The symptoms of an irritation can be similar to those of an infection. If the area is red, tender, excreting white/yellow fluid or seems to have a bump around the piercing, it is probably irritated. These are all signs that the piercing is being subjected to physical trauma and this will subside over time. Ear cartilage piercings can be touchy even after being healed for years, it is possible to knock it by accident and experience irritation for a few days.
- Trauma from removing/fitting jewellery
- Touching or playing with the piercing
- Applying pressure while sleeping
- Bumping the piercing by accident
- Irritation from chemicals in skincare or haircare products
- Wrong jewellery type for the piercing
- Jewellery is too thick (trying to fit 16g jewellery in an 18g piercing hole for example)
- Changing your jewellery too soon before your piercing is properly healed
How to treat an irritation:
The only way to get rid of an infection is with treatment from a doctor, usually with a short course of antibiotics. Do not remove the jewellery as the wound will close up and trap the infection inside.
Do's & Dont's
- Don't automatically assume you have an infection. It's always best to visit your local professional piercer for advice as they are able to physically examine your piercing to diagnose.
How to make a soak
- Boil 200ml of water
- Add ½ teaspoon of fine sea-salt and stir until fully dissolved in the water solution. Alternatively for more sensitive skin, brew a chamomile tea bag for 3 minutes and then remove.
- Allow the mixture to cool, do not apply boiling hot water as this can cause damage. It should be a little warmer than luke-warm.
- Soak a lint-free cloth or pad (ideally not a cotton pad as this contains micro fibres which can become trapped on the piercing) into the sea-salt or camomile solution.
- Apply to the area until it cools, repeat multiple times until the area feels soothed and repeat once a day until the irritation subsides.
Remember: Irritation is very common in new piercings or piercings that are still healing. It is completely normal for brand new piercings to be swollen, sore to the touch and a little crusty around the hole - this is just part of the healing process.Even healed piercings can be easily irritated by switching to a new piece of jewellery. Cartilage is prone to flaring up after being healed for years and years just by changing to something your the healed tissue isn't used to, it's basically having to mould to a new shape or size.