How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing Dermatologist Opinion
While ear piercing is usually a pretty safe procedure, it can also cause infections when its not done properly. Its the reason why you should always work with experts and professionals when dealing with procedures that are involved with the body parts. However, despite all the efforts and safety procedures that are followed to not to get infected, few people end up with getting infections. If you are one of them, dont panic. Keep the infected site always clean and follow the remedies as prescribed. Soon you can see your infections getting improved.
Recognizing the infection is the very first step for treating any infection. Before telling you how to treat an infected ear piercing, let me tell you how to recognize the infection and the factors that trigger the infection. Read on.
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.
BY KORIN MILLER
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?
Keep Pierced Ears Clean
Whether it’s you, a friend or family member doing the cleaning, it’s important to follow these steps two times per day:
Once your ear has healed entirely, take out your earrings every night prior to sleeping. For the first time that you remove them, wash them carefully with rubbing alcohol. The same applies for any other earrings that you’ll be wearing.;
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How Do You Know If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:
- Pain and swelling in the cartilage or earlobe
- Discharge or yellow pus from the area of the piercing
- Fever or chills
- The area of the piercing is red and swollen
- The earring or clasp is embedded in the ear or stuck in the earlobe
- Swelling and redness have spread beyond the area of the earring
How To Heal A Swollen Painful Infected Tragus Piercings Fast
Do you have a swollen tragus piercing? Does it hurt? Are the signs similar to any infections of an ear piercing? Can tragus can get infected after it is pierced and it has healed. In this article, we shall set a stage to enable you to have a good idea and be able to spot infection signs, such as bumps and how to treat and take proper care of your pierced tragus.
Ear piercing has become fashionably popular these days and has hit the beauty industry by storm. Interestingly, nowadays it is not a body modification majorly for the females. Men have also unsurprisingly joined ear piercing race.
The other main purpose besides cosmetics and beauty is to have a jewelry to bring out its meaning of beauty. Before you go for this body modification, find out more about your skin by visiting a dermatologist. This will help you in selecting the best jewelry including earrings, studs, etc. That is not what this post will focus on. We are going to dwell mainly on infected;ones
Let us start by looking at signs of infection.
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Severe Infection See A Doctor
If you are suffering from severe piercings infection, it is always advisable to see a doctor. Furthermore, if your clasp gets embedded on your;skin , your swelling and reddening go beyond the piercing site, you have a fever or you do not see any improvement, ensure you see a doctor for further treatment.
Furthermore, it is good to see a doctor if your infected piercing begins to bleed.
Note: If you;have an ear cartilage piercing infection, or any infection if you have those on the upper part will comprehensively cover it under cartilage piercings in our next post.
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References and sources
Use Of Poor Piercing Equipment Or Unprofessional Piercing
Before you get any piercing done on your body, one of the most important factors to consider will be sterilization.
When piercing any part of your body, the equipment in use will be coming into contact with your blood supply.
Even though there are people who will argue that piercing guns cause less pain, there is a need to understand that any external object that is exposed to your blood supply is likely to cause problems.
When piercing the cartilage, the piercing gun will force a stud through the skin surface, and this will cause the skin to rip for it to make room for the jewelry, thus exposes it to trauma, and the chances of getting an infected cartilage piercing.
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Stop Reading Immediately & Call A Doctor Stat If:
If you think something is wrong with your piercing, it is always advisable to contact a professional. But, according to APP, it is especially important to contact a piercer or medical professional if you notice the following symptoms:
- Excessive pus at the site that is greenish, grayish, or yellowish and has an odor
- Chills, fever, dizziness, disorientation, vomiting, or nausea
- You have intense pain, redness or severe swelling
- Red streaks from the insertion site
- Any similar reaction that seems abnormal or lasts more than a week
Use your common sense and knowledge of your own body at the first sign of trouble. It’s better to check in with a professional than to risk a serious infection.
With this knowledge, you can safely handle any piercing. Now go forth and get that metal.
This post was originally published on May 28, 2015. It was updated and republished on June 25, 2019. Additional reporting by Katie Dupere.
This article was originally published on May 28, 2015
Saline Cleaning And Warm Water
The best way to take care of a cartilage piercing is by properly cleaning the area. You can go about this process by using warm water once you have taken a shower using hair shampoo.
Warm water is vital as it helps in relieving the pain caused by the piercing, while at the same time relieving any swelling that could be present.
Additionally, cleaning will also play an important role in promoting healing, as it will discourage microbes from accumulating on the surface near the piercing.
Using a saline solution to perform the cleaning will also guarantee better relief, especially when this piercing hurts. Saline solutions have also been known to help in accelerating the healing process of the piercing.
However, it is imperative to note that there are cleaning solutions which can cause terrible results when used on new or piercings that are just starting to heal.
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Would It Be Recommended To To Put Betadine And Antibiotic Gell On An Infected Earlobe Piercing
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Over The Counter Solutions
You can also use OTC medications to treat infections. But you have to be a bit cautious before using these chemical compositions. I recommend you to read the link stated as;Further Reading before giving a try with these remedies.
Regardless of whether its an ointment or a solution or a powdery substance, if you feel itching or burning sensation after applying it on the infected area, it is recommended to clean that substance immediately and give a try with another remedy.
1.Benzalkonium Chloride Solution
- Wash your hands and infected area of piercing with an antibacterial soap or antibacterial sanitizer.
- Apply the solution on infected area twice a day. Your condition should start to improve.
- This solution is not recommended to treat the blistered skin. Continue this remedy up to a week.
Further Reading: drugs.com
- Clean the area of infection.
- On the infected area, apply a small amount of Neosporin ointment and massage it gently.
- Repeat this procedure twice a day for a week.
Further Reading: drugs.com;
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What Causes Infected Ear Piercings
If bacteria gets into a new piercing, it can lead to infection. You may expose your new piercing to harmful bacteria by:
- Getting your ears pierced in an unhygienic environment or with unsterilized equipment.
- Touching your ears with dirty hands.
- Removing your earrings before the piercing heals.
- Neglecting to clean your new piercings daily.
- Swimming or submerging your head in a pool, hot tub, lake or river before your piercings fully heal.
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
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Whats An Infected Ear Piercing
An infected ear piercing is an ear piercing that fails to heal the right way. Typically, a new ear piercing takes six to eight weeks to heal. Higher piercings may take up to 12 weeks. Whichever the case, the healing usually progresses without any alarms or excessive pain. The wound should have healed entirely within the stipulated period.
If the wound exhibits unusual signs such as excessive redness, swelling, warmth, itchiness, or tenderness, its likely to be infected. The same applies if the piercing is taking longer than usual to heal.
The most common cause is a bacterial infection. If bacteria find a way into the fresh wound, it can result in an infection. Getting pierced in an unhygienic environment is the leading cause of bacterial infections, followed by unsterilized equipment. Touching the wound with dirty hands also increases the risk of infection.
Caring For Pierced Ears
How to care for pierced ears
Although ear piercings are more common and can be less risky than other body piercings, they can still cause complications if not handled safely. For anyone thinking about getting their ears pierced, dermatologists urge people to follow these steps to avoid infection.
Although ear piercings are more common and can be less risky than other body piercings, they can still cause complications if not handled safely. For anyone thinking about getting their ears pierced, dermatologists urge people to follow these steps to avoid infection:
Always wash your hands before touching newly pierced ears.
Leave the earrings in your ears for six weeks or more, even at night. Removing the starter earrings too early may cause the piercings to close.
Regularly wash your ears with soap and water. Carefully do this at least once a day to avoid infection.
Twist the earrings a few times daily. This will help keep the pierced holes open.
Put rubbing alcohol on your ears. Using a cotton ball or pad dipped in rubbing alcohol, gently clean the skin around the piercings twice a day to keep away germs and prevent scabbing. You may also apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly around the opening.
After piercing your ears, keep an eye on them to make sure they dont get sore, red or puffy and that the holes dont ooze yellowish liquid. If any of this occurs and doesnt go away quickly, see a board-certified dermatologist, as you may have an infection.
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Determine If Your Piercing Is Infected
The first thing is to determine if your piercing is actually infected. “A piercing may be infected if you notice redness, swelling, pain or tenderness, warmth, crusting, and yellow drainage around the piercing site,” says Chang. “More severe infections can lead to spreading redness/swelling, fevers, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.”
“My experience is that bellybutton piercings are the ones most at risk for infections. The second most common would be nose piercings,” says Zalka.
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.
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Preventing Infection Of Ear Piercing
Piercing is basically an open wound until it is completely healed. During this healing process, this open wound is prone to bacteria and germs, which reside around the skin. When a piercing gets infected, it is not only painful but sometimes, difficult to treat, as it happens to the area with limited access. Hence, preventing it from occurring at all is a wise decision. To do this, there are some things to perform, such as:
- Keep the piercing clean and avoid touching it with dirty hands or instruments.
- Do not wear too tight jewelry, or loosen them to get the room for the piercing wound to breathe and heal.
- Avoid wearing jewelry which triggers itching and irritation, as it may lead to redness and inflammation.
- Clean the jewelry often to prevent bacteria build up. Soak it in saline solution, hot water, or rubbing alcohol to kill all residing bacteria.
- Get the ear pierced professionally. Avoid doing it by yourself or at places with unsterilized instruments. Avoid scratching pierced ear after the piercing procedure is performed.
Fever And High Temperature
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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Use Saline Solutions When Cleaning The Area
Saline solutions are the best home remedies when it comes to dealing with an infected cartilage piercing.
Even though the saline solution will not be able to kill any bacteria that is present, it helps keep the bacteria at minimum levels, in such a way that the body will be able to control how they spread.
- A single shot of distilled warm water
- A quarter teaspoon of table salt
Procedure to prepare:
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. 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, explains Kenneth A. Kaplan, MD, an otolaryngologist with ENT and Allergy Associates in New Jersey.
Touching your piercing a lot, while it’s still a new, open wound, can also expose it to bacteria that can cause an infection.
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Things To Remember If You’re Considering Getting A Piercing
- Don’t pierce yourself . Go to a professional piercer with good, consistent online reviews.
- At the first sign of an infection, make an appointment with your doctor. If symptoms persist after treatment, see your doctor again. Small infections can grow and potentially be life threatened if not treated properly.
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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Always Wash Your Hands Before Touching Or Treating Your Piercing
Minor infections can often be treated at home, but it’s important to make sure you are doing so with clean hands. “Make sure you do not have a fever or swollen lymph nodes, which suggests you should seek a doctor for further evaluation,” notes Chang. “Avoid excessively touching or manipulating the infected site as this can worsen the irritation and inflammation. If touching the area, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly beforehand.” Soap and water, please!
If you don’t think the jewelry is the cause, then the source of the infection is probably bacterial. The way to fix that is to kill and/or clear the bacteria. The best way to accomplish this is to start cleaning the area twice a day and doing sea salt soaks twice a day; basically treating it like a brand new piercing. The heat and the salt both help to draw out pus and other fluids that may contain bacteria. Hopefully, following that regimen for a few days will clear up an infection in its early stages. You can do this with a q-tip and sterile saline or saltwater . Remember to clean both the front and back of the earlobe.;
“Avoid alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to the affected area, as these can further irritate the skin and slow down the healing process,” says Chang.
Neilmed Neilcleanse Piercing Aftercare
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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Fever Chills Or Upset Stomach
Ear piercing infections can present themselves as fever, chills, or an upset stomach. In this case, we would recommend seeing a doctor especially if youre experiencing other signs of infection or if your piercing is still in the healing process. Make sure to tell your doctor that you have a new piercing so they can determine whether or not this is the cause.
Is it infected?
These symptoms are pretty common outside of piercing infections. So there is a possibility that the timing is merely a coincidence. Consider your recent eating habits and any contact with sick people.
Regardless of whether the infection is piercing related, its worth a trip to your health provider if the symptoms persist. Nobody likes being sick.
How To Treat A Minor Ear Piercing Infection
You may be able to take care of it at home with minor infections. However, seek medical treatment if youve had a cartilage piercing and it seems infected. Oral antibiotics may be required as these infections can be difficult to treat. In severe infections, hospitalization may be necessary. To treat a minor infection, follow the steps below.1) Before treating your infection, wash your hands well.2) With a saltwater rinse, clean around the piercing 3 times a day. Be sure use a sterile saline or make it by mixing /4 tsp. of salt with 8 oz. of distilled water.3) Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or antibiotic ointments as they can impede the healing process and cause further skin irritation.4) Do not take out the piercing, otherwise, you risk letting the hole close and trap infection.5) On both sides of your earlobe, do not remove the piercing. With paper towels, pat the area dry. Do not use other materials or fibers can remain behind.6) Continue this cleaning regimen twice a day until the piercing is totally healed once the infection appears to have cleared. Routine care is vital during the 6-8 weeks of healing for an initial piercing.
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Contact Your Healthcare Provider If:
- You have a fever.
- You feel a bump at the piercing site.
- Your earlobe feels warmer or more itchy than usual.
- Your earlobe is painful, red, or swollen. You may have yellow, smelly discharge from the piercing site.
- You cannot see your earring because your earlobe covers it up.
- Your earring is pulled out and rips your earlobe.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.