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Can I Wear a Mask with Ear Piercings?

Daith and Conch piercings by John Johnson at New Flower Studio.

During the nearly eight months of being closed we received countless emails from people having piercing issues, almost all of the nose and mouth, and almost all seemingly a result of masks. The combination of the long hours we wear masks throughout each day and the number of times we may be removing and replacing them during the day creates a lot of opportunity for straps to snag the beads and discs that rest on the backside of many earlobe, conch, helix, and flat piercings. Don’t forget Industrial piercings that offer two ends, both exposed to mask straps.

This ear has two Forward Helix piercings and an Earlobe piercing. If worn regularly, or taken on and off frequently, these piercings can become irritated as a result of the constant external force a mask exerts on the piercings.

Depending on the piercing, the jewelry, and the fit of the mask someone wears, it’s possible to experience a constant amount of pressure pushing the jewelry in an awkward direction. Prolonged pressure on a piercing by external forces like sleeping on it, headphones, clothes, masks, as well as regular snagging by hair, combs, masks, and clothing will often cause problems like scarring and migration. Migration is when a piercing rests long term in an unintentional position as it’s increasingly held in the body by an always decreasing amount of tissue. Sometimes a migrating piercing is completely unable to support the weight of the jewelry and it completely falls out.

This picture features a ring in a Conch piercing being pushed down and inward by the strap of her mask. Notice how the mask also sits across the front of three earlobe piercings too.

In the above picture there is a clear cause and effect of the ring being pushed on by the mask. You can clearly see the tissue at the site of the piercing being pushed forward. The possible solutions may be a small stud that might reduce the amount of contact between the jewelry and strap, a different mask that better accommodates the jewelry, or a mask accessory (ear saver) that helps relieve the pressure masks exert on the back of the ear.

We now have these Ear-Savers in stock at New Flower Studio in Long Beach. The current available colors are black and white.

The body piercing industry is in an unusual situation with the amount of ear piercings we do and those same clients needing to wear masks for hours at a time everyday. We’re happy to now be offering Ear Savers for sale in the studio. If you’re wearing some of the exotic ear piercings like Conch, Flat, or Helix piercings these might help preserve them for however long we all keep wearing masks.

This is an example of how an ear saver pulls mask straps away from the back of the ear.

At the time of this article, we’re working with very strict safety protocols. Please be aware of how we’re operating during the pandemic and understand we’re not allowing the removal of masks in our studio for any reason.

John Johnson
John Johnson is a professional body piercer at New Flower Studio and a resident of Long Beach, CA. He's also a Red Cross instructor and authorized OSHA trainer. He manages the online curriculum for the Association of Professional Piercers and is a member of AFDO.