When I was four years old, I somehow talked my mother into letting me get my ears pierced. I was a child who screamed my way through every shot at the doctor’s office and who threw a fit every time the optometrist attempted to put drops in my eyes. But for some reason, I thought getting my ears pierced was a great idea!
I remember it quite clearly: the store at the mall, the teenager with the piercing gun, the incredibly tall chair I had to sit in while I had holes punched in both earlobes. Mostly, I remember squeezing my mom’s hand tightly and resolving not to cry even though I was terrified.
Alas, this is not the end of my piercing story: I’ve let my earring holes close up no fewer than three times and have had them re-pierced twice (plus an eyebrow piercing incident in college that I’d rather not get into)—so I have a lot of experience in the field of caring for piercings. Here are a few tips for keeping your or your daughter’s newly pierced ears clean and infection-free:
Wash Your Hands
Before you even think about touching your earrings, wash your hands with an antibacterial soap in the hottest water you can stand. Doing so helps prevent the spread of germs from your hands to your ears; this is a simple step that can go a long way toward avoiding infections.
Use a Salt Solution
You likely received a salt-based solution from your piercing practitioner; use that to clean your piercings, or make your own solution at home. Steer clear of products like rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, as these can actually hinder the healing process.
Clean Piercings at the End of a Shower
Because products like shampoo and soap can cause problems if they get into new piercings, it’s best to clean your earrings at the end of your shower. Bring the salt solution into the shower with you and use it as you normally would, being sure to remove any soap residue. Turn the earrings gently to make sure the salt solution gets inside the piercing.
Don’t Change Your Earrings
At least not for a while: Starter earrings need to stay in your ears for six to nine weeks to allow the piercings to heal completely. After the initial healing period, you’ll be able to wear all the fun, dangly earrings you want, so be patient until then!
Follow these tips and be sure to clean your new piercings at least three times a day to prevent infection. Be careful when putting on clothes or pulling back long hair, as it’s easy to snag an earring this way. A little common sense goes a long way toward healthy piercings that heal quickly and provide earring-wearing enjoyment for many years to come. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll brave the piercing gun and have my ears pierced again—I hear the fourth try’s the charm!
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