When a skin piercing, typically an ear piercing starts to ‘act up’ people invariably assume it is an infection. However, if you take good care of the skin after piercing, and keep it clean and wear the right metal jewelry as instructed by your artist, then the tingling, redness and pain need not be an infection. So in this guide, we will discuss ear piercing infection signs and symptoms and also study ways to treat it without closing it.
New and old ear piercing infection symptoms
Minor localized infection
- Skin is pinkish, reddish or swollen.
- The skin may be warm to touch
- There may be small amount of pus
- You may have swollen lymph nodes.
Note that one could have an infection even without having all of the above signs and symptoms. Similarly, even if you have all of the above symptoms, it does not guarantee that you have an infection. All fresh piercings tend to experience some sort of redness, tingling and discharge.
Serious ear piercing infection
- Above symptoms last for more than a week
- You experience fever, pain, vomiting, chills or disorientation
- There is numbness or loss of sensation in the pierced area. It is painful, swollen and has red streaks.
- There is copious amount of discharge in brown, yellow or greenish/grayish color.
See your doctor immediately if you experience above symptoms and signs.
How to treat an infected ear piercing naturally?
1. Bee propolis and slippery elm poultice
For minor ear piercing infection, apply a poultice made with wet bee propolis and slippery elm. This natural remedy acts as astringent to pull out the infection and toxins. Bee venom therapy is effective in reducing germs from the abscesses on skin.
2. Colloidal silver
Apply a few drops of colloidal silver gel/ointment to the abscessed skin. You can also drink a few drops of colloidal silver mixed with water. Colloidal silver is natural antibiotic and antiseptic. It can prevent ear piercing infection from worsening.
Instead of taking antibiotics for ear piercing infection, apply paste of organic turmeric on the infected area. Allow the turmeric’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties to work on the abscess overnight. This will help reduce swelling and eliminate germs from the skin. For this remedy, you can use powdered organic turmeric or even turmeric root. Simply grate or crush the root to extract the juice and apply it directly on the infected skin. Also strengthen your body inside out by taking turmeric extracts orally. Pills of turmeric extract are readily available these days. Take as per product label instruction.
4. Saline compresses
Sometimes, warm saline compresses applied to the pierced skin can help, especially when the swelling is minor. You can also purchase 20% sodium chloride impregnated gauze (Curasalt®) and apply it to the piercing.
5. Rubbing alcohol
Many tattoo specialists and body piercing artists recommend rubbing alcohol to treat an infected ear piercing without it closing. Apply the alcohol undiluted on the skin and clean the site gently. This will prevent infection and keep the wound from worsening.
Apply iodine to the piercing. This remedy will prevent pus and keep the wound clean. The only downside to it is that iodine stains the skin and clothes.
7. Chamomile compress
Brew some calming chamomile tea and apply the warm tea bag on the pierced skin. This simple remedy will reduce the swelling and also cleans out the skin. You can also drink a cup of chamomile tea to help you sleep better and boost immune system.
8. Tea tree oil
It is well known fact that tea tree oil is antibacterial and antiseptic. Apply it undiluted on the piercing 2-3 times a day until the skin heals completely.
9. 3% hydrogen peroxide
A few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide applied to the ear piercing can help you get rid of signs and symptoms of infection. Repeat application 2-3 times a day for a week or until the ear piercing infection is completely cured.
This antiseptic cream is almost always available in most households. Apply Neosporin cream/ointment on the crusted skin to prevent itching and keep the wound from worsening.
Crush a few aspirin tablets and make a paste by mixing with a bit of sterile water. Apply this paste on the piercing. You can also add the crushed powder on the infected and swollen piercing. Within a few hours, the pus and discharge will reduce.
12. Vodka and Epsom salt
This is a slightly painful way to treat infected ear piercing years later if you start to experience pain, itching or swelling in the pierced area. Apply a few drops of undiluted vodka to the pierced part. Since alcohol kills germs, this remedy effectively prevent serious infection. Afterwards, apply Epsom salt compress to the skin. You can also add Epsom salt solution using a dropper on the pierced skin.
13. Castor oil pack
Directly apply a few drops of undiluted castor oil on the infected ear piercing to eliminate microbes. You can also make a tiny poultice with castor oil and apply it to the old ear piercing. Within a few days, your skin will heal completely. Make sure you use only hexane free castor oil.
14. Basic hygiene
Never touch the ear piercing without first washing your hands thoroughly. You may feel tempted to pick at the scabs of the crust that develops on the piercing. But do avoid that. Use a cotton ball or swab to gently clean the crust formed. You can spray saline sprays (readily available everywhere) over the piercing to keep it clean.
15. Never remove the jewelry piece
Often, people make the mistake of removing the jewelry when their pierced skin starts hurting. This seals the pierced skin hole and traps germs inside. Over time, this could lead to keloid scar formation. Therefore, it is essential to keep the jewelry piece in. Keep using the warm saline compress and other home remedies mentioned above. Talk to your artist about using high quality stud in the piercing especially if you are allergic to cheap metals.