Infected Cartilage Piercings: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

To keep your cartilage piercing looking its best and avoid long-term complications that might require serious antibiotics, follow our tips on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of mild and severe cartilage perforation infections.

What is a perforated cartilage infection?

The possibility of infection is something your piercer should discuss with you when you have your cartilage pierced. It is a condition in which your body tries to fight off hostile microorganisms, usually bacteria. When you develop an infection, you are likely to see a red lump forming around your piercing. Do not try to pop the lump if it forms.

A perforated cartilage infection occurs when bacteria enter the opening of your new piercing. Infections usually don’t appear until early in the healing process, when the piercing wound is still open.

Of course, a cartilage piercing can take a while to heal fully, at least three months and usually longer. Hence, the likelihood of infection is open longer than with earlobe piercings or piercings in the d. ‘other fleshy areas.

Unlike infections in other areas, an infected ear piercing can spread from the surface to the cartilage itself. This means that it can lead to other complications and become difficult to treat.

Infections can also be the reason for this unsightly lump that sometimes forms around the piercing site, although a lump is not always a sign of an infection (it could be a keloid scar).

Infected Cartilage Piercings
Infected Cartilage Piercings: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment 1

What Are the Causes of Cartilage Piercing Infections?

Sometimes there is nothing you could have done differently to stop an infection. Bacteria are sneaky little pests. But most of the time, there is a preventable cause behind a perforated cartilage infection. Here are the main reasons for the infection.

Unsanitary conditions at the drilling site

Reputable piercers ensure that everything used in the piercing process, such as the piercing needle, is clean and sterilized. They will also ensure that their hands are clean or that gloves are worn. Anything that can harbor bacteria, objects, or parts of the body is potentially a carrier of infectious bacteria.

More experienced professionals tend to charge more for their work, but that little extra cost for a cartilage piercing is well worth it.

Touch your piercing

This also applies to your own hands. And the hands of your friends. Keep a no-touch rule for your piercings, and you’ll be much less likely to get an infection. Whenever you need to clean your new cartilage piercing, wash your hands first to reduce the risk of infection.

Failure to follow proper care and cleaning advice

When you receive a cartilage piercing, your piercer should give you instructions on cleaning and caring for the wound while it heals.

Follow what they say and use the products they suggest. It would help if you used saline solution or saltwater to soak your piercing every day, and you can wash the jewelry with a small amount of soap and water before rinsing it well.

Failure to properly maintain the new piercing can delay healing times, especially if an infection sets in.

The best aftercare product that I have personally used is the After Inked Piercing Treatment Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol-free and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types, including sensitive skin, and it comes in a large spray bottle for easy application. When used early in the healing process, the spray helps reduce healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or pain.

6 important steps in ear piercing follow-up Must Make sure you take:

Wear cheap jewelry

Bacteria are still somewhat present. There are bacteria on your ear right now. But most of the time, these small amounts of normal bacteria aren’t a problem. That is, unless something else irritates your piercing, making you more likely to develop an infection.

Placing inexpensive jewelry in your piercing is one of those things that can cause irritation or an allergic reaction. When your ear is in this vulnerable state, it cannot fight off otherwise normal levels of bacteria. Make sure that any new piercing that you get has gold, steel, or titanium jewelry only. These metals are less likely to cause reactions.

Injure the piercing

As with wearing inexpensive jewelry, anything that irritates the pierced area makes it more prone to infection. When your body struggles with injuries, irritations, or allergic reactions, it cannot deal with other issues like bacteria.

To reduce your risk of infection, do not sleep on the new piercing and take precautions when playing sports or engaging in other difficult activities, such as dancing at concerts, so that your cartilage piercing is not damaged. Not bumped or pulled.

Signs and symptoms of cartilage piercing infections

You don’t want to wait until your cartilage piercing is seriously infected before you start treatment. This increases the chances that you will need medical intervention to easily treat the infection on your own if caught early enough.

To catch a puncture infection of the cartilage in the early stages, look for these symptoms:

Red and tender skin around the piercing

When your skin is red and hurts when you touch it, it is a sign of inflammation. If this happens, your skin may also feel warm to the touch. This is because a high body temperature helps certain immune cells function better when fighting bacteria and viruses.

Note that your skin will be red and tender for the first few days after a piercing, which is part of the normal healing process. However, if the initial redness goes away and reappears, or if the piercing remains red for longer than a few days, you should treat it as if it were infected.

Discharge flowing from piercing

A normally healing cartilage piercing can drain some clear fluid and scab – this is not a cause for alarm. On the other hand, if the discharge from the piercing is yellowish or green, it is pus, a sign of infection.

Prolonged bleeding and scabs

Of course, there may be some blood on the first day or two after receiving a new piercing; you have an ear injury after all. Even so, when all goes well, the bleeding should go away pretty quickly. If your piercing continues to bleed, start treating it for infection.

How to treat an infected cartilage piercing

The first thing to know about treating an infected ear piercing is that you should not remove the earring. Keeping your jewelry in place actually helps the piercing drain, which needs to happen for your body to get rid of the problematic bacteria and clean the wound.

You should also continue your daily cleaning process by gently rubbing the ear-piercing site with salt water or a pre-prepared saline solution. Then try one or more of the following suggestions.

Increase the number of saltwater soaks

Thoroughly clean your piercing up to three times a day with saltwater or saline solution. If you have an infection, it may be best to make your own saltwater for soaking, as using the solution while it is still hot will soothe the infected area.

Apply a warm compress

In addition to soaking in lukewarm saltwater, you can put a clean, warm cloth or gauze soaked in saltwater on the infected area. Or use a chamomile tea bag that has been steeped in hot water.

Allow it to cool to a comfortable temperature before applying it to your piercing. Salt helps cleanse, chamomile has natural healing properties, and heat can help blood flow to the cartilage.

Apply a cold compress

Alternating hot and cold applied to the infected area will increase the blood supply to the cartilage. Cartilage tends to have less blood flow than the fleshy areas of the body, which can really make a difference.

A better blood supply means more antibodies are delivered to the area to fight the infection.

Use an antibacterial spray.

Topical antibiotics can help get rid of the infection faster. Make sure you use a spray, like actin. The antibiotic ointments will prevent the piercing from draining.

Try tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial properties and helps soothe inflammation. You can mix a drop or two with a little carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, and then gently apply it to your infected cartilage piercing. Use tea tree oil two or three times a day.

What to do if an infection persists

If your punctured cartilage infection worsens or persists for more than a week, you should seek help from your piercer or doctor.

Infections can spread throughout the cartilage to the rest of your ear, potentially causing long-term damage. You may need to take a strong oral antibiotic to prevent this from happening.

What happens after a perforated cartilage infection?

You will know that the perforated cartilage infection is gone when all symptoms are gone.

It would help if you continued with the treatment you were using for a few days after symptoms disappear to ensure the infection has been completely treated. Then you can continue your usual cleaning process to prevent another infection from occurring.

How to prevent future cartilage perforation infections

Once your piercing is free from infection, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent another infection in the future.

  • Do not touch your piercing with dirty hands, and do not twist or play with the piercing
  • Continue to clean the piercing with saline solution every day until the piercing is completely healed
  • Sleep so that the piercing is not pressed against your pillow


Following proper follow-up and taking some precautions can usually prevent a perforated cartilage infection.

However, if you do develop a puncture infection of the cartilage, don’t panic. They can usually be treated at home with daily cleansing and topical treatment like tea tree oil, hot and cold compresses, or antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional.

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