Choosing Earrings for Sensitive Ears

Do your ears become sore and red when you wear earrings? If so, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that about 17% of women and 3% of men have a nickel allergy. Unfortunately, the prevalence of this problem is increasing.

But just because you experience sensitive ears doesn’t mean you have to avoid wearing earrings and other jewelry. There are many options to choose from; it might just take a bit of research to make the best choice.

Let’s discuss what you need to know about choosing earrings for sensitive ears.

Related: Earring Guide: Matching Earrings With Types Of Face Shape

Do You Have Sensitive Ears?

It isn’t always easy to tell if you have sensitive ears. Many people pass off issues without thinking of them or just assume something was bothering them on that day. 

Symptoms of sensitive ears usually show up years after getting your ears pierced. The problem also tends to appear gradually over time.

If you have sensitive ears, it will manifest as redness and itching. It may even develop into soreness, swelling, and sometimes even bleeding. The problem only occurs when you are wearing earrings and goes away soon after taking your earrings out.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you probably have sensitive ears. Most of the time, this problem is caused by metal allergies.

However, it is important to note that allergies are different from infections. Infections occur when dirt or contaminants come into contact with a freshly pierced ear. A mild infection may present through swelling and redness, while a more serious one may result in a fever or even discharge from the point of infection. 

Infections can be prevented by properly caring for a freshly pierced ear and keeping the area clean. Having sensitive ears won’t make much of a difference when it comes to infections.

Want to avoid an allergic reaction? Check out our hypoallergenic jewelry options!

Understand Metal Allergies

There are a lot of different types of allergies out there. A metal allergy is specifically a type of contact allergy that causes contact dermatitis. This means you’ll only have symptoms if your body is in contact with the allergen

Contact allergies form over time and when you have extended contact with the allergen. This is why you may have worn earrings for a long time before they started to bother you.

Nickel allergies are one of the most common types of metal allergy, as over one in five people has this type. However, it isn’t the only metal allergy out there. Other common offenders include cobalt and chromium.

Unfortunately, if you develop a contact allergy, even a trace amount of the substance can cause a reaction shortly after contact. This means that if you are allergic to nickel, products that are mostly another metal but that contain nickel in them will still bother you. Because of this, it’s very important to pay attention to what is in your earrings to avoid a reaction.

Related: What Are The Best Ways To Clean My Earrings?

Common Labels

Since sensitive ears and metal allergies are relatively common, many jewelry makers have created options that are less likely to cause a reaction. This makes it easy for those dealing with this issue to find options that will work for them. 

“Hypoallergenic” and “nickel-free” are the two most common labels you’ll see. Both of these labels reference metal allergies.

Hypoallergenic means the material is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It may be made from a material that fewer people are allergic to. Nickel-free means the material is made without nickel. It may still cause allergies for those who have issues with other metals but specifically doesn’t contain nickel.  

Unfortunately, neither of these labels is regulated. There is no official definition that lays out exactly what needs to be present for a material to be considered hypoallergenic. Most companies try to hold themselves up to an internal standard, but not every company is completely trustworthy. Because of this, these terms may not be helpful if you are experiencing sensitive ears.

Part of the problem here is that you don’t really want something less likely to cause an allergy. You want something that will not cause a reaction.

While nickel is the most common cause for a reaction, there are many other metals that also cause one; because of this, even if the earrings are nickel-free, they still may contain trace amounts of other metals that will still give you a reaction.

Choosing Metals for Sensitive Ears

Luckily some metals are safe and will not cause a reaction. When these metals are in their pure state, they are considered to be biocompatible with the human body. This includes:

  • Titanium
  • Niobium
  • 24k Gold
  • 24k Platinum

It’s critical that if you choose these metals, they are in their pure state. This means they are not mixed with other metals. When this happens, a process known as alloying, they are not biocompatible, and the additional metals may cause a reaction.

Related: The Differences Between White Gold And Platinum Jewelry

Choosing Earrings for Sensitive Ears

Now that you understand what may cause a reaction and how to avoid it, it’s time to choose earrings that you can actually wear! Begin by choosing whether you want a pair that’s gold or silver colored. This can help narrow down your choice of metals.

If you want silver-colored jewelry, you can choose from pieces made of titanium, niobium, or 24k platinum. This will give you the look of silver jewelry without dealing with potential allergens. Traditional 24k gold will be an easy option if you want to go with gold-colored. 

It’s also important to purchase from a reputable seller. This gives you the peace of mind that your new pair of earrings is actually made how the label says it is. If this isn’t the case, you may end up with a metal you think will be fine but actually contains nickel or some other allergen. However, a reputable seller will not do this. 

If you’re in doubt, you can even contact the store to ask questions. Most jewelers have experience helping customers with metal allergies and know what pieces will work and what pieces won’t. We’d be happy to discuss the best options for your sensitive ears.

Find the Best Earrings for Your Ears

If you’ve developed sensitive ears, you’re probably dealing with a metal allergy. While it may seem daunting at first, knowing your best options will help you find the perfect pair of earrings. This way, you can still look your best no matter how sensitive your ears are!

Gold earrings are a great option for sensitive ears! See our selection of gold earrings here!