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How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing – Dermatologist Opinion

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While ear piercing is usually a pretty safe procedure, it can also cause infections when it’s not done properly. It’s 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, don’t 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.

How Do You Know If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected?

You should know what is normal after getting a new ear piercing so you can catch the infections as soon as it is developed and treat it promptly.

Ear piercing breaks the skin and creates the wound. Technically speaking, ear piercing is nothing but an open wound. So having the discomforts like swelling, pain, little redness, itching, and feeling of Rundown” is completely normal for the first few hours.  However, the wound should become clean, painless and odorless within 48 hours of piercing. It’s the way our immune system works.

When your ears show the following symptoms, you should understand that something goes wrong with your new ear piercing.

Signs and Symptoms Of Infected Ear Piercing

  • Swelling around the ear piercing site that constantly gets worse.
  • A thick yellow, green or dark brown pus-like discharges coming out of piercing.
  • Redness and/ or tenderness.
  • Itching.
  • Mild Fever (If it’s severe then it’s recommended to see the doctor immediately).
  • Inflammation around the piercing site.
  • Bad odor.
  • Heat and burning sensation at the piercing site.
  • Extreme bleeding.
  • Changing of skin color, usually, it will turn into black.
If you feel any of these symptoms after 2 days of ear piercing, understand it as a call for action. Don’t ignore these signs or wait until the infections start to ooze out. Normally, these infections can easily be treated through home remedies itself. But when it’s not treated at a right time, it may even end up with some serious issues.

Causes Of Ear Piercing Infections

Ear piercing infections can happen because of several ways. The most prominent ones are listed below:

  • Usage of non sterilized equipment like needles, post, and gloves
  • Usage of allergic low-quality cheap earrings
  • Usage of non-disposable type guns
  • Inexperienced poor handling of the ear
  • Using infected earring
  • Touching the ear piercing site with unclean hands
  • Allergic reactions to certain types of metals
  • Submerging the fresh piercing with water
  • Sharing personal items like towel
  • Wearing the tight earrings on a fresh ear piercing

How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

Keep The Infected Site As Clean As Possible

Not only for ear piercings but it’s the golden rule for treating any infection. Clean your hands before and after touching the infected site. The infection may get even worse if your hands have any left bacteria.

Wash the piercing site at least twice a day using a cotton ball moistened with antibacterial soap. You can also use saline solution or the antibacterial solution recommended by your piercing studio when your ears were pierced.

Proven Home Remedies to Treat the Infected Ear Piercing

Say no to the treatments involved with peroxide. Using alcohol-based sanitizers to clean the infection is perfectly okay. They are great disinfectant but it is not recommended to be used as sole “leave in” remedies. When you hear someone suggesting alcohol and peroxide for treatment, remember that these are a bit of a joke from the dermatologists’ view. These remedies will dry out your skin and prevent it to the exposure of fresh air. In a nutshell, moist and fresh air are the prominent factors for skin rejuvenation. Use your common sense before going with these remedies.

1.Salt Water

As the sea salt is rich in antimicrobial properties, proper cleaning using sea salt will kill the bacteria and germs that are responsible for developing wound infections.
  • Take a cup of water and boil it to 100 Degree Celsius. Mix 2 tbsp of sea salt and stir it well. Let it cool down to a bearable heat.
  • Avoid using your bare hands to wash the infected piercing site.
  • Take a Q tip, Dip it in the sea salted water and clean the infection. Do not use the same edge of Q tip again to dip in the sea salted water to clean the ear piercings.
  • Use 4 or 5 Q tips to clean both front and back sides of infection for a single course of time.
  • Clean your infection minimum thrice a day for 3 to 4 days for better results.

2. Essential Oils

Apart from producing the sweet and pleasant aroma, essential oils have the potential to treat infectious diseases. As the oils like lavender oil, tea tree oil, chamomile oil, Eucalyptus Oil and Oregano Oil are rich in antibacterial, anti-infective and antiseptic properties, you can use it as alternative safe remedies to treat the infected wounds, bruises, scrapes and burns. You can use any one of these five essential oils to treat the infection. They are 100% safe and effective.
  • Lavender oil can be applied directly on the infected site. Apply it on the infected site at least twice a day.
  • If you are planning to use Tea tree oil or Eucalyptus oil or Oregano Oil to treat the infection, it is recommended to dilute the oil before the usage. Take a cup of water and mix 1 tbsp of essential oil of your choice. Dilute the mixture well and apply it on the infected area. Applying these oils directly on the skin may cause redness or irritation. Instead of water, you can use coconut oil or Aloe vera gel or almond oil and mix the essential oil for dilution.
  • Like lavender oil, Chamomile oil can be directly applied to the infected area. If it’s needed, you can dilute it with coconut oil which works well as a carrier oil.

3.Warm Compress

Apply a warm compress on the infected piercing for the minimum of 20 minutes per day. As it increases the blood flow around the infected site, you can enjoy the speedy recovery.

4. 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 it’s 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

Benzalkonium chloride is a well known topical antiseptic solution that is used to prevent the infections. Generally, it is prescribed for minor cuts, wounds, inflammation, and scrapes.
  • 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

2.Neosporin Ointment

Neosporin is an effective antibiotic cream that is used in preventing bacterial infections.  It is widely recommended for treating wounds, burns, inflammation, scratches and minor skin injuries.
  • 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 

How To Choose The Best Antibacterial soap or Alcohol Based sanitizer?

Antibacterial soaps designed for the households usually contain triclosan as an active ingredient in the concentration between 0.1% to 0.45%. However, this low concentration is no better than any other ordinary soap in fighting various bacterial infections. They hardly work in destroying the bacterial count. Instead, they contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. To increase the efficiency, get the antibacterial soaps with high concentration of triclosan or chlorhexidine agents or use alcohol-based sanitizer that contains minimum of 60% alcohol content. The purell advanced hand sanitizer linked here has 70% of ethyl alcohol and it’s the best selling one too.

When To See A Doctor?

If your ear piercing infection does not seem to get improved and it worsens day by day even after 3 days of using the home remedies, instead of waiting for the worse to happen, it’s highly recommended to fix an appointment with your Dermatologists. Ignoring or postponing the professional treatment may even result in the prolonged effects that may sustain for months or years.

As the seawater and lake water have uncountable numbers of bacteria, exposure to these areas will spread the infection. So it’s good to avoid swimming for a minimum of 6 weeks. If you can afford gold, use 14-carat earring as initial post. If it’s not possible to get a gold, get a stainless earring. This will reduce the possibilities of getting infected through metal. Avoid removing the earrings from your ear until the infection is healed.

Have anything to add up to the guide, how to treat an infected ear piercing? Please leave your comments below.


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