Tag Archives: Ear Stretching Risks

We all want to keep our stretchings at a certain size, but downsizing your stretched ears is often a great way to keep them healthy. You can downsize your stretchings permanently or temporarily. Downsizing allows your stretched ears to heal and recover from a variety of problems, from minor irritation to serious problems such as ear thinning. If the problem is serious you may have to stay at a smaller gauge, but in many cases you will be able to re-stretch your ears after they have recovered sufficiently.

I recommend downsizing stretched ears (at least temporarily) as a possible solution for: sudden soreness that will not go away despite a salt soak; tearing; uneven stretching; ear thinning and any injury to your earlobe. Downsizing your ears allows your ears to heal. The resulting lobe is usually more resistant to minor issues but remains easy to re-stretch. However if your problem recurs despite downsizing, you may have to downsize permanently.

How To Downsize Your Ears

The method for downsizing stretched ears is very simple: remove your jewellery and allow your ears to shrink at least 2mm. I recommend cleaning your ears thoroughly with a salt soak and massaging with jojoba oil – provided the skin is unbroken, You can then either leave your ears without jewellery or insert smaller jewellery to prevent too much shrinking. Give your ears a while to heal and keep a close eye on them. I recommend leaving your ears alone for at least a month before re-stretching. Re-stretching downsized ears is usually fairly simple – just go slowly and listen to your body at every step.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


It is always good to do your research before stretching your ears, but if you’re relying on search engines you may come across a method of dubious merit: stretching your ears with a dermal punch. As part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series I will explain exactly what a dermal punch is and whether you should use one to stretch your ears.

What Is A Dermal Punch?

Also known as a “biopsy punch”, a dermal punch is used by doctors to remove tissue for biopsy samples. You can see a typical dermal punch at the top of this post – the silver section is round and hollow with a sharp edge. It “punches” through the skin like a cookie cutter, removing a round section of tissue. Dermal punches come in a range of gauges and are disposable.

Is Dermal Punching A Good Way To Stretch Your Ears?

I do not recommend using a dermal punch to stretch your earlobes. This is because it removes a relatively large piece of your earlobe, including the blood vessels that supply the surrounding skin. Instead of stretching your earlobe, you have simply created a large hole. When you stretch your ears normally, you are gradually reshaping your lobes in a way that preserves the healthy tissue – dermal punching simply cuts it out. The surrounding tissue is less likely to remain healthy and is more susceptible to ear thinning. It is quick, painful and bloody, the opposite of gradual stretching.

People sometimes choose dermal punching as a shortcut to a certain gauge, intending to stretch normally after that. My advice is simply to be patient and stretch your ears normally. In the end you will have healthier ears, less pain, fewer problems and potentially bigger lobes.

Which Body Mods Are Dermal Punches Safe For?

Dermal punches do have a place in body modification. They can be used for large gauge cartilage piercings as well as some implant procedures. Cartilage can be very hard to stretch and more likely to scar, so a dermal punch allows you to create a large gauge piercing with less risk. It goes without saying that these are complex mods that should only be performed by an experienced professional piercer.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Downsizing is a great way to deal with a variety of common ear stretching problems, from irritation to tears. But can you stretch your ears after downsizing? And can you go back to your previous gauge? The answer is a resounding yes in both cases: most people can stretch back to their previous gauge and beyond. The exception would be if the problem was a serious one, such as extreme ear thinning – in some cases the downsizing may have to be permanent. Every case is different, so it is important to make the right decision. If you are unsure or simply need a little advice, I always recommend consulting an experienced professional piercer.

How To Stretch Your Ears After Downsizing

It is important to ensure that your ears are fully healed before you begin to stretch again. For this reason I recommend waiting 2-4 weeks after downsizing. Your ears should feel fully healed, with no pain or discomfort. You can then stretch your ears in the same way that you did initially. I’m sure that you are already knowledgeable about ear stretching, but for good measure, here is my basic method for re-stretching your ears:>/p>

  1. Clean your stretching taper and lubricate both the taper and your piercing with a skin-friendly oil e.g. olive, hemp or jojoba oil. Massage the piercing with the oil.
  2. Push the taper gradually through your piercing. Take your time and pause if needed.
  3. Once the taper is pushed fully through your ear, align the end of a flesh plug with the end of the taper. The plug should be the same gauge. Then push both the taper and plug through your ear until the flesh plug is fully in your piercing.

As with any time you stretch your ears, I recommend stretching no more than 2mm at a time and allowing 2-4 weeks before stretching again. If you find it difficult to stretch back to your original gauge, it is likely that your ear is not yet fully healed. In most cases, you will simply need to wait a little longer before re-stretching your piercing.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


During the process of stretching your ears you may notice an unfortunate side effect – the smell! Some people are lucky enough to never suffer from ear funk but it is common when you first stretch your ears. It may not be pleasant but never fear – stretched ear odour is completely normal and easy to get rid of.

So what causes the stretched ear odour? Odour is the result of sebum and dead skin cells being trapped between your skin and jewellery. Your skin produces oil called sebum that keeps it soft and healthy, as well as shedding dead skin cells. This happens all over your body, but if these products become trapped under jewellery, they can lead to odour. It does not mean that your ears are disgusting, but they do need to be kept clean – just like the rest of your body.

The best way to reduce odour from stretched ears is to practice good hygiene and wear skin-friendly jewellery. I recommend cleaning your stretched ears a couple of times a week – any more and you may irritate the skin. The easiest way to clean your stretchings is in the shower – simply remove your jewellery and clean thoroughly with warm water. You can also use unscented anti-bacterial soap if needed. After you have finished bathing, massage your ears with natural oil or moisturiser e.g. jojoba oil, cocoa butter, Vitamin E oil etc. Then reinsert your clean jewellery. It may also help to remove your jewellery regularly to allow the skin to breathe.

Many people find that ear odour reduces when they reach their desired gauge and allow their ears to heal fully. While you are still stretching your ears, they rarely get the chance to “settle” and heal fully, so the skin may produce excess build-up. Once they are left alone for a while, build-up reduces and so does odour. You should also avoid using alcohol-based substances to clean your stretching gear. This will dry the skin, causing it to produce excess oil. Unscented anti-bacterial soap is sufficient and will not interfere with your skin’s natural processes.

Best Jewellery To Reduce Stretched Ear Odour

Jewellery can also make a big difference to stretched ear odour. Most people notice increased odour when they wear acrylic jewellery, because it can accumulate bacteria. Wooden jewellery, on the other hand, tends to greatly reduce odour and most people find that their ears do not need cleaning as often. Wooden plugs and tunnels allow your skin to breathe and also irritate the skin less, so it produces less build-up. Silicone jewellery may also reduce the odour – it is non-porous and non-reactive, so it does not accumulate bacteria or irritate the skin.

Personally I wear either wood or silicone tunnels and clean/massage my ears once a week. This works for me and I do not get any odour at all from my stretched ears. Everyone is different, but with regular cleaning, massaging and appropriate jewellery you should be able to reduce stretched ear odour once and for all!


Stretching your ears is a safe but dramatic way to modify your appearance. As with any body modification it is important to do it safely, using a method that gives you the best possible chance of a good, healthy result. Today I will explain the basic method of how to stretch your ears. This method is what has worked for me personally, combined with the advice of experienced piercers.
As with any modification, it is important to listen to your own body – if something does not feel right, stop immediately. Also, if you are unsure about how to stretch your ears or have more questions, I suggest consulting a professional piercer to make sure you are completely confident. Most piercers will be happy to help.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I have assumed that you already have your ears pierced. This method is intended for ear stretching only and should not be used for other piercings – if you want to stretch any other body piercing, please consult a professional piercer. So let’s get started!

Step 1: Determine Your Current Gauge

Before you can stretch your ears, you will need to determine the current gauge of your ear piercings. If you had your ears pierced with a gun, they were probably pierced at 1mm, whereas if you went to a piercing studio they are more likely to have been pierced at 1.6mm. For this post, I will be sticking to measurements in millimetres, which is standard in the UK and Europe. In the USA, they use a wire gauge system. You can view the gauge equivalents of any millimetre size using our BJS Gauge/Thickness Chart.
It is important that your piercing is fully healed before you begin to stretch your ears – usually 4 to 6 months. Your piercing may feel ready much earlier than that, but even ear piercings take a long time to heal and you risk permanent damage if you begin stretching before your piercing is fully healed.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Now that you know what size your piercing is; you can gather the materials that you will need. None of these items is expensive, but it is important to use the right tools. To stretch your ears you will need:

Stretching Tapers

Surgical steel stretching tapers are the easiest and safest tools for ear stretching. They allow you to ease up to the next size and are easy to keep clean. You can also use acrylic tapers, but they are harder to keep clean. You should stretch just a couple of millimetres at a time, so buy a stretching taper 2 or 3 millimetres bigger than your current gauge.


Using a lubricant will make the stretching process easier and more comfortable. It also reduces the risk of tears and blowouts. I recommend using a natural oil for lubrication. Some people use petroleum jelly but it is more likely to harbour bacteria, so I would stick to oil. Jojoba oil, hemp oil, Vitamin E oil or plain old olive oil are all good options.


You will need some jewellery to wear once you have passed the stretching taper through your ear. Your jewellery should be the same gauge as your stretching taper. I recommend an unflared flesh plug. A steel flesh tube is ideal. Because you are using unflared jewellery, you will need 2 O-rings to keep it in place – here at BJS we include free O-rings with all our unflared jewellery.

Make sure that your tapers and jewellery are clean and dry before you start stretching your ears. Obviously you should also wash your hands and have everything laid out before you start.

Check back next Wednesday for Part 2, where we’ll talk about how to start stretching your ears!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.

Stretching your ears can be done safely if you know how, but as with any body modification, there are risks involved. Some ear stretching risks are reversible but they can lead to scarring and permanent damage to your earlobes. Thankfully, most of these risks can be avoided through careful stretching and doing you research before you start stretching your ears. In this post I will explain three of the most common ear stretching risks, how to avoid them and what to do if they happen to you. As with any piercing problem, consult a professional piercer if you are at all unsure or experience other problems while stretching your ears.

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

A blow-out occurs when you stretch a piercing too quickly. This puts too much pressure on the fistula (the hole formed by the piercing) and force part of the fistula out the back of the piercing. This creates a lip or flap of skin at the back of the piercing. The image on the right shows a mild blow-out, but they can be much larger. Ear stretching blow-outs look terrible and larger ones can be uncomfortable or even painful. The best way to avoid a blow-out is to listen to your body, massage with jojoba oil before stretching and allow at least two weeks healing time in between stretching. If you get a blow-out, downsize your jewellery immediately – this can prevent the ear healing in its blown-out shape. I also recommend massaging the earlobe with jojoba oil daily to soften the tissue. Do not stretch further until it is completely healed. Some people find that their blow-outs reabsorb, but in some cases they will never fully disappear.

Uneven Stretching & Thinning

Uneven Stretching

Uneven Stretching

Uneven stretching means that the outside of your stretching becomes thinner in one area. It is caused by stretching too quickly or by stretching with weights. As well as looking odd, extreme thinning can lead to a split earlobe. A split earlobe can only be repaired through surgery, but if you catch the thinning early enough it is reversible.

If you notice any unevenness or thinning, downsize by at least 2mm and massage daily with jojoba or Vitamin E oil. It is important to use lightweight jewellery, so that no weight is put on the thin areas. Allow the stretching to shrink and heal for at least 2 weeks before restretching gradually with lightweight jewellery. This process should thicken the tissue and help to even it out.

Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Stretching too quickly or without lubrication can lead to tears around the circumference of the piercing, as shown here. Tears are painful and can lead to thick scar tissue that makes it harder to stretch further. They can be avoided by stretching slowly with a lubricant such as jojoba oil. It is also important to use high quality steel tapers and stop stretching if you feel a sharp pain.

If your earlobe tears while stretching, immediately downsize to significantly smaller, lightweight jewellery. This removes pressure on the wound and prevents a subsequent blow-out. Allow it to heal completely before stretching again.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.