Lovely reader kaybaby666 writes:
I have spacers. A spacer is a larger than normal earring which stretches the normal piercing hole (16 gauge) to above and beyond! Mine are at a 2 gauge which it’s fairly large but my skin does not droop low and it’s actually on the small side compared to how large people make their spacers.Anyways…about a month ago my horrible left ear became infected (we all have the one problem piercing). My left side is always the one getting infected and the hole size is actually smaller than the right. To treat the infection I did what always made it go away in the past: took the spacers out and left them alone.This didn’t work.
My paranoia that the hole would shrink didn’t help so I kept shoving a spacer through it and experiencing horrible pain. A few weeks ago I decided to try rubbing alcohol, and then added polysporin. I don’t even know if it was working. I asked some friends what I could do and my cousin suggested nail polish remover.I had tried nail polish remover on my infected ear before while at an overnight camp working as a counsellor where your typical ear cleaning stuff was locked in the infirmary but nail polish remover was everywhere. It had worked. When I came back to the city and told people I had used nail polish remover they were fairly confused and shocked so I stopped using it.
On my cousin’s advice, I used the nail polish remover and even though it’s only been one day the pain in my left ear has reduced noticeably!Does anyone else use nail polish remover to treat piercing infections? Why does this work over rubbing alcohol?
While I’m not nor have I ever been a professionally trained piercer, I have had quite a few piercings. I have both nostrils pierced, my ears stretched to 9/16 of an inch, and I’ve got a 14-gauge hoop in the conch of my ear. While they’ve varied in difficulty to get healed up, you’re right that everyone’s got that one pain-in-the-butt piercing that just finds a way to get irritated. For me it was my left spacer for a long time. It kept getting caught when I would dress or undress, and it made a skin break both near the jewelry itself and under my earlobe where it joins with my head. Plus I’m prone to picking, so it was practically an invitation for a mess, but I asked my piercer what to do.
Here’s a version of what she told me:
When you punch a hole in your body, its instinct is to heal it, but that’s not what a piercing is. A piercing is a hole you want to keep there, so you’re actually trying to get the body to just be okay with what you did. Rubbing alcohol isn’t something that’s naturally present in your body chemistry, so it’ll attempt to sterilize the wound, encouraging it to scab and “heal.” A better option is a salt water soak. Saline is naturally occurring and familiar to your body, and it’s likely to clean the wound without unnecessary chemical stress, making the piercing more likely to just stop misbehaving.
H2ocean-Piercing Aftercare Spray (4oz), $14.85 from Amazon
A salt water soak is usually a combo of sea salt and water, about to the proportion that it tastes like tears, applied to a cotton ball or cloth and held to the ear for a few minutes. Some people will fill a cup with warm salt water and just dip their earlobe in it for a while. Other folks I know swear by H2Ocean (pictured above).
As for your friends’ recommendation of nail polish remover, there is nothing in nail polish remover that “disinfects” anything. It’s a solvent, which means it’s meant to break down a specific substance, not kill germs. Plus, if you’re using a formula containing acetone, that stuff is terrible for your skin. If you’ve ever had to soak off acrylic nails you know what your cuticle skin looks like afterwards: bleached-white and dry. That doesn’t sound like what you want to do to your ear. You say it’s working, I mean that’s great. I can’t really account for that.
Just keep the word “gentle” in mind. You don’t want to do anything drastic. An antibiotic ointment applied after soaking will keep the cracking skin around the spacer soft and more comfortable, and it will help protect against further irritation. And if you want to keep the piercing, keep the jewelry in. Do make sure (since it’s just one ear this isn’t likely the cause, but regardless) that you’re not allergic to the material your spacers are made out of. I found out the hard way that bone jewelry and my ears don’t mix. I have been wearing dalmatian jasper plugs for about four years now, and they never give me any trouble.
I hope this helps, and from one stretched-ear gal to another, I hope your ear heals quickly!
Anyone have any experience with infected piercings? What measures did you take, right or wrong, to remedy the issue?
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