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Should You Pierce Your Upper Ear? Upper Ear Piercing Danger
Helix piercing gone wrong.
Is it safe to pierce your upper ear? Not according to most doctors. There is about a one in ten chance you will develop an infection and a lesser chance that you will develop an chronic infection of the ear cartilage by a bacteria known by the name of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Read the article below before deciding to pierce your ear cartilage.
Causes And Symptoms Of An Ear Cartilage Infection
If the ear is red and swollen you may have an infection known as perichondritis. It may look like a simple skin infection at first, with small red or pus filled bumps and nodules under the skin but this can quickly worsen and affect the perichondrium which surrounds the ear cartilage.
It is often caused by trauma to the ear, such as a cut or scrape and more recently as a result of upper ear cartilage piercing. The number of cases seen by doctors has risen rapidly during the past two decades due to the popularity of upper ear piercing. The culprit causing the infection is most likely a very nasty bacteria called pseudomonas aeruginosa.
This gram negative bacteria is very hard to get rid of and is resistant to a number of antibiotics. In fact it is so tough it has been even found living in the disinfectant solution that some piercing salons use called benzalkonium chloride.
Benzalkonium chloride is not 100% effective against this bacteria so if you are considering having a piercing done ask the salon what procedures they use to disinfect needles, etc.
The ear in the photo above was pierced and is now infected with pseudomonas aeruginosa which is causing perichondritis. Perichondritis refers to an infection of the tissue around the ear cartilage. If the infection spreads to the cartilage it is called chondritis.
Chondritis is very serious and can be lead to ear collapse if not successfully treated and plastic surgery may be the only option to restore the ear.
Treatment Of Upper Ear Piercing Infections
If you suspect that you have an infection in the ear cartilage or surrounding tissue it is recommended that you see a specialist such as an ear, nose and throat doctor.
They will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic that is effective against gram negative bacteria like pseudomonas aeruginosa, if that is in fact what you are determined to have.
Treatment may be in the form of oral antibiotics or an injection. In severe cases an IV drip may be involved. In some severe cases surgery may be necessary to drain pus and remove dead tissue and cartilage. Follow up plastic surgery may be done to restore the shape of the ear.
There are other infections of the ear cartilage resulting from a piercing including the super bug called MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Methicillin was for years the best antibiotic to treat staph infections but a strain developed that is resistant to this and other antibiotics. MRSA needs to be identified and treated at once. There have been recent cases of MRSA infections spread by improper sanitation procedures piercing salons and nail salons.
If you suspect that you have an infection in you ear following upper ear piercing or injury, as indicated by the symptoms above, see your physician promptly. Time is of the essence since early treatment is necessary to prevent loss of upper ear piercing infections.
For more information on ear cartilage infections see the following article: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001253.htm
Consult you physician before having an ear cartilage piercing. Those with any health issues at all, including diabetes, should avoid piercing the upper ear.
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