ZocdocAnswersWhat can be done for this long term ear infection?

Question

What can be done for this long term ear infection?

When I was 16 I gauged my ear in a stupid way. usually you extend the size of a piercing over time, by putting gradually thickening gauges in to the piercing. But I simply took a large thing, and jammed it through ripping the ear open. I'm 21 now, and 5 years later I don't wear gauges or earings. My right ear healed, int he shape of a long rip. But my left ear almost healed completely, and the hole won't close, even after this long. My earlobe always has has large lumps in it (with no head like a pimple would have). They get sore and swollen sometimes, inflamming the whole bottom of my ear. When its like this, the piercing hole turns kinda purple. What can be done? Why won't it heal. I've been on anti-biotics loads of time since I was 16. Should I perhaps drain the lump, because I never have. Thans!

Answer

That is an unfortunate problem to be dealing with all these years later, and demonstrates one of the risks of any procedure, even something as simple as piercing your ears. What I am concerned about is that you might have an infection of the cartilage or cartilaginous membrane in your ear. These can be difficult to treat with antibiotics, as antibiotics are most effective only where there is excellent blood supply. As cartilage does not have a very good blood supply directly to it, antibiotics are often ineffective at treating this condition completely. It sounds like know this first hand, as you are saying that the "bumps" will swell and become inflamed every once in a while. You will need to see an ear-nose-and throat surgeon (ENT, or otolaryngologis) to further address your question. They will ask additional questions, look at your ear, and then formulate a plan to fix your problem once and for all. It will possibly involve surgery to remove the bumps, and any inflamed cartilage that might be storing bacteria and are impossible to treat without opening the skin. This is something that you should fix quickly, as the infection can damage more and more cartilage, and there is also a risk of bacteria spreading to other parts of your body.

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