I’ve been wearing earrings again, as part of my resolution to Look More Like a Grown-Up. I’m remembering why I quit wearing earrings in the first place, which is that the irritate my earring-holes like nobody’s business.
They’re itchy-to-painful, with some discharge (yum!), and some bleeding–yikes! (But that might just be because I haven’t worn earrings in a while and they were a teeny bit grown-over at the surface.)
I don’t want to end up with amputed earlobes or something, so I’m trying to do some research on the problem and potential solutions.
I have heard that the root of the problem for most people with “sensitive” ears is an allergy to nickel, or rather, to the nickel salts that form due to contact between nickel, skin, bodily fluids, etc.
Is this the real deal? Or is there something else going on?
Also, some websites claim that surgical steel does not have nickel, but other sites say it does. Which is correct, and how closely is the content of “surgical” steel regulated? I’m guessing that there are strict rules about the composition of surgical tools, but there probably isn’t a lot of pressure on the FDA to crack down on the earring industry.
Am I definitely safe if I stick to all-gold or all-silver earrings, or can these be alloyed with nickel as well?
Lastly, is there any danger? If I persist in wearing earrings that irritate my earring-holes, am I going to end up with an open-wound-type situation, and do I run the risk of ending up with an infection?
Unless it says nickel-free, odds are high that it’s got some nickel in it, or can be contaminated with nickel. Also, watch out for ones that say “surgical steel post”, because the earring itself may have nickel in it, even if the post doesn’t. IME most surgical steel contains nickel of some type.
Most likely, the cheaper the earrings, the more likely they are to have nickel – not always, but usually.
Seems kinda silly to do that when I have the holes! I mean, putting an unnecessary hole in my body, much less two, isn’t a decision I would make today, probably, but I was pretty fixated on it when I was 10, and now that they’re there . . . Anyway, the holes basically consist of a tube of hard scar-tissue, now, so I suspect that anything squeezing the area would be uncomfortable. I should be alright if I can find the right kind of earrings to wear.
And, yoyo, congratulations, you have chosen an apt username.
Thanks all for the info . . . Still some conflicting opinions on the “surgical steel” question . . .
And for the record, I’m a woman, and if I weren’t, I wouldn’t give a flying fig for your opinion on earrings, eyeshadow, or anything else. Why don’t you run off to MPSIMS? This is a thread asking for factual information, not your opinions–or lame attempts at humor, whichever they are.
You heard wrong. 316L surgical steel is exactly that-steel used in surgical implants, typically fracture plates, screws, and hip nails. It’s not as widely used as other alloys in surgical implantation nowadays as other more expensive alloys, but it is perfectly suitable for piercings in most cases.
Titanium hoops. I have an alergy to normal earings, but I found a place that sells titanium hoop earings. Titanium is totally inert. I have never had a problem with them. I can even wear normal earrings for a few days (Halloween) and then put the titanium back in. If your were to wear gold during the day and titanium at night, I’m sure you would be fine.
As a child I couldn’t wear anything but gold, but I can get away with other earrings now. I buy the sensitives, though. Anybody know why the sensitive earrings tend to be smaller than “normal” ones? I LIKE small earrings, so this is not a problem, but what if I liked huge ones but couldn’t find them?
I did recently start wearing earrings again after several months of not doing so and my ears were pretty damn sore for a few days. But now they’re fine.
Do a Google Search on “hypoallergenic stainless steel”. From one site:
Surgical Stainless Steel is a silver colour, it is very strong and should always stay highly polished. However, it is not totally hypoallergenic for some people. Surgical Steel contains nickel and there are quite a few people out there who are allergic to or have a sensitivity to nickel in jewellery. Surgical stainless steel is still used by many people for fresh piercings but many people now prefer to choose high quality Titanium jewellery if available for their new body piercings. However, when a piercing has fully healed and toughen up most people are able to wear Surgical Steel jewellery without a problem.
So, the bottom line is: Your earholes may be rather sensitive since they are new, so I’d let them heal, then break them in with something other than stainless steel (and stop immediately if your ears react). Then, try earrings that are labelled as “surgical stainless steel” or “hypoallergenic”. These will still contain a small amount of nickel, but the nickel is pretty much non-reactive and not too likely to cause you trouble. However, some people (and you may be one of them) are sensitive even to surgical and hypoallergenic grades, and they should avoid stainless altogether.
Never claimed it didn’t. I just meant surgical steel isn’t just a made up marketing ploy; for most people surgical steel is hypoallergenic and the nickel isn’t a problem. For people who can’t tolerate it, titanium or gold is a good substitute, although gold isn’t good for a new piercing. It’s too soft and can get nicks that bacteria can hide in.