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
Fever In Young Infants
If a baby younger than 3 months old has a rectal temperature or forehead temperature of 100.4 F or higher, they need to go to the emergency room, even if there are no other symptoms.
For infants age 6 months or older, toddlers, and older children: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are options.
Never give children aspirin, as it puts them at risk of a rare but serious condition known as Reye’s syndrome.
For adults: Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can help. Neither aspirin nor naproxen should be given to children unless directed by a healthcare provider.
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:
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.
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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. In comparison only about 20% of ear lobe piercings become infected.
The good news is that the treatment for infected piercings is simple when caught early. If there is no pus draining and no firm pocket of pus in the ear that needs to be drained , infected ear cartilage can be treated with common oral antibiotics. Most infected ear piercings are caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and so you need an antibiotic that covers this bacteria, such as ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin. Amoxcillin, Augmentin, and Keflex do not cover pseudomonas infections and are not the right drug to treat infected ear piercings.
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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Natural Remedies For Ear Infections
Having ear pain from an ear infection doesnt always mean you need antibiotics. Instead, try these at-home strategies to feel better.
Ear infections arent just painful they can also take one to two weeks to fully heal, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. And taking a wait-and-see-approach meaning, without antibiotics is recommended for many children and adults with ear infections. This is based on guidelines published in the journal Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery in February 2016. Natural remedies can also help.
Theres no scientific data to support home remedies , but they may be soothing, and there could be a placebo effect, says otolaryngologist Matthew Bush, MD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery with University of Kentucky Health Care in Lexington.
The good news about these strategies? They wont harm you and they might do just the trick.
Rose and Bush agree that over-the-counter pain medications can help you feel better. If you have allergies, getting away from any triggers that cause congestion, which leads to ear infections, may also provide some relief, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
What About A Rejected Or Migrating Piercinghow Do You Treat That Issue
Foreign objects like piercings can be seen as threats by your body, which can causes a negative response at the piercing site, explains Dr. Nichols. “Generally when this happens, the body tries to fight the piercing by pushing it out and healing over it,” she says.
If it looks like your jewelry is moving away from the original piercing site, it could be migrating and your body may be rejecting it. Rejection can also be caused by infections or metal allergies.
The best thing to do when a piercing starts to migrate or get rejected is make an appointment with a medical professional or board-certified dermatologist. They will remove it immediately. Leaving it in will only further irritate the piercing site. “If youd like to re-pierce, keep the jewelry and bring it back to your piercer to ask about a different jewelry option,” Dr. Nichols advises.
Then make sure to follow all post-piercing care instructions and avoid touching or sleeping on the new piercing. Hopefully, with a different metal and proper care, the piercing will fully heal the second time around.
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When To See The Doctor
Minor ear piercing infections can progress to perichondritis, abscess formation, and necrosis with or without systemic symptoms. Perichondritis is inflammation of the perichondrium, a layer of tissue surrounding the cartilage of the external part of the ear known as the pinna. Meanwhile, necrosis is a form of irreversible cell injury that results in the death of cells in the affected area.
For the above reasons, you should see the doctor promptly if home remedies down work. Most experts recommend seeing the doctor if the symptoms dont subside after a week of home treatment.
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. Try 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 are both claimed to help 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.
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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 To Tell If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected
Its normal for the skin around a new piercing to look a little unusual for a while, so dont panic if it does. Just because theres something going on doesnt mean its necessarily an infection. The information below will help you determine whether youre experiencing ordinary healing symptoms, a piercing complication, or if your piercing really is infected.
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Causes Of Ear Piercing Infection
Developing into an infection, any bacteria left to fester is a detriment. You can introduce an infection simply by touching your piercing with dirty hands or instruments. Not allowing room for the wound to breathe and heal, an infection can develop in the event the earrings are on too tightly. Should there be too much handling of the piercing or the post of the earring is rough, a piercing can also get infected. If the person piercing your ears didnt use gloves, or if the posts themselves werent sterile an infection can also occur if unsterile instruments were used.
Signs Of Normal Healing
After a piercing, the body will take steps to begin healing as it would after any other type of wound or physical trauma. The typical healing time for an earlobe piercing is 68 weeks, while ear cartilage piercings typically heal in 612 months, depending on the specific person and piercing site. During that time, you can expect some light bleeding, swelling, itching, and the discharge of clear lymph fluid. Good ear piercing aftercare should help alleviate these normal healing symptoms.
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Try Tea Tree Oil Thats Diluted
You may also accelerate the healing process of an infected ear piercing, new or old, with the use of tea tree oil it is very good at killing off infection-causing microbes. But since tea tree oil is so powerful, it should be diluted with equal amounts of water first. Apply diluted tea tree oil on the problem area up to thrice a day.
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
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Garlic May Interact With Some Medications
Garlic supplements should not be taken with medications that are transported by P-gp. This includes:
Because of the increased risk of bleeding associated with garlic supplements, talk to your healthcare provider about their use if you take an anticoagulant such as warfarin or if you need surgery.
Garlic supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir and other medications, dietary herbs, or supplements.
Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, including garlic.
Can You Prevent An Ear Infection
Are all piercings bound to end up getting infected? The answer is no. Look at the causes of infection. As you can see, they’re all preventable. Here are some to help prevent infection.
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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
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.
When To See A Doctor
It is recommended that you see an ENT doctor if the pain worsens or does not stop after two days of medication. Your doctor will probably recommend antibiotics to combat the infection.
Seek immediate medical care in case you notice any of the following:
- Stiff, painful neck
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Pus, or blood oozing out of the ear
- High fever, even after taking ibuprofen in an effort of how to get rid of ear infection.
- Painful swelling around the ear
- Tinnitus or noise in the ear
For a child who is below six months, it is best to take him/her to a doctor immediately you notice signs of an ear infection. Do not try any home remedies on infants and small children.
Signs of an Ear Infection to Look Out for in Infants
Since they are young and are not able to express how they are feeling, always be alert for the following symptoms of ear infection:
- Child keeps tugging and pulling at the ear due to the pain and discomfort.
- The baby is crying endlessly.
- The baby has difficulty sleeping.
- The baby has fever.
- Fluid is coming out of the ear.
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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.
Know When Its An Emergency
If there is pus draining from your pierced cartilage or an abscess in the ear, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics and possible surgical drainage of the infection. This is a medical emergency. Do not wait even a few hours. It can result in permanent loss of ear cartilage and a poor cosmetic outcome.
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.
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Tips For Preventing An Infected Ear Piercing
- Go to an experienced and qualified piercer instead of doing your own piercings.
- Make sure your earrings are clean, sterile, and made of a high-quality metal.
- Avoid picking at any scabs that form and use a warm saline solution to soften it.
- Clean your piercing twice a day to keep bacteria from entering the piercing site.
- Don’t go swimming until the piercing fully heals.
- Don’t fasten your earring backs too tightly against the earlobe to encourage blood flow.
- Make sure you’re sleeping on a clean pillowcase during the healing process.
What Do I Need To Know About An Ear Infection
An ear infection is also called otitis media. Blocked or swollen eustachian tubes can cause an infection. Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat. They drain fluid from the middle ear. You may have a buildup of fluid in your ear. Germs build up in the fluid and infection develops.
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How To Use It
If using OTC drops, follow the directions on the label.