At any music festival you are sure to see many festival goers sporting gauged or “stretched” ears, so here are a few tips on how to maintain your piercing and take good care of your ears with limited resources.
First of all, if you are thinking about stretching your piercing, may I recommend waiting until after your festival weekend before attempting this. If you are camping at a multi-day festival, chances are you do not have access to clean showers or lots of medical supplies, but you likely have access to many germs and tons of dirt. It is tempting to buy new jewelry at a festival and try it out immediately, but this can be be a dangerous move unless you take much care in cleaning and disinfecting them regularly.
If you do buy new jewelry at the show, make sure to clean them thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap and water. Use a clean paper towel to dry them fully, then a water based lubricant to put on them (if you are moving up a size). If you use any hand sanitizer, make sure it is completely dry before putting them in your ears. Also, as always when dealing with your ears, make sure your hands are clean and dry.
If your ears do get infected during the weekend, there are a few things you can bring with you that can help you out. The best way to clean ears is with soap and water. Make sure the water is not too hot because it can irritate your skin and make it worse. If you can, heat up some warm water on a stove, but make sure it is only a little warmer than room temperature. You can also dissolve about 1/4 tbs of iodine-free sea salt per one cup of water to use as a cleaner. Dip a cotton ball in this solution and squeeze your piercing with it. Leave it on for a few minutes then dab it dry with a clean paper towel. Resist the urge to use alcohol, hydrogen-peroxide, or ointments on the infection because these can also irritate your skin and inhibit your body’s ability to regenerate cells, so it may take even longer to heal and feel relief.
If you are stretching your ears to a larger gauge, (again, not recommended during a festival) make sure and use surgical steel or glass earrings because organics (bone, wood, etc.) can be porous and increase the chance for infection. Your ears could also begin to grow into the earrings if you don’t keep a sharp eye on them, which nobody wants. The rule of thumb when stretching is: slow is key. Unless you have your ears gauged by a professional piercer, the best way is to do it slowly and gradually. You should take at least a month before moving up a size, and some piercers recommend even six months in between. It depends on how quickly your body heals.
Another few tips to remember: Always make sure your ears, hands, and jewelry are VERY clean, use a water based lubricant on your ears and jewelry to ease the process and prevent tearing, and clean them twice a day while you heal. Avoid touching your ears!!! Your grubby festy hands can only get you into trouble, hands off! Once your ears have healed you should be able to clean them normally with baby wipes and soap during your festival weekend.
Hope you found this helpful, have a great show!