Watch out for these top 3 signs of infection in your stretched ears!
They’re red, swollen, and hurting Are your stretched ears infected?
For stretched ears that are cleaned regularly and well taken care of, infection is pretty rare. If your piercing is acting up, it’s more probably because of irritation or a reaction to your jewelry.
But even though a true infection is rare, it can be serious. An untreated infection can permanently damage your ear, or even spread to the rest of your body and make you really sick.
So how do you know if it’s an infection or just irritation? Here are a few symptoms to look out for:
- Redness and swelling. In new or freshly-stretched piercings, redness and swelling can be normal. But if it persists, or is combined with other symptoms, it may indicate an infection.
- Abnormal discharge. Some clear or white discharge from piercings is normal, but if it starts to looks and smell funky, you have an infection. Watch our for thick yellow, green, or gray discharge that smells bad.
- Swollen lymph nodes. If you’re noticing other symptoms, you can check to see if your lymph nodes are swollen by following these steps.
Not all of these signs need to be present for there to be an infection, and if they’re present it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s due to infection.
But if you’re noticing some of these signs and think you might have an infection, here are some Dos and Don’ts:
Dont Let Your Stretched Ears Get Infected! Dos Donts
- DON’T remove the jewelry. Removing the jewelry while the piercing isn’t healed could cause an abscess. Leave the jewelry in to allow the piercing to drain.
- DON’T touch the piercing, except to clean it twice a day. Touching the piercing more often, especially with unwashed hands, delays healing and could introduce more bacteria from your hands to the wound.
- DO use sea salt or saline soaks twice a day. Use 1/4 teaspoon non-iodized sea salt in 1 cup of clean warm water, and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
- DO use an antibiotic cream or gel (not ointment, which limits oxygen flow and clogs piercings)
- DO see a doctor immediately if you:
- Have severe pain or swelling from the piercing
- Have a lot of discharge that’s thick, green/yellow/gray, and bad smelling
- See red streaks coming from your piercing
- Have a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or disorientation
- Have any symptoms that last for more than a week
The most important thing to remember in stretching is to take care of yourself be safe!
- Angel, E. (n.d.). Troubleshooting: Localized Infection. Retrieved February 3, 2014, from http://www.piercingbible.com/troubleshooting#Localized_Infection
- Association of Professional Piercers. (n.d.). Body Piercing Troubleshooting for You and Your Healthcare Professional [Brochure]. Retrieved on February 3, 2014, from https://www.safepiercing.org/wp-content/uploads/APP_Brochures_2011.pdf
- WebMD. (April 26 2011). Symptoms of Infection after a Skin Injury. Retrieved February 3, 2014, from