Did you know that the earliest evidence of ear stretching is from a man believed to have lived in 3,400 to 3,100 BCE? That’s none other than Ötzi the Iceman, who had one earlobe stretched about 1 centimeter. That discovery led to the belief that ear tapering, also known as ear gauging, existed as far back as the Bronze Age.
So, even if earlobe stretching seems to be a 21st-century trend, it’s been around for thousands of years.
However, despite today’s ear-piercing methods being safer, tapering can still be risky. For example, improper gauging can lead to ear blowouts, infections, or lobe detachment.
For that reason, we came up with this ear stretching safety guide for our readers who want to taper their lobes. So, if you’re one of them, be sure to read on to cut your risks of ear gauging complications and side effects.
Let New Piercings Heal Completely
Before you can stretch your earlobes, you first need to get them pierced the traditional way. So, if you haven’t yet, undergo the process at a reputable piercing shop.
It’s imperative to choose a licensed piercer to ensure that they use sanitary tools. Otherwise, you have a higher risk of getting infections, such as HIV or even hepatitis.
Once you get your piercings, clean them with alcohol twice a day or apply antibiotic cream on them. Make sure your hands are clean whenever you touch them, and don’t take out the earrings as your ears heal.
You can expect your new piercings to heal in about four to six weeks. The more careful you are in taking care of them, the lower your chances of developing infections. However, note that up to 20% of new piercings can still get infected even with proper care.
In any case, you’ll know your new piercings have fully healed if they’re no longer swelling, itching, or red. A lack of discharge is another sign that your piercings have healed.
Invest in Quality Ear Tapers
Once you’re sure your piercings have healed, you can start enlarging them with tapers.
Tapers are long, spiked implements that taper to one end, thus; their name. You insert the thinnest end into the piercing and gradually slide it to stretch your ear lobe.
Tapers are available in different sizes, also known as gauges, ranging from 3.2 mm to 8 mm. It’s best to start with the narrowest one to avoid overstretching freshly-healed piercings.
As for their materials, you can find most tapers in either acrylic or steel. The acrylic ones cost less, but those made from steel may be easier to slide into your piercings.
What’s important here is to avoid cheap tapers of unknown quality or a mix of materials. These can cause ear irritations or allergic reactions, raising your risk for infections.
Retain Stretched Piercings With Quality Ear Plugs
If tapers enlarge your piercings, plugs, or gauge earrings, help keep them stretched. They’re the actual pieces of round jewelry you put in to maintain your piercings’ current size.
Plugs, also sometimes called tunnels, are available in the exact sizes as tapers. As such, you need to use a plug of the same size as the most recent taper you’ve used.
You can also find plugs in various materials, such as steel, titanium, silicone, and stones.
Steel and titanium are durable, but the latter is lighter and less likely to irritate the ears. On the other hand, silicone might be more hypoallergenic, but you’d need to clean it more often. By contrast, precious and semi-precious stones are more aesthetic.
Clean Everything You Need
According to experts, human hands can carry up to 3,200 types of germs, some of which can be harmful. If any of those nasty bacteria get into your pierced ears, you’re at a high risk of developing an infection.
So, always wash your hands for no less than 20 seconds with soap and water. In addition, clean and sterilize your ear lobes, tapers, and plugs with alcohol. You can also go the extra step by using medical gloves whenever you stretch your ears.
Lubricate Your Ears and Stretching Equipment
One of the most crucial ear stretching safety tips is to use a lubricant that’s safe and gentle on the skin. Such substances can make it easier for your tapers and plugs to slide into your piercings.
In many cases, commercial-grade lubricants are an excellent way to go. Many professional piercers carry them, so be sure to ask the one who did your ears.
An alternative is to use a plant-based lubricant, such as coconut oil. Plus, coconut oil has properties that can make it helpful in killing harmful bacteria.
Whichever lubricant you choose, be sure to apply it on the entire surface of your tapers or plugs. Then, put a small amount of the substance on your piercing, as well. That way, it’ll be easier for your stretchers to glide into the hole.
Take It Slow
Slowly insert your tapers into your piercings even after applying lubrication. That way, your lobes can get accustomed as you gently slide the narrowest end of the tapers into the hole.
If you push the taper in too fast, you’re likely to feel discomfort or pain. The same can happen if you use a taper that’s too thick for your piercings.
To help the earrings ease faster into the piercings, insert the thicker end of the taper into the plug’s hole. That way, you can slide the plug into the piercing as soon as the taper goes all the way through.
Follow These Ear Stretching Tips to Keep Your Lobes Safe and Healthy
There you have it, your guide to proper and safe ear stretching techniques. So, be sure to follow these tips on looking after stretched ears to avoid complications.
And, as a final reminder, make sure you wash your gauged lobes at least twice a day to prevent infections.
Are you ready for even more health and beauty hacks and tricks? We’ve got more to share with you, so feel free to stick around and browse our other blog posts!