Ear piercings are supposed to fun way to show off your personal style. Your ears are obviously adjacent to your face, so they are one of the most impactful jewelry styles to wear. At their best, earrings frame your face and pull your outfit together, at their worst, earrings cause painful reactions that make you want to rip your earlobes off.
If you are an earring wearer and have noticed that your piercing is causing you pain but you can't figure out why, we're here to help you diagnose the problem.
There are basically three reasons why your earring hole might be causing you pain. Keep reading to delve into each potential reason:
1. New Piercing
I define a new piercing as a piercing you have received within the last year. Although the common belief is that it takes 6-8 weeks for a ear lobe piercing to heal, in reality it can take much longer. Additionally, every time you change out your earrings during the first few months, it can delay your healing time.
A new piercing will obviously be painful initially due to the fact that it is an open flesh wound. You are introducing trauma to the site by sticking a needle through your ear lobe, so that will cause pain. For the first few weeks or months, you may have swelling and redness around your earring hole simply from the initial trauma of the piercing.
After the initial swelling and pain has gone down, your piercings may look like they are healed from the outside. The problem is, inside your ear piercing site, the skin is much thinner and more delicate. It can easily be damaged and is most likely not fully healed yet. Every time your earring moves or is changed, that delicate skin can be damaged again causing the pain to come back.
Additionally, if you haven't worn earrings in a while and try to force in a pair of earrings, there can be damage to the tissue surrounding the ear piercing. This can cause some redness, scabbing, and pain. It's best to use some Vaseline, Aquaphor, or similar lubrication to help ease the earring into the ear piercing hole.
This pain can typically be treated by properly caring for your ear piercings and being patient while your ear piercings heal.
2. Metal Allergy
Metal allergies are contact allergies that develop over time when the body is in contact with an offending substance. Often people think they just have sensitive ears, when in fact they have an allergy to the metals in most earrings. The symptoms of an allergy to earrings include swelling, redness, tenderness, itching and bleeding. These symptoms occur while the earrings are being worn, and they go away when the earrings are taken out. Depending on the level of allergy, the symptoms can occur within a few minutes of wearing earrings or worsen over a few hours.
In general, if the pain in the piercing hole is not worsening over time while wearing earrings, the cause is probably not an allergy. If it does worsen over the course of time (minutes, hours) and goes away when you remove your earrings, then you most likely have a metal allergy.
Infections can usually be distinguished from normal healing symptoms or metal allergies if they are accompanied by fever, chills, or an upset stomach. Those symptoms are unique to an infection. Other infection symptoms include extreme redness, red streaks, fluid discharge, pus, tenderness, pain, and tears or lacerations. The only way to be sure is to see a doctor. If your piercing is indeed infected then the doctor should prescribe you antibiotics.