Although piercings are currently more common than ever, that does not mean that they are without risk, and should be taken for granted, as it were, as they can still be very dangerous and must therefore be well maintained and looked after at all times, especially during the initial stages. Ear piercings for example, are probably the most common of all piercings, with more and more people choosing to have what are known as cartilage piercings as opposed to just regular earlobe piercings. Cartilage piercings however, must be very well maintained and cared for, otherwise you run the very real risk of suffering from infection. There have been countless horror stories in the press about people undergoing cheap and unprofessional procedures to have their cartilage pierced, only to suffer such severe infections that parts of their cartilage have actually disintegrated. Infections in cartilage piercings, or any other piercings for that matter, are often due to neglect, poor aftercare, poor hygiene, and bacteria finding its way into, and around, the open wound. Like most things however, catching infections as early as possible will give you the best possible chances of recovering quicker before any lasting damage is done, so let’s take a look at a few common signs of an infected cartilage piercing, so you know what to look out for.
Redness – One of the most obvious signs of an infected cartilage piercing is redness on, and around, the piercing and the pierced body part. In a well lit room, examine your piercing carefully, and look for any changes in color of the skin and area surrounding the piercing. If you notice it looking unusually pinker than normal, that could be the very early signs of infection. By taking things further however, you may notice that the piercing is in actual fact, now red in color. Just bear in mind however, that for the first couple of days, even a healthy piercing will turn pinker than usual, but if it’s been longer than a week and you notice it’s still pink/red, infection could be setting in.
Swelling – Another very obvious tell-tale sign of infection is swelling, which will again be on, and around, the new piercing. Take note of skin surrounding the piercing and see if it changes in size each day. If it’s looking swollen and happens to be getting bigger, again, this is a clear indication that something isn’t right.
Pus and/or discharge – Yes, we know it’s not a pleasant thing to talk about, but another very clear indication that your piercing could be infected, or could be at an increased risk of becoming infected, is if it secretes any discharge or pus. As gross as it sounds, you should also look at the color of the pus being secreted. For example, if it is white, this is a sign of an early and mild infection, in which case, if you act quickly, you can catch it before it gets worse. If it is yellow and/or green this is a sign of a much more severe and more established infection.
Pain/tenderness – Obviously for the first few days your piercing will feel tender and possibly even painful to the touch, which is perfectly normal. If it’s been longer than a week however and you notice your piercing feeling painful and tender and that the pain is actually getting substantially worse instead of better, this is another clear indication that it may be infected. Take note of how severe the pain is, and whether or not you can touch the piercing without it hurting. If you can touch it, how much pressure can you apply to it?
Nausea/fever – If you find yourself suffering from nausea and/or fever, or even chills for that matter, you should immediately seek medical attention because these could be the symptoms caused as a result of an infected piercing. Most likely these symptoms could be caused as a result of a localized infection on/around the site of the piercing, which in this case will be the cartilage of your ear. However, they could also be caused as a result of what is known as a systemic infection. If it is indeed a systemic infection, or if you think it could be, you should immediately seek medical attention because they have been known to be fatal. If you are suffering with any of the above symptoms, immediately speak to your doctor because these are not regular symptoms associated with mild infections and new piercings.