Problems with Stretching Earlobe Piercings ("Gauging")

 

I received a message from a piercee who had questions about earlobe stretching:

Hi Elayne, 

I was having a little bit of trouble with gauging my ear lobes.  Generally,  I would use your website or book to figure something out, but the browser on my phone's acting up and I do not have the internet at home. Anywho, I stretched from a 6ga. to a 4 last week and since have been noticing a crust build up. I used a taper with o-rings to wear initially.  I doesn't hurt or stink and yesterday I switched the tapers out with silicone tunnel plugs.  Is this advisable, and if not, is there a way to resolve my problem without moving back to the 6? Could it just be the o-rings bothering me? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

L.

My response:

Hi L,

I do not advocate wearing such a taper for any length of time, even if it is made of implant grade material. This is from my book and it applies to tapers as well as tapered jewelry:

Tapered Jewelry: Caution

Many graduated jewelry styles come in metal, glass, acrylic, and an array of natural materials. A popular type is called a stretching crescent or stretching ring, and these are basically curved or circular insertion tapers. Variations include talons that are hooked or bent, spirals, and straight pieces that look just like insertion tapers. These can be dangerous because piercees have a tendency to cause tissue damage by stretching too quickly with them. Also, when tapered jewelry is used for stretching, the O-rings that are required to keep the ornament in place can cause irritation from excessive pressure against the skin. Tapered jewelry is safest in holes that have already been stretched. 

This is also from my book--not everyone can wear silicone, and it may be especially unsuited to it if you're experiencing crusting, which indicates unhealed/open tissue:

Silicone is another type of plastic that is soft and flexible. It is used for ornaments that add onto, or take the place of, balls or beads, and is also worn in piercings, usually as eyelets. The softer the silicone, the stickier it will be, and this can be a source of irritation if it adheres to your tissue. Clean silicone jewelry regularly and carefully and keep it as dry as possible. A tight fit can trap secretions and cause irritation and infection. Your skin cannot breathe well with snug-fitting silicone occluding the tissue. Not everyone can tolerate this material in piercings.

There's a MUCH easier, safer, and more comfortable way to stretch than what you're doing. I would strongly suggest you look into this method:

http://piercingbible.com/snapplugs

The jumps between sizes are very minimal and it will prevent the issues you're having, which can lead to other problems like scar tissue build up and lack of elasticity.