Wondering if your ear is or will be infected because of that green spot on and around the ear piercing, yet you are wearing what is one of your favorite pairs of earrings?
Well, for starters, take a breath and relax because the green on your ears is nothing to worry too much about.
Although it is scary at first and then embarrassing, the reason why your earrings have turned your ears green is not that it’s an adverse reaction that needs medical attention, but a normal reaction that your body has to the copper present in the earrings.
The green discoloration or stain results from a chemical reaction between copper and your skin or rather the salt and chemicals on your skin that form a copper salt, which is green in color, hence the green on the ear.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about earrings and the annoying green discoloration, and also how to avoid that from happening again.
Why do my earrings turn my ears green?
Your ears have turned green after wearing those earrings because the earrings are made of copper, and the stain is from the copper in the earrings reacting with the skin or even something else on your skin like body lotion.
Copper is to blame because when the acid on your very sweaty skin or the body lotion comes in contact with the copper, there is a natural chemical reaction that results in the corrosion of the copper in the jewelry.
When this reaction takes place, copper salts are formed, and these copper salts always appear as blue-green components or compounds that subsequently leave a mark on your skin.
The green stain on your skin is a shade that is ‘fondly’ referred to as the Statue of Liberty Teal – the stain on your ear has the same hue as that on the Statue of Liberty, which is made primarily of copper.
2. Silver/ Sterling Silver
Although copper is the biggest culprit when it comes to your ears turning green, it is not the only reason for the discoloration of your ears. Silver has also been shown to produce an effect similar to that of copper.
This is the case with the silver present in sterling silver, which is the most common alloy of silver. A fairly small amount of silver is also present in solid gold jewelry. The presence of copper in sterling silver may, unfortunately, compound the problem.
When the silver comes in contact with the skin, it is oxidized and causes tarnishing. The result is a dark green or a black stain on the skin.
Essentially, the silver reacts with substances like sulfur in the air (hydrogen sulfide) or in your skin and hair care products.
What this means is that although the green tarnishing and staining of the skin are oftentimes associated with the cheaper versions of jewelry, often fashion jewelry, you may also deal with this problem if you have the more expensive stuff as well.
3. Body chemistry
The reactivity of copper and silver aside, it is quite interesting to see how the green staining of the skin after wearing jewelry with these metals doesn’t always leave similar results.
Not everyone has a reaction and a subsequent green discoloration of the skin from wearing copper-based jewelry. The reason for this is that we all have different kinds of bodies thanks to varying genetic makeup, which would mean that while some people react to copper and have the green stain but others don’t.
So, if your earrings turn your ears green, it may mean that you are one of the unlucky persons whose skin reacts with the copper to form that green stain.
The good news is that despite the annoyance around the green stain, that stuff is harmless, and you don’t even have to worry about irritation – well, unless there is also nickel present in the earrings, in which case, you will be in double trouble.
In most cases, the green stain disappears after some days, and you only need to wash the ear with water and soap.
How to avoid buying earrings that turn your ears green
Since you don’t want your earrings to turn you into a version of the Ninja Turtle, here are some of the things you should do to avoid being a victim that buys earrings that turns their ears green.
1. Understand your body
It is said that most of the time, you will not know what earrings will turn your skin green or not until you try.
And though this can be a very disappointing lesson in the beginning (you have to try clear nail polish afterward if you intend on keeping the earrings on beyond that day), knowing that your body reacts to some metals like copper is often the first and the most important step in your jewelry loving life because you will know what to avoid.
In most cases, you have to try to know, but after that understanding of what your body likes or dislikes, you will be able to make better purchase decisions.
2. Avoid buying jewelry with copper.
Since copper is the main culprit that turns the skin green, find out more about the jewelry you intend to buy and ask the jeweler if the earrings have any copper.
Then go for the safer, copper-free options. Keep in mind that because of your body’s reaction to copper, it might be safe for you to also choose nickel-free jewelry always.
3. Opt for surgical-grade stainless steel
If you are shopping for earrings on a budget but still want to enjoy the value of good quality but affordable earrings, opt for the ones made of surgical-grade (hypoallergenic) stainless steel.
These earrings will not stain your skin.
4. Choose platinum and white gold earrings.
If you don’t mind splurging, opt for the premium-quality white gold and platinum earrings. Unless you misplace them, you will never regret purchasing these earrings.
If you were struggling to understand the reason for your ears turning green and what to do about it, avoid jewelry with copper or silver, and also, don’t freak out – the green stain is harmless.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.