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Earlobe stretching popular with youth for various pleasure and pain reasons

Dave Masko's picture

There’s a line from the Star Trek Deep Space Nine TV show when the “Ferengi” character named Quark explains that touching one’s earlobes sends pleasure “down my spine.”

The rise in people having very large Ferengi-type earlobes is not good health wise; say doctors because of something dubbed a “blowout.” In turn, doctors explain that a blowout happens when one stretches an earlobe too fast. “These generally happen during or immediately preceding (within 48hrs) a stretch. A blowout occurs when the pressure on the insides of the piercing is too great, and the hole deforms itself by twisting inside out, resulting in the 'blowout,' or section of tissue that appears as a flap on (generally) the backside of the piercing. There are a few things you can do to try and recover from a blowout. First a foremost, you must downsize immediately. Being stubborn and not taking this action could result in the blowout not healing, which almost always requires surgery to fix,” warns the alternative website onetribe.nu.

In turn, the website livestrong.com notes that “your teenager may be asking for permission to ‘stretch’ her ears with ‘gauges.’ This new fashion trend involves wearing a series of ever-larger rings in the earlobes to slowly increase the size of the hole in the lobe. The process is relatively safe if done correctly," but others warn not to "mess with one's ears."

Why humans and other stretch their earlobes

“Since the origin of our species, we human beings have been busy modifying our bodies. Stretching, piecing, tattoos, branding, scarification, implants, binding, body building and haircuts have been around for about as long we have. Ear stretching has become more popular in Western culture recently for a variety of reasons. For some it is fashion while others are drawn to the primitive energy of ear stretching. Some feel a deep spiritual connection with the patience involved to create stretched ears while other people simply find it fun. The reasons are as different as the cultures on the planet but one thing is for sure; stretched ears have always been and always will be a part of human history,” explains the alternative living site brimstoneorganics.com.

“It is impossible to say who the first people were with stretched ears or why they did it. Today, many cultures (including our own!) practice the art of ear stretching for many different reasons. Religion, coming of age ceremonies, to ward off evil, sexual enhancement and physical beauty are common motivations. But that just barely scratches the surface as there are many other reasons as well. People all over the world still practice ear stretching. From the Masai tribes in Kenya to the Huaorani tribe in the Amazon Basin, stretched ears are still a common sight. It is a fascinating testament of human culture that a Western youth can walk into a piercing shop to select stretched ear jewelry while a Hmong youth in Thailand selects from an array of silver tubes,” adds brinstoneorganics.com.

Also, livestrong.com notes that “stretching the ears can cause many problems if not done correctly or slowly enough. Bleeding, a foul odor around the piercing, pain, infection and permanent scarring are a few issues that people who are stretching their ears may experience.”

Moreover, EarStretching.net warns that “gauges made of cheap materials, such as those intended to be worn for short periods of time only, can cause infection. Additionally, toxins from these materials can be absorbed by the body or react negatively with skin.”

Image source of “Quark,” a Ferengi with huge ear lobes in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine TV show. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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