Should I Take My Piercing Out If It’s Infected?

If a piercing becomes red, hot, swollen, and painful and you think it’s infected, it’s important to know whether it’s a minor infection that can be treated at home or if you need to see your doctor. Infections in cartilage piercings are harder to treat, and they can spread throughout the ear so that the whole ear may look red and swollen. The sooner you see a doctor, the faster you’ll get antibiotics to fight the infection and prevent complications.

Infections can be caused by improper care, but it’s also possible that your earring is simply causing an allergic reaction. A nickel allergy is common and can cause itching, swelling, and itchy sensations in the ear. Try switching to a different earring or going for a metal that’s known to be safe on your skin.

A piercing needs plenty of blood flow to heal, so don’t touch it excessively. If you must, use a cotton ball or tissue to clean it and pat the area dry. Avoid using soap on the piercing, since this can irritate it. Instead, use a saltwater rinse three times a day. You can buy saline solution online or make your own by combining 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of water. You can also soothe an infected piercing with an ice pack or cold compress.

Keep the piercing clean and dry to avoid germs and inflammation. Don’t take the piercing out or fiddle with it, as this increases the risk of infection. Wash your hands often and use sanitizer before touching the piercing. You should also avoid swimming until the piercing is fully healed. Chlorinated pool water and seawater can irritate an infected ear.

If the piercing hasn’t improved in a few days, it’s time to call your doctor or go to the emergency room. If the piercing is infected in the cartilage, it’s a serious infection that requires medical attention. Infections in other parts of the ear can usually be treated at home with a routine of cleaning and antibiotic ointment.

When getting a new piercing, it’s best to go to a reputable ear-piercing shop. The piercer should wear gloves and sterilize the tools before starting the procedure. The piercer should also wash his or her hands before touching you, and he or she should use hand sanitizer or a alcohol-based cleaning product on the area to kill germs before beginning the process. The piercer should only use jewelry made from a metal that’s known to be hypoallergenic and safe on the skin, such as surgical steel, gold, or 14-karat gold. Getting a piercing at a non-reputable shop can lead to an infection due to unsterile instruments, dirty hands, or contaminated earrings. If you’re not sure, ask the person who pierced your ears or a friend to show you how he or she sterilizes equipment and cleans hands before starting on someone else. You should also ask the piercer to use a fresh pair of gloves for each client and to change them when they get dirty.