How to Change a Gauge in Earrings

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Although traditionally ears are pierced with very small gauge needles, many people choose to stretch out their ear piercings for aesthetic effect. Gauging your ear takes time and care, however, and does have certain risks. If you stretch your ears too quickly, you can damage them, causing pain, scarring or even tearing. Take your time and always keep your piercing clean.

Things You'll Need

  • Earrings
  • Taper
  • Antibacterial Soap
  • Cotton Balls
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Cup
  • Piercing cleaner
  • Water-based lubricant
  • Towel
  • Make sure that your ear is completely healed. It should not be red, swollen or uncomfortable, and there should be no discharge coming from it.

  • Find out what gauge your ears are pierced with. Most ear piercings are 18 or 20 gauge. If you aren't sure, show your piercings to a piercer to find out.

  • Buy a taper or earring that is one size larger than the one you are currently wearing. A taper is a tool to stretch a piercing. It tapers from one size to another, allowing you to gradually adjust your piercing by pushing it further through the hole.

  • Clean up and get ready. Remove your previous piercing and clean out your ear and the new piercing with antibacterial soap. Rinse them well and pat your ear dry with a damp cloth. Put a little bit of water-based lubricant on the new piercing and spread it around.

  • Slowly and carefully insert the new piercing into your ear. Take your time with this step, or you could end up causing bleeding and scarring.

  • Keep the ear clean. Use a cotton ball to put piercing cleaner on the site at least once a day. Soak your ear in warm salt water for the first few days at least.

  • Give it time to heal. It might take a month or more until you can stretch your piercing further. Wait until the piercing is pain-free, there is no swelling or discharge, and you can easily move the earring around.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you irritate your piercing too much when you try to stretch it, wash the old earring and put it back in.
  • Always use surgical steel or another reactive metal when stretching your ear. Acrylics and lower-grade metals can cause a lot of irritation.
  • Don't remove the piercing even to clean it until the swelling goes down. Instead, gently clean the area around the piercing.
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