Do I have an infected tragus piercing? What signs or symptoms can I expect? How can I treat or heal these infections fast?
The time when ear piercings were restricted to earlobes only is long gone. Nowadays, people tend to have various ear piercing types including the tragus, anti-tragus, industrial or even on the ear cartilage.
Piercings on your tragus can make a ‘powerful fashion statement’ but it is also vulnerable infection too. We are going to discuss the causes, symptoms, treatment and care you need to deal with piercing infections on your tragus.
Just like any other body piercing, tragus gets infected too. Although the tragus area is small, it is so exposed, making it vulnerable to infections. Some of the common causes of infected tragus piercing include the following:
1. Poor aftercare
Ignoring or not taking proper aftercare of your new tragus piercing is one of the most common causes of infection. Follow the right aftercare procedure you have been given which might include cleaning it with a saline solution or any other solution you might have advised to use.
2. Unsterilized equipment
The second cause of these infections is going to an unqualified piercer who might not know the importance of keeping high hygiene standards as well as sterilizing the equipment he or she uses. This can lead to infections that might appear with 2-3 days from the time you were pierced.
3. Excessive cleaning and care
Some people often get their piercings irritated due to the excessive cleaning that “aggravate and irritate the infection” [buzzle.com]. You are likely to suffer from tragus inflammation as it gets irritated.
4. Wrong jewelry and jewelry material
After you have your piercing, it is important to ensure you wear the right size of jewelry to avoid much pressure on your tragus. For instance, a jewelry that is too tight can hinder the healing process and this can lead to infections or a bump.
Furthermore, some materials such as nickel tend to cause an allergic reaction in many people. Go for jewelry made from stainless steel, gold, platinum, titanium or silver as these materials have shown rare cases of allergic reactions.
5. Poor personal hygiene
Poor personal hygiene can be another cause, not only during the early healing duration but also after weeks, months or even years later, after you have completely healed.
Avoid touching your pierced spot with dirty hands, dirty cell phones or letting other people touch it. Hair care products and dirty hair can also cause infections, especially during the healing process.
6. Physical injuries
Finally, infections could be triggered by physical injuries by jewelry such as to wearing “earrings to a new piercing without a mirror might make it get hurt as it is still recovering”.
Furthermore, inserting jewelry at wrong angles can also cause injuries or even tragus piercing bleeding that will make you vulnerable to infection.
Signs and symptoms
Any body piercing will tend to show some signs or symptoms when it is infected. Some of the common signs to expect include but not limited to the following:
- Swelling, tenderness and aching pain that persists for more than 48 hours if you were recently pierced
- Tragus inflammation and redness around the site.
- Prolonged bleeding [bodyjewelleryshop.com]
- Discharge from the spot especially pus that might be greenish or yellow. In extreme cases, the discharge might have a foul odor.
- The site feels so hot when you touch it.
- Skin color changes in the area around the site
- Pustules and bump behind or in front of the piercing
Best treatment & remedies
From the symptoms and signs above, you should be able to tell if your piercing is infected. This section will focus on how to deal with this problem where we will also discuss some of the treatments and home remedies that can help.
1. Rubbing alcohol
The first way to treat infected piercings on your tragus is using rubbing alcohol to clean it at least two times a day. However, this should not be used if you have not completely healed which takes about 8 weeks. A cotton ball or Q-tip can be used in the cleaning process.
Avoid using hydrogen peroxide since it can cause a crust or dryness.
2. Saline solution
If you have an infection during the healing process, clean it using saline solution ( a mixture of sea salt and water -1 teaspoon of sea salt in 8 ounces of water).
As usual, use a cotton ball or Q-tip for cleaning. An ear swab might be good in cleaning as close to the site as possible. Ensure you remove all the “debris; dead tissue, pus, dirt or other foreign material [bodyjewelleryshop.com].
3. Chamomile tea bags
This home remedy tends to fight any infection as well as quicken the healing process. Lightly press the infected area with a chamomile tea bag dipped in warm water. You could also use chamomile tea warm water for the cleaning process.
4. Hot compresses
Another way to heal an infection is the use of hot compresses. They help in increasing blood circulation. Dip a clean piece of cloth in warm water and apply it to the area around the pierced site. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, for at least twice a day.
If the infection is not showing any improvement after trying the above treatments, you should see your piercer or doctor for further advice. After examination, he or she might recommend some topical antibiotic creams, oral antibiotics, painkillers or ointments you can use. Ensure you do not use any of these products unless recommended by a qualified medical practitioner.
In most cases, antibiotics are often recommended when cellulitis occurs, i.e. the wound grows beyond the pierced site because your body cannot fight off what could be causing the infection on its own.
Note: In case of a serious infection that leads to much damage of the skin around the pierced place, your doctor is likely to recommend permanent removal of the jewelry since the need to heal will override issues like the pierced hole gets closed.
Other than just infection, which is one of the most common risks you might end up getting, you need to know other risks that are often associated with this type of a piercing and they include:
- Development of bumps on your tragus
- Keloid scar tissue growth (bubble) that is very difficult to treat and they often recur.
- Jewelry rejection
Some of the risk and dangers often speculated such as hinder hearing and body balance function are not true since those functions are in the inner ear. Such risks can only occur in case of severe infections that might affect the inner ear, something not very probable or a very big keloid scar that blocks your ear (this can affect hearing process).
When with a bump or bubble
In some cases, you might have bumps or bubbles on the inner or outside part of your ear. These are a sign of infection as seen earlier. Before you conclude you have a bump, you need to be careful since you might be developing a keloid scar tissue while you are assuming it is just a bump.
Tragus piercing bumps are often caused by wearing a too loose or tight jewelry, allergic jewelry materials, using a piercing gun, injuries and trauma on the pierced site,
There are many ways to treat an infected bump or bubble that include the use of saline wash, crushed aspirin pasted, chamomile tea bags, hot compresses, the use of honey, lemon juice, among others.
However, if you want to get rid of the bump, just go for tea tree oil. It will wipe it off completely for most people.
Note: Sometimes, the tragus piercing bubble people complain about might not be just a bump but a keloid scar tissue that might be growing. This requires specialized treatment with no guarantee it might not reappear again.
Other than the treatments, below are some important care tips that might ensure you not only get healed quickly but also avoid any chances of getting re-infected.
- Avoid removing your jewelry when you notice an infection. This will worsen the infection, especially if the piercing channel as the infection gets trapped under your skin, a condition known as abscess and your channel will not be able to drain well. Furthermore, it might get closed.
- Always wash and disinfect your hands before you can touch your piercing (an antibacterial soap will be ideal). During the cleaning process, use gloves to ensure there are no chances of re-infection.
- Ensure nothing, including your hair, touches the infected area. Your hair should be tied well. Furthermore, avoid earphones, and use your cell phone carefully
- Avoid swimming in chlorinated water during the healing process as well as using any cosmetic products on the affected area.
- If pierced tragus infection forms a crust, do not scrap it off. The crusty area might be a little itchy and this is a typical sign that you are getting better.
- Do not sleep on the side of the infected pierced tragus as this can cause bleeding and contaminate your bedding. Furthermore, ensure you clean your pillow and bed sheets since they might be hosting some of the bacteria that can re-infect your ear piercing again.
- Wear button tops and shirts if your infection has discharge since pullovers, T-shirts which are worn from your head might irritate the site as you wear them.
- Unless advised so by a doctor, do not use any ointments or tropical creams as they often hamper with the healing process.
Sources and References