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Ear Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide

We have gathered the same advice that an expert piercer gives to the clients who pierce their ears. The rules are simple and easy to follow to have a gorgeously healed ear piercing.

Piercings are still very much fashionable, even the body parts that seem quite casual, such as the ear.

The benefit of having a piercing is that you can always take it out as you please and put it back in – but there is always a catch. Even such a seemingly simple pierced body part requires the proper piercing aftercare as any other piercing.

To help the piercing heal well, you need to pay good attention to the ear-piercing aftercare, and we can help you with that. All of the sections below will clarify the overall process.

How To Take Care of Pierced Ears

The ear-piercing aftercare is simple with a few basic and easy steps to follow daily.

Always before the aftercare process begins, wash your hands well. For the cleaning itself, use q-tips or cotton pads that are slightly dipped or soaked in rubbing alcohol. If the piercing shows signs of crusting or a lot of impurities, first go over that area with a q-tip and a bit of hydrogen peroxide to let it foam the residue out. Then, continue with the rubbing alcohol.

How To Take Care of Pierced Ears

On some occasions, the piercer recommends iodine (betadine) instead of alcohol, so this part largely depends on the exact recommendations of the piercer.

It is important to remember to be gentle with soft, dabbing motions, instead of wiping the piercing vigorously. After it has been cleaned this way, apply the healing ointment that the piercer recommended (usually it is antibiotic cream).

Also, remember to move and twist the piercing around, gently, several times per day, to prevent it from crusting with debris around the hole.

If you have long hair, try to wear it pulled up while the healing takes place, to avoid sensitivity due to entangled hairs.

How long will it take for a piercing to heal?

How long will it take for a piercing to heal

It takes around 4 to 8 weeks for an ear piercing to heal, and this is the general rule. It depends on the ear part that you want to be pierced, but expect between a month minimum, up to two.

How long for an industrial piercing to heal?

This type of piercing is a bit more complex than regular ear piercing because it includes a small metal ‘rod’ jewelry that goes across the ear, and could cause more sensitiveness and pressure. Industrial piercing heals in around 2-3 months.

How long for a conch piercing to heal?

The conch piercing heals in a timespan between 3-9 months. Little longer than an industrial piercing.

How long for a tragus piercing to heal?

The tragus piercing heals in around 6 to 8 weeks.

What are the signs of an infected ear piercing?

Among the most obvious signs of an infected ear piercing will be the general unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling you get, even without directly touching the piercing. There will be visible swelling as the most obvious sign, and the jewelry itself could even appear to be ‘suffocated’ within the skin/flesh of the ear.

What are the signs of an infected ear piercing

Alongside that, there is the general redness, and the skin will feel almost burning upon touch. This is accompanied by a throbbing pain as if you can feel the heart pulsating directly in the ear area. The itching is another sign, even though not as severe as the pain and swelling. And, lastly, another common sign of an infected ear piercing is oozing or releasing white/yellow discharge.

At this point, do not take out the piercing! First, consult a doctor to see if you need to take medications for swelling reduction, or antibiotics, and once the ear feels less swollen, it doesn’t ooze or throb, then gently clean the piercing and take it out for some time.

What is the aftercare for the ear canal?

After the initial regular cleansing aftercare steps that the piercer recommended, you should also consider incorporating oils into this routine, i.e.oil massages to relax and stretch the tissue easier.

The oils (water-based or others), help the ear tissue to be at less risk for scarring, cracking, or sensitivity. Look for oils with coconut, argan, jojoba, aloe vera – all the good skin-friendly ingredients that soften and nourish the skin.

Can I use salt water to clean the ear piercing?

Try to save the saltwater for an irritated throat during the flu or cold. Stick to the antibacterial cleansers, iodine, or rubbing alcohol for the ear piercing aftercare, because these 3 are usually the most common cleansers that piercers recommend.

Can I put heavier jewelry once the piercing is healed?

Part of the good ear piercing aftercare is also choosing carefully the type of jewelry, even after the healing. If you have sensitive skin in general, and you slowly heal from any similar skin ‘trauma’, postpone the heavy jewelry pieces for a bit longer.

Stick to regular, light piercing in the meantime, and go for other types after several months.

Can I sleep on a new piercing?

During sleep, we cannot control our bodies and how we twist and turn, of course.

But, you can at least consciously try to lay down on the opposite side, or your back. If you happen to lay on that side during your sleep, don’t worry, the minor pain and sensitivity will semi-wake you up and you will turn on the other side!

Do I have to change the pillow & pillowcase for the first night with a new piercing?

No need to change the pillow, unless it seems too risen and high up that you can’t even try to lay on one side. But regardless of this, the pillowcase must be changed regularly, every few days!

It is important that your head, i.e., ear has direct contact with a clean cloth. The least you need is a skin reaction from forgetting to do regular laundry!

What if I accidentally touch the new piercing while combing my hair or similar?

Try to be extremely careful when you do your hair, or when you wash the head. Also, when you run a comb through the hair, or you style it, you need the most extreme attention not to hurt the ear in any way. If you can, postpone the hair styling in the meantime. And, warn your hairdresser to be very slow and careful too!

Does the regular ear piercing aftercare apply to all ear-piercing spots mentioned above?

Yes, the regular aftercare tips apply to any ear part that has the piercing, and the only difference would be the ear gauges that also require oils for massaging.

Type of shampoo for a new ear piercing?

The shampoo type does not play a huge role in ear piercing aftercare. The running water will rinse out any shampoo there is near the ear, so you can keep on using the shampoo you already have.

As far as the head positioning, do whatever feels most comfortable – as long as you are careful with the hand movements near the pierced ear. And, if you can, try to direct the shower head away, but near the pierced ear, not directly at it, but close enough to rinse any residue of the shampoo.

Will the healing process be easier and faster if I get my ear pierced with a piercing gun?

No, you should not even think about getting any kind of piercing with a piercing gun – they are not sterile as you think they are, and those people are not 100% professionals.

The ear-piercing aftercare, in this case, could be more complex, with more risks, slower, and with many consequences down the road.

How long until I should change ear piercing jewelry?

You should not try to change the ear-piercing within the first 6 weeks, or a month and a half. Most people, i.e., more responsible ones wait even more before they make sure the hole is fully healed and feels normal upon touch and moving of the jewelry.

Don’t be in a rush – yes, you can buy as many ear piercings as you want, they will still be yours once this is healed. So, why rush and risk improper healing.

Will an ear-piercing make my ear distorted and asymmetrical compared to the other ear?

This depends on the placement of the ear. It is possible that industrial piercing can make such visual changes, and pull the upper ear part slightly down, but this is not always 100% the case.

If you have naturally softer ear tissue, there is a big chance of that. Also, if your piercer is inexperienced and inserts the industrial piercing jewelry instantly on that appointment, the ear could pull down slightly as it heals in the meantime.

Can I put ice on the ear piercing, if it’s swollen or feels hot?

Yes, you can. But first, with clean washed hands, get a clean light cloth (like muslin or similar), ‘dress’ the ice in this cloth, and briefly touch it on the piercing for instant relief. In the meantime, seek medical advice on the next steps, because severe swelling and burning sensation might be a sign of infection.

Can I still use my headphones with a new ear piercing?

If the headphones go directly inside the ear and are not near the piercing, it is fine. But, if the headphones are those over the ear, cushion headphones that fully cover your ear, skip them for at least two months. You don’t need extra pressure over a sensitive, freshly pierced ear.


No matter which part of the ear you have pierced, it is crucial to dedicate yourself to the proper, careful ear piercing aftercare. The healing process is the basis of a good, and attractive-looking piercing, and if you mess up in this phase, eventually you might even have to remove the piercing altogether!

So, remember to cleanse carefully, 2-3 times per day, with a q-tip or cotton pad, with just a bit of rubbing alcohol, or iodine and hydrogen peroxide as well. Gently apply the healing ointment that the piercer recommended, and remember to slightly twist and turn the jewelry a few times per day as well.

After circa 2 months, or sometimes more, you will have a nicely healed piercing, and this aftercare will certainly pay off!

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