Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What should I do if my ears have become infected?"
I had my friend do my ear piercing for me and now I think my ears are infected. I cleaned the piercings with alcohol but it just didn't work. What should I do about the infection? Do I have to take antibiotics or will it clear up on its own?
You need to go see your primary care doctor and, in the meantime, you should take out the piercings. If you leave the piercings in place, this makes it harder to clear up the infection. Your doctor will be able to assess how bad the infection is. They will look for signs of pain, redness, warmth, and pus. Depending on what they find, they may decide that you need to take oral antibiotics to clear up the infection. Minor skin infection sometimes do not require oral antibiotics and can be treated instead with topical anti bacterial ointment and warm compresses. However, this is a decision that you need to make in collaboration with your doctor. Unfortunately, the infection will probably not heal if you leave the piercing in place, so I recommend that you start by taking it out! In the future, after the infection heals up, you can consider getting another piercing. However, you should go to a professional piercing salon, where the procedure can be performed under sterile conditions. In general it is a bad idea to do your own piercings or to have a friend do them, because the risk of skin infection is much higher in this setting. Again, start with your primary care doctor!
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