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Irritated pierced ear.

Hey all!

So I've had pierced ears for 13 years, and lately the right ear got slightly irritated (earring got caught on jacket, got yanked). I've ceased wearing heavy earrings, and was wearing simple studs just to keep it from closing, and periodically I've been icing it to reduce swelling. It's not infected, just irritated. I remember when I got my belly-button pierced years ago, I was told to soak a washcloth in warm water with sea salt and use that as a compress for 10 minutes every day. Would something like that be advisable for my ear? And, sadly, I have no sea salt, only normal table salt - is there something around the typical house that could be used? As my parents are in town and likely highly demanding of my time, I won't be able to get sea salt any time this week.

It's much better since I iced it last night, but I want to make sure it actually is getting better. Thanks for any help!

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
periwinklemist
May. 19th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
Awesome, thanks!
(Deleted comment)
periwinklemist
May. 20th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, I'm definitely going for the most natural and calm way possible. Thanks for the help.
guylian
May. 19th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Irritated pierced ear.
Mine get irritated too sometimes. I treat them the same as I did when I got them pierced, because it seems to work the best to fix them - bathe the holes in methylated spirits or salt water (normal salt is fine) or whatever you usually used to clean your piercings and if it doesn't hurt too much, rotate the posts/rings. Keep doing this until they stop hurting so much. It only took a day or so of morning and night bathings to fix mine.
birdiebrain
May. 19th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Rotating them is a bad idea because it will drag unnecessary stuff through the fistula, potentially causing more irritation.
(Deleted comment)
periwinklemist
May. 19th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Hm! I've been doing that, so I'll definitely have to stop!
periwinklemist
May. 19th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Thanks!
autumn_sylver
May. 19th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
"(normal salt is fine)"

Not according to my piercer. She told me to use either sea salt or epsom salt, but NOT table salt.
periwinklemist
May. 20th, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
I'm curious about this. I've heard/read lots of conflicting things. johnnycakes posted this link in the first comment to this post, which clearly says not to use epsom. Any other interwebs suggestions from anyone?
autumn_sylver
May. 20th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
As far as I can tell, that was written by someone who got a piercing. They don't say if they're a piercer or anything. So, it seems it's just one person's opinion. When it comes to piercings, everyone has a different opinion. I was told by a reputable piercer, to use either sea salt or epsom salt, but not iodized salt.
birdiebrain
May. 20th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
The person who wrote those guidelines has several piercings and is extremely knowledgeable in addition to being gifted with an extraordinary amount of common sense.

Epsom salts should never, ever be used on a fresh or irritated piercing.
readysteadystop
May. 20th, 2008 07:53 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Coming from someone who has trained as a piercer... DO NOT USE EPSOM SALT ON PIERCINGS... EVER!

It is not even salt. It's not the proper chemical combination to do what sea salt does.
Table salt / sea salt = NaCl (sodium chloride)
Epsom salt = MgSO4 (magnesium sulfate)

Basically, you want to get salt with no iodine, with no Yellow Prussiate of Soda (an anti-caking agent which is basically like cyanide, but which the FDA okay's in small doses), and/or with no Calcium Silicate (also an anti-caking agent).

You want salt with no additives in it. Plain and simple. Kosher salt is also okay, as it's only ingredient is... salt.
autumn_sylver
May. 20th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Also, I just wanted to add - sea salt would be your best bet.
periwinklemist
May. 20th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Yeah, that's definitely what I'm thinking. Thanks!
guylian
May. 20th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
Hmmm... I know what the difference is in cooking but I wonder what it is in cleaning?
guylian
May. 20th, 2008 09:20 am (UTC)
Re: Irritated pierced ear.
My flatmate has just told me that it's because they add things to table salt, which is why you're not supposed to use it. Learn something new every day. :)
flayre
May. 19th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
I know when hubby has this happen with his, he just treats it like a new piercing. Washes it twice a day with Dr. Bronners (the piercing studio gave it to him). It heals back up and then he leaves his hoop in for several more weeks just to leave it undisturbed.
periwinklemist
May. 19th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
Oo - Dr. Bronners! I hadn't thought of that. That's a good idea. Thanks!
appletrees
May. 19th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
Sea salt is best, but I'm pretty sure you can use anything except for iodized salt. Iodized salt will irritate your piercing and prevent it from rehealing.

By studs, do you mean something with a butterfly back? A regular barbell (they come in small diameters, they're not just for heavy duty body piercings) will give you more room for swelling. Just wearing butterfly backed earrings can make your ears swell from being too tight, plus they're usually not made from the best materials.
periwinklemist
May. 20th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Sadly, yes, butterfly back. Unfortunately, the 'rents are in town until Friday, so I won't be able to look into these barbell earrings until they're gone (require constant entertainment, though I still love them), but thanks for the suggestion! I'll definitely look into it.
mentalconundrum
May. 19th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
tea tree oil and/or colloidial silver have healed my piercings and soothed my irritated ears every time! when i first get pierced i use both. tea tree oil is a natural aniceptic and the silver boosts your immune system. i apply both topically with a qtip. goodluck (:
birdiebrain
May. 20th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Tea tree oil should always be diluted for use on piercings.
crizzles
May. 19th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
When an earing snags on something it's the same as if someone tried to stretch it, there is a breakage in the skin that will need at least 2 weeks to heal. I would try to get sea salt for it, and only change earings just after a shower when your ears are wet and lubed. Taking earings out overnight shouldn't cause them to grow over, and will help with irritation when lying on your ears. Using a simple stud (not cheap metal) is good, and don't add the backings, they just collect crud back there. And don't rotate them, as mentioned before (piercings should never be rotated). Good luck :)
wretched_snail
May. 19th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
I would just not wear earrings at all until it heals, if it's your lobes. They're probably making the irritation even worse.

I've had my earlobes pierced for 13 years too, and in the past I've gone over a year (at least) without so much as looking at an earring, and my holes never close.
dianalynn
May. 20th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
Actually, the best thing for it....

When I get an ear infection or before that even when it is irritated I ALWAYS do this and it ALWAYS works.

try to do it about 3 times a day, but longer at night will suffice.

Take an open saucepot (like 1qt) and fill it with water, bring to a boil on the stove. Fold up a washcloth a bunch until it's very thick. Hold at the end. Turn the water off, and once it's stopped boiling dip the end of the washcloth in the water, wait a moment for it to cool down, and as soon as you can bear it touch it to your ear and hold it there. the extreme heat should kill off any bacteria. repeat as much as you can stand. I do this with the earring in. Touching the hot cloth to the stud will heat up the metal and further the heating inside the wound.

hope that helps.

good luck!
periwinklemist
May. 20th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense, thanks!
usedsoup
May. 20th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
or you could just get a washcloth wet with hot water from a sink. the heat doesn't kill off bacteria, it just brings blood to the surface which increases healing power.
attacking
May. 20th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
in order to kill any bacteria, you would need to put your ears in boiling water (preferably with bleach added) for more than a half an hour. in order to kill ALL bacteria, you would need to basically put your ears in a pressure cooker. a warm washcloth doesn't kill any bacteria at all - in fact, washcloths often carry bacteria on them already.
dianalynn
May. 20th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
yeah, that's why they tell you not to wash your hands in warm water....
and i suggested using an old dirty washcloth too. Way to be extreme.

you know, don't knock it until you try it.... it works for me.
dianalynn
May. 20th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
once again, don't knock it until you try it. Swear to god it works. just like washing your hands in hot water, or heat pads for cramps, etc.
birdiebrain
May. 20th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
Hot compresses help things feel better and promote healing for other reasons, but you're not killing any bacteria with it.
attacking
May. 20th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
clean washcloths carry bacteria too. i didn't say it didn't work - hot compresses are great - just that it wasn't a great idea for a healing piercing, and it definitely doesn't kill any bacteria.
attacking
May. 20th, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)
normal table salt will do as a substitute for sea salt. if at all possible, you want non-iodized salt. here is the sea salt soak "recipe" you want to use. you DO NOT want to use epsom salts, as those are not actually salt (they are just called salt). you DO NOT want to use washcloths, as washcloths carry bacteria; i recommend soaking your earlobes in very clean shot glasses or with a paper towel soaked in the hot, salty water. you only need to do this once a day. you should also be cleaning your ears gently with mild, unscented soap and warm water once a day, and not rotating the studs.

this is not the end-all, be-all of piercing advice - aftercare varies from person to person, as all of us have different bodies. this is just all the info i could think of that would help your ears heal quickly with no issues.

you also may want to get your hands on some new jewelry at some point - butterfly-backed studs tend to be made from crappy, cheap metal. your ears will be much happier with some steel, titanium or even glass in them! :)
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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