What Factors Contribute To Infected Ear Piercings
The main reason why your piercings get infected is when bacteria is introduced into the open wound. Bacteria can make its way into your piercing if you do the following:
#1 getting your ears pierced by an amateur in an unhygienic studio
#2 playing with your new jewelry with dirty hands
#3 prematurely removing your jewelry even if the piercing hasnt completely healed
#4 forgetting to clean your piercing as recommended
#5 swimming in a hot tub, river, lake, or pool while the site is still healing
How To Prevent Cartilage Piercing Infections In The Future
Once your piercing is free from infection, you can take a few easy steps to prevent another infection in the future.
- Dont touch your piercing with dirty hands, and dont twist or play with it
- Continue cleaning the piercing with saline daily until its fully healed
- Sleep so the piercing is not pressed against your pillow and make sure you have a clean pillow and pillowcase just in case you move around at night.
When To See An Ent Specialist For An Ear Infection
Make an appointment with an ENT specialist. As mentioned, a minor infection of an ear piercing can be treated at home successfully. However, if the following symptoms below develop, be sure to get medical assistance. A fever develops. Beyond the piercing site, the infection, or redness and inflammation, spreads. If within 2 days the infection doesnt improve with home treatment. The earring is immovable. The earring clasp is embedded in your skin.Remember, with proper care and cleaning, you can reduce the risk of ear piercing infections. In the event you experience an extreme case of infection, for assistance.
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The Ear Piercing Anatomy
Ear piercing or any type of piercing is an open wound just like any other wound but the difference is we leave the wound of ear piercing open and uncovered. The recovery time for other wounds is up to 3 weeks but for ear piercing, it takes six to eight weeks to heal. Piercings done on the harder parts of your ear, also known as a cartilage piercing generally take longer to heal and can be more prone to infection. Moreover, there can be various other ways in which your ear piercing can get infected.
The bacteria, of any type, if left around that area can turn into an infection very quickly. Touching your piercing with dirty hands or instruments can cause serious infection. If the earrings are on too tightly, not allowing room for the wound to breathe and heal, an infection can develop. A piercing can also get infected if theres too much handling of the piercing or the post of the earring is rough.
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
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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.
Sign & Symptoms Of Cartilage Piercing Infections
You dont want to wait until your cartilage piercing is severely infected before commencing treatment, as this increases the chance that youll need to seek medical intervention. If you catch the infection early, theres no reason why you cant treat it effectively at home.
To catch a cartilage piercing infection in the early stages, look for these symptoms:
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Using An Antibiotic To Treat An Infected Piercing
Be very careful. The following instructions ONLY apply if an infection is present. They do not apply to the use of an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in a fresh piercing!
If a topical antibiotic is going to be effective, then improvement should be seen within four days. Any topical antibiotic should be used for at least a week before stopping, and should not be used for more than two weeks . Antibiotics not not kill bacteria on contact. They work slowly, building up to an effective concentration within the tissues, and, usually, starving the bacteria over a period of time. When an infection disappears from the application of an antibiotic, the bacteria may not be very healthy, but they are not dead. Continuing the use of the antibiotic ensures that the bacteria die without regaining their health.
Antibiotic therapy for an infection should never be relied on as the sole treatment. The factors that precipitated the infection in the first place should be identified and corrected.
Should I Clean The Crust Off My Piercing
Crusting after body piercing is perfectly normalthis is just the result of your body trying to heal itself. 1? Dead blood cells and plasma make their way to the surface and then dry when exposed to air. While perfectly normal, these crusties do need to be cleaned carefully and thoroughly whenever you notice them.
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Cleaning The Infected Cartilage Piercing
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.
What Does A Severe Ear Piercing Infection Look Like
Your infection is bad if you have these symptoms:
- Severe redness
- Abscess formation
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 youll 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 youre unsure, its best to see a doc.
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How Can I Prevent A Pierced Ear Infection
Taking good care of your piercings is key to preventing infection. You should:
- Leave your earrings in day and night until the piercings fully heal.
- Wash your hands before touching your earlobes or cartilage.
- Wash the piercing twice daily with a mild soap or cleanser.
- Apply rubbing alcohol and/or antibiotic ointment to the area twice daily.
- Gently rotate the earrings daily after applying antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to lubricate the piercing.
Tattoos And Piercings: What The Urgent Care Provider Needs To Know
Urgent message: Tattoos and piercings are becoming commonplace, but patients who experience complications with these forms of body art may present to urgent care centers, as access to dermatology and plastics specialists frequently requires a referral or extended wait periods. The urgent care provider should possess a working knowledge about how tattoos and piercings are performed, how to recognize the complications, and how to treat them appropriately.
Tracey Quail Davidoff, MD
Introduction The term tattoo is derived from the Tahitian word tattau, which translates to mark.1 Tattoos occur when pigment granules are embedded into the skin either purposefully or accidentally. Purposeful tattoos have been performed for thousands of years to identify individuals, associate them with groups, for protection, and for artistic expression. Accidental tattoos occur when pigment, such as graphite, dirt, or other substances are ground into the skin during an injury. This article will focus on purposeful tattoos.
Previously in the Western world, decorative tattoos were primarily seen in men, especially in members of the armed forces or other groups to inspire solidarity. Beginning in the 1990s, tattooing gained more popularity and is now quite common in young people of both sexes, including professionals.
Figure 1. Henna tattoo. Photo courtesy of Dewanshi Patel, PA-C.
Figure 2. Tattoo, 1 day old. Note the red inflammation around the tattooed area.
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Whats The Healing Time
There are different types of tissue in different parts of your ear, so how long it takes to heal depends on your body and the place youve pierced.
Earlobes usually take 6-8 weeks. If you pierce the cartilage on the side of your ear, it can take 4 months to a year. Ask your piercing professional for an estimate.
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Things You Should Know
- See your doctor if you have an infection. Use an antibiotic cream if the infection is mild, or prescription pills if it’s serious.
- Treat the infection at home by cleaning the infection with a saline solution 3 times per day.
- Manage the pain with a warm compress or an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Avoid touching your ear or putting any objects on or over your ear, like headphones.
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How To Prevent Helix Ear Piercings From Getting Infected
As we said above, the first stage of helix piercing infection prevention is going to a certified and well-reviewed piercing studio. However, there are other things you can do to help ensure the healing process goes smoothly :
Now you know how to heal a helix ear piercing specifically, you can learn some more general piercing care with our guide to treating an infected ear piercing.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Treat an Infected Helix Ear Piercing, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.
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What Is An Infected Ear Piercing
An ear piercing is a hole through your earlobe or the cartilage in your middle or upper ear. An infected ear piercing may be red, swollen, sore, warm, itchy or tender. Sometimes the piercing oozes blood or white, yellow or greenish pus.
A new piercing is an open wound that can take several weeks to fully heal. During that time, any bacteria that enter the wound can lead to infection.
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What Do Doctors Prescribe For Infected Piercings
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.
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Treating the infection at home
How are infected ear piercings treated?
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Using An Antibiotic With A Fresh Piercing
Using an ointment to prevent infection will improve the chances that the initial healing steps of a piercing will be completed without interference from infections by opportunistic micro-organisms. The more diligent the use, the less likely an infection will occur. Any topical antibiotic should be used for at least a week before stopping, and should not be used for more than two weeks . If, however, an infection does occur during this period, continuing to use the ointment is like locking the barn door after the horse is stolen. Discontinue use, and look after the infection.
To apply the antibiotic ointment, put a small amount on the jewelry. Use the jewelry is used to work it through to coat the inside of the piercing until the jewelry slides easily. After this is done, any excess antibiotic on the surface should be cleaned away so it does not gather dirt. This should be done each time the piercing is washed to replace the ointment previously applied that has been washed out by the soap.
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Even With Meticulous Care Cartilage Piercings Become Infected About 30% Of The Time
One study followed a more than 450 nurses who pierced their ears. About 30% of high ear piercings, or piercings of the cartilage of the pinna/upper ear, become infected. In comparison only about 20% of ear lobe piercings become infected.
The good news is that the treatment for infected piercings is simple when caught early. If there is no pus draining and no firm pocket of pus in the ear that needs to be drained , infected ear cartilage can be treated with common oral antibiotics. Most infected ear piercings are caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and so you need an antibiotic that covers this bacteria, such as ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin. Amoxcillin, Augmentin, and Keflex do not cover pseudomonas infections and are not the right drug to treat infected ear piercings.
What Is The Best Elective Medication To Treat A Tainted Ear Puncturing
Depends how severely I surmise, on the off chance that its ridiculously terrible, bunches of puss and so on, perhaps a visit to the specialist is required yet in the event that somewhat red and not much else then regular washing day to day with saline for a couple of days ought to get it done. In the event that it doesnt then ask the drug specialist or visit the specialist.
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In Addition An Ointment Is Greasy And Clogs The Pores This Means That The Wound Of The Piercing Can Still Not Heal Properly And Dirt Can Also Easily Stick To The Wound
It is also true that locally applied antibiotics can lead to an allergic reaction with allergic contact eczema as a result. Other possible side effects include itching, rash, redness, swelling, irritation, contact eczema and a burning, pricking or tingling sensation of the skin. The skin can also start to scab as a result of the locally applied antibiotics.
Should there still be an infection, then an antibiotic is often required. With piercings it is much more effective to take antibiotics orally in the form of tablets or capsules. Should it still have to be administered locally for faster functioning, then preferably in the form of a gel.
The difference between the different ways of administration:
- An ointment is made with a greasy base. This is especially suitable for dry skin.
- A cream is less greasy and absorbed faster through the skin. This is for example pleasant when used in the face.
- A gel is not greasy, easily absorbed and dries quickly.
- A capsule or tablet works from the inside so that the wound is not disturbed any further.
Treatment For Ear Piercing Infection
The infection, as long as it is minor, can be treated at home. The infections in piercings are very hard to treat as they may require antibiotics if the infection gets out of hand. If these infections are not attended properly, you might end up in the hospital as it becomes a serious case.
To prevent yourself from infections or to take care of them at home, read the following tips:
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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