For my entire life having pierced ears has been a dream and a challenge. Every three or four years I would get my ears pierced, it wouldn’t “take” and then I would try again in another three or four years. Same spot, new effort. The issue? My ears heal. Always. Constantly. Like if I leave earrings out for an hour I can’t get them back in an hour later. My ears lobes just don’t want to have holes in them. And while normally I listen to my body I must admit that this battle over wearing earrings was one I was not going to lose. Even if I was allergic to most metals and my ears would swell up like tires if I put the wrong earrings in. I was going to wear earrings.
The last time I got my ears pierced was about seven years ago. I decided to go with a slightly larger hole than normal and got a “10 gauge” which should translate roughly to 2.4 mm or 3/32 inch. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s larger than your average piercing and treading the fine line of looking like one of “them weirdos” when visiting conservative, rural parts of Oregon (where I am native to). I got the piercing, slept with my special thicker earrings, and once fully healed started wearing regular earrings occasionally. And healed down to a regular size permanently after forgetting to sleep with earrings one night. And healed over completely after a couple of more nights.
Now at this point it might seem that vigilance is key. I simply have to always wear earrings to bed and never go more than an hour without earrings in.
I don’t make plans based on always or never.
After many years without wearing earrings at all, basically letting the desire stew in the back of my mind, I noticed that smaller silicone plugs seemed readily available for 8 gauge and up and came up with an idea! After an appropriate amount of research and contemplation and procrastination I went to Black Hole Piercing here in Portland. Happily the piercer there was willing to stab me with a large enough needle to create an 8 gauge. If I wanted a 6 gauge I would have had to get an 8 gauge piercing and “size up” which is a long process of stretching ears. For reference, the smaller the number on the gauge the larger the hole so 8 gauge is 3.2 mm and 6 gauge is 4 mm.
The initial earrings I got were glass and later I ordered silicone tunnels on Amazon. The first pair I ordered were Ultra Thin Flexible Clear Silicone Earskin Flesh Tunnel Plugs which seemed like a great idea but in implementation I could not get them in my ears. My husband could not get them in my ears. The combined intelligence and skill of our household could not get them in my ears. If I’d gone to the piercing shop they probably could have helped but I didn’t want to go to the piercing shop every time I wanted to put these babies back in.
I searched and I searched and found lots of youtube videos of teenagers easily popping silicone plugs into their ears and felt old. I did notice theirs all looked different so I set out to order some that looked more like the plugs in the videos. I couldn’t find them separately but for $12 I was happy to buy the whole kit of all the sizes of soft silicone tunnels. In this monstrous pile of things I will most likely never use was a single tiny ziplock bag with an 8 gauge soft silicone flaired tunnel. And with a gentle shove and a pop and a moment of “really?” it was in and I had the gateway to wearing real earrings!
The key is that these little tunnels have a hole in them. A hole through which I can put other earrings hooks (and probably posts though I haven’t tried that yet). Viola! All the earrings I have are suddenly wearable even the ones with cheap hooks that used to make my ears swell up because of what turned out to be a nickel allergy. So not only does this fix the ears healing up problem (leave the soft silicone plugs in basically all the time) but it also fixes the sensitivity to metals problem.