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Signs of an Ear Piercing Infection & How to Treat an Infected Cartilage or Ear Bump in Draper, UT

Last updated: Dec 18, 2022 Post in Otolaryngology In Brooklyn by Century Medical & Dental Clinic.

If your recent ear or cartilage piercing is causing intolerable pain and you are not comfortable with the way it is going, get it checked by a doctor as it may be developing an infection. Ear piercing infections, infected cartilages, or ear bumps can be treated at home, but in some cases, you need medical help and antibiotics to get rid of the infection, pain, and discharge. The experienced and board-certified otolaryngologists at the Century Medical and Dental Center can determine the extent of the problem and recommend the best care and treatment to prevent it from spreading further. The top otolaryngology doctors NY guide you on how to take care of your piercings and enjoy your new looks without any discomfort.

Ear piercings are common among people of all ages specially youth. Most new piercings take a few weeks to heal. Earlobe piercing heals quickly, but cartilage piercing takes longer to heal because there is less blood flow in this area. Cartilage piercing takes place on the hard part of the ear, and they are more vulnerable to infections due to a lack of blood vessels or nerve cells.

Irritation and pain are normal with a new ear piercing, but if the area is not cleaned and bacteria get into the wound, it can become infected. Mild infection can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but extreme pain requires medical attention.
Ear Piercing Infection

Causes of Ear Piercing Infection

An infected ear piercing occurs when bacteria enter the wound, which can happen in several ways. Bacteria that are left unchecked can result in infection.

There are several causes behind ear piercing infections. They include:

  • Touching your piercing with dirty hands or tools
  • Not giving room for the wound to breathe and heal
  • Wearing tight or uncomfortable earrings
  • Too much handling of the piercing
  • Rough handling of the newly pierced area
  • Use of dirty or contaminated tools or hands during the piercing

If the person piercing your ear did not use gloves or the piercing instrument was not sterile, it could result in infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Piercing Infection

Ear piercing infection signs are easy to detect. They include:

  • Yellow, pus-like discharge
  • Swelling
  • Redness around the piercing area
  • Ongoing pain or tenderness
  • Itching and burning
  • Fever of feeling or illness

Cartilage Infection

Piercing in the cartilage has become very popular the recent years for fashion purposes. Auricular cartilage is located at the top of the ear, and it does not have blood vessels or nerve cells. Due to this, piercing at this site takes a longer time to heal. In addition, an infection can cause more complex issues beyond fever, bleeding, and swelling.

In some cases, a cartilage piercing creates an open wound. As it heals, it may look swollen, lumpy, or resemble a bump. Cartilage infection can result in perichondritis, an inflammation of the skin tissue surrounding the cartilage. If perichondritis is left untreated, it can develop into a systemic infection that can turn severe, and affect the whole body. A cartilage infection should not be taken lightly, and you should seek immediate medical attention if there are signs of septic in this area.

How to Treat a Minor Ear Piercing Infection at Home

Minor ear piercing infections can be cured and managed easily at home with little care and attention. Wash your hands well and ensure anything that comes in contact with the wounded part is clean and sterilized.

A minor infection can be treated with the following remedies:
Clean the piercing 3 times a day with a saltwater rinse. Make sure to use sterile saline or make it up by mixing ¼ tsp of salt with 98 oz. of distilled water.
Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or antibiotic ointments as they can impede the healing process and irritate the skin further
Do not take out the piercing as there is a risk of letting the hole close, trapping the infection side.
Do not move the piercing from either side of the lobe. Just pat dry the area with a paper towel as any other materials can leave behind remains or fibers which can complicate the problem
Continue cleaning the affected area until the piercing is completely healed and the infection appears to have cleared.

Routine care is essential during the initial days after piercing. Consult your primary care doctor if you have had a cartilage piercing and it seems infected, turns painful, or develops into a bump. The doctor may suggest pain-relieving medications, oral antibiotics, or topical creams to treat the inflammation or ear bumps to keep the infection from spreading. If your ear infection does not seem to be improving, the doctor may even suggest hospitalization to stop the spread of infection.

When to See a Specialist for an Ear Infection

A piercing is an open wound. An earlobe piercing usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks to heal, but it can take longer if it gets infected. In most cases, a minor ear infection can be managed at home successfully with the doctor’s recommended tips. However, if the symptoms continue to worsen and the infection does not seem to be getting better, medical assistance is crucial.

If the earring or the backing gets stuck inside your earlobe and the pain is not subsiding, specialist help becomes necessary, and you will have to visit the hospital to get it out without causing any injury.

Schedule an appointment with an ear specialist if you develop the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Spread of infection beyond the piercing site
  • Redness and inflammation around the infection site
  • Inability to move the ear
  • The earring clasp get embedded into the skin
  • Infection does not respond to home treatment
  • The upper part of the ear is tender to touch

With proper hygiene and care, you can reduce the risk of ear piercing infections. Thousands of people go through it every day and do not suffer any infections. Call your healthcare provider in case of septic or extreme pain to get timely treatment and relief from pain.

Preventing Ear and Cartilage Piercing Infection

You must follow the aftercare instructions carefully to avoid infections. Here are some ways to prevent ear and cartilage piercing infections:

  • The first step to preventing ear and cartilage infection is to visit a professional for piercing rather than piercing at home or some shady place
  • Get your ear pierced by needles as they are a safer option as compared to the piercing guns for piercings other than the earlobe
  • Hygiene is essential for both piercing methods, and the aftercare protocols must be followed as advised by the professional
  • Cleaning the ears twice a day with sterile saline water or rinse provided by the piercer
  • Avoid playing with or excessively touching the earring soon after the piercing
  • Make sure the earring does not catch in clothes when getting dressed
  • Sleep on one side to avoid crushing the ear during the healing process or use a cushion to keep the ear elevated

Lack of care can lead to complications, and the infection can spread to the rest of the body. The infection can also worsen or develop an abscess or pus, which becomes painful and takes longer to heal.

Getting your ears or cartilage pierced is pretty safe, but there is a chance your piercings may get infected. Your ear piercing must be treated as a fresh wound, and you must keep the area clean and care for it to ensure it heals timely. Consult an expert otolaryngologist at the Century Medical and Dental Center if the pierced skin shows signs of infection and does not get better with home remedies to get professional treatment. The otolaryngology doctors recommend the best solutions to prevent the further spread of infection and help you seek quick relief.

SHARE THIS POST Page Updated on Dec 18, 2022 by Dr. Dvorkina (Primary Care Doctor) of Century Medical & Dental Center
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