Does this describe your symptoms?
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Allergic Reaction to Nickel
- Area around pierced earring is red, tender, swollen, warm to touch
- Earlobes can also become torn or lacerated
- About 30% of people who have their ears pierced experience minor complications in the first few days or weeks after piercing.
- Complications include:
- Localized infection at earring site or spread of infection to entire ear
- Skin allergy (contact dermatitis) from nickel (contained in some earrings)
- Back of earring becomes lodged inside the earlobe
- Tear of earlobe due to pulling on the earring
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- You feel weak or very sick
- Earring has torn completely through the ear lobe
- Skin around the piercing site is split open or gaping
- Bleeding at the piercing site has not stopped after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Part of earring (clasp) is stuck inside the earlobe
- Entire ear is red or swollen
- Ear pain and you have a fever
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think you need to be seen
- Redness has spread beyond the earring site
- Minor tear in your earlobe and your last tetanus booster was over 10 years ago
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Swollen lymph node (in front of or behind earlobe)
- Symptoms not improving after 3 days of treatment at with antibiotic ointment
- Small tear in earlobe from earring injury and no tetanus booster greater than 10 years
- Large thick scar has developed at the earring site during the last couple months
|Self Care at Home If|
- Localized redness and tenderness only at the earring site, and you don't think you need to be seen
- Small amount of discharge at earring site, and you don't think you need to be seen
- Small tear in earlobe from earring injury, and you don't think you need to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR PIERCED EAR
And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- Localized Redness Or Discharge At Earring Site:
- Remove the earring from the ear three times a day. Clean the earring and post with rubbing alcohol.
- Wash away any crusting or discharge from the earlobe using soap and water.
- Gently clean the holes on both sides of the earlobe with rubbing alcohol and some gauze.
- Apply Bacitracin ointment to the earring post and to the earlobe holes and reinsert the earring. Bacitracin is an antibiotic ointment that can be obtained over-the-counter.
- Newly-Pierced Ears:
- Don't remove the earring.
- Use a cotton swab ("Q-Tip") dipped in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the earring post and skin three times a day.
- Rotate (turn) the earring several times each day to prevent the skin from sticking to the post.
- Self Care For Small Tear:
- For bleeding, use gauze or a towel to apply direct pressure to the area for 10 minutes.
- Remove the earring and keep it out for 3-5 days.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Preventing Infections in Newly Pierced Ears:
- Have your earlobes pierced by someone who is experienced and uses sterile technique.
- The initial posts should be 14-karat gold or stainless steel.
- Do not remove the posts for 6 weeks.
- Attach the earring clasp loosely to allow for swelling.
- After washing the hands and cleaning both sides of the earlobes with rubbing alcohol, turn the posts approximately 3 rotations. Do this twice a day.
- By the end of 6 weeks, the lining of the channels should be healed and earrings may be changed as often as desired
- Preventing an Allergic Reaction To Nickel: Some people have a skin allergy to nickel. Wear earrings with posts made out of 14 K gold or surgical steel.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- You are not improving after 3 days
- You become worse
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009
Last Revised: 9/21/2007
Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Online
Portions Copyright 2000-2009 Self Care Decisions LLC; Copyright LMS, Inc.