The length of time it takes earring holes to close is dependant upon how recently the person's ears were pierced. Within the first few months of a new piercing, earring holes may close in as little as a few hours without earrings to keep the holes open. Holes will stay open for several weeks or longer if they have been through many years of earring use.
Earring holes can close particularly fast within the first year following piercing. Without an earring, the diameter of the hole shrinks considerably and can completely close. For this reason, it is recommended that someone with a new piercing keep the original earring in for at least six weeks before removing. After six weeks, the earring can be removed for cleaning, but it is recommended to quickly replace the earring in the new hole for up to a full year to prevent closure.
If an earring hole begins to close, or it is difficult to reinsert earrings into the holes, it may be helpful to wipe the front and back of the earlobe with rubbing alcohol and stretch the earlobe to make the hole seem as big as possible. The earrings can likely then be reinserted at a different angle to successfully reopen the hole.