Thursday, June 20, 2024

How To Tell If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected

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Impact On Actual Healing Of The Wound

IS MY PIERCING INFECTED? | Signs Of An Infected Piercing

As we saw above, the healing process for any wound revolves around the skin stimulating the cell divisions to cover up the exposed area around the new injury or wound. This begins with the pierced or punctured area being covered with white blood cells to first setup a protective defense against bacteria and induce a congenial environment for the piercing wound to heal. All this activity has one life driving phenomenon working at its epicentre the optimal circulation of blood.

How To Preventgetting An Infected Piercing:

  • Go to an experienced and qualified piercer instead of doing your own piercings.
  • Avoid picking at any scabs that form and use a warm saline solution to soften it.
  • Try a saltwater gargle or alcohol-free mouthwash to disinfect mouth piercings.
  • Refrain from having sex until your mouth or genital piercing has completely healed.
  • Clean your piercing twice a day to keep bacteria from entering the piercing site.
  • Donât go swimming until the piercing fully heals.

What Causes A Pierced Ear Infection

Whether you just got your ears pierced or are a piercing veteran, there are a number of reasons you might end up with an earring hole infection. Fresh piercings, especially, are pretty vulnerable, and can actually take up to six weeks to heal. An earlobe piercing is essentially an open wound until it fully heals, so during this time, like any other wound, it is susceptible to infection, Shah said.

That means simple acts like handling your earrings with dirty hands or forgetting to clean them can accidentally introduce unwanted bacteria into your earring hole. When bacteria gets trapped in the piercing hole, it can have a hard time finding its way out. It can then multiply and create an infection, said dermatologist Marina Peredo.

Once your piercing heals fully, its less likely to get infected, but that doesnt mean youre totally in the clear. You still need to clean your earrings frequently to prevent an infection.

Earrings can accumulate buildup from soap and shampoo, and sometimes hair products. Its a good idea to clean your earrings once a week, Peredo said.

Taking your earrings out every night will give your ears a much-needed break, and you should also sanitize them before sharing them with friends or before trying on a new pair at the mall.

If you take good care of your earrings but still end up with an earring hole infection, the type of earrings youre wearing could be to blame.

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Clean Your Jewelry And Ear

Cleaning your earrings regularly is a must, as the posts can accumulate oil, leftover hair products, and overall gunk. A good rule of thumb is to wipe down the jewelry every time you change accessories . As for ear-adjacent items , make sure youre giving them a proper wash, too. They can harbor bacteria otherwise, notes Alvarado. Check out our at-home cleaning guides for headphones, masks, and headbands and hair ties.

Fever And High Temperature

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When the infection is severe, your body will start to experience a warm feeling, or have very high temperatures.

The warm feeling and the high temperatures can be noted every time you try to touch the area surrounding the recently pierced cartilage using your fingers.

It is something that poses a serious concern, and should not be ignored. If you note this symptom, it will be important for you to get immediate medical help from a GP, to prevent the occurrence of an ear infection, which could mean more bad news for your ear.

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How Can You Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

Most of the time, you can treat infections at home if you catch them early enough. Dr. Kaplan recommends going back to the place where you got your piercing to have the area evaluated . Places that do piercings see this kind of thing all the time and should be able to recommend next steps based on your situation.

In general, though, these are the recommended steps, per Kim Nichols, MD, board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and founding director of NicholsMD in Greenwich, Connecticut:

  • Start by washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Grab a saline solution, either store bought or homemade . Do not use alcohol to clean as it can dry out an infection and delay healing.
  • Soak your piercing in the saline solution or use a cotton swab to gently clean around both sides of the earlobe. Avoid using products like cotton balls and gauze. They can catch more easily on the piercing and irritate it.
  • Air dry your piercing. The less the piercing is touched and moved around, the better.
  • Repeat three times a day.
  • Typically, ear lobe piercings heal in about six weeks, with cartilage piercings taking longer. And despite your urge to rotate the piercingdon’t. At least not until after it’s healed. “Twisting and turning a new piercing could damage the delicate skin and hinder the healing process,” says Dr. Nichols. It can also expose your new piercing to germs and other bacteria on your hands, which could lead to another infection and scarring.

    Old Ear Piercing Infection

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    How do old pierced ears become infected? Do not be surprised to get your completely healed or old ear piercing infected months, or years later. Some of the common ways through which they get infected include:

    • Touching with dirty hands or allowing your friends touch, hold the earrings or exchange them swapping,
    • Removing or occasionally changing the earrings,
    • Injury on earring hole causing trauma, surgery, etc.
    • Bacterial infections of the ear cartilage e.g. perichondritis,
    • Swimming in contaminated water pools, etc.

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    Does Weather Affect Piercings

    Yes, weather conditions drive the extent and speed of healing of piercings, which in turn has a direct impact on the symptoms of the healing process which you will experience. On one hand, the weather outside drives the circulation of blood in the body and thus has a direct impact on the healing process. On the other hand, it also effects the moisture content of the skin , and the type and volume of fabric which abrases the piercing wound, thereby effecting the healing of the piercing wound externally.

    Lets dive into these aspects of the weather on a piercing wound, to build a better understanding.

    Do Piercings Heal Faster In Winter

    Ear Piercing & Stretching Tips : Healing Infected Ear Piercings

    As per the medical advice on the topic, winter is not really the best season for faster healing of piercings in particular, and wounds in general. This is because winters are associated with reduced blood circulation in the body , which acts contrary to the healing action of the body. Also the reduced immunity in winters as well as the dehydration of the skin contribute to an impeding healing of the piercing wound. However, many people have also experienced apparent faster healing during winters, largely attributed to the reduced amount of sweating and reduced swelling.

    It is important to however realize here that the reduction in swelling does not necessarily suggest that the piercing is healing faster. This is just another symptom of a reduced blood flow in and around the piercing wound in the winter, which causes reduced blood volume around the wound, and hence reduced swelling.

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    Symptoms Of Infected Ear Piercing You Should Not Ignore

    Infection after an ear piercing is manifested if aftercare instructions are not followed properly. Some of the noticeable symptoms include redness, inflammation, itching, pain, and unusual discharge. Read on to know more about signs of infected ear piercing.

    Infection after an ear piercing is manifested if aftercare instructions are not followed properly. Some of the noticeable symptoms include redness, inflammation, itching, pain, and unusual discharge. Read on to know more about signs of infected ear piercing.

    Among the several options for body piercing, ear piercing is the most common type. The approach for ear piercing may be cultural practice or just to flaunt jewelry for style. Since piercings are done in the exposed body parts such as the ear, it requires less time for healing as compared to other types of body piercings, such as the belly button, navel, and tongue. Also, the chances of unusual complications are rare.

    There are very rare chances of getting your ear infected, if the procedure is conducted by a qualified piercer and the aftercare tips are followed correctly. Without infections and other unusual signs, ear piercing heals in about 6-8 weeks. Nevertheless, there are risks associated with any type of piercing. Having a thorough knowledge about the causes of ear piercing infection and its symptoms will help you in getting over the painful complications.

    CausesSymptomsRednessInflammationBurning painFeverFluid-filled Blisters

    Salt Or Chamomile Soaks

    A salt or chamomile soak serves a dual purpose. For one, it relieves the swelling, redness, and pain. Secondly, it helps to clean the infected piercing. A salt soak is generally more effective, but chamomile is better for sensitive skin. You can do as many chamomile soaks per day as desired, but only 2 salt soaks are recommended per day.

    How to make a soak:

    • Boil 1 cup of water
    • Add ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and stir until dissolved OR brew 1 chamomile tea bag
    • Perform a salt soak by dipping a cotton pad into the solution and appling to the infection for 2 minutes
    • For a chamomile soak, dip a cotton pad into the solution, or use the tea bag, and apply to the infection until it cools.

    For both, you want to use hot water, but let it cool down enough that you wont hurt or damage your skin before dipping the cotton pad.

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    What Does A Severe Ear Piercing Infection Look Like

    Your infection is bad if you have these symptoms:

    • Severe redness
    • Abscess formation
    • Fever

    If the skin around your piercing becomes red and tender and you have a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, you may be dealing with cellulitis, a common and potentially serious bacterial skin infection, and you’ll want to get yourself to a doc right away.

    Of course, you can also have an allergy to the hardware in your ear and that can look like an infection. But unfortunately, it can be tough for non-doctors to figure out the difference, Dr. Mankarious says. “Professionals often think of allergies based on a history of allergies to metals as well as a lack of response to antibiotic treatment,” she says. So if you’re unsure, it’s best to see a doc.

    Neilmed Neilcleanse Piercing Aftercare

    How Can You Tell If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected

    NeilMed Neilcleanse Piercing Aftercare saline spray helps in healing piercings. It is an isotonic, drug-free, preservative-free solution for cleaning your piercing during the healing period with no burning or stinging to irritate the pierced area. The sterile saline solution can be used as part of your healing process with any fresh piercing, including ear piercings, nostril piercings and belly button piercings. Neilcleanse sprays in any direction for easy use without touching your piercing.

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    Why Are Cartilage Piercings Riskier

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    If your pierced cartilage gets infected, ensure you get it treated as soon as possible since according to, this piercing is riskier than earlobe piercings. If the site becomes infected, you may develop a painful abscess. This is because the skin is close to the underlying cartilage and pus can become trapped.

    In case your cartilage has developed an abscess, you need to go for surgery to remove it since antibiotics might not be of much help. Such surgical procedures require removal of the affected cartilage. This is likely to deform your ears.

    Other risks associated with piercing on the ear cartilages include

    • Hypertonic scarring

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    How Common Are Infected Ear Piercings

    Millions of people get their ears pierced, and most of them have no serious complications. Mild irritation and infections are common, however, for new piercings. In most cases, infections arent serious and clear up quickly.

    The earlobes are fleshy and fatty, with strong blood flow. They heal quickly, reducing the risk of an earlobe infection. The upper ear is cartilage, a thick, stiff tissue with less blood flow.

    Piercings in the upper ear are more likely to become infected, and infections in the upper ear are sometimes serious.

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    What Are Ear Infection Symptoms

    If youve never had an earring hole infection before, you may not be familiar with the warning signs and symptoms, but theyre pretty straightforward. Warm, itchy, tender ears are a telltale sign of an infection, and your ears will also likely look red and a bit swollen.

    Think of the four Ps: pain, pus, plumpness and pinkness

    This usually would be accompanied by some sort of cut or scab on the ear, but not always, said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospitalâs department of dermatology.

    Some earring hole infections may also be accompanied by an oozy discharge, but not all ear discharge is cause for alarm. In fact, ears sometimes secrete a white to yellow thin liquid while healing from a piercing, and sebum from your oil glands can also collect on your piercings. If your discharge is light in color and not accompanied by pain, redness, warmth or swelling, it is probably not infected, Shah said.

    An easy way to self-diagnose your infection? Fusco encourages patients to think of âthe four Psâ: pain, pus, plumpness and pinkness. All indicate possible infection, she said.

    The good news? Minor earring hole infections will typically only last a few days, and you can usually nip them in the bud with a few home remedies. If your situation doesnt improve in a few days, though, you may need to call in backup. Untreated infection could lead to more complicated infections that require drainage and oral antibiotics, Fusco said.

    Bad Or Poor Quality Earrings


    Thirdly, new ear piercing may get infected on condition that the first pair of earrings cause irritation that will result to itching. Continued itching perforates the skin for easy microorganisms. Consequently, According to Simple Remedies, microorganisms act as antigens, which triggers the bodys immune system, leading to the formation of pus after inflammation. An example of poor material is Nickel.

    Cheap earrings, too tight earrings can as well lead to inflammation. Heavy metal bars from earlobes can leave earring hole stretched.

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    Treating The Infection At Home

    As long as your infection is minor, you may be able to take care of it at home. If youve had a cartilage piercing and it seems infected, seek medical treatment. These types of infections are harder to treat and may require oral antibiotics. Significant infections of the cartilage can require hospitalization.

    Follow these steps to take care of a minor piercing infection:

  • Wash your hands before touching or cleaning your piercing.
  • Clean around the piercing with a saltwater rinse three times a day. Use sterile saline or combine 1/4 tsp. of salt with 8 oz. of distilled water.
  • Dont use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or antibiotic ointments. These can further irritate the skin and slow the healing process.
  • Dont remove the piercing. This can cause the hole to close up and trap the infection.
  • Clean the piercing on both sides of your earlobe. Pat the area dry with paper towels.
  • After the infection appears to have cleared, continue this cleaning regimen twice a day until the piercing is totally healed. Remember, an earlobe piercing can take six to eight weeks to heal. Routine care is important during that time.

    Usually, a minor infection of an ear piercing can be treated successfully at home. But if any of the following symptoms occur, seek medical attention:

    • The earring doesnt move.
    • The earring clasp becomes embedded in your skin.
    • The infection doesnt improve with home treatment within two days.
    • You develop a fever.

    Er Or Not: Infected Ear Piercing

    Your recent ear piercing is red and swollen and you suspect it might be infected should you go to the emergency room? On this ER or Not, emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen discusses the potential serious complications that can come from an infection of the ear, including hearing loss and hospitalization. Learn what you need to look for and when to seek immediate care.


    Dr. Troy Madsen is an emergency room physician at University of Utah Health. All right, here is today’s ER or Not. You’ve got your ear pierced. Now you believe that there might be an infection in the ear. ER or not?

    Dr. Madsen:

    So the ear is made of cartilage. If you get an infection that’s spreading up beyond just the site of the piercing, where the full ear appears red and swollen or just even the lower half of it, then I would be a lot more concerned about an infection in the cartilage itself, and that would definitely be a reason to go to the ER.

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    How To Avoid An Illness When You Have A Cartilage Piercing

    Even though it is possible to treat a cartilage infection, prevention is always best. You can prevent your cartilage from getting infected by doing the following:

  • Ensuring you change your jewelry
  • Avoid public pools, lakes, and oceans
  • Avoid wearing hats, or clothes that are not clean. If you really need to wear a hat, ensure that you wash the hat on a frequent basis
  • Make it a point to regularly change your bedding. Dirty blankets, pillow cases or sheets could be the source of an infection.
  • Ensure you take off your jewelry once every three weeks
  • Avoid placing cell phones near the piercing
  • When you suspect that you could have an infection, ensure you seek medical help from a GP or the person who performed the piercing
  • Stay away from hair styling products like sprays and foams
  • Do not use alcohol when you are treating the jewelry as any residue may end up irritating the infection
  • All the above-listed methods will help you take care of an infected cartilage infection. It is always recommended to ensure that one seeks help with the infection when the symptoms become severe, or when the home remedies are unable to eliminate the symptoms.


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