Things that can happen with pierced ears

Things like infections and scars can happen when you get your ears pierced. Some of them are more likely to happen if you don't go to a good, clean, safe place to get it done or if you don't take care of them. But even if you do those things, they can still happen. If they do, tell your parents to make an appointment for you to see a skin doctor (dermatologist).

Some of the things that can happen are: 

  • Keloids: These bumps can show up after ear piercing. They're more likely to happen in African Americans, although no one knows why. Surgery, medicine, and even freezing these bumps with a special chemical can help make them smaller, though it's hard to get rid of them completely.
  • Infections: Infections are pretty common. The skin doctor will probably give you medicine to put on your ears to make them better. But some of the infections can be serious. Tell your parents if your ears are red, sore, or puffy, or if yellowish liquid (pus) is coming out of the holes.  
  • Allergic reaction: The metals in some jewelry might bother your skin, and make it itchy and red. Be sure the piercing place uses nickel-free earrings.
  • Torn earlobes: Once you have earrings, you need to be careful when you're getting dressed or playing sports. The earring can get caught on a shirt or your hair and can be ripped out. It can tear your earlobe completely. Ouch! The only way to fix it is to have surgery.
 

                A keloid on an ear lobeAn example of a keloid on a person’s ear caused by an ear piercing proceedure1.
                An allergic reaction to nickelAn allergic reaction to nickel on a person’s ear1.

                A torn earlobe A person with a torn earlobe2.


Next: Getting piercing done safely.

1 Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

2 Photo used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, J. Amer Acad Dermatol. July;43(1):99-101.  Copyright Elsevier (2000).