Red Swollen Infected Cartilage Piercing with Bump: Causes, Aftercare & Treatments 

Can ear cartilage piercing can get infected?  How do I know the signs and symptoms of infection? Just like any other piercing, does occur here too. The infection may occur during or after the process without sufficient aftercare. There are high chances that you have infection symptoms or allergy symptoms. Get information on signs and learn how to clean, care for, treat and what to do in case of an infection.

Immediately after ear piercing, one should expect a slight swelling and pain which may last shortly. This argument is based on equipment used and whoever did it.

Furthermore, if you have multiple piercings, you can easily be a victim of cartilage piercing infection since there are more sites on your ear cartilage.  Of course, there are various types of cartilage ear piercing such as conch and auricle. Depending on where you got it, early signs are a good indicator to give you a guide on what to do.

Signs and symptoms

This infection is caused primarily by pathogens namely Staphylococcus Aureus and Pseudomnas Aeruginosa. Following is a brief study of symptoms which could be due to infections.


One of the common symptoms is indicated by skin around your piercings turning red or a color different from that of skin.


If it becomes painful to touching be aware that would be an infection sign particularly when signs of reddening or aching are present.


Is it normal to experience oozing after piercing? Some people think it could be normal to get white or very pale yellow discharges. Well, that is not always true. However, if you see a green or brown pus-like discharge or leaking from the pierced site there is something wrong. High chances are that it is infection signs.

Bad smell

Another symptom is bad smell can emanate from piercing without you having to take it out necessarily.

Fever and high temperature

Under severity, you may experience high temperature or warm feeling when you try to touch the area around the piercing site with fingers. This poses a serious concern and cannot be something to ponder but seek medical checkup immediately fever and earache develops.


This is another serious sign of severe cartilage piercing infection. It rarely occurs i.e. after a serious cartilage infection. Moreover, bleeding can also be common after an injury that easily predisposes your ear cartilage to infections.

Apart from the above symptoms, some unusual behavior is piercing rejection or “migration” which simply means that it moves from its initial position to a different spot.

Images and pictures

What does they look like when they get an infection? Have a closer look at these pictures.

Why is your is it infected – Causes

According to, this problem is caused primarily by microorganisms mainly strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Many people suffer from the symptoms after they get pierced but is possible during the process of piercing. What are the chances of getting an infection? Read on to know why infection will occur during or after piercing.

1.      Unprofessional or use of poor piercing equipment

One of the strict measures to put in place before getting an ear pierce or any other type is sterilization. The process involves making a contact with blood with another external thing. It may be a needle and piercer’s hands too.

Some customers could argue that a gun causes less pain but rest assured, there are problems with piercing guns (the majority of clients) besides sterility. During the actual act, the gun will force a “blunt stud through the skin, causing it to literally rip in order to make room for the jewelry.” [] and this is what leads to trauma.

2.      Constant touching

A majority tend to ignore it but is another common cause. As we noted earlier infections are primarily caused by pathogens such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas species. Most of these pathogens are free-living on human skin. If you constantly touch your newly pierced ear with dirty hands, the infection causing pathogens are indirectly transferred to the holes.

Therefore, do not be surprised to be told by a GP that your cartilage pierce is infected even months or a year after healing completely.

3.      Poor personal hygiene

Failing to maintain a high level of personal hygiene can increase chances of getting or inviting infections eventually end up on your ear piercing holes. Basically, infections will spread from other body parts through indirect contact or touching. For instance, if you have long hair but do not keep it clean regularly, hair becomes a hot spot for the fungal and bacterial harbor. In case of infestation, bacteria or germs easily migrate to ears while asleep or through touching.

4.      Use of Cheap or inappropriate jewelry

Use of cheaply available jewelry studs or rings especially those made of Nickel can be a source of contact allergy. With allergy, wearing such in new or old piercing means that bumps will form as a result of allergic reaction. Presence of bumps will easily cause an infection due to irritation and constant touching.

Aftercare & Cleaning tips

I think my piercing is infected. What should I do? How do you take care of your newly upper ear (cartilage) pierce?

Anyone with an ear piercing would be satisfied to see it heal quickly without even having to encounter pain and swelling afterward. If a professional does it, aftercare should be easy as they would have given you the right thing to do.

Let us look at how you are supposed to take care of pierced cartilage which includes cleaning tips or Dos and DONTs.

1.      Warm water and saline cleaning

The most common way to take good care of your piercing is cleaning it. One way to do this is using warm water even after you have showered with soap or hair shampoo. Warm water can relieve pain and minimize chances of your ear cartilage swelling. In return, cleaning will promote healing as it discourages microbes from accumulating near in the site.

Secondly, cleaning with saline solution can provide a better relief if the piercing hurts. It also accelerates the healing process. Nevertheless, certain cleaning solutions can cause horrible results if they are used on new or healing especially when they irritate. They comprise chemicals such as alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and betadine.

Above all avoid over-cleaning. Doing this triggers dryness and can lead to severe irritation of cartilage.

2.      Warm sea salt soaks

Sometimes a bump can appear on upper back of ear. Prepare a warm solution as follows:

  • Boil a little water then pour about 2 glasses into a bowl and add a 1/4 tablespoon of sea salt.
  • Stir well and let it cool.

If you have a bump after, gently clean the area and apply a little warm sea salt solution that you have prepared. Use a soft material such as a cotton while applying. Repeat the procedure at least 2 times a day and see it disappear.

3.      Avoid touching

Unless you have a reason to do so such as during cleaning, resist touching especially if it is a newly pierced cartilage. When you require changing piercing jewelry (studs or earrings), cleanse both your hands and rinse all tools you are going to use to avoid transferring gems and infection-causing microbes. Let your hands dry too. However, during the healing phase, you are not required to change your piercing jewelry often.

Touching may also twist your cartilage causing a slowdown in healing time. It can lead to breakage of naturally formed crust around the piercings.

4.      Avoid smoking or stay away from smoke

Another important thing to avoid is getting near smoky environments (whether it is cigar smoking or tobacco). Smoke is one of the irritants for piercings.

5.      Do not change your piercing jewelry

Unless you have a different problem with your upper ear piercing, do not be changing the initial studs until it has healed. In case any complication crops up, you urgently need to go back to your piercer for medical assistance.

6. Use fitting hypoallergenic jewelry

Do not insert other non-standard jewelry other than standard, titanium hygienic inserts or other jewelry that your piercer recommends. Use of quality ear jewelry is a crucial aftercare tip to prevent you from a possible contact allergy that may cause your outer ear to swell badly.

allergy symptoms

How do you tell you are allergic to some jewelry? As we noted earlier formation of bumps is one of the significant ways to tell if you have an allergic reaction to metallic elements. However, this may rely on the material of jewelry.

One of the common symptoms of an allergy is tragus inflammation. It is indicated by an irritated skin around your ear cartilage. Some individuals may also experience swelling and sometimes pain.

In order to clear these troublesome symptoms you need to see your piercer who can refer you to a recommendable dermatologist. If you also get a feeling of severe itching or excessively itch your pierced ear cartilage during healing see your doctor urgently.

How to deal with it

If think you have a problem with your earring or studs do not remove or try to replace them. The best step to take is going back to your piercer who will look into it in order to provide the best solution. It is possible that the inflammation may have been triggered by other substances like smoke. Take caution and stay away from such environments.

It is, therefore, your responsibility to provide adequate information about your allergy history to your piercer (recommended before you do the process). You may also see a dermatologist or allergy doctor to get an update over the same.

7.      More care tips

Beside the above tips, other things that can be of much help include the following:

  • Try avoiding top clothes without buttons and go for those open or with buttons. This is important to minimize injury to your ear when removing or wearing clothes such as T-shirts.
  • Do not allow your friends to touch your ears and that is a potential means of transferring germs directly by contact.
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide during cleaning.
  • Ensure that your hair and bedding are tidy, cleaned or regularly changed.
  • Satisfy your nutritional needs to promote healing.


With proper treatments and cleaning procedures, it can take about 3 months. Owing to the fact that there is no much blood flow (within cartilages), ear cartilage piercing healing process can be slower thus take longer to heal than an earlobe one. Certainly, if you fail to observe or do the aftercare healing can take up to a year.

What should you do to ensure you have your pierced cartilage heal properly after an infection?

Saline solution

For mild symptoms of infection use saline to clean infected area especially before any bumps develop. In addition, it should a perfect cleaning solution used in aftercare procedures.

Go for medication

One of the best things to do for this problem is to seek medication from a health centre. There are a number of treatments available. The method of treatment will highly be determined by level of infection. For instance, under severe symptoms of bacterial infection, you require prescription medicines such as antibacterial ointments.

In case of a bump, “bubble” cause & what to do

What causes bumps around piercing holes? The most common reason why you have a bubble is that of rough handling and little or no aftercare at all. Other causes include incorrect jewelry materials, too tight (snugly) studs or loose earrings. Use of unspecialized tools and equipment such as pierce guns can eventually lead to the bumps appearing behind, in front or both sides.

Formation of bubble-like bumps is considered part of the healing process and nose. With proper aftercare, some people may avoid it. Even though, it will be a common thing to occur among adolescents and youths whose upper ear cartilage are in the healing after a pierce.

Treating a bump at home

What are you supposed to do to fix this problem with bumps? Note that it is important to get advice from a professional piercer before you begin any treatments. If the bumps are swollen see your doctor urgently to prescribe appropriate medicines because the bumps may be infected.

You can also opt for natural cure procedures as follows.

Tea tree oil

Besides being a natural cure for other skin problems, tea tree oil has antibiotic properties to kill infections caused by staph or bacteria. Prepare a dilute solution first if you have an extra sensitive skin. Otherwise, use a cotton material to apply directly on the bumps.

Use sea salt solution

Use a similar procedure described in aftercare.

Apply aspirin

Crush aspirin tablets and add a few drops of water then apply it directly on to the bump. Allow it to absorb and repeat when symptoms come back i.e. mild pain or aching.

Warm compress

Doing this at home will help relieve of mild symptoms like swelling by allowing for an increased blood flow.

Where can I get my it done?

In general, remember that piercing any part or organs of your body has some risks associated with it. That is why it is recommended to get it from a renowned or professional piercer such as Claire’s Accessories based in the UK – if that is your current location.

It does not matter if you are in India, USA, Australia, or wherever you are, you cannot miss a good place to have your ear pierced. Just google online and read reviews.


Some of these risks or complications include:

  • Scarring and formation of keloid tissue,
  • Constantly infected ear piercings,
  • Boils and abscesses,
  • Perichronditis, etc.

To sum up, ensuring that your pierced ear cartilage is free from any kind of infections and damage is a vital assurance that you have a healthy and properly functioning ear: not only for the outer ear but also other structural and functional parts and of the middle and inner ear.

Keep in mind that with proper aftercare while it is healing cannot affect the function of parts of the middle or inner ear. It is our hope that you followed and practiced good aftercare tips.

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