Tapered gauges are needle-shaped pieces of jewellery that are thicker at one end than they are at the other. They are used to stretch ear piercings to a certain size or "gauge." You can buy tapers of all shapes and sizes online and from piercing shops. They are usually made of metal, plastic, wood or horn. Once you have fully inserted a taper and your ear lobe has been stretched, you can insert other pieces of jewellery, like plugs.
Sterilize the Tapered Gauge
When you first stretch your ear with a new gauge, you are causing the skin to break. This leaves the piercing open to infection so it is important to sterilize the tapered gauge before inserting it. You can do this by using alcohol wipes or antiseptic disinfectant from a drugstore. Alternatively, dissolving salt in boiling water produces a natural antiseptic. This can also be used to clean the piercing during the healing process.
It will be easier to insert the tapered gauges using a lubricating substance. Some people use everyday household products like olive oil or Vaseline as lubricants. However, as piercing resource Tribalectic remarks, petroleum-based substances can cause bacteria to build up, potentially causing an infection. A mild liquid antibacterial soap, such as Satin Soap or Provon, is effective.
Stretch A Little At A Time
Unless your skin has a lot of elasticity, you won't be able to insert the whole taper in one sitting. Using lubricant, insert the taper as far as you can and then wait for the ear lobe to heal. This can take between hours and days but its important to listen to your body and ensure you don't insert the taper too quickly, otherwise you could damage your ear lobe. Remember that you should only experience mild pain and that there should be no bleeding.
Don't Increase the Gauge Too Quickly
The thin end of the gauge you use should be the same gauge as your piercing before stretching. For normal piercings, this is 20ga. If you start by using a gauge that is too big, it could be difficult and painful to insert and you might cause permanent damage to your ear lobe.