Advice about Piercing

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pierced ear closed up - options?

Nov 2009

Hi, recently, for no apparent reason, one of my pierced ears closed up. I had been wearing quality gold hoops and one ear just suddenly got infected. So, I took the earring out, let it heal for a few days and was never able to put it back in. Has this happened to anyone and if so, do you know what my options are for opening the piercing back up? anonymous

I had the same thing happen with one of my ears. I'm not a fan of always wearing earrings, so perhaps it was bound to happen. But one ear seemed always more sensitive than the other and I always wore 24K gold. I did get the ear that closed up re-pierced in the same area. It felt a bit strange during the process as the tissue that closed up the ear is tougher. I've even been able to stretch it a bit without issue now. So, no worries, it can be done. Ear again

Just pierce it again.... hmmmm

Where can I get my ears pierced?

March 2009

Can anyone recommend a safe, clean place where I can get my ears re-pierced? I've looked on-line at some of the piercing/tattoo parlors, but honestly, I think I would feel uncomfortable as a 45 year old going in for an ear piercing. Also, I have a nickel allergy, so I need to be sure that only sterile stainless needles are used, and I would be bringing my own nickel-free earrings. Perhaps some nice jewelry store, hair salon or spa? Thanks! Susan

I got my ears pierced again (after 20 years) last year at Edelweiss Jewelers on College/Ashby next to the movie theater. I used to have an infected lobe so I worried about that again this time. But I've had no problems. I use a dab of antibiotic ointment on earrings when I change them, a tip from a friend who also got her ears repierced at Edelweiss. Good luck.

From the sound of your posting, you might have already ruled this place out, but you might want to reconsider. We just had my daughter's ears pierced at Claire's accessory store. At first I was worried about cleanliness and professionalism, but our experience was fantastic. I don't know if they let you bring your own earrings, so you should call or stop in and ask about the needle and earrings used for piercing. I do know that they offered some solid gold earrings as a piercing option. We went to the one in Concord, but there is one in Walnut Creek, Emeryville and most other mall-type shopping areas.

I recommend Industrial Strength. They have a large selection of earrings which are not nickel and you will even see people that are 40+ years old. They have a very welcoming environment, and excellent piercers (I prefer Todd but Lisa is awesome too). Hope this helps! Patricia

Soulpatch on Haight in SF - They're rad (and I'm a grown up) Just call in advance and ask if you can bring your own earrings (I don't know their policy on that) But they are clean, professional, and fabulous! anon

I HIGHLY recommend the Telegraph Tattoo Company at 2599 Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, 510-848-8282. It is very clean and Freddy did an exceptionally careful job piercing my daughter's ears last year (11-years-old). Brenda

Earrings for super-sensitive pierced ears

Sept 2007

I've had my ears pierced for 40 years. But over the last 10 years my ears have gotten more and more sensitive, and now I find that even nickel-free earrings cause an uncomfortable reaction -- my earlobes get warm and itchy and it becomes so intolerable I have to remove the earrings. A couple of years ago I tried coating the in-ear portion with clear nail polish; didn't work. Is there anything else out there? Naked earlobes

When I was young I had this same problem. At that time my mom only allowed me to wear 14K gold and that really helped. Even those I had to be careful with, however. Some things that helped: 1. Wearing complete hoop or hook earrings -- anything WITHOUT a back 2. Cleaning them every day (I used hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol but I don't know if that was a good idea? it worked) 3. Not sleeping in earrings 4. For post earrings, buying plastic ''sheaths'' that go over the earring posts and using the accompanying plastic backs. This one obviously worked the best since I could still wear those cute, cheap earrings as a young'un. ~earring fanatic~

I've been having the same problems with my ears. One thing I never had a problem with is simple hoop earrings made from surgical stainless steel. I but the ones that are to go in piercings on various parts of the body and just put them in my ears. I have to live with just simple hoops, but it works for me. Perhaps you can find the hook parts in surgical stainless steel? Good luck!

My ears are also very sensitive and I was unable to wear earrings for over 10 years. This is what I do now: insert the backs of the earrings (sterling silver or gold only) into a tube of triple antibiotic ointment before putting them into my ears so the ointment makes it into the pierce. Surprisingly, it is working and I have been wearing earrings now for 2 months. Hope this helps. back in fashion

I developed a nickel allergy when I was in college after a bad experience with some disasterously cheap earrings (the metal coating flaked off the post). I can wear silver, gold, titanium or niobium wires. Silver is best when I keep it polished--it bothers me a bit when it's tarnished, I don't know why. It's easy to replace the wires on existing earrings--you can buy new wires at beading supply stores, they'll have gold and silver, certainly. I almost never wear post earrings, because I can react to the earring back or the part of the earring that touches the front of the ear, even if the post itself doesn't bother me. You can also buy nylon earrings, which can be fun but are very casual. Carrie

My daughter also has extremely sensitive ears. We've found that the only metals she can wear comfortably are titanium or niobium. The other thing that made a big difference was to stop wearing earrings with posts and only wearing those with shepherd's hook ear hangs or hoops. Since she stopped wearing earrings with backs and only those that let her earlobes ''breathe free,'' she's had no more problems. Hope this helps! C.

Hi, I sell .925 sterling silver jewelry, all handcrafted I can bring over a couple of pairs for you to try on. My ears are also sensitive to certain types of earings. The ones I sell work well for my ears and I have not had any problems. Just e-mail me if you want to give it a try.

Piercing won't heal after 5 months

June 2007

I've had pierced ears for 35 years without ever a problem. But, one of my new ear holes (old ones were stretching out) won't heal. I've been dutiful about using the surgical earrings and applying the ear solution given by the store who pierced them....after a month I then tried rubbing alcohol...nothing works. It feels as if a mass is in the ear that won't heal (scar tissue, I presume). It's been about 5 months now...anyone have any idea why one ear would heal but not the other? I'd especially like to know how I can get this last ear to heal. Thanks so much. sister

For any piercing problems at all, I highly recommend that you call or visit the folks at Body Manipulations in San Francisco. They are a highly respected piercing studio which has been operating for almost 20 years. I realise that you are talking about a simple, traditional piercing and they may seem to cater to more radical body changes, but I assure you that they will consult with you respectfully and professionally. Their website is Good luck! Jennifer

It sounds like you might have a cyst in the area that has been piered. I've heard that cysts in pierced ears is common. I got my ears piered when I was about 10 years old. About 6 months later I was in an accident and one of my ears was sore and red where the earring was. I had to stay in the hospital for a week because of the other injuries I had from the accident. I wasn't allowed to wear earrings. The hole in my ear that had gotten sore eventually clogged up completely and I couldn't get an earring into it. I was taken to a doctor and they said a large cyst formed in the hole. So they injected it with some fluid, massaged it, and tried to remove as much of the stuff as possible. It was red and irritated for a while but eventually healed. Over time a bit of the cyst came back, but it never clogged the hole. Now I am 46 years old and that ear hole still, to this day, gives my trouble. Once in a while it gets red, sore and a bit swollen when I'm trying to get an earring in there. It's just very sensative. Just last week it got all infected and sore because of these new earrings I was trying to get into the hole. It was sore for almost two weeks. I just kept the ear as clean as possible and tried not to irritate it too much. Now it feels much better. I think when there is a cyst in the pierced hole, it is very sensative and easily iritated or scratched. Try to be as gentle as possible when putting an earring into that ear. Make sure the earring wire is smooth and not too sharp. Also, I don't know anything about ear peircing solution. My ears were piered the old fashion way - with ice and a needle. Maybe you had a mild reaction to the solution. Anon

Here's what I do when I have pierced ear problems like yours, so it's worth a try. I dip the post into an antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin or bacitracin, and then insert the earring(s) into my ear. This allows the medicine direct contact with the inside of my ear rather than just the surface. It's a bit messy but it has always worked. Christine

Hi, to get your ear to heal it may need to dry out a bit. Use some hydrogen peroxide on it, and aim a hair dryer at it for a few seconds. Then put the earring in when you are sure it is dry. Do this for a few days and it should heal. worked for me

Try this: use a q-tip to put bactine on the piercing morning and night. Every day, soak the affected piercing in hot (as hot as you can stand) water that has a couple of tablespoons of sea salt dissolved in it. Do this for a month. Sometimes cartilage has a difficult time healing and it could be that the piercing is far enough up your ear that it is near where the cartilage begins. Try using only silver or gold (not gold plate)earrings. Sara

Do I need to re-pierce my ears?

January 2006

I had my ears pierced about 20 years ago. I rarely wear earrings, but every now and then I want to (especially if I'm going out and want to dress up). It is becoming more and more difficult putting earrings in, particularly in my left lobe. I've also noticed that there is a small mass, which I assume is scar tissue, in my left lobe. When I do prevail and get earrings in, it hurts after about an hour or so and hurts for another day or so after I remove them. So do I need to re-pierce my ears? Frankly, I don't know if I am up to it. Are non-pierced earrings readily available? laurel

I have had muchos problems with my pierced ears -- always have. I just let them grow closed at one point. But I have earrings that I love to wear and then my beloved son actually picked out a pair of earrings for me and purchased them. So I had the ears re-pierced in a very hygenic setting. I still have problems with occasional flare-ups of soreness and infection. Certain earrings have to be avoided. And when the soreness occurs, I clean the ears carefully, apply medication, and put in the posts I was given when my ears were pierced. I leave those in for several days at least, turning them regularly, until the infection is healed. Then I take them out and try again. It works so far, though I am looking forward to hearing what others say.
sensitive lobes

I had my ears pierced around age 12, but went through a phase where I wasn't wearing earrings on a regular basis in my twenties and they started to close. for a while I would have trouble putting the earrings in and after I wore them and even had one lobe get infected. So, I remembered what I did when I first got them pierced and for a month I wore only 24 kt gold posts and didn't take them out. i'd clean them with peroxide twice a day and turn the earings. After doing that, I went back to wearing cheapie fun earrings and never had a problem again (I'm now 41). Much better than re-piercing.

Belly button piercing and pregnancy

August 2005

I am thinking about getting my belly button pierced and have some questions. If you have a piercing and then got pregnant, what was that like? Did the piercing recover or did you have to let it close during or after pregnancy? Where did you go for your piercing? I am looking for somewhere clean, safe, and comfortable. Thanks!
ears pierced only
I got mine pierced about 7 years ago and had a baby 1.5 years ago. When I started to show, I went to some place on Telegraph in Oakland (sorry, don't remember where) and someone there put in a piece of fishing line and melted the ends for me (so I had a fishing line barbell). It was not very attractive, but I had no problems other than maybe a little irritation from my belly stretching and rubbing on my clothes. After the birth, I took out the fishing line and reinserted my ring. I got my piercing at a fabulous place in New Orleans, but can't recommend anywhere in this area.

Don't do it! I got my navel pierced when I was 19 years old, and I sure wish I had thought ahead about what a pregnancy might do to it. During my first pregnancy, I read in ''The Hip-Mama's Survival Guide'' that I should remove the ring during pregnancy. (Since then I have seen that there are special flexible rings you can keep in during the pregnancy. But I don't think that would have made a difference in what happened to me.) The hole itself totally stretched out and after the pregnancy was the most ugly, large, 2 inch mass of wrinkles on my otherwise flat, smooth stomach. I absolutely hate it, and it's made me self-conscious about showing my belly, which is no fun in swimming season. I don't think there's any way to determine whether this would happen to you, because I think it's just chance, but I do want to point out that I was not left with stretch marks or wrinkled skin on any other part of my belly - just where the pierce was. I can't imagine that it would have been any different had I left the ring in or gotten one of those flexible things, but who knows? Needless to say, I completely regret having gotten the piercing and really wish I hadn't.
older now

Hi, I already had my belly button pierced when I became pregnant so I don't know who to recommend but I can speak to the experience of pregnancy with a belly button ring. The ob said it would have to eventually come out because it would be uncomfortable. So, I left it in, waiting for it to become uncomfortable. It never did so I left it in the whole time. The only time I had to take it out was when I went into the hospital to deliver (in case of emergency c-section). After delivery, I put it back in and it was fine. I don't know if it makes a difference that I didn't gain a huge amount of weight (30 lbs) or what but it was fine the whole time.
pierced mama

I had my belly button pierced for more than 5 years before getting pregnant with my first child, so the piercing was pretty stable. About 8 weeks into my pregnancy, my body started pushing the piercing out. Every day it was a little closer to the surface of my skin. After a couple of weeks, it was so close to the skin that it was super sensitive and I had to take it out. It probably made my scarring a little worse, but nothing too bad. I haven't bothered to have it re-done, I've kind of moved past that stage. Mine was done at Zebra on Telegraph, years ago.
Former rocker

I had my belly button pierced a year or so before my first pregnancy (7 years ago) with the kind of ring you can't remove easily. At 7 months pregnant with my first -- the ring was standing out straight and it was the widest part of me! so I went to a piercing place (don't remember which) on Telegraph and they removed it for me. I never put the ring back in and the hole is now completely closed. some extra scarring occured around the hole(I think because the whole area stretches so much during those last few months--and maybe it makes a weak point in your skin?)but after my belly shrank back to more or less its original state you can't really see anything other than an extra dimple. if you plan to get pregnant within the next year or even 2 years I would wait on the piercing...

I took out my navel piercing (I wore a ring) at 27 weeks of pregnancy, since it was starting to feel slightly stretched. I'm now at 38 weeks and haven't yet delivered, so that's the extent of my experience. I considered replacing the metal jewelry with jewelry made of flexible sterile plastic tubing (they sell it especially for use during pregnancy!) to ensure that the piercing stayed open, but decided to wait and see what my poor belly will look like after I deliver. I may not wish to highlight that part of my anatomy for a while! I've had my piercing since 1992, so I figured it was unlikely to close up in three months anyway.

On a related topic: my cousin used to have her navel pierced, and even though she took it out long before she got pregnant, when she was pregnant the only place where she got stretch marks was radiating out from the hole. She figures the piercing weakened her skin. This hasn't happened to me, but I wanted to pass that along.

As far as places to get piercings done, there are plenty. I've been to Gauntlet in the Castro and a now-closed place in Santa Cruz, and many people go to Zebra on Telegraph. Just make sure it's a legitmate place with an autoclave, etc. Navel piercings are uncomfortable to have done and take a long time to heal properly, so make sure you're ready for the trouble!
Pierced Mama-to-Be

I got my belly button pierced when I was a teenager. I loved it - it really made me feel sexy. When I got pregnant 10 years later, I kept it in as long as I could, but I did end up having to take it out as my belly just got too tight. The piercing closed up right away. By the end of the pregnancy, the only place I had stretch marks was right at the site of the piercing. 3 years later it still looks scarred and not quite right... so I would recommend waiting until after you are done with being pregnant, and then do it.
belly button blues

I would think that if you decide to do this, you would want the piercing for a while before you got pregnant. Just so it is good and healed before your belly gets stretched out. I got my belly button pierced in 1996, had my first child in 2003 and am 9 months now with my 2nd. I still have my piercing in and did so throughout my pregnancy with #1. I've heard sometimes doctors will protest leaving the piercing in. I, personally, did not have a problem. Doc said as long as I was comfortable with it in, then it was not a problem for him. It is comfortable for me. It might not be the same for you. The only thing that might be a consideration is that when your belly gets bigger, the ring sticks out a bit more, so sometimes I noticed that I could see the bump of the ring through my shirt. As for where to go... I went to a place in the Castro section of SF. I can't recall the name, but it's around the intersection of Market & Noe. If you're going ''up market'' ie: away from downtown and facing toward going up the hill, it's on the left hand side. It's a fairly well marked place, has a great reputation and I believe is still there. The people were great, very professional and quick. BTW, it really does hurt A LOT! Plus takes a good 2 weeks to heal. Had to wear all my pants unzipped for a while. Hope this helps! Good luck.

I didn't see the original question, but I had my belly pierced for about 5 years before i got pregnant. I kept it in until I was about 7 months, and then had to get it removed because it got too painful and tight, and so I had had a piece of wide fishing line put it, which was even more irritating, so I had to take it all out. My hole closed up and I haven't gotten it redone yet, though it's been a few years. I do have more stretch marks radiating from that area than any other on my belly -- really very few stretch marks except for those, but they're pretty light. Another thing worth knowing -- it takes a REALLY long time for a belly to heal. Mine got infected 6 months after being pierced, and I was taking really good care of it. I got mine done at The Gauntlet, Market near Castro.

Post-partum sensitivity to earrings

June 2004

I have had pierced ears since I was 12 and have never had any problems til recently. I was able to wear any type of earrings, even really cheap ones, without the slightest irritation or special care. After I had my son 4 years ago I stopped wearing earrings for the most part, but now that he is older I want to start wearing them again. The problem is that every time I get an almost immediate irritation, sort of itchy and sort of painful. I am wearing only sterling silver Tiffany earrings, and I clean both my earlobes and the posts every time before wearing them, but I just can't make it through more than a few hours before I have to take them out. I have never had any allergic reactions to anything in my life, so this is really frustrating and annoying. Has anyone else had this experience? Any advice would be appreciated--it just seems like too trivial a thing to go to a dermatologist for! Thanks! Tracy

I can't wear earrings anymore either : ( I've tried all the things you mentioned - scrubbing the posts, putting various stuff on the posts and my earlobes, etc. etc. Nothing works. The problem is usually a nickel allergy, and nickel is a component of most earrings even if 'gold' or 'silver.' I haven't tried 48K gold or platinum (platinum is supposed to be allergy free?), because those earrings are just too expensive. There are websites though that sell hypoallergenic platinum earrings. Good luck. in commiseration

Hi - I've had exactly the same experience - developed a new sensitivity to earrings after a number of trouble-free years of wearing them, and sensitivity to sterling silver, which I thought shouldn't happen. My ears would begin to feel hot and swollen, the lobes would turn red, and if I tried to suffer through for a special occasion, I would even get hard bumps like bug-bites on my lower scalp. I had to give up wearing earrings for a while, which was a bit sad. What I realized by talking to a jeweler is that there are different grades/blends of sterling; some have more nickel (I believe) than others, depending on the source of the sterling for the posts. Not sure this is very well known; most of us think sterling silver is all alike. I tried a few different kinds of earrings after that, and have found a line that I can wear with no problems at all, from a jeweler on Telegraph Ave. here in Berkeley (Peter, who usually sets up shop right before the Gap store). He consistently uses the same sterling for the posts and he's even switched out the posts on some other earrings which I had but couldn't wear, which has been great. Good luck. Eileen

Earing iritation after having children is apparently quite common. I suffered the same problem, as did my sister and several friends. Of the different earing materials, silver (of any kind) was the worst for me. I would suggest trying gold of at least 14K or earings with surgical steel posts. Every time I start to feel the iritation, I switch back to plain gold ball posts (like the ones they use for piercing ears) and swab then and my ears a couple times a day. I have found that over the years (my youngest is 10) it has gotten better, to the point where now I can even wear silver for a couple of hours, say, for an evening out. good luck

I've had the itchy reaction to earrings in the past as well, and you may want to try switching to gold earrings for a while. It is an allergy, probably to some of the metals used as an alloy with the silver. I don't think there is much doctors can do to treat it. The good news is that I've found it can improve over time - I went from only being able to wear gold earrings to being able to wear sterling silver earrings again, although I still can't wear nickel or foreign silver earrings. vali

Sounds to me like your body chemistry has changed and you are now allergic to the expensive stuff. I am too - I have to wear stainless steel or else I get icthy, painful ears. You can find inexpensive hoops for dangly earrings at craft stores and otherwise, just skip Tiffany's and save on your jewelry budget! Freyja

I have the same problem with earring irritation. I have found that I can wear french hooks with no problem, though. It seems as though the irritation is caused by the metal or plastic touching the earlobe (back or front), not by the wire through the ear. I also avoid larger diameter hooks and try to stay with silver wire, as gold causes more problems for me. Becky

I have the exact same problem. I have no idea what will make it better. My daughter is two years old and ever since she was 6 months or so I cannot wear any earrings without intense irritation and itching about twenty minutes after I put them on. I don't have a solution but I will be interested to hear other responses. Julie

Did you go for a long period of time without wearing earrings? If so, your holes may have closed slightly. I had to get my ears re-pierced. Also, make sure your earrings are scrupulously clean (e.g. wipe them with alcohol), and don't share them with anyone. The first time I ever had an ear problem (in retrospect, probably an infection) was when a friend gave me some earrings and I put them on without cleaning them. This is especially important if the piercings have closed down a little bit, and you have to struggle to get the earrings in. anon

This is not directly related to your question, but it is not unusual to develop new allergies and/or irritations as the result of 1)getting older or 2)pregnancy and/or childbearing. Anon

I have a friend that had the exact same experience after her daughter was born. She couldn't wear any jewelry at all. Her husband had lots of allergies and someone told her that by carrying some of his genetic material (their baby), she was sensitized to his allergies. Strange, but true. She has found that gold does not produce as strong a reaction. Joan

I wore earrings everyday for over ten years and then suddenly developed an allergy to nickel. Now, I can only wear surgical stainless steel (like what many piercing-pieces are made of) or special earrings for people with nickel allergies. You may want to try Simply Whispers. They carry nickel-free jewelry (esp. earrings) and you can also buy new allergy-free clasps to replace those on your favorite earrings. In a pinch, try putting a coat or two or clear nail polish on the posts/clasps of your favorite earrings. This is good for one or two wearings. Good luck! Andi

I, too, have a sensitivity to certain pairs of earrings. There are two things I didn't see posted yet that have helped me. One is to coat the earring post with nail polish (creates a barrier between you and the metal). The other thing I've done is to dip the post into hydrocortisone ointment, which allows me to wear the earring without TOO much trouble for one day, and which I reserve for special occasions (since hydrocortisone is a steroid). Margery