General Question

fenugreek's avatar

How can I end the cycle of infection in my piercings?

Asked by fenugreek (97points) January 25th, 2010

I have four piercings in each ear, the first of which I got when I was around eight, the last, which are in my cartilage, I got a year and a half ago. I am assuming the sites have healed completely because of the length of time that has passed since the piercing process. However, the areas are always infected, it seems like. The holes often ooze brown, red,or green substances that crust over. Sometimes they begin to hurt, bleed, and swell. If I remove the earrings for a few days and apply hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or alcohol solutions several times daily, the infection goes away. I clean the earrings as well, before replacing them, but the infection tends to return fairly quickly. I’ll admit to wearing cheap earrings in the interest of saving money. If I leave the jewelry out for too long, the site begins to close.
What can I do to fix this permanently? What measures should I take to prevent future infections? I desperately want to keep the piercings, so please do not respond if your only advice is to permanently let them close.

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26 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

What can I do to fix this permanently?

Take that stupid shit out of your ears and let them heal.

I desperately want to keep the piercings, so please do not respond if your only advice is to permanently let them close.

Aw, crap. I’m sorry for not reading further.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

I would say remove the METAL and replace them with what I call “plastic plugs” that you can by at Clairs in most malls. Get the a doctor and let him culture the material that is oozing from your openings. You have either an infectious or allergic process going on. Seeing you MD is the best advice.

Val123's avatar

Definitely spend the money on some higher quality earrings. It’s your health we’re talking about.

fenugreek's avatar

Thank you, Flo_Nightengale (:
I had heard of teflon and plastic body jewelry for oral piercings, I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to seek them out for earrings!

syz's avatar

You may be having a reaction to some of the materials in the “cheap” jewelry. Stop buying lots of cheap stuff and get a set of high quality earrings.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The material most likely is nickle, you maybe allergic to it. If must wear cheap earrings use clear nailpolish. Paint the staff or loop where it goes into you ear lobe.

hug_of_war's avatar

I am allergic to nickel and this is what happens to me. I can’t wear earrings for an hour with my earrs getting gross and I’m poor.

njnyjobs's avatar

If you must wear fashionable metal earrings, seek out the ones that are hypo-allergenic or are made of surgical stainless steel. . . . take them off at night so there’s no pressure on the lobes as you sleep, that will also help in the healing process

JONESGH's avatar

This happens to my cartilage piercings too. About once every 2 weeks one will get infected, but it disappears in 3–4 days. Bleh. I noticed that if I make sure to wash it off in the shower without soap, it helps.

Facade's avatar

I have a similar issue with my cartilage piercing. I opted for the gold hoop instead of the stainless steel one (although I doubt that has anything to do with it). Saltwater soaks help a lot.

deni's avatar

My piercings were always like this too. Keep them super clean, or maybe switch cleaners if you already do. If they tend to be dry at all, use vitamin e oil. in the past couple weeks mine have gotten really dry and that stuff helps lottttttsssss.

Randy's avatar

As stated, it’s more than likely the material of the jewelry you are using or from bacteria getting into the piercing from the jewelry itself or from anything involving your day to day activities. Cartilage heals (closes up) faster than just skin and so I wouldn’t recommend taking out the earring to let it heal if you are wanting to keep them, even though that is the quickest and safest way get the infection to heal. DO take them out EVERY night and clean them for AT LEAST a two week period. Clean both the jewelry and the hole with non-scented anti-bacterial soap. I use the good ‘ole gold dial hand soap for all my piercing/tattoo cleaning needs I would highly suggest you also find some new jewelry.

Vitamin E oil, as stated by @deni, is really good for healing the skin around the wound and is commonly used to help with the stretching process.

Just remember to keep them clean if you want to stay away from infections. Cleanliness is godliness after all.

filmfann's avatar

the solution is right there in your question!

Buy better quality jewelry!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I disagree with the comments that cheap jewelery will necessarily cause problems. It’s only a problem if you have an allergy. I’ve been wearing extremely cheap earrings for more than 10 years, and I’ve never had a single infection.

I second a) going to the doctor and b) trying stainless steel and plastic.

galileogirl's avatar

Your body is sending you a message-Quit digging holes in me!

Take out all the foreign bodies and clean the wounds with mild topical antibacterials. If the infection doesn’tstart to improve in 48 hours get to a Dr for more aggressive treatment.

Ongoing infection is not to be played wtth. At the very least chronic infection causes scarring

Chronic infection can trigger autoimmune diseases and over time cause heart disease and even sepsis.

LethalCupcake's avatar

You may need to buy better Jewelry – If you refuse that then you need to take them all out every night and soak them in a little bowl of Alcohol – put them back in the morning. Thats what I did when I was younger

augustlan's avatar

I have the nickel allergy, and this is exactly what happens to my ears if I wear anything but good gold earrings. They have to be yellow gold, no rose or white gold. Really bums me out, because I prefer silver. :(

If you have the same thing, this will only get worse the longer you wear the silver/fake stuff. Each exposure to the nickel makes you even more sensitized to it. I used to be able to wear silver during a work day, and take them out at night with no big problems… now, I can’t even have them in for an hour.

deni's avatar

and that too, how could i forget. what @filmfann said. if youre wearing cheap jewelry they’ll probably never stop pussing and crusting. i have a problem with cheap metal…i think many people do.

fenugreek's avatar

Thanks for all the advice (:
I went to a physician today and it looks like most of you were on it. However, even gold is too porous. Anyone having the same trouble should seek out titanium or plastic posts!

augustlan's avatar

I thought titanium had nickel in it, too. Is that wrong?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@augustlan Titanium earrings can be 100% titanium. Nickel is added to other metal alloys to made them harder. 100% Titanium is just titanium.

filmfann's avatar

Everyone is allergic to Nickel, but to varying degrees. The nickel interacts with the sulfur in your body.
Also, don’t turn your jewelry, and don’t touch it without washing your hands first. Most problems with piercings are a result of poor after-care.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@filmfann: Nickel allergies work just like any other skin allergy. Not “everyone” is allergic to nickel, unless when you say “to varying degrees”, you’re including the degree “some people can wear nickel earrings every day for their entire lives and never develop a reaction to them”.

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

Try stainless steal, gold, or even white gold for a while..I don’t like plastic because it retains smell…Make sure you clean everyday, but don’t go overboard with it because you can dry out your piercings and make it worse…I’d just say once in the morning and once at night..and try to keep your hair away from your piercings so they wont get entangled in them or get oil or dirt into them. Try taking some vitamin C too, it helps boost your immune system, so I’m sure it’d help with the healing process too.

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