The NHS on ear piercing


Boy with earring


According to the NHS, ear lobe piercings take approximately 6 weeks to heal. In that time, those who have pierced their ears should avoid swimming in swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, streams, rivers and the sea as it is possible to pick up an infection from a body of water.


Signs of infection –

Your piercing may be infected if:

  • it’s red and swollen
  • it feels warm
  • it’s painful – particularly if it’s throbbing or if the pain is spreading
  • there’s unusual discharge coming from the piercing – it may be a yellow, green or grey colour

If you have any signs of infection, see your GP.


Looking after your piercing – 

If a professional has pierced your body following the correct procedures, there’s no specific aftercare to follow. Don’t clean the piercing site with saline solution as this increases your risk of infection.

You’ll need to keep the piercing dry for three days after the procedure. If you have an ear or facial piercing, having baths rather than showers will help you to keep the piercing dry. Lower body piercings are harder to keep dry, so it may be best to sponge-clean your body for the first three days.

If the piercing gets wet, gently dry the area with a clean paper tissue.

Wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap before touching or washing your piercing.

Ensure that any clothing and bedding that may come into contact with the area around the piercing is clean.


If you get an infection –

If your piercing becomes infected, the surrounding skin may be red and swollen. It will probably hurt when you touch it and may produce a yellow discharge.

If you have a fever or any of the above symptoms, see your GP immediately. A delay in treatment can result in a serious infection.

Leave your jewellery in unless your doctor tells you to take it out. This will ensure proper drainage and prevent an abscess from forming.

In many cases, the infection can be treated without losing the piercing. Minor infections may be treated with antibiotic cream, and a more serious infection may need antibiotic tablets. Your doctor will be able to give you advice about which treatment is best for you.


For more information, you can visit the NHS website on