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Red, swollen and infected ear lobe after using earring. What treatment should be done?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1992
Answered : 332 Questions
I've been having problems with my earring hole for some time now (I've had my ears pierced since I was 6...I'm 34). I rarely wear earrings, but every time I do I get an infection which I treat with alcohol and antibiotic ointment. A couple of days ago it got really terrible when I wore a pair of earrings (only for about an hour). The pain was so bad that I had to put an ice pack on my lobe (along with the alcohol and ointment). The next morning (yesterday) I woke up and my tragus was horribly painful. Lobe still infected, and tragus bright red and swollen, about to the size of a large pea. I don't know if the two are related, but the pain is so bad I don't know whether or not to see a doctor just for that. I'm also a lupus patient (systemic) and tend to be compromised. I know you'll probably tell me to go to the doctor for that reason alone (I'm also a registered nurse), but the clinic that I go to tends to have waiting times of 3-4 hours and I have twin toddler boys who I absolutely cannot bring. I have some leftover antibiotic ear drops (Ciprodex) from a pretty bad recent XXXXXXX ear infection (same ear), but I'm not sure that will be effective for otitis externa, which I'm guessing might be what this is.
Thanks for your time!

Posted Tue, 22 Jan 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Ravinder Sharma 15 hours later
I am Dr Ravinder Sharma ENT surgeon. On the basis of the information provided it appears you have skin allergy to metallic earrings. This time it appears you had a secondary infection too. Your medical history is suggestive of the autoimmune disorders. They also predispose you for recurrent infections.
This interpretation is based on the information provided and it cannot replace a clinical examination by a ENT and Skin specialist. I would suggest you for a appointment with Otolaryhgologist and Dermatologist.
It appears that you will need antibiotic (topical antibiotic ointment), antiallergics and may be some steroid preparation for treatment. You may also require systemic antibiotics and antiallergics.I can understand your inability to attend a clinic because of twin toddlers but still this will be the right thing to do.

It would not advise you to use antibiotic ear drop (Ciprodex)

I hope this answers your concerns. Feel free to contact me if you need more information about it

with regards
Ravinder Sharma

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