duration for which you have had your piercing will affect whether and when it closes. Time certainly plays a role in skin contraction, in which the cells pull together and seal an opening. 

Variation Among Body Parts

When precisely a piercing will close up depends heavily on which part of the body has the hole, a consideration that we explore below. The skin operates differently across different body areas to contract more quickly or slowly in certain parts. 

It is necessary to emphasize that the factors above can significantly influence the timeframes listed for each body part. You may find that your specific case requires a longer or shorter duration for jewelry wear than others with similar types of piercings.

The following body parts are some of the most popular for jewelry-wearing, each unique in the way they operate in terms of piercing closure:

Earlobes

Seldom do piercings in earlobes close up in just a few hours. Nonetheless, if you got your piercing 50 or fewer days ago, 24 hours is a small enough window for the lobe to seal. After the 60 day mark, three weeks is usually sufficient.

Generally, professionals recommend that you avoid keeping earrings out for more than a day if you have had your piercing for less than six months. Piercings more than three years old are generally safe for extended breaks.

Navel

Based on its shape and skin construction, the navel is among the quickest to seal up after insertion. It is advisable to reinsert your original stud if a new ring feels uncomfortable since closure can occur in mere minutes.

After a few years of having your belly button piercing, you can probably safely expect it to last a few weeks without wear. Some wearers may find, though, that theirs close up somewhat quickly, even after this amount of time. 

Since navel piercings can take up to a year to heal, keep your original piece in for its full healing period (which usually lasts several months).

Nostril

The nostrils’ internal mucous membranes make it particularly susceptible to closure since these can rapidly seal when you take out your jewelry. Their external hole may remain for a longer time due to its lack of protective coating. As such, you need to be careful about surface scarring.

If you got your piercing two months or less prior, the fistula could close in 24 hours or less. It only takes a few hours — though sometimes days — for piercings that are one year old. Piercings that you’ve had for years vary, depending on the factors mentioned above.

Helix

Cartilage piercing notoriously takes longer to heal, given the lack of potent blood flow to these structures. Helix closure, therefore, resembles lobes’ healing patterns, needing the mentioned six-month period. 

Usually, if you’ve had your helix piercing for two or three years, you can leave it without jewelry for around a week. It is vital to test this for a few days at a time first, though.

Conch

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conch closure. Since the healing process is highly different for every wearer, it can be hard to know whether this will take as few as six months or as long as two years. Some individuals may expect their piercing to fully heal when, in fact, they can quickly seal. 

Tongue

Tongue piercings differ significantly from cartilage ones, given this body part’s makeup. The closing process can take a much shorter time, and the healing process can be, in general, more complicated. Keep in mind that the tongue is a muscle. 

If you’ve had your tongue piercing for only a short time, it can close up within a mere few hours. Piercing holes that are a few years old endure a few days, usually, or perhaps even weeks. For cases when a wide gauge stretched the tongue’s opening, this area may never actually seal.

How to Keep Your Piercing Intact

Your best bet is to wear jewelry as frequently as you can, maintain a steady cleansing regimen, and stay healthy in general. Protecting your immune system and following a healthy diet can help protect the original wounds that piercing creates.

In sum — regular self-care is just as essential to the resilience of your fistula as the practitioner and locale you select when you first decide to pierce.

What to Do If Your Piercing Closes

Most importantly, do not try to force jewelry into what looks like a closed (or nearly closed) hole. This action can result in infection, external scarring, keloids (scar tissue overgrowth), and other complications. Seek out a professional if you think you might need to re-pierce the original area. 

If your jewelry hasn’t been out for the time frames listed and the hole appears to remain, you may want to try a warm compress or shower to soften the area. It is imperative to disinfect what you insert and the piercing area with rubbing alcohol first.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is: there is always some risk of piercing closure if you take out your jewelry for more extended times outside the recommended windows. However, the exact time frame for which a piercing will close varies highly from person to person.