Treating an Infected Ear Piercing

by April Reinhardt
(last updated April 25, 2013)

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.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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