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How Do I Treat a Swollen Ear Lobe?

A cold compress to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Swollen lobes may occur in newly pierced ears.
Treating a swollen ear lobe depends on what has caused the ear to swell in the first place.
Cleansing a swollen ear lobe with hydrogen peroxide will help promote healing.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: N. Madison
  • Revised By: Jay Leone
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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The best way to treat a swollen ear lobe depends on what's causing the swelling. Inflammation caused by piercings or insect stings can generally be brought down with certain household items and Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications, while more serious conditions like infections or boils may need prescription medication. If your ear is very painful or doesn't get better after a few days, you should seek medical attention to prevent the possibility of a permanent deformity or deafness.

Insect Bites

Swelling caused by a bite or sting on the ear lobe from an insect or spider can usually be treated at home. You should first wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water, and then apply an antiseptic, like hydrogen peroxide. After this, apply a cold compress to the ear as needed, and take painkillers to deal with any discomfort. If the ear is very inflamed, then you may need to take an antihistamine as well.

Piercings

Having some swelling is normal after getting a piercing, especially if you sleep on your newly pierced ear, but you can reduce it by keeping pressure off of the ear. You should also keep the ear clean, and use salt-water compresses to prevent infection. If your ear lobe is painful, you can take OTC pain relievers and use a numbing gel or spray.

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Infections and Boils

Several different infections can cause a swollen ear lobe, including an infected piercing, an ear infection, and boils or cysts. If this is the case, then your ear will generally be red and inflamed, and may leak pus or other fluids. You may also have pain in your inner ear and a fever. To treat swelling caused by an infection or a boil or cyst, you'll generally need to see a healthcare professional to get antibiotics to take care of the infection or have him or her remove the boil. You should not try to drain a boil or cyst by yourself, since you could cause it to burst and spread infectious material throughout your ear.

Trauma

Trauma caused by a direct blow is one of the most common causes of a swollen ear lobe, especially in people who play contact sports. To treat this kind of injury, ice the ear with an icepack or plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel and take OTC painkillers. If the ear is very swollen, red, purple, or white, then you should see a healthcare professional immediately, since this could lead to a permanent deformity called cauliflower ear or a loss of hearing.

Allergic Reactions

You may also get a swollen ear lobe because of an allergic reaction to something that touches your ear, like a soap, shampoo, or an earring. In this case, the best treatment is to remove the source of the allergy — for instance, if you are allergic to nickel then you should take out any earrings containing it — and then treat the symptoms with cold compresses and OTC painkillers. This should reduce the swelling within a few days, but if it doesn't, then you should see a healthcare professional for a prescription for antihistamine.

Prevention

Though you can't prevent all the things that can cause swelling, you can often avoid a swollen ear lobe by only wearing jewelry that's made with precious metals, like gold or silver. You should also only get piercings from reputable places that use sterile equipment, and clean your earrings regularly. If you play contact sports, wearing a helmet or earguard while playing can help prevent trauma-related problems.

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Discuss this Article

anon322835
Post 10

My ear hurts and is red and swollen. I can't hear out of the ear itself. What do I have?

anon298255
Post 9

Help! How can I get rid of a swollen earlobe? I got my second piercing three days ago and now one of them is swollen, red and hurts! It is very painful and I don't know what to do! It hasn't gone down all day.

anon203802
Post 8

does anyone know what would cause the upper earlobe of a five year old to swell?

anon161814
Post 7

well i had my second cartilage pierced and my ear just was swollen this morning. i bought some isopropyl alcohol to see if it helps but it kind of got the pain to relax but it's still swollen. It doesn't itch but it's red and way bigger than my other ear. should i put something cold on it?

anon140244
Post 6

to galen84basc: This is what happened to my son when i adopted him from africa and he had malaria. see a doctor immediately before it gets worse, because it definitely will. --bri

anon135696
Post 5

i got my ears pierced about four years ago but now my earlobe is really swollen and my earring is stuck in my ear and i can't get it out. I don't know what to do!

anon124824
Post 4

my lower earlobes are somewhat swollen when compared, but no signs of irritation,itch or anything. I just realised that they seemed a bit swollen compared to other people's earlobes. Any recommendation appreciated. Omar

naturesgurl3
Post 3

One trick that is an oldie but a goodie for a mild ear piercing infection or an earlobe swollen from a bug bite is to just hold a piece of ice on the lobe.

That will cool it down and numb the pain.

However, like the article says, if the earlobe worsens or starts draining pus, see a doctor right away.

CopperPipe
Post 2

@galen84basc -- It sounds like an inner ear infection to me -- that could cause the dizziness, which would in turn contribute to nausea.

While those usually go away with antibiotics, I would tell your friend to see a doctor anyway, especially since he's been out of the country.

Ear health can be tricky -- it's not something you want to fool around with. Get him to check it out ASAP.

galen84basc
Post 1

I have a friend who recently got back from South America and is now experiencing nausea, dizziness, and, bizarrely, a swollen earlobe.

Does anybody know what could have caused this, or what he should do about it?

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