What Gauge Are Ear Piercings? Your Essential Guide!

If you are planning to get a new ear piercing, you may be wondering about the gauge of the piercing. Understanding the gauge of ear piercings is essential to ensure that you get the right type of jewelry for your piercing. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the gauge of ear piercings.

What is Gauge?

Gauge refers to the size of the jewelry used in body piercings. Gauges are measured based on the thickness of the metal used for the jewelry. In general, the lower the gauge number, the thicker the jewelry. For example, a 20-gauge piercing is thinner than a 16-gauge piercing. Gauge is an important consideration when deciding on the size and style of jewelry to use in your piercing.

Ear Piercing Gauges

There are several different gauges commonly used for ear piercings. The most common are 18 gauge, 16 gauge, and 14 gauge. Here is a breakdown of each:

  • 18 Gauge: This is the thinnest ear piercing gauge and is commonly used for initial earlobe piercings.
  • 16 Gauge: This size is slightly thicker than 18 gauge and is commonly used for earlobe piercings that have already been stretched or for initial cartilage piercings.
  • 14 Gauge: This is the thickest common ear piercing size and is often used for cartilage piercings or stretched earlobes.

Other Ear Piercing Gauges

While 18, 16, and 14 gauges are the most common ear piercing sizes, there are other gauges that may be used for unique or specialized ear piercings. Here are a few examples:

Gauge Use
20 Gauge May be used for minimal ear cartilage piercings or initial earlobe piercings.
12 Gauge Thicker than 14 gauge and is commonly used for stretched earlobes or conch piercings.
10 Gauge An uncommon size that is used for very large stretched earlobes or industrial piercings.

How to Choose the Right Gauge for Your Ear Piercing

Choosing the appropriate gauge for your ear piercing depends on several factors. First, the location of the piercing is important. For example, a tragus piercing may require a thicker gauge than a helix piercing. Additionally, the thickness of your earlobes or cartilage will also affect the appropriate gauge to use. If you have thin earlobes, it may be best to start with a thinner gauge to avoid discomfort or complications.

Another factor to consider is the type of jewelry you want to use. Some types of jewelry, like hoops or clickers, require a specific gauge to fit properly. If you have already stretched your ear piercing, you may also want to consider a thicker gauge to accommodate larger jewelry size.

The Process of Changing Ear Piercing Gauges

If you want to change the gauge of your ear piercing, it is important to do so safely and correctly. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Clean your hands and the jewelry you will be using.
  2. Gently remove the existing jewelry from the piercing.
  3. Insert the new jewelry into the piercing slowly and carefully, taking care not to cause any unnecessary pain or trauma.
  4. After inserting the new jewelry, clean the piercing and jewelry with saline solution or another sterile cleaning solution.

When Not to Change Ear Piercing Gauges

It is important to note that changing your ear piercing gauge too frequently or too soon after a piercing can cause complications and may increase the risk of infection or irritation. It is best to wait until your piercing is fully healed before changing the gauge.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard ear piercing gauge for earlobes?

The most common ear piercing gauge for ear lobes is 18 gauge. However, some piercers may use a 16 gauge for initial piercings.

How long does it take for an ear piercing to heal?

The healing time for an ear piercing can vary depending on the location of the piercing and your individual healing process. Generally, earlobe piercings take 6-8 weeks to heal, while cartilage piercings may take 6-12 months to fully heal.

Can you stretch an 18 gauge piercing to a 14 gauge?

Yes, it is possible to stretch an 18 gauge piercing to a 14 gauge. However, it is important to do so safely and slowly to avoid complications. It is recommended to wait until the initial piercing is fully healed before attempting to stretch the piercing.

Can I wear the same jewelry in all ear piercings?

No, it is important to use the appropriate gauge and style of jewelry for each specific piercing. Using the wrong size or style of jewelry can cause discomfort or irritation.


Understanding the gauge of your ear piercing is essential for choosing the right jewelry and maintaining a healthy piercing. By following our essential guide, you can confidently choose the appropriate gauge for your ear piercing and change your jewelry safely and correctly.


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