Infected ear piercing - what to do?

Symptoms, treatment and prevention
Last update on Oct, 13, 2021

Infected ear piercing: everything you need to know

There are instances in which, despite the fact that the perforation of the ear has been carried out in a licensed center and followed all the sanitary standards, an infection can still occur. Let's see how to best resolve it.

Perforated ear lobe infection

Some slight pain and discomfort can be experienced for a few weeks following the perforation. However, this only becomes an infection if the pain/discomfort is accompanied by redness, swelling and irritation. The important thing is to act in time to prevent the problem from worsening. 

Old ear piercing infection

If left untreated, the infection can worsen and trigger more severe complications over the years. In these cases, we recommend undergoing a dermatological examination to understand the origin of the problem. 

Infected tragus, septum and helix

In the case of more delicate piercings, such as the helix, tragus, rook or daith, it is necessary to have the piercer explain the specific treatment for that type of piercing. In fact, the disinfection procedures healing times will vary. In the case of particular piercings such as the helix, trago, tower or daith, it is necessary to have the piercer explain the specific treatment for that type of piercin as the frequency of aftercare and healing times may vary.

Symptoms and signs of an infected ear piercing

It is fairly easy to identify an ear infection caused by a piercing. The main symptoms are:

  • redness and swelling surrounding the wound;
  • pulsation or feeling of heat in the piercing area;
  • contact pain and excessive sensitivity;
  • a foul-smelling discharge of yellowish or greenish fluid (pus);
  • fever.

Swollen ear piercing

Experiencing ear pain and sensitivity after getting a piercing is quite normal and can last up to a few weeks. However, if the pain persists and is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, throbbing and pus, make sure to seek medical care. 

Pus around the ear piercing

In some cases, bacterial infections may lead to the accumulation of pus around the wound. If neglected, the abscess may require surgical drainage and resul in possible scarring.

Lumbs, knods, new skin covering the ear piercing

On occasion, lumps (also known as keloids) may form on the skin in response to the ear piercing injure. In come cases, they may disappear on their own after a few months, while in others, they may need to be surgically removed. Either way, make sure to see your doctor if more severe symptoms surface.

The causes of an infected ear piercing

Infections can be caused by a variety of external factors, including but not limited to: the piercer during the piercing procedure, who may have failed to comply with proper sanitary conditions; the healing period, due to improper or lack of post-piercing care; or bacteria, which we came into contact with or was present on our hands.

Consequences of an infected ear piercing

Ear infections resulting from a piercing can be treated in a short time, without any particular consequences, using home remedies or with prescribed antibiotics. If left untreated, they can cause:

  • abscess;
  • allergic reactions;
  • sepsis; 
  • toxic shock syndrome;
  • scarring;
  • cauliflower ear.

How to treat an infected ear piercing

If you experience symptoms of infection or an allergic reaction, you can use home remedies, such as saline water, for the first 48 hours. However, if the problem persists or you are running a fever, consult your doctor to avoid complications.

Home remedies

Clean the piercing with a saline solution twice a day, you can buy the ready-made solution or prepare it at home by mixing water and salt.

When to see a doctor

If the infection does not subside in 48 hours or if there is a fever, make sure to consult your doctor. The most common treatments prescribed are topical antibiotic creams and oral antibiotics.

What to avoid during treatment

Avoid exposure to the sun, sand, pool water and cosmetics while the wound is healing. Also, do not remove the piercing for more than the time necessary to clean it.

How to prevent inflammation in the ear holes

To prevent an ear infection, it is very important to: seek out a licensed and qualified piercing center; avoid DIY piercings at all costs; follow all the recommended sanitation practices recommended by the piercer; and lastly but not least, always wash your hands before touching the affected area.

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