As winter approaches in Minnesota, bringing with it cruelly-cold temperates and desert-like dry air, it’s time to start thinking about what you will wear in your stretched lobes.
If you live somewhere that doesn’t experience cold temperatures, you can probably wear the same types of jewelry all year-round. However, for those of us who deal with very cold temperatures this time of year, it is usually wise to avoid wearing jewelry made of certain materials, at least for extended periods of time.
The blood that flows through your earlobes is what helps keep them warm and keep them from freezing The skin at the bottom of stretched lobes, where it is the thinnest, tends to have 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, which increases the chances of frostbite when exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
While short bits of exposure to below-freezing temperatures are probably fine, longer exposure times run the risk of simply being uncomfortable in the best-case scenario and run the risk of frost-bite and tissue death in the worst-case scenario. While the worst-case may not be likely, it is a real risk if you spend a lot of time outside with stretched lobes.
Because metal and glass are both excellent conductors of cold, they tend to make poor choice 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.
Materials such as wood, horn and bone tend to conduct cold less and therefore tend to be better options than metal or glass in the winter. Keep in mind however, these materials often do not react well to sudden, large temperature changes (i.e., going from 0 F outside to 70 F inside) and can sometimes crack, warp or completely break.
For wintertime wear, we are big fans of stone jewelry; especially stone plugs. Like wood, horn and bone, stone is not a great conductor of cold. In addition, it tends to fair better with sudden temperature changes (note: jewelry can still crack or break sometimes). One of the best features about stone is that it can absorb and retain a bit of your body’s heat. This means your ears tend to stay a bit warmer for longer, even when you are outside.
As a general rule, the larger your stretched lobes are, the less blood flow they will have and the greater risk of damage from cold exposure. Now, obviously everyone is different and it is certainly possible to have thicker, healthier lobes at 1″ than at 1/2″.
Regardless of the material you wear, we also suggest wearing solid plugs instead of eyelets or tunnels. Jewelry that is open in the middle allows cold air to get to both sides of the jewelry/your lobes, causing them to get colder faster and to reach an overall colder temperature. In windy conditions, this issue is made even worse.
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. Also, it’s obviously a great idea to cover your ears with a hat, ear warmer band, ear muffs etc.
The warmer you keep your ears, the happier and healthier they will be.
You will spend plenty of time planning (and donning) your winter wear this year, so take a little time to plan (and don) something warm for your ears.
We always have a large selection of stone, horn, wood and bone jewelry in-stock. And, if we don’t have exactly what you are looking for, we are always happy to order it an no additional cost.