Stretched Ear Jewellery?

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Thursday October 11th, 2007 @ 9:19 PM

Filed under: Ear, Piercing

I have a BIG problem with allergies and my stretched ear! My ear WAS stretched up to 0ga, with no complications and all with acrylic jewellery, but unfortunately it flared up and I switched to wood (dunno what type).

It got worse! So I’ve downsized now back to 4ga, and my ear is constantly flaky, dry, itchy and VERY sore. I am allergic to nickel and stainless steel won’t work with me. I can’t find ANY jewellery in titanium…Obviously, I’m now reacting to the acrylic, wood hasn’t worked, and I honestly don’t know what else to try!

I’ve heard glass is pretty hypoallergenic, I’m also in the UK, so materials aren’t that readily available either :(

Any ideas would be lovely, thankyou very much! I don’t want to loose my stretched ear!


Dear Kitty,

You essentially went from bad to worse with your stretching practices. First off the acrylic currently used in the Body Piercing/Jewelry scene is made for cold storage, in warmer temps it will release toxic vapours which can irritate. Also know that the majority of most commonly sold acrylic cannot be autoclaved(sterilized), which means it is not safe to stretch with and wear long term.

You then switched to wood which is even worse as its very porous material and can harbor a lot of harmful bacteria around the wound. This can lead to seriously irritated piercings if not full blown infections.

As per your statement you can’t find ANY Titanium jewelry and you’re in the UK, you must not be looking hard enough my dear. As the EU Nickel Directive states all piercing jewelry must be nickel free steel or it must be Titanium. One of the biggest jewelry suppliers in the world is called Wild Cat and their main headquarters is located in the UK, same with another one called Cold Steel. Both companies distribute both steel and titanium body jewelry.

As for your allergy to nickel although it is common in the UK, something about the water source if I remember correctly. But one way of finding out if you are really allergic is by wearing a pair of buttoned up jeans (Levis 501’s,etc) or wearing a watch with a stainless steel backing. If you develop a rash from those items then you might very well indeed have an allergy. If you do not react from these materials I’d be inclined to say the locations where you’re buying your jewelry from, are not purchasing proper quality jewelry.

So in closing stop using the materials you’re using and switch to Titanium. Believe it or not but it IS readily available in the UK, due to the EU Nickel Directive that is in place. You may also use Pyrex Glass as well. But what you need to really make sure of is that you are only stretching one size at a time and using sterilized pieces of jewelry as well as a water-based lubricant.

Personally I tell clients they do not need to actively stretch their lobe piercings, as the piercings will naturally stretch themselves. I just tell them to have patience and wait anywhere from 6 months to a year, even more, and you should easily be able to slide the next size up right in. This method truly saves people from having to deal with tears, blow outs,etc.

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20 Responses to “Stretched Ear Jewellery?”

  1. ps: based on your stretching experiences right now…I’d be inclined to advise you to stay off stretching your ear lobes again for at least a minimum of 6 months - year.

    Leave them at 4ga, do warm sea salt soaks as well as the occasional massage with Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Neem Oil, Vitamin E, etc.

    Warren Hiller on October 11th, 2007 at 9:46 pm
  2. I have a friend with this same problem, would niobium jewelry work as well as titanium or pyrex?

    Greenshot on October 12th, 2007 at 12:30 am
  3. just my 2&cents..but i would hardly say wood is worse than acrylic. people have been stretching their ears for thousands of years this way. yes it is pourous, but since stretching should not involve an open wound it is far superior to acrylic. the body’s natural oils break down acrylic and you can absorb the chemicals into the skin causing chemical burns…i am more concerned with that than the fact that it cannot be sterilized…the main thing with wearing wood is that is very important to know what type of wood you are wearing.there are many toxic species. i always recomend wearing glass to people who cant put their finger on what the problem is, because pyrex is of luck to you…p.s. sea salt soaks!!!!!

    Jewel's Sideshow on October 12th, 2007 at 12:48 am
  4. Warren, you’re a bit (ok, well very) out of date on the nickel directive. For a few years, all jewellery did have to be (practically) nickel free, but since 2005 this requirement has been replaced by a nickel release test.

    A short summary of the changes can be found here:

    vampy on October 12th, 2007 at 3:21 am
  5. Just like to say that glass is easily available in the UK too, so that person really isn’t looking hard at all. Every studio I know sells titanium & glass - even that crap studios. is good too. And you can still buy from international sites - BMEShop, BodyArtForms, etc.

    Kate on October 12th, 2007 at 3:41 am
  6. vampy: I wouldn’t say two years as being very out of date. Although thank you for correcting this matter. Oddly enough the EU directive is still widely stated in North America in regards to Ti and Steel.

    Jewel’s Sideshow: Most wood is very porous, compared to the select few that are not, ie: petrified wood,etc. Being in an area where I am (Northern Australia, Indonesiametc), I see quite a lot of organic jewelry being used. Because its very inexpensively sold here thanks to unfair exploitation of various people in Thailand, Bali,etc. I’m pulling out organic jewelry out of lobes quite often to place them with Titanium or Pyrex eyelets.

    Yes there is also woods that are toxic as well. But the main thing to focus on is, the average person is not going to know much about wood organics…Wood is wood to many people, except they have various different looks and names,etc.

    In the many years I’ve been working I’ve found its better not to give a person Options A-Z. Simply give them Option A or Option B because they are the easiest/simplest methods to make sure what they are doing is safe and effective.

    Also stretching should indeed not involve an open wound, however with the average person I guarantee you, open wounds occur. As the average person is not willing to be patient and wait for the pathway to become uniformed and loose, instead they’re wanting to shove the next size or two up as fast as possible…That is a problem with the Modern Western individual compared to the humble tribal beginnings of stretching a piercing. For thousands of years they new to listen to their bodies and wait it out, they weren’t interested in the quick/fast fix solution road.

    Because of this, this is why they should not use wood nor acrylic. Because like you said it can’t be sterilized as well as it can be toxic to the body.

    Option A) Use Pyrex Jewelry Option B) Use Implant Grade Titanium or Steel Jewelry. No other options but those two. Makes things easier that way.

    Warren Hiller on October 12th, 2007 at 9:11 am
  7. Greenshot: To answer your question Niobium can indeed be better. But again with Niobium it very much depends on the way its polished.

    Niobium is only bio-compatible and can be autoclaved. Where as Steel and Titanium have actually be tested for implant-ability. So by making sure you’re purchasing ASTM F-138 Steel or ASTM F-136 Titanium with mirrored polish to it ideally that’s the SAFEST material to work with.

    Everything else is bio-compatible. Doesn’t mean it’s not safe, you can wear it. But on paper Implant Grade Steel and Titanium should work best.

    Warren on October 12th, 2007 at 9:41 am
  8. I would be inclined to blame it on a wood toxicity reaction honestly.

    Although wood isn’t good for open wounds, and if you stretch too fast or have irritation that’s what you’re dealing with, it generally doesn’t make anything worse. Not knowing what type of wood it is, there’s a good chance it was made out of one of the many toxic woods that there are an unfortunate amount of people making jewelry out of. On top of that, it could have been a polish issue.

    Definitely stick with glass or titanium until they clear up (and stay away from acrylic for good), but once they’re all cleared up you should be able to safely wear wood plugs IF you make sure you get them from someone reputable who is not making them out of potentially hazardous woods.

    Alan on October 12th, 2007 at 2:10 pm
  9. Thank you very much everyone for all your advice and assistance. I am definitely allergic to something found in most metals Warren, belt buckles/buttons give me rashes and watches also tend to irrate me, so titanium and your other suggestions are my only options.
    Thanks also for the information about wood, had I known that I wouldn’t of changed to it! I have a doctors appointment in a few days time, as I really think my ear is infected, and I’m only wearing my current jewellery if really neccessary.

    I’m serious on not being able to find decent jewellery. I live in Cornwall, not a big city. There are very few piercing shops, and the few that do sell only stainless steel and acrylic jewellery mostly. I’ve tried, honestly.
    I will try to get to Plymouth very soon and see if I can find some titanium jewellery.

    Again thank you very much everyone, I really appreciate it.


    LabretKitty on October 12th, 2007 at 3:02 pm
  10. Kitty: You could also purchase online jewelry:

    are all websites that carry Pyrex as well as Titanium jewelry.

    Have you also tried asking the shops that are close to you, if they’d be willing to order you Titanium jewelry or Pyrex jewelry? As I said there ARE UK jewelry distributors/manufacturers that sell Titanium as well as Pyrex…So they shouldn’t cause a fuss if you ask them about specifically ordering something for you.

    Warren on October 13th, 2007 at 5:27 am
  11. Cornwall is big, i don´t know what city you live in, but there are lots os studios in Cornwall… try phoning up some shops in other towns or citys, im sure you´ll find at least one that has something suitable for you. To remove ur infection u can use sudocrem and some streile gauze, apply lots of the cream, and cover well with the gauze, before u go to sleep say, and remove it when u wake up, you´ll see it will have absorbed pretty much most of the infection. good luck

    Lewis on October 17th, 2007 at 6:37 am
  12. Just a quick update: I managed to get up to Plymouth a couple of days ago, and a good scour around eventually produced a 4ga titanium tunnel. I cleaned it as best as I could in boiling water, and my ear appears to be getting better, though it’s a got a long way to go before its a healthy ear again. I keep getting crusties and horrible stuff all over the tunnel so I have to keep cleaning that daily as well.

    I’m also wondering whether the irritation is coming from the o-rings, I’ll just keep altering and doing salt soaks until my ear is happy.
    Thanks for the links Warren, and I’d completely forgotten about the Wildcat company as well. Fingers crossed, eventually we’ll get there!

    Again thank you everyone for all your help and advice.


    LabretKitty on October 17th, 2007 at 5:45 pm
  13. I’d say if you are using o-rings, it could definately be that - a few months I moved up a size and reacted really badly with the o-rings that came with the jewelry (my ear swelled up and went all oozy, crusties and all). I switched to plugs that didn’t need the o-rings, did saltwater soaks every day and it cleared up after a week. I hope this helps.. good luck.

    Lizzie on October 18th, 2007 at 4:52 pm
  14. I hope you didn’t take Lewis’ advice.
    Creams just provide a warm damp environment for bacteria to live in so smothering your ears in such a heavy cream like sudocream sounds horrible
    Glad you got some suitable jewellery.

    Liz on October 19th, 2007 at 9:11 am
  15. just to say, i have the same problem, but, i seem to have found the solution in a p.e.p tunnel, cleaning it everyday and using a tiny amount of sudocrem rubbed in well after a sea salt soak, as i find the idea of glass in my ear scary[don't ask why] =]

    tilly on October 21st, 2007 at 3:35 pm
  16. i live in cornwall as well and i’ll testify that its difficult to get tunnels and plugs around here, esp. now my ears are at 35mm.

    the best places are cave in truro and demon needles in bodmin both of which can order in any jewellery you’d care to ask for up to 30mm.
    if not then try shopping online, there are lots of places that do next day delivery.

    as for materials, have you tried silicon tunnels?

    Max0 on June 3rd, 2008 at 4:35 pm
  17. Max0 it is not wise to stretch with silicon any reputable seller of that jewelry material will tell you that.

    Also when ordering online its a buyer’s beware situation as you are unsure of the quality you are getting…Unless its a confirmable piece of jewelry being bought.

    Warren Hiller on June 4th, 2008 at 1:44 am
  18. sorry if i wasnt clear there, i mean for silicon to be put in after its been stretched with a taper or something?

    yeah it is sometimes pot luck on how good things are online but i find if you tend to stick to the major sellers then 9/10 times you get good merch.

    Max0 on June 4th, 2008 at 6:07 am

    As many of the AskBME staff have said before with stretching its something you do naturally and just allow the body to become relaxed and uniformed…You DON’T NEED tapers whatsoever.

    And silicone jewelry should only be worn in a fully healed fistula not right after its be force stretched,etc.

    Warren Hiller on June 4th, 2008 at 8:19 pm
  20. oops :-D

    ok my bad there, ill keep quiet…

    Max0 on June 5th, 2008 at 7:29 am

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