Cartilage Piercing Infection

Piercing the higher portion of the ear, known as the cartilage, is a fashion statement that can be dangerous. Before deciding to pierce the upper portion of your ear, familiarize yourself with the health risks associated with cartilage ear piercings.

Pain, Swelling and Redness
The signs of inflammation will be present with perichondritis. A painful and red ear is the most common symptom of ear cartilage infection, according to the National Institutes of Health. Pain will occur in the cartilage portion of your ear. The redness surrounds the area where the injury has occurred. Ear lobe swelling can occur with an infection of the ear cartilage.

Changes in Shape
Pus can collect between the cartilage and surrounding perichondrium with a severe infection. This pus collection can sometimes result in the death of the cartilage. This happens because the cartilage receives its blood supply and nutrition from the perichondrium. This can lead to a deformed ear. An untreated severe infection of the ear cartilage can change the shape of the ear and result in cauliflower-shaped deformity of the ear.

Severe cases of ear cartilage infection will result in fever, discharge seeping from the wound and itching of the ear. A severe ear cartilage infection will cause crusts in the affected area and pus like discharge. The infection from the ear can spread to soft tissues of the face and neck, according to University of Texas Medical Branch. If you have the above symptoms of ear cartilage infection, seek immediate medical attention to prevent complications.

Keloids are large, puffy scars that may form when the skin is too thin and scars rather than healing. Especially after a bad infection, keloids can appear on the top portion of the ear as a result of piercing. Cortisone injections, pressure dressing and laser therapy can help smooth out the skin, but it can leave the ear scarred after cartilage piercing.


In some piercees, keloids are a hereditary medical condition. Piercees with close family members, such as parents or siblings, with keloids are most likely to keloid in connection with ear cartilage piercing. Piercing the ear cartilage, no matter the method, results in keloids around, inside or outside of the piercing location. Receiving a piercing with a sterilized needle from a professional body piercer that provides thorough aftercare guidelines decreases the possibility of keloid formation. The piercee, following the aftercare guidelines in addition to the professional procedure, may prevent or slow the formation of a keloid, yet this varies from piercee to piercee. Piercing guns and unprofessional tools cause additional trauma to the cartilage and lack of aftercare may aid in the growth of a keloid. Keloids form mostly at the back of the ear piercing, as this is where the piercing causes the most trauma to the skin.


If you are worried that you are prone to keloid scarring, consult your health-care provider and avoid activities such as piercings and tattoos. Likewise, speak with a doctor if you suspect a scar of being a keloid rather than the more common hypertrophic scar.

What to avoid:
Changing the jewelry
Saunas, Pools, Sea etc
Wearing hats, unclean clothes
Taking off the jewelry for at least 3 weeks
Touching the piercing with dirty hands. Touching it will cause bacteria to spread and pain.
If you believe you may have an infection, see a doctor or the person that did your piercing.
Do not use rubbing alcohol to clean jewelry while it is in your ear as it will irritate the area.


Piercing Risks
Piercing Pain
Piercing Mistakes
Piercing Effects
Body Modification