Infected Ear Piercings: Causes & Treatment

Infected Ear Piercings: Although many people sail through an ear piercing with no problems, others are less fortunate. Infection is a common problem with any piercing, even one as routine as an ear piercing.

Infections aren’t fun, but remember that most are temporary until you treat them properly. It might take a while, but you’ll get out the other side in no time if you follow the great advice in this article.

What is an ear piercing infection?

Ear piercing infection is when a simple ear piercing drastically worsens. When infected, a harmful organism establishes itself in your piercing hole and causes problems that result in a variety of symptoms.

Infected Ear Piercings
Infected Ear Piercings

In general, a piercing infection occurs no differently than any other type of skin infection. Infection occurs when bacteria get into the open wound and kill healthy cells throughout the area. This causes nasty visible symptoms and prolongs healing times until the infection is cleared.

What causes an infected ear piercing?

If bacteria are trapped in the small hole your piercer created, it can be difficult to get there. If you miss doing your ear piercing cleaning, you’re even less likely to leave that spot.

Once the bacterium is present, it begins to multiply. One thing leads to another and soon you have a whole team of bacteria causing trouble. When it does, you will see and feel the signs of infection.

Ear stretching can also be a cause of infection as micro-cracks may appear during the stretching process.

signs and symptoms

You might think spotting an infection would be easy. After all, you’ll be constantly looking in the mirror to admire your new piercing . If anything was really wrong, you would surely notice it, right?

Before dismissing certain warning signs as a normal part of the ear piercing process, you need to have a clear understanding of what to expect and what not to expect after ear piercing.

Here are some common infection symptoms to look out for. However, you also need to remember that just because you have one or a few of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infection. It could just be a side effect of the piercing procedure.

Increasing pain

Ear piercing is not known to be a major of pain. If kids can tolerate it, you should be able to too. However, this does not mean that piercing the ears does not cause pain. They may hurt or be sore for the first few days after sitting.

However, if the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse, you may have an infection on your hands.


Redness is one of the vague symptoms of possible infection as many things can cause redness. Redness can occur even when the piercing is done, so it can be very difficult to tell when redness is a normal part of the procedure or when problems are occurring.

If it’s been more than a week since your piercing, the redness shouldn’t be as bad as it was in the early days. So if you are in the second week of your piercing and the redness seems to be getting worse, you should keep a close eye on things. If you have some other symptoms besides redness, the chance of infection increases.

Infected tragus piercing


This is another symptom that can be difficult to decipher. Some swelling is to be expected after an ear piercing. You just traumatized your skin or your cartilage depending on where you pierced. So it is understandable that there will be a slight swelling in the first few days.

If the swelling looks like you’re sprouting another body part out of your ear, that’s a bit much. When it swells so dramatically, something else is going on.

If swelling becomes a real problem for you, you can always try wrapping an ice pack in a cloth and holding it to your ear for a few minutes. This can help with any pain, but it can also reduce this swelling. Once the swelling goes down, you may be able to better assess the situation.

If the swollen area feels very hot to the touch and is also accompanied by severe redness, you should be alert to possible infection.

An extreme case of swelling


One of the biggest indicators of infection is a strong discharge from the piercing site.

A little pus or discharge is normal after a piercing, and you may see discharge for several days. However, if it continues or seems to slow down before becoming a real problem again, you may have an infection.

If the amount of discharge appears to stay the same but changes color and is no longer clear or whitish, this can also lead to infection.

The last thing to look out for about pus is how it smells. Normally, with a healthy discharge, you shouldn’t notice a strong odor. If you start to wince a little because the pus smells so bad, you should call your doctor.


Of all the possible symptoms of infection, this is the one you should fear the most. If you have a fever, it means the infection has spread beyond the site of your piercing. A simple local skin infection does not cause a fever. This is a systematic (whole body) symptom.

If you have a fever from an infection, home treatment is not the answer. You must book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, even if it’s just a precaution.

How to treat an infected ear piercing

If there is no fever and the infection seems mild and not causing you too much pain, you can try treating it at home. This is especially true if the piercing site is on the earlobe.

If the infection is from a helix piercing on the cartilage, you should see a doctor. If you get an infection there, it can be more difficult to treat yourself. It’s best if you go to the doctor to have your bases covered instead.

To treat a minor ear piercing infection yourself, you should wash your hands thoroughly before touching the piercing site. You no longer want to introduce dirt, germs or bacteria into the crease.

Next, you want to prepare a saline solution to apply to the infection. To do this, take a quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt and mix it well with a cup of boiling water. Let the water cool down to avoid scalding yourself. While the water is still warm, use your fingers to apply the salt water to the front and back of the piercing site.

Although you may also use cotton balls and Q-tips to apply the liquid, if you do this, make sure you don’t leave any cotton fibers that could get caught in your piercing.

If you prefer not to mess with making a saltwater solution, there are many specialty sprays on the market.

The best aftercare product I have personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive free. The solution is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and comes in a generous spray bottle for easy application. When used from the start, the spray shortens healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering aches or pains.

When your piercing has been thoroughly cleaned and it’s time to dry the area, don’t reach for your bath towel. There are two grounds that are prohibited.

The towels may already have germs, especially if they aren’t fresh out of the dryer. The second reason to avoid using towels is the same reason you might not want to use cotton balls and Q-tips – the cotton fibers that can get left behind.

Instead, use clean, dry paper towels whenever you need to dry your ears. Because they are single-use, there is less chance of them becoming contaminated when used.

You should ensure that the infected area is cleaned with the sea salt solution twice a day. You should clear out the cleanses as much as possible. A good goal is to shoot once in the morning and once in the evening.

You might be tempted to rub other topical ingredients on your infected area, such as B. alcohol, antibiotic creams or hydrogen peroxide. However, you should not add these items. They can be too dry or irritating to the skin. This can slow down any healing that takes place.

Another thing you may be tempted to do is take out your piercing. You may think that this will help drain the pus from the wound faster, but that’s a big mistake.

If you take the piercing out, the hole will close up quickly, possibly before your infection gets better. In this case, the infection gets trapped inside and has nowhere to go. It’s always best to give it a way to drain. Ideally, leave the piercing in.

If you find that self-care does not help the infection after a few days, you should consult a doctor.


Sometimes infections appear and you never find out why. On the other hand, there’s a smoking gun that gives us a clue as to why things went south and infection set in.

If you know you’ve neglected to follow the basic aftercare hygiene instructions your piercer gave you, you’ll know what went wrong the first time. Following a good ear piercing care routine is your best bet to avoid future infections.

You should always remember to wash your hands as it is one of the best ways to avoid further infection.

Being careful not to injure your piercing site can also help keep your piercing infection-free. Damaged or injured skin allows bacteria to enter. This gives them an open door to do damage.

If you are looking for additional piercings on your ear, you should look for a reputable piercer to do the job. You should hire someone who has high standards of hygiene and isn’t afraid to show you exactly how they meet that standard.

Questioning your prospective piercer for a few minutes can often give you important clues as to whether they are the best choice for the job. If they can’t show you packaged sterile hollow needles, you should have serious doubts as to whether their equipment is sterile at all.

Alte Ohrlochstechinfektionen

While infections are much more common in new ear piercings, they can definitely occur in older ones as well.

When it comes to infections in an older piercing, symptoms are similar to newer ones, and treatment is similar as well. You should also ensure that both sides of the piercing are cleaned with a saline solution and only handle the area with clean hands until the infection is completely gone.

Which piercings are more likely to get infected?

All piercings start out as deep wounds and therefore infection can occur at any piercing site. However, some piercings are more susceptible to infection than others.

Cartilage piercings are generally more likely to become infected and are also usually more difficult to treat. This is because the blood flow to the cartilage is very low, which is a problem on two fronts.

First, the body strives to send enough bacteria-fighting cells to the area to prevent initial infection due to the low blood flow to the area.

Second, due to this low blood flow, antibiotics also have difficulty getting to the area of ​​infection, meaning treatment usually takes longer.


Now you know a little more about deafening infections. If you find you have one, it can cushion the blow. The most important thing is to take deep breaths and avoid panic. Most infections are highly treatable with little long-term harm, as long as you try to treat the infection as soon as possible.

Your ear may temporarily look and feel a little gross, but the good thing is that many infections are usually short-lived and minor.

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