Cartilage Piercing Infections – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Cartilage piercing has really been into the trend over the years, and people around seems to be crazy about it. Yeah, they may be of fun to you until and unless you get infections. Cartilage piercing is one of the most common kinds of piercing and no matter if you have done it at some kiosk in the mall or at a tattoo parlor, it is extremely important that you take the post-piercing care or protocol in mind. Otherwise, an infected cartilage piercing is no new!


cartilage piercing healing time


Your piercer must inform about every probability in detail and guide you accordingly so that you do not get an infection over the hardest part of the ear. The degree of complications can arise from low to severe; thus before you proceed towards the process, you must have the right information and knowledge regarding the same. This would be a great way to make sure that you are able to handle the pain well and get rid of the sufferings that were probable.


What is a Cartilage Piercing Infection?


All the craze of being stylish and having fun would go away with the redness and bumps around your piercing. Yeah, if you see such symptoms around the piercing site, you are more prone to an infection.


cartilage piercing care


Cartilage, being the tough elastic tissue surrounding your ear; before, I explain to you what this infection actually is, let me tell you about how this piercing is done. Well, at the very first of the procedure, the tissue is sterilized, and then the piercing is done either by a professional jeweler or through a piercing gun. Since there is absolutely limited blood supply to these regions of our body; cartilage needs approximately 8-10 weeks to get healed after it has been perforated.


However, if you fail to take a proper aftercare post the piercing is conducted; you are more likely to get an infection. Researchers have found out that there are 34 {ee18ec6499df1cf70dd104595a1072d4b58694d96af63659cc7311608792aa14} chances of getting a cartilage piercing, which is much more common than any other kinds of body piercing.


What Causes Cartilage Piercing Infections?


The causes of an infection are plenty. It can be due to the process being conducted with non-sterile equipment. Also, an unhygienic environment can be the cause of such kinds of infection. There are other factors like the presence of bacteria or due to the presence of hepatitis. These are mostly caused due to incorrect piercing or rough handling. In case the piercing is not done properly, you may get an infection. Red swelling at the site of piercing caused due to issue in the equipment or the piercer who could not handle the process appropriately can give you bumps. Pain along with itchy effects is the other common symptoms, but one must not ignore them anyway for they need to be handled with care.


So here are some of the causes:

  • Unprofessional piercing: Before going to the piercer, make sure that he or she is well experienced in this job. You can talk to the piercer in direct before conducting the process or take a review from someone who had already done the piercing with that particular piercer.


  • Wrong method or jewelry: If the jewelry chosen to do the piercing was wrong or had it been done with a kind of metal that has proven to be sensitive for your skin, you need to opt for a different way out. This is one of the most common causes of infection.


  • Poor handling and unhygienic environment: If the piercer was unable to handle your piercing process properly or if the environment was not so neat and clean, you have got a higher chance to get an infection. Also, if multiple people are getting pierced at the same time, there is a scope for the transfer of cluster of infections caused by the “Pseudomonas aeruginosa” bacteria.


  • Non-sterile equipment: If your piercing is not done by sterilized equipment, you are more prone to an infection. In that case, the bacteria would get transferred from one person to another more easily giving rise to an infection.


  • Swimming: Water that is contaminated by pathogens or is stagnant is more prone to cause infection. So better stay away from swimming for those few weeks until you get completely healed.


  • Splinting: Improper techniques of incision and splinting can be a cause of infected cartilage piercing.


  • Chloride: Benzalkonium chloride used as disinfectants in hospitals and other similar disinfectants that are formerly contaminated with microbes can lead to infected cartilage piercing.


  • Repeated touching: Piercing is mostly infected by microorganisms like staphylococcus and Pseudomonas species. These kinds of microbes usually tend to live on the human skin. Hence, they get transferred from your fingers to the holes. So, if you get an infection, let me tell you that there is nothing much surprising about it!


You May Also Read – how to treat infected nipple piercing.


Is My Cartilage Piercing Infected? Sign & Symptoms Of Cartilage Piercing Infection

Infected cartilage piercing is nothing unusual. If proper after-care is done, you will get healed in two months after the piercing is done, else you may have to suffer with it for several months or even a year. Therefore, make sure that you are not prone to pathogens to avoid infection.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Abscess containing puss
  • Deformation of the ear
  • Development of scars
  • Formation of bumps around the piercing site
  • Episodes of a recurring headache
  • Pain in throat and soreness of neck
  • Thick yellow-green like discharge
  • Oozing and foul smell
  • Bleeding
  • Severe pain
  • Fever and high temperature
  • Allergic reaction
  • Pyogenic granuloma (a red bump caused at the site of piercing; occurs mainly due to overgrowth of tissue at that place)
  • Formation of keloids


Treatment For Cartilage Piercing Infection


Infected cartilage piercing may be quite common but let me tell you that it can be treated too and the procedure isn’t at all complicated provided that the complication is caught at the earliest. Firstly, your primary job is to wash your earlobe with antibacterial soap on a regular basis and keep it clean and dry all the time.


The healing process is done in three basic steps:


  • The first stage is the one where your wound remains open, and you get a higher tendency to bear the inflammation.


  • The second stage is the production of collagen.


  • Next, the final step is the reorganization and realignment of the collagen which keeps on happening either in some months or in a year, therefore result in the ultimate healing of your wound.


What To Do If An Infection Persists


If a cartilage piercing infection persists, you always have the option to keep things under control by going for a warm-water compressor home remedies. In case you want to go on medication, you shall be treated with oral antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin that covers the bacteria. This is mostly recommended if your infection we firm and there is no ejection of pus or abscess. You may go for intravenous antibiotics or surgical procedure based if there is drainage of pus or abscess.


What Happens After A Cartilage Piercing Infection?


When a cartilage piercing infection occurs, you can either have immediate low impacts, or you may also suffer from severe threats. Depending on the situation, you may consider consulting your piercer or the dermatologist or go for giving a trial of any of our home remedies. The signs and symptoms for identifying cartilage piercing as stated above will surely let you know if you contact your physician or not! Whatever be it, you must always take a supervisor’s advice to deal with the complication instead of handling all the things alone without any experience or proper knowledge.


How To Prevent Cartilage Piercing Infections In The Future


  • Keep yourself clean and tidy. Wash your face and hair with face wash and shampoo respectively on a regular basis.
  • Keep wearing the studs that you had worn originally at the time of piercing.
  • Follow the aftercare instructions of your piercer.
  • Dab a clean towel at the piercing site after a shower to dry it.
  • Do not apply any sort of face make up directly in and others since they may contain harmful chemicals that may harm your earlobe.
  • Keep away your hairspray products.
  • Change your bedsheet and pillow every week.
  • Alter your headphones, earmuffs, and earbuds every week or at least twice in a week.
  • Clean your phone screen on a regular basis to prevent the bacteria from sitting on it.

Aftercare Of Cartilage Piercing

  • Daily care routine: Wash your hands before you touch your earlobes. Your hands may have a lot of bacteria, thus, use antibacterial soap containing chloroxylenol or triclosan to clean your hands and then proceed with the rest of the task.


  • Use saline solution: It aids the healing process, and if your piercing hurts, there can be no better option than this. Besides, you can make the water lukewarm as that minimizes the swelling and relieves you from that intense agony of cartilage piercing.


  • Avoid touching: If your cartilage piercing site gets infected, avoid touching it any further as this may turn things worse.


Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Cartilage Piercing Infection


We have certain remedies that are available right in our homes. You can consider taking them in your count to get rid of cartilage piercing infection:

  • Tea tree oil: The antibacterial properties of tea tree oil help you to get rid of bumps and an infected cartilage piercing. Dab a cotton ball into the oil and apply it on the affected site.

infected cartilage piercing bump


  • Warm water: Dip a flannel cloth in warm water and compress it on your affected area to reduce pain.

how to treat an infected ear piercing


  • Turmeric: It has an active compound called curcumin that works as an outstanding antibacterial antifungal and antiviral agent. This is quite effective in reducing inflammation caused due to ear piercing.


ear piercing infection symptoms


  • Sea salt + chamomile: Saline solution becomes more effective when blended with chamomile. Boil the chamomile tea bags in water for around ten minutes and then apply the solution on the affected area.


  • Grapefruit: The fluid excreted from the seeds of grapefruit works as an awesome disinfectant, lymphatic, stimulant, antibacterial, lymph stimulant and comprises of antiseptic properties. It also helps in inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is responsible for affecting the skin cells.


antibiotics for infected piercing


  • Aspirin: The antibacterial property of aspirin when mixed with a few drops of water forms a paste that could be applied to the pierced site for a few minutes and then washed off with water.


what to do if your cartilage piercing is swollen


  • Lavender oil: It prevents skin tightening and acts as a lubricant for cartilage piercing which is quite effective for healing of the scars and marks.


swollen cartilage piercing


  • Basil: It helps in strengthening the immune system which in turn helps the body to fight infection from within. It also speeds up the healing process.


  • Indian Lilac (Neem): It is a popular name in Ayurveda and has been known as a wonderful remedy for cartilage piercing lump. Its antibacterial properties reduce the swollen parts around the pierced site too quickly.


how to treat an infected ear piercing without it closing



  • Vitamin C: It is an amazing remedy to heal wounds. Maximize its intake to see the effect.


  • Lemon juice: A freshly squeezed lemon could be applied with a cotton ball on cartilage pierced infection to kill the microbes and enhance the healing process.


infected ear piercing bump


Why Are Cartilage Piercings Riskier?


Cartilage piercings are riskier since the ear-lobes are quite sensitive and the spread of infection may turn things worse. The swelling may lead to fatal situations, and thus, you should visit either a dermatologist or E.N.T specialist.


What If It Has a Bump or Bubble?


In case you see a bump or a bubble at the piercing site, you must either go for home remedies stated above or simply take out the option of visiting a dermatologist.


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