The new generation of celebrities like Daniel Bregoli and Khelani are bringing back the stretched ear look that last spiked in popularity during the mid-2000s. As these trends begin to proliferate throughout our culture, we should take a renewed interest in piercing safety and hygiene.
At every point in the ear stretching process, proper care is key to preventing infection and injury. To get your stretched ears to their desired size, you will need time, patience, and the best aftercare strategies available. In this quick ear stretching guide, you’ll find all the information you need to take proper care of your piercing.
As you increase in ear gauge sizes, the skin around your piercing gets microscopic cracks in it. So, between each round of stretching, you must wait for your ears to heal, or else risk permanent damage to your lobes.
Since your piercings are open wounds, proper hygiene will keep you safe from any infections.
How to Clean Stretched Ears
Soap and Water.
Okay, it’s not that simple. You should use an antimicrobial soap when you wash your ears. These soaps wash away bacteria that cause infection and often do not contain irritating fragrances or harsh chemicals. Some good options are:
Step one in cleaning your piercing is to remove your plugs. Do not try to wash around the plug or worse, insert your q tip between your ear and the plug.
Once you remove your plugs, rinse your piercing by running a wet q-tip around it. Then, wet another q-tip and add a dab of your antimicrobial soap. Run it around the perimeter and surrounding areas of one piercing, being thorough but not rough. Use the other side of the q-tip to repeat the process on the other side.
Then, with a new q-tip, wash your other piercing. Do not use the same q-tip on multiple piercings because that will spread a host of infection-causing bacteria. When finished, rinse your piercings with clean, warm water.
Be sure to pat your ears dry with a clean towel or paper towel before replacing your plugs.
Frequency of Ear Cleaning
The first three weeks after a session, you should clean your stretched ears between 3-5 times a day. Three is an absolute minimum, but you should aim for 5 as often as possible.
In the following three weeks or until fully healed, you should clean your lobes 1-3 times a day. Again, if you can only do it once that’s okay but aim for three to achieve the best results. Following a routine will help you stay on track with your ear cleaning.
A good tip is to add cleaning your ears to your morning routine. Bacteria from your bed gets into your ears for the 8 or so hours you’re asleep. If not washed away in the morning, an infection could manifest.
After lunch, after work, and before you sleep are also great times to plan to clean your stretched ears. Additionally, clean them after any rigorous activity where you sweat. Washing your ears after using any products (like sunscreen or hair gel) around your piercing can also protect you from infection and irritation.
If you choose to increase in gauge size, you will restart this process after your next stretching session.
If not, you will still need to maintain a hygiene schedule after your ears fully heal. Wash your healed ears once every day or every other day, depending on your level of activity.
Proper hydration post-stretch is essential for healing and comfort. Also, a hydrated ear is easier to stretch as you increase your gauge size. Here are some ear stretching tips for hydration that change the game.
Choosing a Product
We recommend steering away from traditional lotions to hydrate your ears. These often contain silicones, fragrances, and other ingredients that should not be used on open wounds.
Instead, you should use oil to aid in your stretched ear recovery. Most natural oils will work to this end. Some oils we recommend are:
- Vitamin E
Be sure to avoid menthol oils, such as tea tree and peppermint oil, as they will sting and could have a drying effect.
Oil Massage on Stretched Ears
While applying the oil to your stretched ears will make a difference in hydration, a massage will best incorporate the oil into your piercing. It is also quite relaxing and feels nice, especially if you convince someone to do it for you.
To open the pores on your skin, allowing them to retain more moisture, try taking a warm shower before doing your oil massage. Then, so they don’t get dirty, remove your plugs and all other jewelry from your ears and hands.
Add a drop of your chosen oil to your fingertips and begin massaging your piercings. You will want to massage each piercing for at least five minutes to be effective at healing your scar tissue. But, longer massages will yield better results.
Before replacing your jewelry, wipe away any excess oil with a damp towel and pat your piercing dry.
Your piercing is one-half of the ultimate stretched-ear aftercare guide. No matter how well you take care of your ears, if you aren’t practicing proper plug care, you are still opening yourself up to potential infection.
Ear stretching is not like regular piercings. You can remove your plugs to clean them at any time, provided you properly stretched them, to begin with. We recommend cleaning your plugs when you clean your ears to keep it simple.
You can wash most plugs using the same antimicrobial soap you use on your ears. Simply use a clean rag or paper towel to wipe down your plugs with soap, rinse, and pat dry.
Special plugs, like those made of wood or bone, require different cleaning techniques. Be sure to clean your plugs according to their materials to avoid ruining your jewelry.
Healthy Piercings, Happy You
You will save time, money, and stress by taking the proper steps to care for your stretched ears. Don’t risk an infection that will ruin the progress you’ve already made, or worse, cause permanent damage.
For piercing aftercare tips and more, check out some of our other posts.