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Ear Piercing FAQ

Ear Piercing FAQ Drawing of an ear with each piercing area labeled

How soon can I change my jewelry?

The initial jewelry should be left in for the duration of the healing period, but you can change your jewelry as soon as it is healed. For earlobes, this means six to eight weeks; for cartilage, six to twelve months, minimum.

How soon can I leave the piercing empty?

For most, earlobe piercings tend to stay open (even without jewelry) after a year or more (but this is no hard, fast rule), while cartilage piercings can take considerably longer. A good rule of thumb: if you want to keep your piercing, keep something in it.

I saw a picture online of an ear with multiple cartilage piercings. Can I get that?

Looking through images in our galleries or other places online is a great way to get ideas, but ears can vary greatly from person-to-person, so something that works well online (or on your friend) may not work for you.

If there is a piercing configuration that appeals to you, bring in the picture and talk to one of our piercers. Even if you’re not suited for what you’re asking about, they can recommend something that will work for your particular ear.

I want to get cartilage piercings on both ears. Can I do them at the same time?

Due to the difficulty with healing, you will need to wait until all piercings on one ear a fully healed before we will do any new cartilage piercings on the other ear. Healing can take six months to a year, and you need one ear to sleep on, use to talk on the phone, etc. We can do multiple cartilage piercings on the same ear in the same sitting, but we will not do cartilage piercings in both ears at the same time.

I want to get my child’s ears pierced by you. Can you do it?

Yes! While Philadelphia regulations previously prohibited us from piercing clients under 16 years old, a new interpretation of the rules means we can now offer earlobe piercing services for minors who are 8 years or older. For more information, head to our Appointment page and ID Info & Policies.

Can I go swimming?

It is best to avoid swimming for the full duration of the healing period, however, with ear piercings, an easy solution is simply to keep your head out of the water. The risk to your piercing depends on where you’re swimming: saltwater and chlorine may be okay for your piercing, however, other bacteria in the water may be problematic; the water on a beach in the tropics is not the same at the water at the Jersey Shore; and you can never be sure how balanced the chemical levels are in anyone else’s pool—or what else may be in the water. Definitely avoid hot tubs, quarries, or lakes, as here the water quality is even more questionable. At a minimum, plan to avoid swimming for at least three months, and if you do swim during the healing process, the most important thing to do is to make sure that you clean your piercing afterward.

Do I need to turn my earrings while they’re healing?

No. There is the opinion still held by some that if you do not rotate your jewelry occasionally during healing that your skin will adhere to or “grow into” the post. This is not true. With implant-grade titanium and steel jewelry (and even glass) the surface is non-porous and will not adhere to skin. This is not to say that you won’t have some scabbing and dried lymph that adheres to your jewelry during healing. Just keep with your regular cleaning regimen and this will wash away naturally. As for twisting the jewelry: just leave it alone. If you’re not cleaning your piercing, keep your hands off it.

Why don’t you use piercing guns?

We’ve all seen the storefronts and kiosks advertising free ear piercings with the purchase of jewelry. You may think, “What’s wrong with a deal like that?” The problem is not in the price but the procedure, as these types of establishments use piercing guns.

So what’s wrong with ear piercing guns? While we won’t go into all the reasons you shouldn’t get pierced with a gun—the Association of Professional Piercers already has—here are the main ones:

  • Piercing guns cannot be effectively sterilized, and there are documented cases of disease transmission from piercing guns. (Download this Journal of the American Medical Association article.)

  • Gun studs do not accommodate for the different thicknesses of ears and earlobes, and the studs can easily become embedded. Additionally, piercing studs are not usually made from implant-grade materials, and as a result, reactions to the jewelry are not uncommon, especially for those with a sensitivity to nickel.

  • Operators working at piercing kiosks are not trained in bloodborne pathogens and disease transmission. There are documented cases of disease transmission from piercing guns because of the ignorance of aseptic technique and a lack of basic knowledge of disease transmission.

  • Getting your ear cartilage pierced with a gun can be especially dangerous and carries a risk of permanent damage.

Here’s why you may want to consider us instead of your local mall:

  • We use single-use, disposable piercing needles and aseptic technique—the same as your dentist. Jewelry is sterilized prior to insertion, and any other implements used (forceps, etc.) are sterilized as well.

  • We use jewelry at a length selected specifically for you, made of material proven to be safe for the body. The posts we use for initial ear piercings are either implant-certified titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is ASTM F-136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant, or implant-grade steel that is ASTM F-138 compliant or ISO 5832-1 compliant, and are considered safe for initial piercings by the Association of Professional Piercers.

  • Everyone on our staff is certified with bloodborne pathogens training by the National Safety Council, and all of our piercers meet—and exceed—training required for business membership in the Association of Professional Piercers.

Getting pierced with a gun is considerably cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

How long until I can start stretching?

You will want to wait until your piercings are healed before you begin stretching. For earlobes this is after about eight weeks; for ear cartilage, this means waiting until they are fully healed, which can be anywhere from six months to a year. For more information about stretching, check out the Stretching FAQ on our site.

If you already know you want to go big, it’s easier to get your ears pierced larger to begin with. (This is especially true of ear cartilage piercings, as they can be difficult to stretch.) To find out about different options for large-gauge piercings, come in and talk to one of our piercers in person.