How To Clean Your Earrings To Keep Infections At Bay

In the long list of things that require regular cleaning, earrings may not be at the top of your list. Yet keeping earrings clean can help prevent infections from occurring.

When a piercing is new, it's important to be vigilant about keeping the piercing and the earrings clean. The American Academy of Dermatology Association advises new piercings to be cleaned daily. It's imperative to make sure you first wash your hands before you touch your piercings to avoid introducing bacteria and other germs to the newly pierced area.

However, once piercings have healed and whether you've had them for a few months or years, cleaning your earrings is still just as vital. Over time, earrings acquire a gunky gathering of sweat and oil, but also various remnants from the hair care products and even make-up you may use, as per Healthline. When this combination builds up, infections can easily follow.

Infections can easily occur when earrings are dirty

"Piercings need to be cleaned regularly, regardless of specific signs," says Paul Jarrod Frank, a New York City dermatologist (via Byrdie). "Of course, evidence of debris, crusting, dirt, and makeup all are clear signs that the area needs to be cleaned, but with regular cleaning, you shouldn't get to this point."

One of the most common ways to get an infection in a new or old piercing is when bacteria come into contact with it, as per WebMD. This most often happens when hands are unclean and touch the earrings or piercing or when piercings and earrings aren't cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

Signs of a possible infection include redness, swelling, itching, yellow or green pus, or a crusty film that surrounds the earring. You may also simply feel unwell, have a slight fever, and your ear may feel intensely hot or you may have a hard time removing your earring because it may have adhered to your skin.

Steps for cleaning your earrings

Bo‚Äčard-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling tells Well+Good that earrings need to be cleaned once a week. Sperling says this is sufficient to "avoid dirt and bacteria buildup and prevent infection, bad odor, and debris that [accumulates] on earrings."

The process is simple enough. Use either gentle soap and warm water or alcohol in a swab or paced on a cotton round to clean all areas of the earring. It's especially important that you clean the post. Make sure you remove all residue collected in the earring and the post.

According to InStyle, cleaning your earrings once a day is optimal. Tim Bovasso, a piercing manager at the popular chain Piercing Pagoda advises his clients to clean earrings before they put them in, even if they wear them every day. Bovasso believes earrings should also be cleaned after taking them out at night before they go in the jewelry box. Additionally, earrings should ideally be cleaned even if they aren't being worn. For earrings that stay in the jewelry box, Bovasso recommends cleaning them at least once a month.