How to Gauge Pierced Ears

Stretching an ear piercing hole, a process commonly called ear gauging, allows you to accommodate pieces of jewelry with large diameters (i.e. smaller gauges). The practice of gauging ears is very old and has been performed by many tribes in Africa and South America throughout antiquity. If you already have pierced ears, you can gauge them over time to achieve the size you desire.

First, you should examine an ear gauging chart to see what sizes are possible. Gauge number is inversely proportional to hole diameter. A high gauge actually means a small hole, while a low gauge means a large hole. A standard ear piercing is 20 gauge, or about 1 mm in diameter. 00 gauge is about 1 cm in diameter. You can find examples of more extreme ear gauging where the hole is wide enough to fit a cell phone.

Be aware that you have to start small (large gauge) and work you way toward larger hole sizes (small gauge) very gradually. You will need to buy either a gauge taper, or stainless steel earrings in all gauge sizes up to the maximum size you wish to achieve. Attempting to jump gauge will cause bleeding, tearing, infection, and drag out healing times.

Begin the process by cleaning the piercing hole with warm soapy water, and be sure to rinse thoroughly. If you do this in the shower, the steam will help enlarge the earlobe hole to make stretching easier. Sterilize your smaller gauge (ie larger diameter) earring, and gently insert it. If you are using the gauge taper, insert it as far as the next gauge level.

Leave the earrings in your ear for at least a month at a time except for cleanings.

You must clean the stretched hole daily with warm soapy water or diluted Bactine. Twist the earring around the hole to loosen any crust that has formed. If necessary, remove the earring to clean it better, but do not keep the earring out for long periods of time.

When a month has passed and your hole has healed, repeat the steps above. If you experience any bleeding or pain, it means you need to wait more time before going to the next gauge.

If at any point you are not comfortable doing it yourself, or you are not sure how to use the gauge taper, talk to a professional piercer. Many people are resilient enough to gauge their ears at home, but some people require professional assistance.

Make sure that you sterilize everything that you put into your earlobe and only use stainless steel or titanium jewelry. Never use oils, creams, gels, or rubbing alcohol to clean or disinfect the piercing. Only use water, mild soap, and diluted Bactine.

© Had2Know 2010