Getting an ear piercing is kind of like getting a tattoo, especially if it’s your first one. You’re going to get poked with a needle, it’s going to hurt a little bit (or maybe a lot) and you’re going to be very sensitive for a few days afterwards. And in both cases, it would be a terrible idea to immediately expose your wounds to saltwater or chlorinated water.
Most people are attracted to piercings and tattoos because they see the end result. It’s great to have your eyes on the prize, but this can sometimes cause people to forget that there is a lot of work required to take care of them immediately afterwards; you must take precautions to prevent unnecessary pain, infection, or something worse.
A common problem swimmers have is that they are unsure if it’s safe to go in the water after piercing their ears. It is imperative that you keep chlorinated or contaminated water from coming into contact with your fresh ear piercing. This can be done by not going to the lake, pool, or beach, which is the no fun allowed answer, but you can also avoid it by wearing some kind of ear piercing cover while swimming.
You can cover up your ear piercing while swimming by wearing a swimming cap, using a waterproof bandage, or wearing a neoprene ear band. That said, ear covers are not 100% reliable, so you use them at your own risk. Even with these items, you should still take care to clean and disinfect your ear piercing after swimming to reduce chances of infection. Typically, ear piercings take six to eight weeks to fully heal, so you may need to rely on ear covers until you’ve recovered.
If you want to learn about how you can continue swimming even with newly pierced ears, how chlorine affects your ear piercing, and how to properly put on the ear cover so that water does not reach your open wound, then keep reading on.
Can you swim immediately after getting ears pierced?
No, it’s not a good idea to go swimming immediately after getting a piercing, but you still can. You should wait at least 24 hours before you go swimming with an ear cover, but optimally you should wait one to two weeks or until your ear is fully healed.
Exposing your freshly pierced ears to the beach, lake, or pool water will expose it to germs and other harmful bacteria present in these bodies of water. In addition to being painful, there is a high risk of infection unless you follow the tips provided in this article regarding disinfecting and wearing an ear cover.
How long does it take the ear piercing(s) to fully heal?
It can take as long as six to eight weeks for your ear piercing to fully heal. Needless to say, that is a very long time, and for that reason I recommend getting your ears pierced any other time of the year except summer, when beach and pool season is in full swing.
With the assistance of ear covers and properly caring for your wound, you can still go swimming before your ears have fully healed, though it is not recommended.
Your ear piercing will heal from the outside first, then inside. The goal is to allow at least the outside wound to close up so that bacteria and other germs can’t get in so easily.
Furthermore, your healing speed can be faster or slower than the given time frame depending on how well you take care of it. For example, if you do end up getting an ear infection or worse, then it’s going to take even longer.
How to care for your ear piercing
To clean your piercing, rinse the area with fresh water and then apply a small amount of soap to the piercings. Leave it there for 30 seconds and then it off. Gently pat your ears dry with a towel.
Make sure to clean your ears with your piercings in your ear. Do not remove them until your ears have fully healed, otherwise the wound will close up. Avoid using harsh soaps or antibacterial products; hand soap will suffice.
Is it safe to swim in chlorinated water?
There is a misconception that it is safe to swim in chlorinated water because chlorine is a disinfectant, and used to kill bacteria in pools. That is the reason why public swimming pools are safe to swim in, after all, so why not for people who just got an ear piercing?
The reason is that chlorine does not kill bacteria immediately. It may take a minute or two, and that is also assuming that there is enough chlorine, and that the water is at a specific pH. Additionally, some viruses and parasites can survive in chlorinated water for longer. Thus, while pool water is generally sanitary, there are still risks involved if you choose to swim in it.
Another consideration is that chlorine is a harsh chemical. Even without an open wound, it can irritate your skin. Imagine how much it would sting if you had an open wound. You definitely should not assume swimming pools are safe because they are chlorinated; you should still wear an ear cover just to be safe.
Best ways to cover up your ear piercing
Use a waterproof bandage
- Max Hold design stays on until you take it off for up to 48 hours
- Comfortable, low-profile film fits close to the skin
- Helps waterproof, dirtproof, and germproof your wounds
Waterproof bandages are readily available at all drug stores and maybe even at convenience stores. They are the most popular option for covering up ear lobe and cartilage piercings.
Before you apply the bandage, first clean your ear piercing as described above. We want the wound to be sterilized before placing the waterproof bandage.
Make sure you get an airtight fit over your piercing. You can safely test this by running your ear with waterproof bandage under fresh water. If you can feel the water seep through the bandage, that means it is not waterproof. Keep reapplying until you the bandage passes the water splashing test.
Even if your bandage was waterproof at first, you must constantly monitor that it is continuing to keep water out. A sudden jerk of the head, or a forceful splash of water can dislodge the bandage. Furthermore, these bandages are only intended to last for about an hour at a time.
If you notice that the bandage is soaked inside or is peeling off, then repeat the process of cleaning the ear piercing, drying it, and reapplying a new bandage.
Wear a swimming cap
- Protect your hair from chlorine with this durable swim cap made from pliable silicone and designed to fit comfortably without any snagging or pulling.
- Superior, soft texture, Cap helps protect hair against chlorine
- Excellent stretch, pliability, and durability
There are already a multitude of good reasons to wear a swim cap, and the fact that it can also protect your ear piercing is another item on the list.
If you feel that a waterproof bandage is not enough protection, you can double up by wearing a swimming cap over it. Alternatively, you can just wear a swim cap without the waterproof bandage, but having extra layers of protection is very effective.
However, they can drastically limit how much water reaches your ears and hair, so if you are wearing a waterproof bandage as well, then you can pretty convincingly keep water from reaching your ear piercing.
Just like with the waterproof bandage, after putting on your swim cap, you occasionally check that water hasn’t made its way into your ear piercings. Is it on the verge of falling off your head, or is it still firmly in place and covering your ears?
To ensure a tight fit, it’s better to get a swim cap that is a bit on the smaller side. You should also consider how long your hair is, because it may require a longer swim cap to cover your hair and still reach all the way down to your ears.
Wear a neoprene headband
- NEW & IMPROVED DESIGN with special features. From the makers of the ORIGINAL swimming headband, the Ear Band-It. Ear Band-It ULTRA is the most...
- EXTRA GRIP! Made with a custom inner lining that provides extra grip to avoid slipping off the head. ULTRA Grip, ULTRA Strength, ULTRA Comfort…...
- IMPORTANT! MEASURE HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE PRIOR TO ORDERING! Sizing issues and the hassle of returning items can be avoided simply by measuring head...
The last option is to wear a neoprene headband. This is for those who want an alternative to the swim cap, but it can also be worn under a swim cap for an extra layer of protection.
Neoprene headbands, like swim caps, are not totally waterproof. They are still useful at drastically limiting how much water can reach your ears, and, when combined with a swim cap or waterproof bandage, can be very effective at keeping water out.
You can purchase one online or at a sporting goods store. It is imperative that you get the right size, but it is made easier by the fact that you can fasten an adjuster so it is secure and comfortable.
Once again, you should first clean and then dry the ear piercing before wearing the headband. After you’re done swimming, clean and dry the wound again just to be on the safe side.
If you got an ear piercing recently and want to go swimming, it is imperative that you cover it up otherwise you can easily get an infection. An ear piercing is like an open wound until it heals, which can take up to six to eight weeks.
While it is possible to go swimming before you heal with the help of ear covers, you should ideally still wait as long as possible so that at least the outside wound can heal. Then it will be harder for the bacteria to reach the wound on the inside.
The three ear covers that we recommend in this article: waterproof bandages, swimming caps, and neoprene headbands can be used together. I do not feel confident in any one of these keeping your ear piercings dry alone, but combine two of them and you can get some great results.
Before putting on the ear cover, first wash the area with fresh water and hand soap, then fully dry it with a towel. This will help reduce the chances of an infection. Make sure to repeat this step after you’re done swimming.
You will know if you’ve gotten an infection if the ear piercing has become red, swollen, and painful. If you notice pus or a foul smell, seek medical attention immediately.
Last update on 2023-11-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API