How to Heal Infected Stretched Ears

Stretching your earlobe may mean having to deal with an infection. Dr. Michael Hall, a family physician for DuBois Regional Medical Center in DuBois, Pennsylvania, states that patients who stretch their ears often experience infections when increasing the gauge too quickly; if they don't take proper care of the ear as it heals; or if they experience an improper piercing technique 1. If an infection develops in your stretched ear, you may need an antibiotic to heal it, but you can often treat the infection at home without contacting your doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

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

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.

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Remove the expander from your ear.

Fill a shallow bowl with warm water. Tap water works, but you may choose distilled water instead.

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Add one pinch of salt to the water in the bowl.

Soak the affected ear in the saltwater solution for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day.

Apply a triple antibiotic ointment to your ear after each soak.

Clean your expander using soap and water.

Place a smaller sized expander in your ear. For example, if you got the infection using a 4 mm expander, you might place a 2 mm expander in your ear. Continue to use the smaller expander until your infection completely heals.

Consult your doctor if your infection fails to show improvement after two or three days, if the infection seems to be worsening, or if you have other symptoms of illness, such as a fever.


Placing a warm compress on your infected ear can help ease inflammation and swelling.

Start treating your ear at the first signs of infection.


Avoid infections by only increasing one expander size every four to six weeks; cleaning your hands prior to touching your ears; having a professional start your stretching; and cleaning your stretched hole and expander once or twice a day.

Iodized salt may increase the irritation of your ear, which is why non-iodized salt is preferred. Likewise, alcohol or peroxide may increase the irritation, making it difficult for you to tell whether the infection is improving.

Avoid placing a wooden expander in your ear, because it can harbor the bacteria from your ear, prolonging your infection.