Pierced ears are as common as wristwatches, and most women — and some men — will eventually have pierced ears. Some people have this done in a piercing/tattoo studio, where they usually get careful instructions on how to care for the piercings, but many have their ears pierced at the mall, and may not get such detailed instructions.
The key to caring for newly pierced ears is cleanliness. The pierced ears will become infected if they are not kept clean. The easiest way to do this is to soak a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide and swab both sides of the ears, morning and evening. If the pierced area starts looking red or begins to itch, apply an antibiotic ointment to the area three times a day. This should stave off an infection, but if the redness and/or itching persists for more than a couple of days, or gets worse, with a lot of drainage, the person should see a physician.
Most people have their ears pierced first with "starter" earrings, which are usually studs. You should make certain that the starter earrings do not contain nickel, which can cause an allergic reaction. The two main methods of ear piercing are with a needle or a piercing gun. There are pros and cons to each method, and you should investigate each before getting your ears pierced.
Most jewelry stores and mall shops use the piercing gun, which is often considered quicker and less messy. If the person using the gun is not trained properly, however, the ears can be pierced incorrectly. Most piercing studios use a special needle, which has the earring attached to the end, allowing the piercing to be done in one operation.
Whichever method is chosen, cleanliness is still the key. You should make sure that the person doing the piercing is properly trained, and that all equipment has been sterilized. It is possible to spread very serious infections through improperly sterilized equipment.
Stud starter earrings lend themselves well to being turned in the pierced ears. This is essential for the piercing to heal properly and for the person to be able to wear other earrings. The studs are simply turned several times in the ears, as one would wind a watch. The person should turn the earrings in each direction about five times, two or three times a day.
The starter earrings should be left in continuously for about three weeks. After that, the person can remove the earrings and should clean them thoroughly in hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. He or she should get a cotton swab or a toothpick to completely remove any residue from the earrings and the backs. After that, the person should clean the pierced ears with peroxide and apply antibiotic ointment to both sides of the earlobe. The earring posts should also be coated in the ointment before they are replaced in the ears.
When the earrings are replaced, they should be left in for another three weeks, following the same cleaning and turning regimen as before. Once the six weeks are up, a person can usually replace the starter studs with earrings of his or her choice. It's a good idea to wear the starter studs at night for several more weeks, however. The person should also continue to keep the newly pierced ears and earrings clean, and use antibiotic ointment at the first sign of redness, drainage, or itching. When a strict cleaning regimen is followed, most people have no trouble with their newly pierced ears.