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Tragus Piercing Infection

Tragus Piercing Infection

Infection to the tragus can occur if you do not take proper care of your piercing. Know all about the causes, symptoms and treatment of an infected tragus piercing, through this write-up.
Deepa Kartha
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2018
Ear Rings Close Up
Ear piercings are one of the most popular types of body piercings, and are no longer restricted to just the earlobes. Tragus piercings are as popular nowadays, and have become a style statement for many. The tragus is the area located just outside the ear canal (the small cartilage at the inner side of the external ear).

The two reasons that make a tragus piercing common and popular, is that it enhances the look of the ear and is least painful of all piercings. Most people say that a tragus piercing does not pain much. The reason being, this area of the ear does not have many nerve endings, hence, the pain is less. However, the cartilage in this area is very thick, and the piercer has to put a lot of pressure to make the gage. Due to this, getting a tragus ear piercing does cause slight discomfort. Just like all other types of piercings, a tragus piercing infection is a common problem too. So, if you are planning to get a piercing done or already have one, it is extremely important for you to know about the related infection.
Causes of an Infected Tragus
Infection is a common issue most people face after a piercing. Since the area of the tragus is small and exposed, the risk for infection is high. Given below are some of the common reasons for a tragus piercing infection.
Improper Aftercare
One of the most common reasons for an infection is improper care and neglect. It is extremely important to clean the piercing at least 2 - 3 times everyday with a sea salt solution, during the healing period. Poor hygiene and aftercare may give rise to an infection.

Excessive Care
On the flip side, another main cause of an infection is excess cleaning of the tragus. Frequent cleaning of the piercing will only aggravate and irritate the infection.

Amateur Piercer
Apart from these reasons, if the piercing is not done by a reputed and experienced piercer, who does not maintain proper hygiene, an infection is likely to occur.

Proper Jewelry
Wearing jewelry that does not suit this kind of piercing can also give rise to an infection. Wearing the wrong kind of jewelry or artificial jewelry made from poor quality material may irritate the skin. Hence, it is important to wear jewelry that is made of platinum, gold, silver or titanium, especially during the healing process. Preferably, metals that are non-corrosive should be chosen. Also, if the jewelry is too tight, it may cause discomfort and delay the healing process.
Notice the Signs and Symptoms
Usually, after any piercing, a slight discomfort will be felt. The piercer will give you an idea of the same. But an infection is an unwanted surprise. Following are the signs and symptoms of a tragus infection.

After a piercing to the tragus is done, one is likely to find some kind of swelling and pain for the first few days. This is quite normal, and will go away after a few days. However, if you find anything amiss after a week or so, chances are there that you have an infected tragus.

If the piercing has become infected, you will experience redness and inflammation. This may also be accompanied by severe pain in the affected area.

Along with this, there is also the chance of developing pustules, i.e.sores around the piercing. A lump filled with pus, that is movable, or bumps in the front or back of the tragus also indicates an infection.

In severe cases, one may also observe discharge of a yellowish or greenish fluid which has a bad odor. The infection can also bleed, and the area may become warm to touch.
Aftercare and Treatment
Proper aftercare is extremely important to avoid any infection of the tragus. Some home remedies and aftercare options are listed below.

When people experience these symptoms, the first thing that they do is to remove the jewelry. This has to be avoided under any circumstances, because it can lead the pierced area to close, trapping the infection inside the body, which can cause other problems. So, never try to remove the jewelry unless absolutely unavoidable!

Keep the infected area clean. Follow a routine of cleaning it with a saline solution. Usually, ¼ teaspoon of sea salt in 1 cup water will help. Do not use excess salt as it will only worsen the infection. It is not advised to use alcohol or similar solutions to clean an infected tragus piercing. Always use a saline solution of sea salt. Use cotton or a Q-tip to clean the tragus. Follow this routine twice a day at least for a few weeks. The infection will gradually heal.

Chamomile tea bags also help in suppressing further infection and aid in healing. Dip the tea bag in warm water, and then lightly press it over the infected area. You can also use this warm water to clean the infection with a Q-stick or cotton.

Do not touch the infection, except when you have to clean it. Make sure your hands are washed with a good antiseptic soap beforehand. You can also use gloves for cleaning. Do not let anybody else touch the piercing either, even though they may want to look at it and help you out.

Do not let anything else touch the infected area. Since it is an external infection, you need to be more careful. Make sure you tie your hair neatly behind the ears. Dirt and oil from the hair can cause the infection to worsen. Avoid using headphones in the infected ear, till it heals. Be extra careful when using cell phones during this time.

It is also advisable to avoid swimming, as pool water is chlorinated and can trigger more complications. Avoid using makeup or any other cosmetics on or near the infection.

While cleaning, make sure the saline solution reaches all sides of the infected area. Be gentle when applying it over the piercing. While the infection is healing, it may form a crusty surface. Do not try to scrape it off, even if it itches. The crusty surface is nothing but a sign that the infection is healing.

If you find that your piercing has got infected and is getting worse, you should consult your piercer or your doctor immediately, who will recommend the treatment necessary to cure it. Using topical creams, ointments and painkillers prescribed by the doctor, can be helpful to ease the pain and swelling.

If the infection is swollen and filled with fluid and pus, try wearing buttoned shirts and clothes. This will help you keep the infected area safe, as T-shirts, pullovers and similar clothes have to be worn from over the head, which may irritate the ear even more while wearing them.

Never sleep on the side of the infected tragus. Sleep flat on your back or on the other side. Make sure the bedding and pillows are clean. You should also change the pillow case regularly, to maintain hygiene and avoid further dirt and bacterial contact.

Always follow the aftercare instructions given by your piercer. If he is a reputed professional, he will be the best person to guide you with necessary aftercare instructions. Religiously follow them for the said amount of time. He may also give you a cleaning solution, a list of dos and don'ts, and guidelines.
Prevention is always better than cure, so take proper care of your piercing. The best move is to get a piercing done from a good and reputed piercer. The proper technique, tools and hygiene, can minimize the chances of an infection, and good aftercare will ensure that it heals faster.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.