What Does An Infected Ear Piercing Look Like 10 Photos To Help You Spot An Infection
Plus, doctors explain what to do if you have one.
SEP 4, 2019
In a perfect world, youd get your ears pierced and spend the rest of your life effortlessly rocking cute earrings. In reality? Sometimes piercings get infected, andnot gonna sugar-coat itit can be really effing gross.
Luckily, infected ear piercings arent the norm and, if you get pierced at a reputable place and practice solid piercing after-care, youre probably going to be just fine. Still, infected piercings can and do happen to good people. Whomp, whomp.
If you find your piercing looking or feeling a little…off, it can be hard to tell the difference between minor irritation and a full-blown infection. But Kenneth A. Kaplan, MD, an otolaryngologist with ENT and Allergy Associates in New Jersey, and Leila Mankarious, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, are here to clear things up that confusion and answer all the burning questions you have about infected ear piercings.
Plus, the 10 photos ahead can help you identify if you’re indeed dealing with an infection.
How do ear piercings even get infected?
Anyone can get an infected ear piercing, but it usually happens due to one of two major reasons, Dr. Kaplan says: Either your piercing site wasnt adequately sterilized before you were pierced, or you kinda-sorta-definitely didnt take great care of it after you were pierced.
Do only new ear piercings get infected?
What ear piercings are most likely to become infected?
Apply A Topical Antibiotic Ointment
Applying a topical antibiotic ointment recommended by a dermatologist can be a great way to help heal the infected area . After cleaning, gently pat the area dry and pat a small amount of the ointment over the infected area.
If the piercing is hot to the touch and painful, you can cleanse by applying a warm-water compress. You can do this right at home by taking a washcloth, running it under warm water, and then applying directly to the infected site. Just make sure that the cloth is not burning hot. Keep the compress on for 20-30 minutes and repeat as necessary. “Its healed when the skin returns to normal color and is no longer painful or swollen and there is no longer any yellow discharge,” says Zalka.
Causes And Risk Factors
It is important to be extra careful when handling a new piercing. If bacteria get into a newpiercing, it can cause infection. Other causes include:
- Removing the earrings before the piercing heals
- Touching the ears with dirty hands
- Putting your head in a pool, river, lake, or hot tub before the piercing is healed
- Forgetting to clean the new piercings twice daily as recommended by a professional
- Getting the ears pierced with equipment that is not sterilized or in a place that is not properly cleaned or set up for ear piercing
Why Do My Earrings Get Crusty
If you just had your body pierced and you start to notice a crusty material around the piercing site, dont worry. Crusting after body piercing is perfectly normalthis is just the result of your body trying to heal itself. 1 Dead blood cells and plasma make their way to the surface and then dry when exposed to air.
Are You Supposed To Sleep With Earrings In
The general rule of thumb is to avoid sleeping in earrings, with one exception: when you get a new piercing. But if your piercings are older, avoid wearing earrings made with nickel overnight, as well as large hoops and dangle or drop-style earrings. These could increase your risk of painful side effects.
How An Ear Infection Is Develops:
External ear and middle ear is separated by a membrane named tympanic membrane or ear drum. Behind the eardrum there is a space which is filled with air. Our ear has a communication between the middle ear and the back of the throat. This communication is done by a tiny channel called Eustachian tube.
So,when we face some unfavorable condition like cold than the space behind the eardrum may fill with mucus. This mucus is a suitable place for bacterial or viral growth. When there is multiplication of microorganism in that place than it causes ear infection.
Pierced Ears: How To Prevent Painful Infections
Oct 13, 2015
Driven by family tradition or fashion, thousands of kids get their ears pierced each year. Generally, ear piercing is a safe procedure, but a common complication is infection. Although pierced ear infections usually arent severe, they can cause a great deal of discomfort. Heres what you need to know to help keep your little ones ear piercings healthy and infection-free.
How To Treat Ear Infection Earrings
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How You Can Get A Piercing Infection
A piercing is essentially an open wound. An earlobe piercing usually takes six to eight weeks to heal. Cartilage piercings, which take place on the harder part of your ear, generally take longer to heal and can be more prone to infection. There are several ways your ear piercing can get infected.
Any bacteria left to fester can quickly turn into an infection. If you touch your piercing with dirty hands or instruments, you can introduce an infection. If the earrings are on too tightly, not allowing room for the wound to breathe and heal, an infection can develop. A piercing can also get infected if theres too much handling of the piercing or the post of the earring is rough.
An infection can also occur if unsterile instruments were used, if the person piercing your ears didnt use gloves, or if the posts themselves werent sterile.
Its fairly easy to identify an infected ear piercing. Symptoms may include:
- yellow, pus-like discharge
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.
How Can I Prevent A Pierced Ear Infection
Taking good care of your piercings is key to preventing infection. You should:
- Leave your earrings in day and night until the piercings fully heal.
- Wash your hands before touching your earlobes or cartilage.
- Wash the piercing twice daily with a mild soap or cleanser.
- Apply rubbing alcohol and/or antibiotic ointment to the area twice daily.
- Gently rotate the earrings daily after applying antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to lubricate the piercing.
Why Do My Earlobes Hurt After Wearing Earrings
Why are My Ears So Sensitive? If your ears get red and itchy when you wear earrings, it most likely means that you are allergic to a metal in the earring posts. The most common metal allergy people have is to nickel. According to experts, repeated exposure can even increase the risk of developing an allergy at any age.
Part 2 Of 3:using Home Remedies
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Culture and gram stain of purulent drainage of skin infections can help aid in the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections, but this is not a requirement . Alternatively, it is not recommended to perform a swab, biopsy, or blood culture from a cellulitis infection . For abscesses, incision and drainage is the recommended treatment . For infections involved with penetrating trauma, as could be the case with a recent body piercing, treatment with antimicrobials directed against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus species are recommended . Recommended treatment duration is five days, but therapy extension is advisable if not improved during that treatment period .
What You Need To Know About Pierced Ear Infections
Preventing earring hole infections all starts with proper hygiene both right after a piercing, and for years to come. If you recently got a piercing, make sure to wash hands thoroughly before touching the piercings to avoid exposing the area to any unwanted bacteria.
Piercings should also be soaked twice a day for two to five minutes with a saline or salt solution. A soaked, clean gauze can be used to gently clean the area, said cosmetic dermatologist Sejal Shah, founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City.
If your piercing is fully healed, make sure to clean both the earrings and piercing site whenever you remove your jewelry. Keep earrings clean by wiping them down with an antiseptic cleanser , Purell, soap and water or even mouthwash in a pinch. And do so often because buildup of any sort in your earrings can spell trouble.
Dead skin can build up around the backing as a result of dandruff or infrequent removal and serve as a nidus for germs, said Dr. Francesca Fusco of Wexler Dermatology in New York City.
When To Get Medical Advice
Increased swelling or redness of your earlobe
Redness and swelling don’t start to get better after 2 days of treatment
Fluid draining from your earlobe
Not being able to see the front or back side of the earrings due to swelling
You have a fever of 100.4°F or higher, for more than 2 days after starting treatment, or as directed by your provider
Your child has a fever
How To Get Rid Of An Ear Infection Fast
Ear infection is a very common term for us. It can occur in all age group but it can occur more during childhood. Its a common problem but its management is very easy. You can get rid of ear infection very easily without going to a doctor. But in some atypical condition you need to visit the doctors chamber. So dont worry about ear infection.Read this whole article to know, how to get rid of an ear infection fast.
Is It Bad To Have Water In Your Ears
You might experience ear pain, tinnitus, hearing loss and loss of balance and coordination, a runny nose or a sore throat. When water accumulates in the ear and doesnt drain properly, you risk developing swimmers ear, surfers ear or another type of infection that can cause hearing loss if left untreated.
How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing: Over
You dont necessarily have to run to the doctor at the first signs of an ear infection. In fact, there are several do-it-yourself treatments you can explore to help treat it before seeking additional assistance. Take dandruff shampoo, for instance.
The zinc pyrithione in dandruff shampoo is known to treat dandruff but also has antibacterial properties that can aid in the healing process of infected ears or work to prevent infection, Fusco said.
If your ear irritation seems more like an allergic reaction than a full-blown infection, Shah suggests removing the earring, then using a gentle cleanser to cleanse the ear twice a day. You can also try applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and a healing ointment such as Aquaphor or Cicalfate.
With blatant infections, cleaning the infected area with a saltwater rinse and steering clear of certain irritants can also help cure it. Avoid alcohol and hydrogen peroxide as these can potentially irritate the areas. Dry the piercing on both sides with a paper towel. If the infection is improving, continue this until fully cleared, Shah said.
If the infected area is oozing, try placing a towel on your pillowcase and changing it daily. Then once it subsides, apply an antibacterial cream to the earring post before inserting it.
I advise trying home treatments for about a week. If home treatments are not working or the area is worsening, it’s best to seek medical care immediately, Shah said.
Treating An Infected Ear Piercing
As mentioned earlier, some ear-piercing infections require that you see the doctor. However, for mild infections, you can treat the infection wound yourself with ease. Indeed, several DIY treatments are now available that you can explore, such as dandruff shampoo.
The zinc pyrithione in dandruff shampoo is an excellent antibacterial that can aid the healing process of infected ear piercings. It can also prevent infection.
However, the primary way to treat infected ear piercings involves using saline water to gently clean the infected area and an over-the-counter antibiotic cream to kill the bacteria. Proceed as follows;
It also helps to change your pillowcase with a clean one at least every two days. Avoid alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, as these can potentially irritate the area.
How Can I Prevent An Ear Piercing Infection
A huge factor is choosing a piercing shop thats sanitary. In general, the more experience someone has in doing piercingswith a reputation for good resultsthe better the odds of a favorable outcome, Dr. Kaplan says. Read reviews on the shop and on your piercer beforehand if you can find any. And if you go into a piercing shop and it seems like its not clean or you just dont get a good vibe, go someplace else.
The spot on your ear that you choose to pierce matters, too. No physician will ever recommend piercing the cartilage of the ear, Dr. Kaplan says. Of course, that’s never stopped anyone. That’s why following your after-care instructions if so crucial, even after it seems like your piercing is all healed up. Not strictly adhering to the post-piercing care instructions would increase the odds of infection, Dr. Kaplan says.
Youre Piercing What Medical Complications Of Cartilage And Ear Piercing
It was almost midnight when 14-year-old Kyla came to the emergency room with her mom and two friends but they knew that infected ear cartilage could not wait until the morning. Cartilage infections spread rapidly and can cause permanent disfigurement to the ear. Her ear didnt even look too bad just a little red and sore where she had pierced it five days before. Ive included a picture of her ear with the piercing studs still in place, and a picture of her ear after the earrings were removed and the piercings cleaned. We didnt realize how bad the infection was until the earrings were removed.
Kyla had done everything right she had her upper ear cartilage pierced at a reputable jewelry store using sterile conditions and gold earrings. She cleaned the piercings appropriately with antiseptic solution. But five days later her cartilage piercings became infected, a medical emergency.
Even with meticulous care, cartilage piercings become infected about 30% of the time. One study followed a more than 450 nurses who pierced their ears. About 30% of high ear piercings, or piercings of the cartilage of the pinna/upper ear, become infected, compared to about 20% of ear lobe piercings.
Other medical complications from high ear piercing/ear cartilage piercing include: allergic reactions to earrings, scarring and pull-through tears of the ear, and two medical conditions called pyogenic granuloma and keloid formation.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- How will I know when the infection has cleared?
- When is it safe to remove my earrings?
- Do I need to clean my earrings?
- Can my ears get infected even after the piercing heals?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Getting your ears pierced is most often a safe, simple procedure. Be sure to go to an experienced piercer who practices proper hygiene procedures. Keep your new piercings clean, and dont remove the earrings until the piercing has healed completely. Be patient by preventing an infection now, you can enjoy your healthy piercing for years to come.
Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.
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:
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.
Visits The Doctor Chamber:
Any health problem is more if you have fever more than 102 degree Fahrenheit, severe ear pain and other medical complications along with ear pain than visits the doctors chamber immediately.Ear infection is not a serious health problem. It is a common and treatable problem. So follow those steps which I have described in this article. Surely you will be a gainer. Wish you a healthy life. Thanks for reading
Signs Your Child Has An Infected Ear Piercing
Is your childs recent ear piercing not looking as healthy as it should?
Studies have shown that about one in every five body piercings will get infected at some point. If left untreated, the infection could turn dangerous, possibly even deadly. Its important to keep an eye on any new piercing, even one as tame as an earlobe piercing.
Here are some signs that your child may have an infected ear piercing and needs antibiotic treatment.
What Is An Ear Infection
Infection is a term which refers entry of microorganism, multiplication and produce complication in the human body. So when there is an infectious agent present inside your ear than it causes ear infection.Our ear has three parts and these are outer, middle and inner ear.
An ear infection can occur in all those regions. But middle ear infection is more common and in medical term it is known as otitis media. Sometimes there may be an infection in outer ear. This infection is known as swimmers ear.
How To Clean It
We have looked at the various treatment. Most of these treatments will ensure you get healed fast. One more very important thing you need to know is how to clean an infected ear piercing. However, cleaning is not an alternative to treatment.
To clarify, the steps we will cover here can also be used on those that are still new.
- Thoroughly wash your hands before you touch any site of your piercing, whether infected or not.
- Prepare a sea salt solution by mixing an adequate amount of sea salt, about 2 teaspoons in warm water. If you have a serious infection, you can use rubbing alcohol in cleaning your earlobes or any other piercing solution you might have been given.
- Using a cotton ball soaked with the solution you just prepared, slowly and gently wash the upper and inner side of your earlobes. A little twisting, back and forth movements will do well.
- To ensure you clean the area as close to your piercing site as possible. It is advisable to use an earbud to clean as close to the piercing site as possible.
- Rotate your posts at least three times after you have finished cleaning it.
These simple steps of cleaning pierced ear, especially when it is infected, have proven to be very important to many people.
How Can I Help Prevent Infections
- Recommended age for pierced ears
Pierced earrings should not be worn until a child is old enough to know not to fidget with them or take them out and put them in her mouth . Ideally, the ears should not be pierced until a child can play an active part in the decision .
- Prevention of infections when ears are first pierced
- Do not pierce your childs ears if she has a tendency to bleed easily, form thick scars , or get staph skin infections.
- Have your childs earlobes pierced by someone who is experienced and understands sterile technique. Piercing by someone inexperienced can result in infections or a cosmetically poor result.
- The initial posts should be 14-carat gold or stainless steel.
- Do not remove the posts for 6 weeks.
- Apply the earring clasp loosely to allow for swelling.
- After washing the hands, clean both sides of the earlobes with an ear care antiseptic usually containing benzalkonium chloride . Then turn the posts approximately 3 rotations. Do this twice a day for the first 6 weeks.