Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Ear Pierced (New) - Minor Infection

Definition

  • Minor pierced ear infection
  • Less than 6 weeks since ear was pierced
  • 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

  • Piercing the ears with unsterile equipment or using unsterile posts
  • Not cleaning the earlobes daily as directed
  • Taking the earring our before the channel is healed (6 weeks)
  • 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.
  • 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.
Treating New Pierced Ear Infections (during first 6 weeks):
  • Don't remove the earring! Clean the infected area 3 times a day.
  • Use cotton swab ("Q-Tip") dipped in pierced ear solution (see below).
  • Clean exposed earring (both sides). Also, clean the ear lobe.
  • Then rotate (turn) the earring 3 times. Reason: To prevent the skin from sticking to the post.
Pierced Ear Solution:
  • Pierced ear solution was probably given to you when the ears were pierced.
  • If not, it's available in most drug stores. No prescription needed.
  • It usually contains benzalkonium chloride which kills germs.
  • It doesn't sting like rubbing alcohol.
Antibiotic Ointment:
  • After cleaning, apply an antibiotic ointment to the area.
  • Examples are Polysporin or Bacitracin. No prescription is needed. You can also use one you already have.
  • Do this after cleaning the earlobe and turning the earring. That means 3 times per day.
  • 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 them come back without daily earring care.
Preventing Infections in New Pierced Ears:
  • Do not remove the posts for 6 weeks!
  • Clean the pierced ear area twice a day. Clean both sides of the earlobes. Use a special pierced ear solution (not rubbing alcohol).
  • After cleaning, turn the posts 3 rotations.
  • By the end of 6 weeks, the lining of the channels should be healed. Then, earrings may be changed as often as desired.
  • Have your child's earlobes pierced by someone who uses sterile technique.
  • The initial posts should be 14-karat gold or stainless steel.
  • Be sure the clasps are attached loosely to prevent any pressure on the earlobes. Reason: Allows the channel to have a good blood supply.
  • Sleep on a clean pillow case. Wash it often.
  • Be careful when brushing your hair.

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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