Ear piercings have become abundant and popular in today's culture. As long as you take proper care of a fresh piercing, you ears should have no problem healing. Sometimes, however, a situation may arise-such as having a piercing that seems to stay infected or realizing the holes are not even on both ears-in which case you may decide to no longer keep the piercing. Depending on the length of time you have had your piercing, it is usually possible to close pierced ears.
A freshly pierced ear is the easiest one to close because your skin still has not permanently taken shape to the opening. For the first few weeks after a new piercing, your ear will naturally fight to close the hole. It can take up to six weeks for an earlobe piercing to heal and stay open, while a cartilage piercing can take up to 12 weeks. If the piercing is removed during this time frame, the hole will close up naturally within a few days. It is important to maintain the instructed cleaning routine given to you at the time of your piercing, even if you decide to remove it, because you do not want your skin to get infected. For the first 12 months after a new piercing, although the skin is considered healed, the hole is still susceptible to closing in a matter of several days to a couple weeks; it will close naturally if you simply remove the jewelry and leave it out for that entire time frame.
When a piercing is several years old, you will first want to remove the jewelry. If you are someone whose skin normally heals quickly, your ear may produce enough scar tissue to close the hole naturally. However, in most cases, the hole may not close all the way or may close only on one side of your ear. If you have any problems with the piercing, are unhappy with the hole or have any visible tissue damage, consult a doctor or plastic surgeon. A procedure can be performed to permanently close the hole, and the results are typically satisfactory.
If at any time after removing your jewelry you notice swelling, discharge or irritation, you should contact your family physician. Improper care of piercings can result in bad infections and even permanent scar tissue damage. Scar tissue forms naturally to seal wounds, but in some cases it will continue to form after the wound is closed. This may leave a visibly reddish bump on your ear near the piercing site, also known as a keloid. Keloids are not usually painful, but they can be a source of mild irritation. If your ear develops a keloid, a dermatologist may be able to recommend treatment in the form of a topical cream or injection. In some cases, your dermatologist may even suggest surgery.
Consult your doctor if you are thinking about re-piercing your ears, because piercing over scar tissue can cause a permanent deformity to your lobe or cartilage.