Ear Piercing Infection Symptoms, Reasons And Treatment

ear piercing infectionHi.. Welcome to read this article on preventive solutions and treatments for infected ear piercing.

Ear piercing, a form of ear modification, is the practice of puncturing any part of the ear, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn (1).

Body piercing is a great way to make you stylish and trendy. However, skin infections arising out of this styling method is quite common.

The occurrence of infection after piercing on the ear is easy to cure if you can detect it early and do the right treatments. Your ear could get damaged severely if you do not pay heed to the methods to prevent infection or fail to administer the right treatments on time.

In this article, we shall discuss the ways to identify the symptoms and how to treat the infected ear piercing. It is also worth discussing the reasons for the infection and how to prevent it effectively.

Reasons For Ear Piercing Infection

Infection of the wounds usually happens with the fresh and newly done piercing; within few days after the piercing. It takes about 4 weeks or little more to cure the open wounds on the ear entirely.

Besides infections, there are a number of other complications that might occur after ear piercing.  A study conducted by Biggar and Haughie has found the following complication frequencies in 497 female patients: redness and swelling (30%), drainage (26%), infection (24%), bleeding (11%), cyst formation (4%), large scars (3%), and trauma or tear (2%).

There are several ways an infection after ear piercing can happen. Usually, it is the bacterial infection that makes the piercing wounds to go bad and cause trouble to the ear.  Bacterial infection can occur from improper initial piercing technique or poor hygiene (2).

Let us look at some of the reasons that aggravate the infectious conditions:

  • Use of unsterilized piercing instruments and posts
  • Traumatic tearing of pierced tunnel
  • Presence of a foreign body in the fresh opening on skin and earlobes
  • Frequent touching of pierced area with fingers
  • Wearing tight or large earrings that hurt the earlobes
  • Using poor quality earrings and studs (especially those with rough posts)
  • Forceful insertion of ear studs in fresh piercing
  • Persons with any immune-compromised state
  • Preexisting deformity at the piercing site, such as psoriasis or dermatitis
  • Presence of skin pathogens such as streptococcal species and staphylococcal species in the piercing area (3)
  • Allergic reactions to certain metals like nickel

Symptoms Of Ear Infection

How do you know when your ear piercing is infected? If you know the common symptoms of piercing infection, you can very well detect it by yourself. Early detection of infection and adoption of correct remedial treatments are necessary to contain the infection at the initial stages itself.

How to tell if your ear piercing is infected? We are just coming to that answer exactly. Here are the common signs and symptoms of possible infection from ear piercing:

  • Continuous pain and swelling in the pierced area even after 48 hours of piercing
  • Bleeding or discharge of pus from the affected area even after 2 days of piercing
  • Increasing tenderness in the pierced area
  • White or red bump on the earlobes
  • Dark patches of scarring or boils like swelling on the earlobes
  • An occurrence of fever and physical discomfort (especially in children), some might experience nausea and headache too.
  • Firmly stuck ear studs or post in the opening

Infected Ear Piercing Treatment

It is easy to cure ear piercing infection through proper medical and personal care.

Continuous oozing of infected ear piercing pus is the most vivid symptom of infection. Pain, bleeding, reddish wounds, enlarging wounds, or swelling that last more than two days after the piercing is an indication of possible infection.

Please note that infections from the piercing can occur even after several months or years though mostly they occur in the first week of piercing.

If you notice any of the symptoms of infection after two days of piercing, it is important to seek medical treatment from a physician. Consulting a doctor and having the medical treatment on time will help to avoid severe complications that might otherwise cause serious damage to the ear.

Let me here bring to you some of the best remedial steps to cure infections of piercing:

  • Remove the jewelry if allergic reactions to metals cause the infection, otherwise, keep wearing the studs or earrings to prevent an abscess formation and to keep the pierced tunnel open
  • Use the prescribed antibiotic cream or pills as recommended by the doctor; complete the full course of medicine till the bacteria are fully eliminated
  • Follow the instructions of the expert at the piercing studio regarding cleaning and protection of newly pierced ear
  • Do not touch the pierced wounds with hands, and if you have to do then make sure that your hand is clean
  • Clean the wound with clean cotton swab soaked in antibacterial solution or saline water to remove the pus deposits
  • Do not use peroxide, alcohol or non-prescribed ointments as using them might dry up the skin and block the pierced tunnel
  • Use a warm, moist compress over the infected wound drain out the pus and increase the blood flow to the affected area
  • Make sure that your clothes or hair don’t brush against the wound
  • Avoid swimming in the pool or river till the wounds of piercing are totally healed

infected ear piercingTips For Preventing The Infection

You can prevent the ear piercing becoming infectious by simply adopting healthy preventive steps.

I am glad to suggest you a few preventive methods that can help in preventing infections while doing a new ear piercing or to protect the old ear piercing.

  • Clean and sterilize the posts, studs, and earring that you wear; do not allow dirt to gather around the ear jewelry
  • Do not unnecessarily touch the newly pierced ear till the wounds are healed
  • Clean the wound with cotton swabs and prescribed lotions
  • Do not wear earrings and studs while you sleep at night (do not remove posts/studs from new piercing)
  • Do not use any rough and coarse jewelry as this might hurt the ear piercing; also avoid using low-quality imitation jewelry with loose enamels, colors, and low-grade plastic or metal
  • Avoid wearing tight earrings and large studs
  • Avoid using heavy and loosely dangling earrings as they can tear the earlobe
  • Make sure that the headphones and earphones you use are clean and germs free

How To Clean An Infected Ear After Piercing?

Proper cleaning of pierced wounds is necessary for faster healing of wounds and stopping infections. It is also important to follow the correct ways of cleaning to contain the infection.

Before washing the infected piercing, you should ensure your hands are clean and bacteria free.

An easy infected ear piercing home remedy is washing it with saline solution or sea salt solution. If required you could also use antibacterial soap for cleaning the wounds. Washing the wounds with alcohol solution is good, but not recommended for newly pierced ears.

While cleaning the ear use a cotton ball soaked with the particular solution (sea salt water, saline solution or alcohol based cleanser) you have just prepared to use and gently swab the inner and upper earlobes. Try to remove the pus formation in the infected area thoroughly; dirt or dust must not be found near to affected areas of the ear.

Precautions Before Ear Piercing

The chances of infection are very high with fresh ear piercing. Here are few precautions that should follow before doing new ear piercing for you or children.

1) Work With Trained Professionals: An experienced and professionally trained ear piercing expert does the piercing in the safest manner.

2) Make Sure The Piercer Uses Quality Instruments: Use the best ear piercing equipment that hurts the ears least and avoids tearing of earlobes. Specially designed advanced piercing instruments do not cause pain while piercing.

3) Go To Reputed Ear Piercing Studio: Get the ear piercing done at a reputed studio that is registered and certified by the statutory health authorities of your area or state.

4) Use Only Sterilized Piercing Equipment: It is necessary to make sure that the piercer uses standard equipment that is well sterilized and cleaned thoroughly.

5) The Piercer Should Use Only Non-Allergic Metallic Equipment: The equipment used for piercing should be made of non-allergic metals like surgical steel, gold or titanium. Never use nickel made piercing instruments or jewelry.

6) Do Not Remove Post From The Channel For 6 Weeks:  After piercing the ear, do not remove the post or studs from the fresh cut tunnel for six weeks or till the wound is healed and the tunnel stabilized.

7) Use Only Light Studs Or Posts:  Till the piercing wound is fully healed and the opening is firmly set, do not wear any heavy or tight jewelry.

8) Rotate The Posts In The Pierced Tunnel: After daily cleansing of the wound twice or thrice a day, gently rotates the posts in the tunnel a few times till the process is completed (six weeks usually)

9) Do Not Pierce Infants Ears: The infections are higher when the ears of infants are pierced. It is mainly because the baby will constantly fidget with the piercings that might hurt the wounds and cause infection. It is better to do children’s ear piercing after the age of 4.

The Bottom Line

Infection after the year piercing is quite common, especially after the new piercing. Immediately after you come to learn about infection, you should consult a doctor or the piercing expert to get the best treatments for curing it.

Do not try to treat infection at home as none of us want to cause any severe damage or disfiguration to the earlobes.

Infection resulting from ear piercing can be prevented by avoiding touching the wounds and cleansing the wounds regularly. Avoid doing anything that might aggravate the infections.

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