How to Keep Your Stretched Lobes Healthy and Safe in Cold Weather
As winter approaches in Minnesota, bringing with it cruelly-cold temperatures and desert-like dry air, it’s time to start thinking about what you will wear in your stretched lobes. Earlobes are the most common part of the ear that is stretched, but this information applies to all stretched ear piercings.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t experience cold temperatures, you can probably wear the any type of jewelry in your stretched lobes all year-round. For those of us who deal with very cold temperature, it is usually wise to avoid wearing jewelry made of certain materials, at least for extended periods of time.
Why Are My Stretched Lobes So Cold?
The blood that flows through your earlobes is what keep them warm and keeps them from freezing when exposed to cold temperatures. The skin at the bottom of stretched lobes, where it is the thinnest, usually has less blood flow than the rest of your earlobes. When you reduce the amount of blood flowing through any type of tissue, you reduce your body’s ability to keep that tissue warm. Without enough blood flow, there is an increased chance of frostbite when your stretched lobes are exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
While short exposure to below-freezing temperatures is probably fine, longer exposure times run the risk of being uncomfortable (best-case scenario) as well as frostbite and tissue death (worst-case scenario). Even though the worst-case may be uncommon, it is a real risk if you spend a lot of time outside with stretched lobes.
Best to Avoid
Metal and glass are both excellent conductors of cold, which means they can be poor choices for wintertime wear. Jewelry made of metal and glass gets colder overall, gets colder faster and stays colder longer than jewelry made of other materials. In the wintertime, we suggest avoiding wearing plugs or other jewelry made of metal and glass outside for extended periods of time.
Better Than Metal, But Careful
Materials such as wood, horn and bone conduct cold much less than glass and metal and therefore are better options in the winter. A potential downside to these materials is that they often don’t react well to sudden, large-temperature changes. When you go from to 0 F outside, to 70 F inside, the sudden temperature change can cause wood, horn and bone jewelry to go through thermal shock. Thermal shock can cause jewelry made of natural materials to warp, crack or completely break…especially if there are any weak spots or irregularities in the materials. Damage from thermal shock is more likely to happen with bone and horn than wood, but it can still definitely happen with wood jewelry. Warping, cracking and breaking is also more likely to happen with hanging designs and eyelets than it is with solid plugs due to the thinner areas hanging designs and eyelets have. While less likely, solid plugs can still crack or break.
For wintertime wear, we are big fans of stone plugs. Like wood, horn and bone, stone does not conduct cold as well as metal or glass. Stone plugs also tend to tolerate sudden temperature changes better than wood, bone and horn, although it can still crack or break. Like horn, bone and wood jewelry, solid plugs are a better choice than eyelets or hanging designs.
One of the best features about stone is that it can absorb and retain heat from your body and the surrounding air. This means your ears will usually stay a bit warmer for longer, even when you are outside.
For those who can wear silicone jewelry in your ears, it can be a good alternative for wintertime. While it doesn’t retain body heat in the same way stone does, it also doesn’t conduct cold very well. This will help keep your lobes from getting cold as quickly.
Some people find that silicone can be drying to their stretched lobes. If that’s the case for you, you may find that the drier winter air only makes that situation worse. If you haven’t worn silicone jewelry before, winter may not be the best time to experiment with it.
Other Considerations for Stretched Lobes
As a general rule, the larger your lobes are stretched, the less blood flow they will have and the greater risk of damage from cold exposure. Everyone is different and it is certainly possible to have thicker, healthier lobes at 1” than someone whose lobes are at at 1/2”. The slower and more carefully you stretched your lobes, the healthier they will usually be and the better they will tolerate very cold weather. The picture below is a great example of heathy, stretched lobes at over 2 inches. Even as healthy as they are, the blood flow is still going to be reduced.
Regardless of the material you wear in your stretched lobes, we suggest wearing solid plugs instead of eyelets or tunnels for a reaon other than durability. Jewelry that is open in the middle allows cold air to get to both sides of the jewelry and your lobes, causing them to get colder faster and to reach an overall colder temperature. In windy conditions, this issue is made even worse as more cold air is moved across your jewelry and lobes.
If you are going to be out in the cold for a long period of time, you may want to consider not wearing any jewelry at all in your stretched lobes. Going “naked” will allow your natural body heat to keep your lobes as warm as possible without having to work against a cold piece of jewelry.
It’s obviously a great idea to cover your ears with a hat, ear warmer band, ear muffs etc, if you can. There are even a few people/companies making “ear mittens” for the specific purpose of keeping stretched lobes warm in cold weather. We don’t have any experience with a specific version of these “mittens”, but it’s hard to imagine any of them not being at least marginally beneficial.
The warmer you keep your ears, the happier and healthier they will be!
You will spend plenty of time planning (and donning) your winter gear this year, so take a little time to plan (and don) something warm for your ears.
We always have a large selection of stone, silicone, horn, wood and bone jewelry in-stock. If we don’t have exactly what you are looking for, we are always happy to order it at no additional cost.
We would really appreciate it if you would share this blog so we can get the word out to as many people as possible. We want all the stretched lobes to be warm and safe this winter!
Have a great winter!