How to treat an ear piercing infection, according to doctors

Here's how to treat an ear piercing infection so you can go back to rocking those gorgeous hoops ASAP

How to treat an ear piercing infection, earrings, ear piercings
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Curious how to treat an ear piercing infection? Don't stress: we'll guide you through the best advice—straight from medical experts—so that your lobes are happy, healthy, and sporting beautiful summer jewelry without any complications. Go on, add those studs and cuffs to your shopping cart—you know you want to!

Fortunately, ear-piercing infections are fairly common and don't typically result in much, if any, aggravation. The Cleveland Clinic notes that millions of people who get piercings normally don't experience serious side effects. However, the minor infections that can occur usually clear up within a few days. You should be mindful that infections are more likely to form in the upper part of the ear due to cartilage and less blood flow. 

Regardless of what ear piercing trends you're eyeing or where you're thinking about getting punctured, you can avoid problems before even arriving at your appointment. All it takes is exploration and planning. (And shopping for the perfect accessories, of course.) Here's how to treat an ear piercing infection, according to the experts.

Close-Up Of Woman Wearing Earring - How to treat an ear piercing infection

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How to treat an ear piercing infection: what to know before you go

"It is important to choose a reputable place to have your piercing performed," Dr. Anna Guanche, a board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert, tells My Imperfect Life. "Many don’t realize that even your local dermatology office may offer this service."

Dr. Doris Day, a New York City-based dermatologist, echoes that sentiment and insists that people do their research before scheduling an appointment. She believes that piercing guns are the most effective method. (Do consult the professionals if you have an allergy to nickel or medal.) 

But it's not all about a dependable source; those who choose to have their ears pierced have to be proactive. Dr. Guanche insists that it's important to follow the rules and directions of the piecer. Some of those instructions, per the Cleveland Clinic, are as follows: 

  • Don't touch your ears with dirty hands, as this can cause bacteria to build up
  • Don't remove your earrings before your piercing is healed 
  • Don't forget to clean your new piercing on a daily basis 
  • Don't submerge yourself in water until your piercings are healed completely 

How to treat an ear piercing infection that has already developed

OK, so you're noticing some redness and itching, and you're thinking there might be a slight problem with your new piercing. Nip it in the bud as quickly as possible.

"For minor infections, it is best to soak a cotton ball in warm water (you can even add a drop of hydrogen peroxide) and cleanse the area twice daily,"  Dr. Guanche says. "Then add either Neosporin (if you're not allergic) or Polysporin to the affected area. It is important to turn the post gently so that the skin doesn't stick to the post."

Dr. Day suggests applying bacitracin ointment twice daily—provided you're not allergic—to soothe any irritation. Though most of these issues can be solved relatively quickly, you should keep a close eye on what's happening. 

"See a dermatologist for proper evaluation and guidance if it doesn't improve or if it worsens," Dr. Day tells us. 

Woman putting on hoop earring

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• How to pick an ear piercing, according to the experts

What are keloid scars?

According to Healthline, you might experience keloids when your skin is damaged and extra scar tissue attempts to heal the wound. Infections can predispose you to keloids, so proper care is an absolute must.

"Piercing the cartilage has an increased risk of causing keloids, which are a type of scar that overgrow the normal scar boundaries," Dr. Day says. "If you get a keloid, see a dermatologist right away for treatment and avoid getting further piercings."

Danielle Valente
Danielle Valente

Danielle is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. When she's not working, you can find her experimenting with new recipes or sitting on the couch with a good book and a cup of coffee.