What is an infected ear piercing?
If you have inflammation in your ear piercing, it will show up as redness with swelling, tenderness and varying degrees of pain. In some cases, the inflammation can be so severe that yellow plaster flows from the hole. In the worst cases, a boil can form.
Anyone who wears earrings is almost guaranteed to experience an inflamed hole at some point. Therefore, an earring can become infected in children as well as adults. It is important that both children and adults make sure to clean the holes.
Inflammation in a piercing such as an earring or other types of piercings can be painful. Therefore, it is also important that you always react as soon as you feel tenderness or pain around the piercing hole.
Why do you get earring/piercing infections?
If the opening in your ear has become inflamed, there are several possible explanations. Learn more about them here.
Natural VS foreign bacteria
When the skin surface is broken, there is always a risk that inflammation can occur. This can be from naturally occurring bacteria or from foreign bacteria.
In the case of inflammation in the hole in your ear, it can therefore be caused by bacteria that are naturally present on the skin area. It can also be foreign microorganisms - for example, from the piercing tool used to make the hole.
Ear rings with nickel
According to the Danish Health Authority, it doesn't matter which earrings you choose when decorating your ears. Only wear jewellery that stays within the European guidelines for nickel content.
Many pieces of jewellery outside of Europe contain higher amounts of nickel, which can irritate the skin. You may also be at risk of developing a nickel allergy. This manifests as redness, severe itching and blistering where the skin is in direct contact with nickel - at the hole of the earring.
What do you do if you get an infected piercing?
If you get an infection in your earring or piercing, it is important that you disinfect the affected area.
Be sure to wash the pierced hole with the mild soap to make sure there is no dirt. Do this morning and evening to keep the hole clean. Avoid wearing earrings while cleaning the area.
Alternatively, you can use a soap with chlorhexidine. However, this can be harsher on the skin.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the infection won't go away and large amounts of yellowish pus are oozing from the hole, contact your doctor. In severe cases, it may be necessary to treat the infection with antibiotics, which your doctor will prescribe for you.
If a boil develops around the hole, your doctor may also need to drain it.
For how long should you keep rinsing your piercing?
If your ear piercing is already infected, clean the hole with mild soap until the infection is gone. The amount of time this takes varies.
Have you just had your ears pierced or a piercing elsewhere on your body? Then it's also important to clean the newly made hole to prevent it from becoming infected.
Make sure to clean your new piercings twice a day. No more, or you risk irritating the piercing. You don't need to remove the earring when cleaning - just gently clean around the earring. Do this for a minimum of 14 days. After that, you can taper off.
Often, you'll be given cleaning wipes to clean the piercing. However, you can also use a gentle wash with cleansing Tea Tree Oil to keep the hole clean and bacteria-free.
What should you do if you experience an infection in a piercing?
The most important thing is to clean the piercing hole with mild products that rinse efficiently - without irritating the skin.
Should you remove the earring if the hole is inflamed?
If you have an infection in the earlobe, remove the earring and wash the infected hole with mild detergents.
How do you rinse your pierced ears?
Remove the earring and gently wash the hole with mild soap. Do this twice a day to keep the area clean and allow it to heal.
Is inflammation in a piercing dangerous?
Inflammation around earrings can ultimately be dangerous. That's why it's important to clean the affected area as soon as you notice it. If it doesn't help the next day or if it gets worse, it's important to see your doctor. In the worst case scenario, an untreated infection can lead to life-threatening blood poisoning.