How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

Posted by Dr. Cannon on Dec 25th 2022


  • Recognizing and Treating Infections: Infections in ear piercings can be identified through symptoms like redness, pain, swelling, and discharge. Basic home care includes washing hands, cleaning with saltwater or antibacterial solutions, and applying antibacterial cream.Consider using pillow with a hole for better sleep and comfort during the healing process.
  • When to Seek Professional Help: Consult a doctor if earrings or jewelry are stuck, if there's swelling and redness with fever, or if substance discharge is present. Immediate medical attention is crucial for systemic infections with symptoms like fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Special Considerations for Kids: Parents should closely monitor ear piercing infections in kids, looking for signs such as fever, spreading redness, and swelling.Seek medical attention for kids if redness spreads, the child has a fever, or if the child appears very sick.

Ear Piercings feel good and look fashionable. However, they need proper care to heal or you can develop an ear piercing infection.

Let’s see how to treat an infected ear piercing at home and when you should call your doctor.

Why do ear piercings get infections?

Ear piercings are open wounds. If a bacteria enters an open wound, it causes infection. Also, since we touch our face and ears frequently, we may get ear piercing infections when we touch our ears with dirty hands.

Caring for your ear piercings can be hard. Ears stay open most of the time and the germs and bacteria in the environment may infect our ears at any time.

If you follow some ear piercing care practices, you can avoid the pain and suffering of ear piercing.

How to know if your ear piercing has been infected?

Ear piercing infection symptoms are most obvious. Here are some symptoms you will see if you get ear piercing infection.

  • Redness in the ear piercing area
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Fluid discharge from the ear piercing
  • Swelling of the ear piercing area
  • Ear piercings areas getting soft 

Some symptoms may look similar to the ear piercing healing symptoms like pain or fever. However, if the pain or fever persists or other symptoms of the above list appear, consult your doctor.

The confirmed diagnosis of ear piercing infection rests with your doctor, please consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Did you get ear piercing recently and it is hurting your sleep? Try our  ear piercing pillow and get sound sleep with ear piercing. 

Are ear piercing infections common?

A good number of the population gets piercings and a lot of people get ear piercings. However, only a small fraction of people getting ear piercings get an infection in their ear piercings.

The ear lobes are fatty and flashy with generous blood flow. The earlobes heal quickly.

The cartilage is the hard part of the ear. It has relatively less blood flow than the earlobe. The ear cartilage piercings take more time to heal and are more prone to ear piercing infections.

What causes ear piercing infections?

These are some of the ways you may get ear piercing infection

  • Touching your ear piercing with dirty, unwashed hands
  • Use of unsterilized ear piercing equipment or getting your ear pierced in the unhygienic conditions
  • Not keeping ear piercings all the time
  • Not cleaning the ear piercings daily (dermatologists advise cleaning ear piercing twice a day)
  • Bathing in open water like pool, tub, lake, etc. with ear piercing

How to treat infected ear piercings?

The first step in treating an ear piercing infection is not touching it without washing your hands. You can do basic ear piercing care at home without visiting your doctor.

Treating at home

Ear piercing infections are mostly mild and can be treated at home. Here is how you should take  care of your ear at home for quick, painless healing.

  • Wash your hands before you touch your ear piercings
  • Clean your ear piercings with salt water or an anti-bacterial solution
    • Dip cotton ball in the saltwater or antibacterial solution
    • Dap ear piercings with the dipped cotton ball
    • Tap dry your ear piercing with tissue or cotton ball
  • Apply an antibacterial cream or ointment on ear piercing
  • For adults, don't remove earrings in the first 6 weeks at least or the ear piercing hole may close
  • Slight twist your earrings or ear jewelry to un-stuck it

If you take proper care, you will see notable healing only in 2 weeks.

Did you know? When you rest well, you recover better and your ear piercings heal quicker. Rest well and get good sleep with  ear piercing pillow that creates a cushion between your ear and the bedding. Your ear doesn't touch the bedding or pillow and you get good sleep at night. 

When should you call on a doctor?

You may need to call your doctor when:

  • You feel earring or jewelry has stuck and you can't move it
  • You see swelling and redness around your ear piercing and you get fever
  • You see substance discharge from the ear piercing

Remember, your ear piercing infection can expand to the neck or the rest of the body if you don't get it treated.

Take a look at our detailed infographic on how you can take care of your ear piercing for quicker, painless healing. 

How to take care of your ear piercings?

Use SleepEasy Ear Pillow for Better Sleep with Ear Piercings

Sleeping with ear piercing can be hard. You can’t lay on your side for long and the pain wakes you up many times a night.

We have a solution.

Try this dermatologist-created  ear piercing pillow that works like a charm for sleeping with ear piercing without pain.

How To Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

The  ear piercing pillow creates a cushion between your ear and the bedding. Your ear doesn’t touch the bedding directly. There is no pressure on your ear. And you get better sleep with ear piercing and you heal better when you rest better.

SleepEasy Pillow with a Hole in the Middle

SleepEasy Pillow with a Hole in the Middle

Experience unparalleled comfort and relief from ear pain with our innovative pillow designed with a hole in the middle. SleepEasy Pillow with Hole in the Middle was conceived and designed by Dr. Cannon in the late 1980s. His source of inspiration was the plight of CNH patients who were side sleepers and couldn’t sleep well.

SleepEasy Pillow with a Hole in the Middle

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Ear Piercing Infection In Kids

Ear piercing in kids needs more attention on the parent's part.

Look for common ear piercing symptoms like fever, redness of the ear piercing area, swelling, and the redness is spreading.

For infants and toddlers, visit your doctor for any sign of the ear piercing infection.

The daily care instructions for ear piercings in kids include:

  • Washing your hands or tell your kid to wash their hands with an antibacterial soap whenever you touch your kids' ears
  • Clean the ear piercings twice a day
  • Apply antibacterial ointment on the ear piercings

When should you call your doctor?

  • When the redness is spreading beyond the ear piercing site
  • When the kid has a fever
  • The child looks very sick
  • You think you need your kid to take to the doctor 

Types of ear piercing infections

Ear piercing infections can manifest in various forms. Common types include:

  • Localized Infection:Affects the immediate area around the piercing, causing redness, swelling, and tenderness.
  • Cellulitis:An infection spreading to surrounding tissues, leading to increased redness, warmth, and pain.
  • Abscess:Pus accumulation in a confined area, forming a painful lump near the piercing.
  • Keloid Formation: Excessive scar tissue growth, more common in individuals prone to keloids.
  • Systemic Infection:Rare but serious, with symptoms like fever, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Seek immediate medical attention.

It's crucial to address infections promptly. Clean the area with saline solution and consult a healthcare professional if symptoms worsen or persist.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your piercing is healing?

Ear piercing takes 6-9 weeks to heal. The healing symptoms are reduced ear piercing pain, no more fluid discharge, no more substance buildup, and no redness in the ear piercing area.

How to tell if the earlobe piercing is healed?

The signs of healing earlobe piercing are soft earlobe as you had before the piercing without any discharge of fluid, no pain, and no build-up on the earlobe piercing.

How to know when cartilage piercing is healed?

Ear cartilage piercings take longer to heal. Your ear cartilage piercing can take anywhere between 6-9 months to fully heal. You know your ear cartilage has healed when you have no pain, no discharge, no swelling or redness and no soreness.

How can I get good sleep with pierced ears?

Sleeping with ear piercings can be a challenge. When your ear gets pressed or squeezed, it causes pain and disrupts your sleep. We know that insufficient sleep can affect the immune system and it can slow ear piercing healing.
Try our piercing pillow and sleep well with ear piercing.

How to clean piercing with antibacterial soap?

Use mild antibacterial soap. Don't use antibacterial soaps with perfumes. You can also use liquid antibacterial soaps like Lever 2000. Clean your ear piercing with antibacterial soap in these steps.

  • Make some foam with the soap on your hands.
  • Apply the foam to your ear piercing.
  • Leave it on for at least 15 seconds.
  • Wash it with water.
  • Tap dry with tissue or cotton.
How much salt to use to clean piercings?

For one cup of warm water, distilled or boiled, use 1/4th to 1/8th of a teaspoon of the sea salt. Don't add extra salt as it may cause irritation.

How to relieve itchy piercing?

Simply washing your ear piercing regularly with saline water or antibacterial soap solution, and applying antibacterial ointment or cream will alleviate the itchy piercing pain and discomfort.

How long for lobe piercings to heal?

Lobe piercings are the quickest to heal. On average, a lobe piercing will heal in 6-9 weeks considerably or completely within 3 months.
Disclaimer for CNH: This health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Will an infected ear piercing heal on its own?

An infection may not always resolve on its own. If you suspect an infection, clean the area with saline solution and see a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

Should I take my earring out if it's infected?

Removing the earring can trap the infection. Clean the piercing with saline solution, and consult a professional for guidance on whether to remove the jewelry.

How do you treat an irritated piercing?

Clean the piercing with saline solution, avoid irritating substances, and ensure proper aftercare. If irritation persists, consult with your piercer or a healthcare professional.

How can I make my piercing heal faster?

Promote healing by maintaining good hygiene, cleaning with saline solution, avoiding trauma, and following proper aftercare instructions. Consult your piercer if you have concerns about healing progress.