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Ear Piercing Precautions (General Health)
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Ear Piercing Precautions

Richard Thomas, MD, FRCPC

Ear piercing has a long history in Western and Eastern civilization. It is still a very popular accessory for both men and women, and more recently, with children. There are a plethora of styles in pierces, with various meanings and significances attached to the location, style, and type of pierce that a person wears. Piercing can be conducted by friends or by a professional. Techniques for piercing include the staple gun method, the sharpened stud method, and the needle method.

Whichever method is used, piercing will always come with some risk of complication. Below are some potential complications that can arise from piercing:


When the ear is pierced, it is damaged, and temporarily becomes more susceptible to infections. As the cartilage is pierced, a bacterial infection called Pseudomonas infection can occur. Similar bacterial infections with staphylococcus can also occur. Those with atopic eczema should be careful as they will be more prone to this particular infection than most. Patients with heart valve disease also need to be extra cautious not to introduce bacterial infections into the blood stream. If the instruments are not properly cared for, there is a risk of transmitting viral hepatitis through the instruments.

Allergic Reactions:

Nickel allergies are extremely common. Jewellery which contains nickel may be causing an allergic reaction. Another possibility is that the topical cleansers, antiseptic, or the antibiotics used in the procedure to pierce the ear may be the cause of the allergy. Visit for more information.


Piercing the cartilage of the ears will often cause it to inflame. This should subside shortly.


Internal bleeding in the ear can cause blood clotting.

Other Reactions:

Gold or other metals can cause foreign body reactions, or granulomas.

Keloid Scarring:

Keloid scars are common, especially in those with darker skin colors. Keloid scars are smooth and growing unsightly scars that grow beyond the area of the injury, and are often difficult to treat properly. There are various available treatments such as cyrotherapy or laser treatment, but at this time no procedure is 100% effective, and can lead to the creation of bigger keloid scars.

Split Lobe:

Heavy rings can pull down and tear the ear lobe, which creates a split lobe. To repair split lobes, surgery will be required.

We’ve listed some potential complications that can arise from having your ears pierced. While no procedure is 100% safe from complication, you should take care to choose a place that uses proper hygienic procedures. Sterilized equipment and proper aftercare is a must.


ear piercing,   general health,