Swollen Tragus Piercing: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

swollen tragus piercingPiercings and body modification have become increasingly common in our modern age. Today, more things than ever can be pierced and altered.

With those piercings come more possibilities for infections. Take a tragus piercing, for example. It’s a piercing through the small piece of cartilage that leads from your outer ear toward your ear canal.

That cartilage can become swollen due to the piercing. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what can go wrong with a tragus piercing. Tragus piercing infection causes, tragus piercing infection symptoms, and tragus piercing infection treatment will all be covered.

Causes of Swollen Tragus Piercing

In the case of a tragus piercing, more often than not, the swelling is caused by an infection. This is due to the location of the tragus itself. The tragus is right near the hairline, which can often catch debris and bacteria and eventually deposit it on or near the tragus.

This is especially true of people who have long hair as it can brush up by the tragus and its immediate vicinity. Beyond that, an infection can be caused by numerous factors involving the piercing itself. An inexperienced piercer may not have sterilized their equipment properly, leading to bacteria growth on the piercing tools and essentially injecting those bacteria into the tragus itself.

The bacteria can lead to an infection, which can lead to all sorts of fun stuff like pus filling the area. This will then cause your tragus to swell. Finally, if you’re not taking care of the piercing after you’ve had it done, bacteria can easily find its way into the hole and begin the process of infection. The key here is to recognize the symptoms of tragus infection and then treat it as soon as possible.

Tragus Piercing Infection Symptoms

A tragus piercing infection has symptoms that are very similar to any infection that you might get with a cut, broken, or pierced piece of cartilage. They aren’t pretty and can be painful, and often the symptoms are gross. But, it’s good to have an idea of what those symptoms are if you are thinking about having your tragus pierced, or if you already have it pierced. The symptoms of a tragus piercing infection can include:

1. Redness

Inflammation will result in the area around the piercing turning red and puffy-looking. This is the body’s immune system response to infection.

2. Soreness/Tenderness

The area around the piercing may become sore, especially in the area that has become red. If your piercing is new, soreness is relatively expected, but if that pain persists for more than 48 hours, you may want to have a closer look at it or get a doctor to take a look.

3. Discharge

The piercing may see a bit of a liquid discharge coming from it. It’s usually yellow or green in color, and in cases of a rather bad infection, the discharge can smell terribly bad.

4. Bleeding

In some cases, some people may find that their piercing bleeds. While common with a brand-new piercing, this should stop relatively soon. If it doesn’t within 48 hours, or if it’s an old piercing that has suddenly started bleeding, it may be the sign of an infection.

5. Bumps or Scarring

The formation of a bump near the pierced area or scar tissue forming a bump could also be the sign of an infection invading the pierced area.

These are the most common symptoms that will occur if your tragus piercing becomes infected. Now, some of these symptoms might seem a little scary at first. But don’t worry; there are treatment options that can help you out.

Tragus Piercing Infection Treatment

You’ve identified the symptoms of a tragus piercing infection, now what do you do? Is there an easy guide on how to treat an infected tragus piercing? As it turns out, there are a number of options you can turn to, to help clear out the infection and go back to your daily routine.

1. Saline Solution

Depending on the severity of the infection, a simple saline solution may be able to do the trick and clean up that piercing. Mix eight ounces of water with one teaspoon of salt. Clean your ear and piercing area of dead skin and debris. Take a cotton swab and dip it into the saline solution and proceed to treat the infected area of the piercing.

2. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can have a similar effect as a saline solution on a tragus piercing infection. Clear the infected area of dead skin and debris. Take a cotton swab and dip it into the rubbing alcohol and begin cleaning the infection.

3. Hot Compress

Take a clean towel or cloth and soak it in hot or warm water. Ring out the cloth of excess water and gently place it against the infected area. This will help get the blood circulating in the pierced area, which can help speed up the healing process.

4. Chamomile Tea Bags

Believe it or not, chamomile tea bags may be able to help clean out the infection and reduce any swelling due to their anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Dip a chamomile tea bag into warm water and then hold it against the infected piercing area.

5. Antibiotics

Sometimes an infection is too stubborn for a home remedy to eliminate. At that point you should see a doctor. The doctor will take a look at the infection, and more often than not, they will prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection. You may be able to use some of the home remedies above to aid the healing process as the antibiotics do their job, but you should ask your doctor first before attempting to do so.

Take Care of Your Piercings

Piercings are generally safe, including those on your tragus, if you let a professional do it. The truth is that infections can happen even if you take precautions against them. But there is no need to panic because the home remedies that we listed above may be able to treat your swollen tragus piercing infection. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always antibiotics.


“Swollen Tragus Piercing: Treatment and Care Tips,” New Health Advisor; http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/swollen-tragus-piercing.html, last accessed June 13, 2017.
“Infected Tragus Piercing Signs, Bump, Risks and How to Treat It,” Heal Cure; http://www.healcure.org/ear/tragus-piercing/infected-tragus-piercing-signs-bump-risks-how-to-treat-tragus-piercing-infection/, last accessed June 13, 2017.
“Infected Tragus Piercing Pictures, Causes, Symptoms, Aftercare, Bumps, Treatment and Risks,” Health Know Facts; http://health.knowfacts.org/ear-piercing/infected-tragus-piercing-pictures-causes-symptoms-aftercare-bumps-treatment-risks/, last accessed June 13, 2017.