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Pierced Earlobe Infection

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

A pierced earlobe infection develops when bacteria get into the piercing site.


Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You feel a bump at the piercing site.
  • Your earlobe feels warmer or more itchy than usual.
  • Your earlobe is painful, red, or swollen. You may have yellow, smelly discharge from the piercing site.
  • You cannot see your earring because your earlobe covers it up.
  • Your earring is pulled out and rips your earlobe.


  • Antibiotics will help fight the infection. Antibiotics may be given as a pill or as an ointment that you rub on your earlobe.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your ear:

  • Clean your earlobe. Wash your hands carefully before you touch your earlobe. Wash the infected area with soap and water 2 times a day. You also may use saline (salt water) to rinse the infected area. Do not use rubbing alcohol.
  • Turn the piercing. Rotate the piercing several times each day so that your earlobe does not swell around it.
  • Apply ice to your earlobe. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your earlobe for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Apply heat to your earlobe. Heat helps decrease pain and increases blood flow to your ear. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.

Prevent another infection:

  • Keep your earlobe moist. Apply lotion or ointment to it as directed.
  • Do not wear earrings that contain nickel. Nickel can irritate your skin.
  • Make sure a sterile piercing gun or a new needle is used.

Follow up with your doctor in 1 to 2 days:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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