Ear Piercing and Pools: Determining How Long to Wait to Swim After Ear Piercing

Person applying waterproof bandage over fresh ear piercing

If you’ve recently had an ear piercing, you might be wondering how long to wait to swim after ear piercing to ensure proper healing and avoid infection. The general recommendation is to wait at least 24 to 48 hours before taking a dip. However, for optimal healing and to significantly reduce the risk of infection, waiting until after 6 to 8 weeks, when the piercing has likely healed externally, is advised. This article will explore the risks associated with swimming too soon, factors that influence healing times, and how to protect your ear piercing if swimming is unavoidable. Additionally, if you’re curious about how long you should wait to swim after a tattoo, click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Wait at least 24 hours after ear piercing before swimming, with a recommendation of 6-8 weeks for complete healing to prevent infections and ensure proper healing.
  • Take into account individual healing times, which can vary based on overall health, piercing location, and jewelry type; maintain proper aftercare and gradual resumption of activities like exercise, avoiding those that may impact the piercing.
  • Use waterproof bandages or ear covers for piercings when swimming and clean piercings immediately after with saline solution; be cautious of signs of infection and seek professional medical advice if symptoms persist or worsen.

Determining the Ideal Waiting Period for Swimming After Ear Piercing

Getting your ears pierced is exciting, but it also requires a certain level of care, especially when it comes to swimming. Generally, you should abstain from swimming for at least 24 hours after getting a piercing to stave off infection. To bolster infection prevention, waiting for at least a week before swimming is recommended.

The first few weeks after getting a new ear piercing are particularly critical. During this period, you need to be vigilant about care sprays and infection monitoring, especially for earlobe piercings. For complete healing, it’s often suggested to wait for 6-8 weeks before swimming.

Since piercings heal externally before internally, they can appear fully healed when they’re not. Exposure to potential bacterial infection from swimming can impede this healing process. Therefore, assessing risks and adopting preventative measures is paramount for preserving your piercing’s health during swimming.

Factors Affecting Healing Time

The time it takes for ear piercings to heal can significantly fluctuate depending on various factors. For example, your overall health significantly influences the healing process with sufficient sleep and minimized stress levels fostering more efficient healing.

Another factor to consider is the location of the piercing. Earlobe piercings usually heal within 4-6 months, while upper and inner ear piercings may take between 6-12+ months. It’s important to remember that tissue heals from the outside in, which makes it crucial to maintain aftercare throughout the entire initial healing period.

Moreover, choices such as jewelry type can impact the healing time. While fashion jewelry and hoops can be tempting, downsizing jewelry is part of the healing process, and caution should be taken not to switch too soon.

That being said, engaging in regular exercise, aside from contact sports that may impact the piercing, is typically safe during the healing process.

Types of Water Bodies and Risks

Although swimming may appear innocuous, it poses multiple risks to your new ear piercing. The type of water body you choose to swim in plays a significant role in these risks. For instance, chlorinated pools are not as safe as they seem. The chlorine does not immediately kill germs and bacteria, which means a new piercing can still become infected from exposure to pool water.

Natural water bodies, including hot tubs, are not any safer. Swimming in stagnant water, such as in lakes or dams, as well as streams, lakes, and the ocean, poses a high risk for contracting bacterial infections, which can infect a new ear piercing.

Even saltwater pools, which are gentler due to a milder form of chlorination, are not completely risk-free and demand caution to guard against infections in a new piercing. To prevent infections and promote healing, it is crucial to avoid swimming in any water bodies during the initial healing phase of an ear piercing.

Protecting Your Fresh Piercing While Swimming

Person wearing silicone earplugs while swimming

So, what can you do if you absolutely cannot stay away from swimming after getting your ears pierced? Fear not, there are ways to protect your fresh piercing. Covering the piercing with a waterproof bandage or sealant can be an effective method while swimming. This can help protect the piercing from moisture and potential irritation. Specifically designed piercing protection patches or clear, breathable bandages designed for wound care can be used to cover the new piercing. Alternatively, silicone earplugs or waterproof full ear covers such as Ear Band-Its or Mack’s Ear Seals can be used to limit the ear piercing’s exposure to water.

However, it’s crucial to limit the time spent in water to avoid submerging new piercings for too long, thus reducing the risk of infection. Ideally, you should avoid submerging your head in water bodies like pools, baths, and oceans during the initial healing phase of an ear piercing.

Post-Swim Care for Ear Piercings

Bottle of sterile saline solution for cleaning ear piercings

If you’ve taken a dip with your new piercing, appropriate aftercare is vital. This begins with cleaning the piercing immediately after leaving the water to prevent infections. After swimming, cleanse the piercing with a saline solution to remove potential bacteria and thoroughly dry the area.

Aside from cleaning after swimming, you need to maintain a consistent aftercare routine. This includes:

  • Cleaning the piercing with a sterile saline solution 2 to 3 times a day, regardless of swimming activities, until the piercing is fully healed.
  • Avoiding unnecessary touching of the piercing with unclean hands after swimming.
  • Refraining from applying creams, lotions, or ointments unless they are specifically recommended by a professional.

Additionally, be cautious about over-cleaning the piercing. Clean the piercing no more than necessary using a sterile saline solution to avoid over-cleaning, which can irritate the skin and delay healing. Make sure to watch out for signs of infection, like:

  • persistent redness
  • swelling
  • pain
  • warmth around the area
  • yellow or green discharge
  • fever

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Swimming with Other Body Piercings: Precautions and Recommendations

Although this article largely concentrates on ear piercings, similar precautions are applicable to other body piercings too, such as belly button piercing. For instance:

  • Belly button piercings take up to 6 months to 1 year to heal.
  • Nose piercings take up to 3 months to heal.
  • It’s suggested to refrain from swimming for at least the first month after getting a piercing, specifically for nipple piercings.

When swimming after a fresh piercing, certain precautions should be taken. Here are some recommendations:

  • For nipple piercings, clean the piercing immediately afterwards and use sterile cotton buds or antibacterial soap.
  • For belly button piercings, also clean the piercing immediately afterwards and use sterile cotton buds or antibacterial soap.
  • For nose piercings, apply waterproof covers or small silicone bands. Using nose clips is not enough protection during swimming.

In case of doubts or concerns about new piercings and swimming, individual healing should be evaluated and a piercing specialist should be consulted since new body piercings can be sensitive and the recovery time differs.

Common Swimming-Related Piercing Complications and How to Address Them

Swimming with a new piercing can lead to a few complications, with infections being the most common due to bacteria in the water. Signs of an infected piercing include:

  • swelling
  • pain
  • heat
  • excessive redness or darkening of the skin
  • discharge that may be white, yellow, or green with a foul smell.

In the presence of infection signs, the jewelry should be left in place unless removal is advised by a doctor. You should also seek professional medical help if swelling, redness, and pain around the piercing do not subside after a few days, as these may be indications of an infection.

For a piercing irritated after swimming, you can apply a cold compress to alleviate swelling and maintain the regular aftercare regimen.

Expert Advice: When to Consult a Professional

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, complications can occur. If the pierced area remains swollen, red, and tender for an extended period, it’s a sign that you should contact a doctor for treatment to prevent serious complications.

Immediate medical assistance should also be sought if symptoms such as feeling hot or cold, or generally unwell are experienced alongside the signs of an infected piercing. For infected piercings, medical treatment which may include antibiotics in the form of cream, ointment, or tablets can be necessary.

Indeed, all concerns about a new piercing should be brought up with a doctor or medical professional. Seeking advice early is always more beneficial.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Piercings in Aquatic Environments

Person applying waterproof bandage over fresh ear piercing

Sustaining a piercing’s health in aquatic environments necessitates continuous care. This includes continuing regular aftercare for the piercing by using clean hands to disinfect and being careful not to overclean, especially after swimming.

To protect your piercing while swimming, use a wound-sealing waterproof bandage over the piercing, ensuring it is fully covered and secure. After swimming, rinse the pierced area under running water to remove germs and minimize the risk of infection.

Showering before and after swimming with liquid soap or shower gel, followed by thorough drying is also recommended. Additionally, avoid using harsh products like:

  • alcohol
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • antibacterial soaps
  • iodine
  • homemade salt solutions

on piercings as they can damage cells and negatively impact healing.

If avoiding water exposure is not possible, consider using a swimming cap designed to protect the ears or a neoprene ear band to keep ear piercings safe during swimming.

Alternative Activities During the Healing Process

While swimming might be off the table for a while, there are other activities you can engage in during the healing process. Acknowledging the need for activity during the piercing healing process is important, as engaging in appropriate exercise can maintain overall well-being without impacting the ear’s healing.

It’s advisable to engage in activities like yoga and gentle gym sessions. These non-aquatic activities can be enjoyed while the ear piercing heals, allowing you to maintain an active lifestyle without compromising your new piercing’s health.


In conclusion, managing your ear piercings while swimming is all about striking a balance between care and caution. From understanding the healing process to taking protective measures while swimming, every step is crucial. Remember, when in doubt, always consult a professional. After all, the joy of flaunting your new piercing should never be shadowed by the fear of infection. So, swim smart, stay safe, and let your ear piercing be a source of joy and not worry.

Check out our site, Ponce Inlet Watersports if you’re looking for some family fun activities in Daytona Beach such as Dolphin Tours or Charter Fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I go swimming after ear piercing?

Wait at least two weeks before going swimming after getting your ear pierced.

How do I protect my newly pierced ears when swimming?

To protect your newly pierced ears when swimming, tie your hair up, wear a swimming cap, and consider using a waterproof neoprene ear band. This will help prevent any infection or irritation in your ear piercings caused by exposure to water.

How long after piercing can you shower?

You can shower immediately after getting a piercing, but be sure to avoid getting any soap in the piercing and use a saline wound wash recommended by your piercer.

What should you avoid after ear piercing?

Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, soaps with strong scents or antibacterial components, and refrain from rotating the earring daily. Also, avoid exposing the piercing to pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, and refrain from touching or twisting the jewelry.

What factors affect the healing time of an ear piercing?

Factors such as overall health, adequate sleep, and low stress levels can contribute to a more efficient healing process for ear piercings. Additionally, the location of the piercing also plays a significant role.


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