Ear piercing is one of the oldest known types of body piercing. It is not only considered trendy but also hold religious importance in certain parts of the world. No matter how sharp and excruciating pain you face while getting your ear pierced, it is always in fashion.
Ear piercing does not cause any health related problems, but it can leave your ears vulnerable to a number of microbial infections in the first few weeks. Though the infection can be completely cured, it can give you a tough and painful time if left untreated for long. Kids and teenagers are more prone to piercing infections. Therefore, it is always better to know the symptoms, causes, treatments and preventive measures for piercing infection, so that you can prevent its occurrence in the first place.
How will I know if my piercing is infected?
If there is any kind of infection at the site of piercing, you may observe some or all the symptoms given below.
- Yellow discharge from the piercing
- Irritation, burning sensation and pain in the affected area
- Redness or formation of red bumps
- Swelling of the pierced area
What are the possible causes of ear piercing infection?
When the germs and microbes present on the skin enter the body through the pierced area and cause infections. It is not necessary that you will get an infection every time you go for piercing, but there are some causes which may increase the chances of getting infection. Following are some of them.
- Piercing the ear with an unsterilized equipment
- Inserting unsterilized posts into the ear
- Frequently touching the ear lobes with unwashed, dirty hands
- Wearing tight earrings or the clasp may be closed too tightly. Both the cases reduce the blood flow to the ear lobes, leaving them susceptible to infection
- Presence of a rough or uneven surface on the earring, that repeatedly scratches the channel and cause infection
- Allergic reaction to the earring metal. Kids and teenagers are more susceptible to get nickel allergy.
How to treat piercing infection?
Once you observe infection at the piercing site, you need to treat it as soon as possible. Generally, antibiotics are prescribed to treat these infections. But there are few home remedies which are really effective and can be easily used at home.
- Dip a cotton ball in warm water mixed with non-iodized salt in the ratio of 8:1, and put it on the infection site for five minutes. Do this four times a day.
- Soak a cotton ball in sea salt or in an Epsom salt solution, and apply on the affected area for five minutes. Do it only twice a day.
- Rotate the earring or try to move it at least once in a day with clean hands.
- Gently rub an ice-cube on the infected area of the ear lobe. This reduces inflammation.
- Perichondrium is the cartilage found in the ear. Inflammation in the perichondrium is called perichondritis. This causes swelling and terrible pain. Ear piercing infection in cartilage should be treated immediately, otherwise it may spread to the entire ear. Perichondritis takes around 6-8 weeks to heal.
How can I prevent an infection?
As we all known prevention is better than cure, there are few preventive measure which if followed properly, will considerably reduce the chances of getting your piercing infected.
- In case you suffer from bleeding, occurrence of keloids, and are vulnerable to infections caused by staphylococcus, it's better to avoid an any type of body piercing.
- Gunshot piercing should be avoided as it causes tissue damage.
- Get your ears pierced by an expert, who is aware of the sterile techniques to be employed.
- Make sure that the initial post is of 14-carat gold or stainless steel.
- Clasp the earrings loose enough to maintain the blood flow in the ear loop.
- Take out your earrings and clean the area with a diluted solution of alcohol. This dehydrates and kills all the microorganisms, and thus prevents infection. Do it thrice in the first 20-25 days of ear piercing.
- Apply antibiotic cream on the pierced area after a shower and before bedtime, everyday.
- Do not touch your earrings after inserting them. Fingers are often dirty and may cause infection.
- Keep your telephone and other such things, clean and sterile to prevent them from contaminating your ear lobes.
- Do not remove your earring from the infected ear, as the hole will being to close which might trap the infection and lead to complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.