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Treating an Infected Ear Piercing

When I was in the eight grade, Mom allowed my sister and I to get our ears pierced. When I was in the eleventh grade, I thought it a good idea to get two more ear piercings on each ear. While the second piercing went well, the third piercing did not. The third piercing on my right ear swelled and became an angry red. I applied alcohol, yet kept the earring in place, knowing that if I removed the earring, the hole would close. I developed such a bad infection at the site that I went to the doctor. He removed the earring, applied antibiotic ointment, and told me not to put the earring back in. To this day, I have three holes in my left ear, and two in my right because the hole did, indeed, grow back together.

How do you treat an infected ear piercing, without allowing the hole to grow back together? Follow these steps for doing just that:

  1. Remove the earring from the ear.
  2. Pour a capful of alcohol and allow the earring stud and back to sit in the alcohol while you clean the earlobe.
  3. Squeeze any pus from the ear hole and then wash the ear lobe with hot water and soap.
  4. With a sterile cotton swab, apply alcohol to the hole, front and back.
  5. Use another clean cotton swab to apply antibiotic ointment to the hole, making sure that you get the ointment inside of the wound.
  6. With sterile tweezers, remove the earring from the alcohol and clean it with a sterile cotton swab.
  7. Apply antibiotic ointment to the earring post and back, reinsert the earring into the hole, and clamp in place with the back.

Follow that regimen three times each day until the infection clears up. If it is a new piercing, you can leave the earring out of the hole for a few hours, but it's best to reinsert it overnight. When you wake in the morning, clean the wound as described above.

If you have an old piercing that has become infected, remove the earring and clean the hole on both sides of the ear using hot water and soap. Apply alcohol to the piercing with a cotton swab. Perform that measure three times each day. Do not reinsert the earring until the infection clears up. You can also apply a warm compress to the infected piercing, antibiotic ointment, and hydrogen peroxide. Make sure that you wear earrings made of pure gold or silver, and not base metal. Many people are sensitive to inexpensive earrings since they contain nickel. An allergic reaction to base metal can cause an infection.


Comments for this tip:

Nyssa Shoals    14 Jul 2015, 23:42
Hi! Last year on my birthday, i got one piercing in each ear. About three days ago, i was watching tv and felt my ears. They were wet. I thought it was probably just the solution i got from the girl who pierced my ears, but it wasn't. The next morning, i took my earrings out and the wet stuff dried. I showed my grandma and she said it was pus. She also told me to apply rubbing alcohol to see if it burned, which meant that my ears were infected. It turned out that they were. I've been putting my solution on my ears, but the pus still remained. How can i stop the infection? I'm afraid it's going to get worse! :(
Dr. Chen    07 Jun 2015, 22:22
Actually they are correct that if the earring is an old piercing and it has been more than 6 months you shoild remove the earring. If it is new is will close up and trap the infection, yes but if it is already healed it will not close up imediatly. I do agree the you should not use rubbing alcohol because it is much too strong. Try using sea salt in water or a solution from your piercer.
Philip d    10 Sep 2012, 06:15
This is not good advice seems like you've just thought doing something like this is a good idea. First step do not remove earring or bar because it can allow skin to close over the piercing allow the formation of an abscess, secondly do not use alcohol as it is too severe and can kill newly forming skin cells.

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