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Best Antibiotic For Ear Piercing Infection

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How Can You Treat An Infected Ear Piercing

Medical Myth: Ear Infections Require Antibiotics

Most of the time, you can treat infections at home if you catch them early enough. Dr. Kaplan recommends going back to the place where you got your piercing to have the area evaluated . Places that do piercings see this kind of thing all the time and should be able to recommend next steps based on your situation.

In general, though, these are the recommended steps, per Kim Nichols, MD, board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and founding director of NicholsMD in Greenwich, Connecticut:

  • Start by washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Grab a saline solution, either store bought or homemade . Do not use alcohol to clean as it can dry out an infection and delay healing.
  • Soak your piercing in the saline solution or use a cotton swab to gently clean around both sides of the earlobe. Avoid using products like cotton balls and gauze. They can catch more easily on the piercing and irritate it.
  • Air dry your piercing. The less the piercing is touched and moved around, the better.
  • Repeat three times a day.
  • Typically, ear lobe piercings heal in about six weeks, with cartilage piercings taking longer. And despite your urge to rotate the piercingdon’t. At least not until after it’s healed. “Twisting and turning a new piercing could damage the delicate skin and hinder the healing process,” says Dr. Nichols. It can also expose your new piercing to germs and other bacteria on your hands, which could lead to another infection and scarring.

    Significant Swelling And Redness

    Does the site of your childs ear piercing look significantly puffier than normal? That could be a red flag for a potential infection.

    Some swelling is to be expected following the trauma of an ear piercing. However, if your childs ear appears significantly large, red, and warm to the touch, it could mean that an infection is brewing.

    Inflammation shouldnt last longer than a week and should be considered abnormal if it persists beyond that. If major swelling and redness havent subsided within a few days of the piercing, contact your childs doctor.

    Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

    If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

    Minor Infection in Newly Pierced Ear in Last 6 Weeks

  • What You Should Know About Infections in Newly Pierced Ears:
  • Minor pierced ear infections can be treated at home.
  • With proper care, most will clear up in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
  • Treating New Pierced Ear Infections :
  • Don’t take out the earring! Clean the infected area 3 times a day.
  • Wash hands with soap and water before touching the ear or earring.
  • Use cotton swab dipped in pierced ear solution .
  • Clean exposed earring . Also, clean the ear lobe.
  • Then turn the earring 3 times. Reason: To prevent the skin from sticking to the post.
  • Pierced Ear Solution:
  • Minor Infection in Ear Pierced More Than 6 Weeks Ago and Healed

  • What You Should Know About Infections in Well-Healed Pierced Ears:
  • Minor pierced ear infections can be treated at home.
  • With proper care, most will clear up in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
  • Clean Earring with Rubbing Alcohol:
  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Remove the earring from the ear.
  • Clean the earring and post with rubbing alcohol.
  • Do this 3 times per day.
  • Clean Earlobe with Rubbing Alcohol:
  • Then wash away any crusting from the earlobe with soap and water.
  • Use rubbing alcohol and some gauze to gently clean around the hole. Do this on both sides of the earlobe.
  • If the alcohol stings, use pierced ear solution instead.
  • Antibiotic Ointment:
  • Then put the earring back in.
  • What to Expect:
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    Perichondritis: Not Just Simple Cellulitis

    Background: Perichondritis is an infection of the connective tissue of the ear that covers the cartilaginous auricle or pinna, excluding the lobule . The term perichondritis is itself a misnomer, as the cartilage is almost always involved, with abscess formation and cavitation . Perichondritis can be a devastating disease, and if left improperly treated, the infection can worsen into a liquefying chondritis resulting in disfigurement and/or loss of the external ear . Unfortunately, misdiagnosis and mistreatment is common. In one small retrospective review, the overwhelming majority of patients presenting to a large general hospital were prescribed antibiotics without appropriate antimicrobial coverage, resulting in a significant number of patients developing chondral deformities or cauliflower ear .

    What Do Doctors Prescribe For Infected Piercings

    Medical mystery: A teen

    Oral antibiotics such as cephalexin or clindamycin provide coverage for streptococcus and staphylococcus. If concerns for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus exist, then oral trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole confers adequate coverage.

    10 Related Question Answers Found

    Treating the infection at home

  • Wash your hands before touching or cleaning your piercing.
  • Clean around the piercing with a saltwater rinse three times a day.
  • Dont use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or antibiotic ointments.
  • Dont remove the piercing.
  • Clean the piercing on both sides of your earlobe.
  • How are infected ear piercings treated?

  • Applying a warm compress to the infected earlobe or cartilage.
  • Rinsing the infected earlobe with sterile saline.
  • Using antibiotic ointment on the affected area.
  • Taking oral antibiotics for more severe infections.
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    Causes And Risk Factors

    It is important to be extra careful when handling a new piercing. If bacteria get into a newpiercing, it can cause infection. Other causes include:

    • Removing the earrings before the piercing heals
    • Touching the ears with dirty hands
    • Putting your head in a pool, river, lake, or hot tub before the piercing is healed
    • Forgetting to clean the new piercings twice daily as recommended by a professional
    • Getting the ears pierced with equipment that is not sterilized or in a place that is not properly cleaned or set up for ear piercing

    Why Cartilage Infections Are Harder To Treat


    Dr. Madsen:

    So if someone comes into the ER and they’ve got ear pain and ear swelling, and then I push on the bones behind the ear, kind of at the base of the skull there, and they’re really tender there, that can be a very serious thing too. And that, typically, requires IV antibiotics, sometimes even surgery.

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    How To Treat Infected Ear Piercings: A Dermatologist Explains


    When you have an infected piercing, your first thought might be to take your jewelry out. While that might seem like the best thing to do, it’s best to leave this to your doctor. If your piercing is actually infected, and you remove the jewelry on your own, you may spread the bacteria. Instead, see a dermatologist, who will likely swab the area for a culture and start a course of topical and/or oral antibiotics to treat the infected skin piercing. Your derm will likely also want to monitor the area for potential abscess formation throughout your treatment plan. To learn more, we spoke to two dermatologists, Y. Claire Chang, and Alicia Zalka.

    Meet the Expert

    • Y. Claire Chang, MD, is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in Manhattan.
    • Alicia Zalka, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale. She also is the founder of Surface Deep.

    Mild infections can be treated easily enough at home. If it’s just a little irritated, slightly red or warm, you can try a few things to clear it up on your own:

    What Does A Severe Ear Piercing Infection Look Like

    How To Heal Ear Piercing Infection Choosing Right Antibiotic Cream | Demo At Home

    Your infection is bad if you have these symptoms:

    • Severe redness
    • Abscess formation
    • Fever

    If the skin around your piercing becomes red and tender and you have a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, you may be dealing with cellulitis, a common and potentially serious bacterial skin infection, and you’ll want to get yourself to a doc right away.

    Of course, you can also have an allergy to the hardware in your ear and that can look like an infection. But unfortunately, it can be tough for non-doctors to figure out the difference, Dr. Mankarious says. “Professionals often think of allergies based on a history of allergies to metals as well as a lack of response to antibiotic treatment,” she says. So if you’re unsure, it’s best to see a doc.

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    What Does An Infected Ear Piercing Look Like 10 Photos To Help You Spot An Infection

    Plus, doctors explain what to do if you have one.


    In a perfect world, youd get your ears pierced and spend the rest of your life effortlessly rocking cute earrings. In reality? Sometimes piercings get infected, andnot gonna sugar-coat itit can be really effing gross.

    Luckily, infected ear piercings arent the norm and, if you get pierced at a reputable place and practice solid piercing after-care, youre probably going to be just fine. Still, infected piercings can and do happen to good people. Whomp, whomp.

    If you find your piercing looking or feeling a little…off, it can be hard to tell the difference between minor irritation and a full-blown infection. But Kenneth A. Kaplan, MD, an otolaryngologist with ENT and Allergy Associates in New Jersey, and Leila Mankarious, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, are here to clear things up that confusion and answer all the burning questions you have about infected ear piercings.

    Plus, the 10 photos ahead can help you identify if you’re indeed dealing with an infection.

    How do ear piercings even get infected?

    Anyone can get an infected ear piercing, but it usually happens due to one of two major reasons, Dr. Kaplan says: Either your piercing site wasnt adequately sterilized before you were pierced, or you kinda-sorta-definitely didnt take great care of it after you were pierced.

    Do only new ear piercings get infected?

    What ear piercings are most likely to become infected?

    Signs Of An Infection

    • Breathing difficulties
    • Swollen mouth and tongue that blocks the airway

    No matter where you were pierced, there is a risk of infection, hepatitis B or C, and tetanus. You may also develop a nasal staph infection if the jewelry is pierced through the hard nasal cartilage instead of the softer, fleshy part of the septum.

    “Some sites are more prone to infection than others. For example, high-rim ear piercings in the cartilage lead to infections more often than ear lobe piercings because they don’t have as much blood flow,” says Shannahan.

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    What Are Symptoms Of Ear Infections

    Symptoms of ear infections include:

    Additional signs of ear infections in young children and infants may also include:

    • Pulling on the ear/rubbing the ear
    • Fussiness

    Middle ear infection is usually caused by:

    • Bacteria the most common bacterial causes include:
    • Streptococcus pneumoniae
    • Haemophilus influenzae
    • Flu

    Infections of the ear canal are usually caused by water that remains in the outer ear canal for an extended period of time, which, when combined with the earwax and debris already present in the ear canal, provided a moist environment for bacteria or yeast to grow and cause infection. While its commonly called swimmers ear, diving or bathing and showering can also permit just enough water into the ear to create a fertile breeding ground for infection.

    When To Call A Doctor

    Piercing Infection: The Complete Symptoms and Treatment ...

    How do you know when to call a doctor? The first thing you should check is the symptoms. If you experience any of the following symptoms, then it signifies you should contact a doctor:

    • Fever
    • The clasp becomes implanted into your skin
    • The infection worsens even after home treatment
    • Redness and inflammation spread beyond the site

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    Can You Prevent An Ear Infection

    Are all piercings bound to end up getting infected? The answer is no. Look at the causes of infection. As you can see, they’re all preventable. Here are some to help prevent infection.

  • Find an experienced professional piercer.
  • Check to see if the jewelry is new. It should come in a package.
  • Don’t make a habit of touching your piercing.
  • Clean your ears twice a day using saline solution.
  • When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider:

    • Pain and swelling in the cartilage or earlobe
    • Discharge or yellow pus from the area of the piercing
    • Fever or chills
    • The area of the piercing is red and swollen
    • The earring or clasp is embedded in the ear or stuck in the earlobe
    • Swelling and redness has spread beyond the area of the earring

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    Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

    Culture and gram stain of purulent drainage of skin infections can help aid in the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections, but this is not a requirement . Alternatively, it is not recommended to perform a swab, biopsy, or blood culture from a cellulitis infection . For abscesses, incision and drainage is the recommended treatment . For infections involved with penetrating trauma, as could be the case with a recent body piercing, treatment with antimicrobials directed against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus species are recommended . Recommended treatment duration is five days, but therapy extension is advisable if not improved during that treatment period .

    Cleaning The Infected Cartilage Piercing

    How to Treat Ear Piercing Infections

    It takes a long time for infected cartilage piercings to heal because there is not enough blood circulation to that area. But it can heal faster with proper aftercare. Here is how to clean the pierced area for a more rapid healing process.

    The recommended method for cleaning and aftercare is a saline solution. A saline solution is a mix of sea salt and warm water. Before applying on pierced site, make sure the area is properly cleaned and free of dirt, pus, dead tissue, and other material. Some individuals find the use of antibacterial soap more effective, but then you shouldnt have sensitive skin.

    Read Next:

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    Cellulitis Of The External Ear

    Cellulitis of the external ear may result from trauma, infected atopic dermatitis, or ear piercing. Infections of the earlobe tend to be relatively minor and are generally due to S. aureus, and respond to local measures of cleansing and warm compresses and oral antistaphylococcal antibiotics. More serious infections that involve the upper ear and its cartilage are associated with high risk for cosmetic deformation. Infections from ear cartilage piercing are most often due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa.23 Wound culture is important to guide therapy. Empirical intravenous antibiotic coverage for P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, and group A streptococcus is often recommended to lessen the chance of a poor cosmetic result. Cefepime, piperacillin/tazobactam, or ceftazidime are good choices, but ceftazidime is a less potent gram-positive agent. Severe lesions or lesions failing to respond to initial therapy require consideration of MRSA as outlined for other forms of cellulitis.

    H Francois Jordaan, Johann W Schneider, in, 2009

    Ear Piercing Infection Effects

    If the infection is in the acute early stages, catching it right away can help stop the situation from becoming chronic. Seek medical advice if you were recently diagnosed with an acute ear infection, but the treatment advised by your doctor has been ineffective, or your symptoms are increasing. If you are exhibiting signs of a recurring infection, you need to get in to see the doctor at once.

    These regimen of antibiotics shall soon eradicate the infection. Antibiotic ear drops may also help to reduce any pain you experience. For severe, chronic diseases, the doctor may advise surgery if you do not experience any improvement after receiving treatment or your hearing is being affected. For children who have their ears pierces on their younger years, particularly hearing problems can cause speech and language impediments during a formative period, so the issue must be dealt with summarily.

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    What Causes Infected Ear Piercings

    If bacteria gets into a new piercing, it can lead to infection. You may expose your new piercing to harmful bacteria by:

    • Getting your ears pierced in an unhygienic environment or with unsterilized equipment.
    • Touching your ears with dirty hands.
    • Removing your earrings before the piercing heals.
    • Neglecting to clean your new piercings daily.
    • Swimming or submerging your head in a pool, hot tub, lake or river before your piercings fully heal.

    How Do You Know If Your Ear Piercing Is Infected

    Perichondritis: Not Just Simple Cellulitis

    If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider:

    • Pain and swelling in the cartilage or earlobe
    • Discharge or yellow pus from the area of the piercing
    • Fever or chills
    • The area of the piercing is red and swollen
    • The earring or clasp is embedded in the ear or stuck in the earlobe
    • Swelling and redness have spread beyond the area of the earring

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    Can An Old Ear Piercing Still Get Infected

    An old ear piercing can get infected. It is important to keep the area clean. The following situations can lead to an infection of an old piercing:

    • Touching earrings with dirty hands
    • Putting the posts of earrings in at the wrong angle
    • Not cleaning posts and earrings daily
    • Wearing heavy earrings that could cause a scratch or tear in the ear channel
    • If the post or back of an earring has nickel, this can cause an allergic reaction.

    Causes Of Infections In Newly Pierced Ear

    • Piercing the ears with tools or earring posts that aren’t clean
    • Not cleaning the earlobes daily
    • Taking the earring out before the channel is healed
    • Touching earrings with dirty hands
    • Earring backs that are too tight against the earlobe. Reason: pressure from tight earrings reduces blood flow to the earlobe.
    • Posts that have nickel in them can also cause an itchy, allergic reaction

    Read Also: How To Stop An Ear Infection From Getting Worse

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