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Stretching Your Ear Lobe Piercings

Ear Lobe Gauging Tips

Itís trendy right now for young people to wear pierced earrings fashioned with thick, decorative posts and rings. Even if your ears were pierced to a more standard size, you can stretch your ear lobe holes using a gradual process that some people call gauging.

It takes some time to size up, but if you do it carefully youíll be able to wear the newer styles and keep your earlobes healthy.

Whatís a normal ear lobe gauge?

Most peopleís ear lobes are pierced with a 20 or 18-gauge needle. Common gauge sizes are named in even numbers down to 00, with the size increasing as the numbers decrease. There are larger gauges that are expressed as fractions.

Isnít it easier to punch larger holes to begin with?

Many piercers refuse to punch large holes because totally removing a plug of skin makes it difficult, if not impossible, to size back down later.

Skin is resilient, so leaving it there and forcing it to stretch makes it easier to return to a smaller hole if you decide to gauge down.

How should I stretch my ear lobes?

Itís important to change your gauge gradually, allowing ample healing time between sizes. If you move too fast, you might damage your skin enough to create scar tissue. Scars make your ear look as if it is cracking around the hole and also makes it very difficult to change gauge.

Jewelry grade stainless steel rings or plugs are a good choice for gauging. Stainless is not porous, so it does not absorb bacteria and dirt that can cause infections, and its heavier weight helps the stretching process. Save the decorative plastic and wooden pegs until your ears are healed.

I used these techniques to stretch my ear lobes to accept 6 gauge earrings. Everyone is different, so listen to your body during your gauging process. Donít move on to a larger size until you feel comfortable about the change.

  1. Compare your earring posts to a gauge chart to determine your current gauge.


  2. Buy rings in the next largest size. For instance, if your current gauge is 20, purchase 18 gauge rings.


  3. Wash your hands and earlobes with antibacterial soap.


  4. Massage one of your ear lobes.


  5. Insert the larger ring in that lobe. The new ring wonít slide right in, so take it easy or you'll tear your ear and make it bleed.


  6. Repeat the steps for your other ear.

Use a little antibacterial soap, such as Provon or Dial, to help the rings go in more smoothly.

Expect some soreness as your lobes heal and adjust to the new hole size. When theyíre fully healed, repeat the process to step up one more size.

I waited about two weeks between sizes, but you might find you need to wait longer.

Stretching Options

There are special devices called tapering rings or insertion tapers. They are round shafts that gradually taper from a smaller to larger gauge along their lengths. Your piercing professional can show you how to use the tapers, or do it for you.

Keep Your Piercings Clean

Clean your jewelry and earlobes once or twice every day with an unscented antibacterial soap. Try cleaning them when youíre in the shower, because the heat and moisture make it easier and more comfortable to manipulate the area.

Saturate your ear lobes with lather and use a cotton ball or disposable cloth to remove crusty residue. Turn the rings gently to work soap into the area and to keep them from sticking to your skin. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.

Now soak your ear lobes in a solution made by combining a pinch of sea salt in a cup of distilled water. Soak for five to ten minutes.

Get Expert Advice

Talk to a professional body piercer any time you need advice about your piercings.

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