How Long After Ear Piercing Before You Can Swim? Why & What Not To Do !

Maybe you’re on Spring Break (or some other vacation/holiday) and it’s prime time to be in the water. Or, maybe, it’s the off-season and you still have to train. Either way, you decided to get a new ear piercing (or a few).

Now you’re wondering, how long after getting my ears pierced before I can swim? According to the National Health Service (NHS) based in England, one should ideally wait until the piercing site is fully healed which is expected from 6 to 8 weeks. However, they further state a minimum of 24 hours in the event that one cannot wait for full healing. Allowing the piercing site time to properly and fully heal, or at a minimum keeping the site dry, is important to reduce the risk of infection.  

This will hold true regardless of the body of water- pool, hot tub, lake, ocean, any body of water- as there is a risk of bacteria and germs in any type of water that you would swim in. (Source)

Can You Get Ears Wet After Piercing? 

Now that you know you should wait until your piercing site(s) has(have) healed before swimming you may be wondering if, in general, you can get your ears wet immediately after getting them pierced? The answer here is Yes and No. 

Getting your ears/piercing site(s) wet while showering is ok and, in fact, can help to cleanse them. So, the answer in this instance is Yes- you can get them wet when showering/bathing. 

Now when it comes to pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs, or any other body of water, it is not doctor recommended due to the risk of infection(s). So, in this instance, No- you do not want to get them wet after piercing. 

Though it is not recommended by doctors to get one’s ears/ear piercing site(s) wet due to swimming, it is possible to be able to swim sooner versus later after getting your ears pierced. First, it is recommended to wait at least 48-72 hours (if not a full 1-2 weeks)  before getting in the water to swim after getting your ear(s) pierced. 

Second, use precautions when swimming. Keep ears/piercing site(s) dry with a wound sealing bandage(s). Be sure to cover the entire piercing site completely. Additionally, you can use a swim cap to cover your ears/piercing site(s). These precautions should keep your ears/piercing site(s) dry (or at least significantly reduce how much water gets on/in them) 

Lastly, you will want to take aftercare practices. Cleanse your ears/piercing site with a saline solution or warm water and mild soap. Once you have cleansed and rinsed them, pat them dry. 

What Happens if You Go Swimming with A New Piercing? 

If you are not able to wait the full healing time of 6 to 8 weeks, you might be wondering what exactly will happen if I go swimming with a new piercing?  When you go swimming before your ears/piercing site(s) are/is fully healed, you increase your risk of infection

Though it is best to allow your ears/piercing site(s) time to heal, if you must go swimming within 48-72 hours of getting your piercing(s), you will want to at least take the precautions previously mentioned before taking to the water. (Source A) (Source B)

Can I Swim in The Ocean with A New Piercing? 

While we have mentioned that you can get your ears/piercing site(s) wet from the shower and that you want to avoid any other body of water while they are healing, you may still be wondering if you can swim in the ocean with a new piercing?

It is recommended to avoid swimming in the ocean with a new piercing. While it is best practice to wait for full healing (6-8 weeks), it is recommended to wait at least 1 to 2 weeks. And, if you are still not able to wait that long, then, a minimum of 48-72 hours. 

This recommendation stems from the fact that there are many different bacteria in ocean water(s) that can cause infections. (Source)

Can You Swim in A Pool After Getting Your Ears Pierced? 

In addition to wondering about swimming in the ocean after ear piercing, you may be wondering if you can swim in a pool after getting your ears pierced. Same as with oceans, it is not recommended.

As with swimming in the ocean after getting your ear(s) pierced, it is recommended to wait the full healing time of 6-8 weeks. However, if you are not able to wait that long it is recommended to avoid pools for at least 1-2 weeks. Still, if 1-2 weeks is too long, the bare minimum is 48-72 hours. 

This recommendation stems from the fact that Chlorine does not kill germs right away. In fact,  germs and bacteria can survive days in Chlorine. This may be in part because in order for Chlorine to be effective the pH has to be at (and maintained at) a specific level. So, much like the ocean(s), pools can also harbor bacteria that can cause infection(s).  (Source

Is Chlorine Bad for A New Piercing? 

Due to the fact that chlorine can be a breeding ground for bacteria and potentially be an irritant, it is not advised to use chlorine for a new piercing. It is not likely to be deadly by any means, but certainly, something to be avoided while your piercing is healing if possible. 

As it was previously mentioned, the pH of a pool must be maintained at a certain level in order for Chlorine to be effective. Also, even when it is effective, Chlorine does not kill germs/bacteria right away. This means pools/chlorinated water is not as sanitary as you may have thought and can potentially be a cause of infection(s). 

Chlorine is a bit of an abrasive chemical/element and can cause irritation of the skin (and airway). (Source

How Long Does It Take for Ears to Heal After Piercing? 

We have covered whether or not you can swim after getting your ears pierced and established that it is best to wait until they have fully healed (if and when possible). So, you’re probably wondering how long does it take for ears to heal after piercing? Per the NHS it takes 6-8 weeks for them to heal – this is whether it is the lobe or the helix that is pierced.

Piercings heal from the outside in. This means they may appear healed on the outside, but they are still healing on the inside where you can’t see.  

This is why, if you absolutely must return to swimming before your ears have fully healed (6-8 weeks) after getting them pierced,  you will want to take precautions such as completely covering the piercing site with a wound sealing bandage and wearing a swim cap that will cover the bandaged piercing site(s). You will also want to follow the aftercare steps of cleansing them and patting them dry. (Source A) (Source B) (Source C

How Do I Know when My Ear Piercing Is Healed? 

Indications that the piercing site(s) has(have) healed included no redness, no swelling, no tenderness, the tissue feels normal, and the natural healing discharge (a.k.a. crust/”dried goo”) has subsided. 

So long as you are not experiencing any of the aforementioned signs/symptoms, you should be safe to return to the water and swimming activities. 

On the other hand, if you are experiencing one or more of these signs/symptoms, you will want to continue to hold off on entering the water and/or taking part in any swimming activities. If the signs/symptoms have progressively gotten worse or it is after the 6-8 week healing window, you may want to seek advice from your piercer and/or a medical professional. 

Melissa Frank

My passion, outside of animals, is helping people and adding value to their lives…I strive to leave the world a little better than I woke to it each day. The first part of my career, for a total of about 15 years, was spent in the public safety field as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT-B and 9-1-1 Operator. In 2019 I obtained my personal trainer certification (ACE certified) as well as many group fitness certifications and certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

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