Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Ear Pierced (Healed) - Minor Infection

Definition

  • Minor pierced ear infection
  • More than 6 weeks since ear was pierced. Initial healing went well.
  • New symptoms are localized redness, swelling and crusting just at earring site
  • Spreading redness is more serious and needs to be seen

Call or Return If

  • Ear not improved after 3 days
  • Fever occurs
  • Spreading redness occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Causes of Pierced Ear Infections

  • Not cleaning the earrings and posts daily as directed
  • Frequent touching of the earrings with dirty hands
  • Clasps that are closed too tightly. Reason: Pressure from tight earrings reduces blood flow to the earlobe.
  • Not taking the earrings out at night
  • Anything that causes a scratch in the channel. Examples are a heavy earring or a rough area on the post. Reason: Any break in the skin can become infected.
  • Inserting the post at the wrong angle also can scratch the channel. Use a mirror until insertion becomes second nature.
  • Posts that have nickel in them can also cause an itchy, allergic reaction

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Minor pierced ear infections can be treated at home.
  • With proper care, most will clear up in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Clean Earring with Rubbing Alcohol:
  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Remove the earring from the ear.
  • Clean the earring and post with rubbing alcohol.
  • Do this 3 times per day.
Clean Earlobe with Rubbing Alcohol:
  • Then wash away any crusting from the earlobe with soap and water.
  • Use rubbing alcohol and some gauze to gently clean the holes on both sides of the earlobe.
  • If the alcohol stings, use pierced ear solution instead.
Antibiotic Ointment:
  • After cleaning, apply an antibiotic ointment to the earring post and the earlobe holes.
  • Examples are Polysporin or Bacitracin. No prescription is needed. You can also use one you already have.
  • Then reinsert the earring.
  • Continue until drainage and redness are gone for 2 days.
What to Expect:
  • With proper care, most mild earlobe infections will clear up in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • It is common to have mild infections come back without daily earring care.
Prevent Repeated Infections in Healed Pierced Ears (over 6 weeks ago):
  • Remind your child not to touch the earrings except when inserting or removing them. Reason: Fingers are often dirty and can infect the area.
  • At bedtime, remove the earrings. Reason: So the channel is exposed to the air during the night.
  • Clean earrings, posts, and earlobes with rubbing alcohol. Do this before putting earings in.
  • Apply the clasps loosely to prevent any pressure on the earlobes. Reason: Allows the channel to have a good blood supply.
  • Polish or discard any posts with rough spots.
  • Avoid heavy earrings.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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