An ear lobe infection is the inflammation of the soft lower part of your external ear. Bacteria that are normally present on the skin, such as strains of staphylococcus bacteria, enter through a break. Once inside, they reproduce and spread. Although a bite or injury can cause an ear lobe infection, the most common cause is an infected ear piercing. If you suspect that you have an infected ear lobe, there are steps you can follow to treat it.
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Recognise the symptoms of an ear lobe infection, including redness and swelling. An infected ear lobe may also feel tender to the touch or throb with pain. In some cases, an infected ear lobe will secrete yellowish pus, which may dry and appear as crust along the earring hole or break in the skin.
Sterilise the infected ear lobe with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol and dry thoroughly. Apply antibiotic topical cream, such as Neosporin. Consider removing any newly installed ear jewellery and having the area re-pierced after the ear lobe infection clears up.
See your health care provider immediately if the inflammation spreads beyond the infected ear lobe. You should also seek medical treatment if develop a fever or if you do not see an improvement in the infected ear lobe 48 hours after you've started treatment. These are signs the infection has developed complications and will require removal of any ear jewellery as well as medical attention.
Tips and warnings
- Ear lobe infections from pierced ears can often be prevented. See Resources.
- Allergy to certain metals in your ear jewellery is often mistaken for an ear lobe infection. If your symptoms return when you put in certain types of ear jewellery, it could be an allergy.
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