If you have a regular ear piercing and are thinking about gauging your ears, here are some good tips to help you gauge your ears safely. Gauging or ear stretching is a popular trend that involves wearing pierced earrings fashioned with thick, decorative posts and rings. Some are spikes or half moons, or other designs.
How to gauge your ears safely:
Gauging or stretching the ear should always be done slowly. This is to avoid unnecessary tearing, bleeding and risk of infection. Body piercing professionals suggest to only gauge ears every other month to give them plenty of time to heal before doing it again. Never go up more than 1 size at a time. Most piercings start at 18 or 20 gauge, but not always. It depends on the person doing the piercing and what they normally use. But if you start out at a 14 size gauge you could go to a 12 easily. But don’t try to skip ahead by trying a 10 or 8. This could cause tearing and scarring of the tissue in your ears. Eventually one day you may decide you don’t want these anymore and when you take them out, the skin on your earlobes will hang and look like ropes. This is not something you want, and is usually caused by trying to go up too quickly.
Some tips for safe ear stretching:
The safest way to stretch your ears is to do it a little at a time. Professionals suggest using the tape method for best results. That means to get some Teflon tape available at Home Depot, and wrap it around the earring 1 to 2 times. Put some type of lubricant oil on it (like jojoba oil or vitamin E oil) and put it in your ear. Make sure to clean the earring and your ear thoroughly before stretching. They also make ear stretching kits that you can buy if you’d be more comfortable doing that.
There is also a method called “tapering” that works well too. A taper is a cone-shaped implement, generally available where you buy body jewelry or piercing supplies. To use a Taper: Apply olive, jojoba, emu, K-Y, or any other type of good lubricant, liberally to both the tapers and your ear. It also helps to massage your ear for a few minutes with some oil. Do not use Vaseline or any petroleum-based oils.
Slide the taper through your ear. There should not be any pain, bleeding, or resistance. If you can get the taper more than halfway through, it is ready to stretch and you can finish pushing it through, then put in your jewelry of choice.
How long does it take to heal?
It generally takes 4-6 weeks for a new piercing or gauging to heal. If you take proper care of it, it will heal fairly quickly. You should clean your ears 1-2 times per day while they are healing. Cleaning with an anti-bacterial soap, and salt soaks, and keeping your plug or jewelry clean helps a lot to keep down the incidence of infection.
What type of jewelry should I use?
The recommended type to use for gauging is either glass or titanium or stainless steel. Don’t use acrylic, silicone or any other type until it is fully healed. Once it has healed you can wear any type of jewelry in it.
After Care for ear stretching:
Wash your ears 1-2 times per day with a good anti-bacterial or anti-microbial soap. Dial is a good brand. Wash the ears carefully and allow the soap to sit for about 30 seconds before rinsing and drying.
it is also recommended that you soak your ears in sea salt and water. 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of warm water, soak for about 10-15 minutes. Once per day.
Make sure ears are completely dry before putting jewelry back in. When putting jewelry back in, put a small amount of triple anti-biotic ointment on the earring and a little on the ear. By following these instructions, you should not have any problems with infection.
What size of gauge to use?
It depends on what your comfortable with and what your piercing professional suggests. Some will not go for a large gauge right off because of the risk of scarring. The piercing needles that they use remove a portion of the skin and tissue of the ear to make the hole. It is better to stretch the original piercing a little at a time, just in case you want to take it out later on, you have a chance that your ear will close up without a big huge hole still showing. Ear stretching, if done right, will still allow the hole to close up if you decide to stop wearing the plugs.
How soon can I gauge ears to the next size?
Professionals advise not to stretch any more often than once every other month.