Pierced Ear Infections

Both men and women get their ears pierced. Generally it is done on the lower part of the lobe, although almost any outer area of the ear can be pierced. According to the UCLA Department of Medicine, if a piercing does not heal correctly, it can develop an infection. An infection in the body is serious and can lead to further medical complications.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The causes of an infection can stem from the piercing itself. If the piercing was done in an unsanitary location or the tools to pierce the ear were contaminated with blood or dirt, an infection could occur. Unsanitized earrings and studs can also cause an infection. The KidsHealth website states that you should keep your newly pierced ears clean and disinfected with alcohol daily to prevent infection. You should also avoid metals that you may be allergic to when choosing posts because they can cause severe inflammation and sometimes infection.


Look for certain signs if you think a piercing may be infected, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. The first is redness at the site of the piercing. An irritation, burning sensation or itching may also signify infection. Any type of crusty discharge may also signal an infection. If you begin to develop an abscess or pus-filled ball anywhere near the piercing site, this means pus has been trapped inside of the skin. Seek prompt medical attention.


If you have a pierced ear infection and you do not treat it promptly and properly, you may suffer complications. The "Western Journal of Medicine" explains that some complications include lesions, pyogenic granuloma (fleshy bump), keloid tumor, cellulitus, ear damage and severe scarring. If an infection is severe, the skin may have to be peeled away or removed to treat the infection. This can cause visual scarring that cannot be reversed.


The Children’s Hospital website states that treating a pierced ear infection begins with seeking medical care from your family doctor to get an affirmative diagnosis. Not only will he need to examine and diagnose, he will want to make sure the infection has not caused other problems, such as damage to the surrounding tissue, damage to the ear or any type of hearing loss. Treatment will begin with removal of the piercing, followed by an intense round of antibiotics. The physician may prescribe an antibiotic for you to apply directly onto the skin. Follow-up treatment may involve debriding away damaged skin or removing areas of severe infection.


Preventing an ear piercing infection means being responsible for your piercing. Don’t do your own piercing at home unless you are a trained professional. Make sure that the supplies being used by the professional have been sterilized and cleaned. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you check daily for signs of infection, swelling or changes in the tissue at the piercing site.