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Stretching tips and info

How to Stretch Your Ears
Problems Associated with Ear Stretching
Size Conversion Table

With the correct attention to safety and an education of care and technique, ear stretching can create amazing results that produce beautiful, healthy and strong expanded ear lobes to adorn with a huge range of different styled jewellery.

The number one thing to keep in mind with this process is patience, taking things slowly is an absolute key factor to successful ear stretching; ear lobes will readily accept stretching when it is done at a gentle pace that’s in tune with your body’s need for care and repair.

In order to start the stretching process a standard ear piercing of normally 0.8mm to 1.00mm is required, this piercing must be fully healed for at least two months and show no signs of irritation, redness or other distress.

The most common and possibly safest way to stretch an ear piercing is the tapering technique. Tapering utilizes an implement that is graduated in size to gently stretch the ear by slowly inserting it into the piercing. These tools are also referred to as stretchers, tapers or expanders and are available in a range of sizes, shapes and materials. Users may choose their tapers based on preference, but 316L stainless steel is generally preferred as the surface of the steel is non porous and less likely to harbour bacteria. Ear stretching tapers are available as single sized pieces or in a kit form, most kits usually contain three to five tapers with a gradual difference of size between then.

It is very important not to skip gauges/sizes, so choose a taper that is the next size up from the current jewellery being worn, if you are starting to stretch from a standard piercing, a 1.6mm to 2.00mm stretching taper can be used. Ear stretching tools are not meant to be worn as everyday jewellery, so preferably have a single flared plug, tunnel or parallel sided piece of jewellery at the ready to insert into the ear after stretching. Make sure this new piece jewellery is the same size as the thickest end of the taper and definitely no bigger as this could tear the ear on insertion. It is advisable to use 316L stainless steel jewellery in freshly stretched piercings for the same reasons of hygiene as stated earlier.

Before it’s time to insert the taper, make sure your ear, hands, taper and jewellery are cleaned with an anti bacterial soap. Generally, ear lobe tissue is more pliable after a hot bath or shower, making this an ideal time to begin the stretching process, also a hot flannel held against the ear lobe for a short period of time will assist the ear stretching. This should be followed by a few minutes massaging the ear lobe to increase blood circulation and give a higher level of elasticity to the ear tissue.

Start by adding a small amount of lubricant such as non perfumed Satin Soap, Provon, or other mild liquid skin sensitive soap, to both the tip of the taper and the piercing, remember only a small amount of lubricant is needed and excessive usage will make the taper and jewellery to slippery to hold. The use of a lubricant will reduce friction and generally ease the stretching process.

To begin stretching insert the small end of the taper into the ear piercing and gently push it into the hole until a little resistance is felt. Take a breath and then as you exhale slowly push the taper deeper into the piercing, you can continue to push but if you experience anything more than a hot stinging sensation you must stop. The stretching process should not be painful and there should definitely be no bleeding. If you are able to push the taper up to its thickest point whilst only experiencing the hot sting then the new size of jewellery is ready to be fitted. Apply a small amount of lubrication to the front tip of the jewellery and firmly butt it up behind the thickest end of the taper, support the earlobe and push the remaining portion of the taper out through the piercing, replacing it with the new jewellery as it follows behind. An O-ring or threaded rim can then be fitted to secure the jewellery in place at this point.

Alternatively if you cannot comfortably push the taper all the way through the piercing it can be left in the ear and secured in place with an O-ring at either side. Give the ear lobe time to rest, a few hours may be enough for some people but for others it can take a couple of days. When the ear lobe is rested the taper can be then again pushed deeper into the piercing, remember this should be done without being painful, so if it hurts stop and wait while longer. The taper should be given a full rotational turn ever few hours to prevent it sticking to any dried or drying lymph that is secreted form the newly stretched ear.

Repeat the stretching process until the taper can be pushed completely through the piercing and then use the butting up technique as described above to fit the new jewellery.

After stretching, the piercing is likely to be slightly inflamed and may sting for a while but there should be no bleeding and the ear should not be stretched again until the piercing has completely healed. This process takes time and although every person is different, it is generally accepted that stretching by use of a tapering should only occur every six to eight weeks.

It is very important to keep the newly stretched ear clean as dead skin cells and dust build up in the lobe that cause unpleasant smelling discharge and infection. The best way to avoid this is to clean and soak the ear piercing in a mild sea salt solution made up from one quarter teaspoon of sea salt added to eight fluid ounces (250ml) of warm and ideally distilled water. The ear can then be bathed in the solution for five to ten minutes at a time and this should be done two to three times a day. Bathing the ear in this way will not only clean and soothe the piercing but will also draw out impurities and assist the healing process.

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