Ear piercings: What to do when your ear keeps bleeding
In an ideal world, the time it takes to assemble an effortless jewellery look comprised of delicate ear piercings that could garner the approval of Zoe Kravitz would be as timeless as the seconds it took to pierce your ear in the first place. Unfortunately, this is hampered by the healing time needed to truly settle your new earrings in, with the painful by-products of bleeding, swelling, redness, heat and fluid in tow.
Here, to help you get rid of the first of these symptoms – and maybe a few of the others, too – we've compiled a guide to some of the reasons why this might be happening and, importantly, what to do if it is.
No refrain is more fitting for piercing aftercare than ‘less is more’. Excessive cleaning, especially with alcohol or peroxide-based products, will dry out your piercing, causing it to crack and bleed.
Follow the simple regime of cleaning your piercing twice daily with sterile saline solution, or a castile soap and water. Dry with tissue afterwards as a towel can snag.
#2 Sleeping on your piercing
You might knowingly be rolling onto your piercing in the early hours of the morning, putting enough pressure on it to bleed. To stop this, sleep on a travel pillow with your ear cradled in the hole.
#3 Turning your earring whilst it’s dry
Turning your piercing whilst it is dry will cause additional trauma that may lead to some bleeding.
If crusts have formed and you can’t resist the urge to pick them, loosen them by having a warm shower. Then, gently remove with an ear bud. Be careful not to force off any discharge that doesn’t want to budge. Don't fret – it will dislodge itself in due course.
#4 Non-hypoallergenic jewellery
If your earring is made of nickel or copper, your skin could be reacting to these transition metals. Instead, opt for sterling silver, pure gold, titanium or platinum. While they come with more hefty price tags, these options are hypoallergenic, meaning they’re made of pure metals and won’t irritate sensitive skin with nickel alloys. Stainless steel is a safe investment, too.
#5 Overly small jewellery
Once pierced, your ear may experience some swelling. If you have stud earrings, make sure the post is long enough to accommodate this. If not, you could experience a little bleeding and discomfort. A good piercing practitioner will know to use a stud with a backing that is slightly longer in length.
Whether it’s from when you’re putting on a t-shirt or tying up your hair, bumping is a prime culprit in post-piercing irritation and will aggravate the healing tissue. The golden rule for fresh piercings is to avoid touching them at all.
No matter their size, hoops can rotate easily and lead to irritation, particularly when it comes to lobe piercings. Often it’s best to see through the healing period with your stud before turning to a dainty ring.
#8 Blood thinners
Taking any kind of blood thinners will likely lead to inadvertently increasing the amount your piercing bleeds. In this case, be wary of how much they're bleeding and apply an ice pack – you'll slow down blood flow and ease any immediate pain.
#9 Your body’s reaction
Know that when your piercing is healing, your body is also trying to get rid of a foreign object. For some, this might mean a more volatile reaction.
#10 Multiple new piercings
Several new piercings within a short time frame can extend the healing time of all of the new adornments involved, going as far as to cause more swelling because your body is defending itself on several fronts.
A quick fix
Try a long saline soak to draw out any fluid and give your wound a thorough clean. It's easier said than done, but place your ear in a small, steralised bowl, container or cup containing the solution, leaving it in for around five to ten minutes.
If you don't have saline solution, mix warm water and sea salt together. Make sure to rinse with water afterwards to get rid on any solid crystals that might aggrevate your ear later.
Establish an aftercare routine – and stick to it. You should carry out your twice-daily clean routine for the majority of the healing period, which will vary depending on whether you have a lobe or cartilage piercing. Typically, earlobes heal in six to eight weeks. Cartilage is more lengthy, ranging from anywhere between six and twelve months.
Make sure to wash your hands before cleaning your piercing.
Note: If you suspect your piercing is infected (if it's producing yellow or green fluid, you have a temperature, and/or swelling in ongoing), or you want to put your mind at ease, visit your piercer or a reputable practitioner. They’ll be able to quickly gage whether it’s irritation or infection, and set up a plan of action.
What ear piercing have you been swooning over?