Infected Cartilage Piercing

What is cartilage piercing infection?

Body piercing is one of the primeval forms of art and can gain a lot of popularity through fashion, expression of individuality, status quo, culture and even in religious practices.

This is a form of body alteration through the practice of puncturing a certain part of the human cartilage; establishing a small opening in which different styles of jewelry can be worn. The most common jewelry material used is Surgical Stainless-steel but some people do use precious metals such as Copper, Silver, Gold, Platinum and even rare Titanium.

The most known body parts with cartilage to have piercings are the ears, nose, neck and forehead. The cartilage is a connective tissue located underneath the skin that is softer than a bone but harder than muscles of the body. The use of non-sterile tools, non-hypoallergenic metal piercing and other improper methods of piercing may lead to an infection of the skin and especially to that delicate cartilage.

Cartilage piercing infection happens when a certain bacteria or pathogen gets into the freshly made or untreated wound piercing. It can range from mild to severe infections. In worst cases, pierced body part that is infected and left untreated for a long span of time will need to be surgically cut. It could also infect other vital organs and can cause septicemia, a complication of severe infection.

ear cartilage piercing procedure

Kinds of Cartilage infection

Auricular chronditis –

It is an infection in the outer part of the ear, an elastic cartilage that forms outside portion of the ear. Sometimes the auricular area becomes severely infected due to stress, pressure or even injury to the ear resulting to inflammation which is called chronditis.

Perichronditis  –

It is the infection and inflammation of perichrondrium, this is a soft-like tissue that is located along the side of the cartilage. Perichondrium is the one supplying blood to the cartilage, since cartilage has none.


There is a lot of possible etiology why pierced cartilage are infected, but most common cause is bacterial infection, specifically a gram positive bacterial called Group A Streptococcus and gram negative Pseudomonas. In rare cases, viral infection may cause.

Piercing is done by intentionally creating a hole to the cartilage. In the process, skin integrity is damaged; an open wound becomes susceptible to infection.

These are the following reasons why pierced cartilage can be infected:

  • Improper and unsterile surgical equipments
  • Improper piercing methods
  • Surgical complications
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Pressure to the ears due to wearing tight jewelry
  • Swimming in polluted open lake and rivers

How to Treat Cartilage Infection?

Proper hygiene is the cheapest and most effective way of treatment, cleaning and washing the pierced area with disinfectant soap, getting the dead skin if present and never forget to clean and disinfect the piercing rings.

The change of jewelry is another consideration since not all people can wear all types of metal jewelry. Most but not all are allergic to a specific metal or plastic piercing rings. It’s a good advice to invest on hypoallergenic piercing rings. If the pierced area is already itchy and swollen, shift to other kinds of metal as soon as possible to avoid further complication and irritation.

Clean the affected area regularly; this will prevent bacteria from building up into the wound. If pus is visible, the use of hydrogen peroxide is recommended to clean and disinfect the wound.

Antibiotics are necessary as advised; if the piercing is inflamed, redness is visible, and fever occurs. Ciprofloxacin is given to ages 18 and above to treat and avoid damage on growing cartilage. Flouroquinolone is given if Ciprofloxacin fails. Topical ointments are also available.

These kinds of drugs are available over the counter, but it is better to seek consultation from an attending physician to assess your health condition and get the right medication for a certain extent of infection.

Vitamin C is also very helpful; it will boost healing time on the affected area and encourage wound healing. It also help improve  an immunity against bacteria.

The use of sea salt rock can also help if applied to the affected area once or thrice a week; it heals the bumps and can make the pierced area dry.


It shows that cartilage piercing infection is preventable by doing good decision making. Before hand, always gather enough information about the materials being used. It might be a simple act of putting metal rings or jewelry through the skin but in fact, a lot of precautions need to be done.

Investing a good sum of money for aseptic materials will be a wise choice rather than spending on antibiotics. Prevention is better than cure. Always seek professional experts who have a enough background of the procedure. After surgery, wound care must never be taken for granted.

Always see a physician if there are symptoms of infection, for early diagnosis and treatment.

Infected Cartilage Piercing Pictures

cartilage piercing infection

infected cartilage piercing

ear cartilage infection piercing image





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