How to Heal an Infected Daith Piercing

Updated on May 13, 2019
brittpinkie profile image

Brittany got her first piercing as an infant, and now has a total of six (delicate) piercings.

What to do for and how to heal an infected daith piercing.
What to do for and how to heal an infected daith piercing. | Source

Daith piercings are becoming very popular. These piercings are purported to help with migraine headaches, although there’s been no research to support this theory. They are done through your ear’s cartilage fold (or the crus of the helix). Not only are they in an interesting place, but you can also adorn them with a variety of styles of jewelry.

However, because they pierce cartilage, which takes notoriously long to heal, daith piercings have a high chance of getting infected. Mine got infected nearly straight away after getting it pierced in January 2019, but I managed to heal it within a few weeks and still have it today, pain-free.

Here’s how you can prevent, and ultimately cure, a daith piercing infection!

How to Prevent Daith Infections

Daith (and most other cartilage piercings) can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to heal, depending on how you care for them. To properly care for and prevent your daith piercing from getting infected, it’s best to:

  1. Make sure you’re getting pierced in a safe and sterile environment.

    This should go without saying, but make sure you’re getting pierced by a professional in a safe and sterile environment. Your piercer should be using the proper equipment, and ideally they're wearing gloves or have just sanitised their hands before piercing you. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t trust your piercer’s experience, or if the place you’re getting pierced in appears unclean, trust your instinct and don’t follow through with it! If possible, visit places that have been recommended by friends or have been reviewed well. I also recommend checking out the business's website or Instagram to view pictures of their previous clients and the work they’ve had done.

  2. Avoid touching your piercing.

    Obviously, our hands can carry tons of germs, so it’s best to avoid fiddling with your piercing, especially during the healing phase. If you do need to touch or adjust your piercing, make sure you’ve washed or sanitise your hands before doing so.

  3. Follow the aftercare instructions.

    Your piercer should give you clear aftercare instructions, which you should follow carefully. Likely, you’ll be advised to spray a saline solution on your piercing once a day. Unlike most piercings, the daith doesn’t need to be “rotated” in the cartilage, so simply spray with the saline solution and leave it to air dry.

  4. Be gentle with your new piercing.

    It’s sometimes hard to remember a new piercing when you first get it. The new piercing wakes me up in the middle of the night; suddenly, I feel this foreign object in my body that I’ve forgotten about while sleeping, and I have to fight the compulsion to rip it out in my half-asleep state. Of course, you don’t want to rip your new piercing out, but you also want to ensure you’re not bumping up against it, accidentally hitting it, sleeping on it too much (favour your unpierced side, if you’re a side-sleeper), or yanking on it. I found it hard to wear an earbud for several weeks after getting it done as it pressed too hard against my piercing. Instead, I opted for over-ear headphones, which I wore for about two months until I had healed.

I found it hard to wear an earbud for several weeks after getting it done as it pressed too hard against my piercing. Instead, I opted for over-ear headphones.

Signs of Daith Infection

Even if you’ve done all you can to prevent infection, you may find that your daith piercing still becomes infected. I believe mine got infected from touching it too much: even though I knew not to, I couldn’t help but fiddle with it, and I started to notice symptoms of infection just a few days after having the piercing done.

Typical signs of infection are:

  • inflammation of the ear or surrounding areas
  • swelling that doesn’t go away after a few days
  • redness
  • pain
  • heat around and radiating from the site of infection
  • itching and burning sensation
  • bleeding
  • pus and discharge

Unlike most piercings, the daith doesn’t need to be “rotated” in the cartilage, so simply spray with the saline solution and leave it to air dry.

How to Treat a Daith Infection at Home

If you start to notice your piercing has become irritated, you can try treating it with a few home remedies. I only recommend these remedies as a temporary solution to relieve pain until you can get to a doctor. If your piercing has become truly infected, the only thing that will get rid of the infection is antibiotics.

  • Salt water soaks: Press your ear into a cup or shallow bowl filled with a ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water. Soak the piercing for 5-10 minutes, twice a day, or when necessary.
  • If you add a couple drops of tea tree oil to the salt solution, it might aid healing.
  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs (pain killers like aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, etc.) can also be used to temporarily relieve pain.

Should You Remove the Jewelry if the Daith Is Infected?

Absolutely avoid removing your jewelry! Though it may seem best to take it out, leaving the jewelry in actually allows the infection to drain, eventually flushing out the wound and removing the bacteria. You also risk the chance of the site closing and not being able to re-pierce there later (due to scar tissue damage).

Seeing a Doctor

Finally, if your piercing is infected, it’s best to see a doctor. Your doctor can assess your piercing and determine if it’s truly infected or just mildly irritated and prescribe you with antibiotics to cure the infection.

After completing your prescribed dose of antibiotics, your infection should clear up, but you’ll start to feel better after a few days of treatment. Make sure you take the full course of antibiotics and maintain proper care of your piercing throughout the antibiotic process.

If your piercing remains infected after finishing the antibiotic course, return to your doctor for follow-up care.

Photos of My Infected Daith

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My daith piercing when it first started to become infected. You can see the skin is red and swollen.This was my ear immediately after a warm sea salt soak.  The swelling has gone down, but it was ultimately still infected.Perhaps the worst stage of my infection; the swelling has now spread to other parts of my ear, the skin is red and you can see some pus.  It was also very painful!Finally, my ear as it normally looks, with the daith healed and no longer infected!
My daith piercing when it first started to become infected. You can see the skin is red and swollen.
My daith piercing when it first started to become infected. You can see the skin is red and swollen. | Source
This was my ear immediately after a warm sea salt soak.  The swelling has gone down, but it was ultimately still infected.
This was my ear immediately after a warm sea salt soak. The swelling has gone down, but it was ultimately still infected.
Perhaps the worst stage of my infection; the swelling has now spread to other parts of my ear, the skin is red and you can see some pus.  It was also very painful!
Perhaps the worst stage of my infection; the swelling has now spread to other parts of my ear, the skin is red and you can see some pus. It was also very painful!
Finally, my ear as it normally looks, with the daith healed and no longer infected!
Finally, my ear as it normally looks, with the daith healed and no longer infected!

As mentioned above, unfortunately my daith piercing got infected mere days after having it done. I admit that the infection was likely due to my own improper care, because it was only after several days of habitually touching it when I started to notice it swelling, feeling hot to the touch, and eventually oozing a yellow discharge (disgusting, I know!).

I went to my GP within a few days and she prescribed me with a dose of antibiotics. It took a few days for the infection to clear up, but in the meantime, I treated the infection with warm compresses and salt water soaks.

How Long Might an Infection Delay Healing?

It took about two months for my piercing to heal, including the roughly 2 weeks that I battled the infection. Now that it’s healed and pain-free, I can say it was completely worth the experience, as the daith is such a unique and beautiful piercing!

My daith piercing post-healing and infection.  Happy and healthy again!  Next step will be to change the jewelery :)
My daith piercing post-healing and infection. Happy and healthy again! Next step will be to change the jewelery :)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Brittany Brown

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      • brittpinkie profile imageAUTHOR

        Brittany Brown 

        3 weeks ago from Sydney, Australia

        Hi Julie! I can't say it's helped me with my headaches or migraines, as I do still get them. Some people have said it's helped them, but there's no medical evidence on this yet, unfortunately. I'd say try again to get it pierced, but make sure you take particular care with the aftercare- wouldn't want you in the hospital again!

      • profile image

        Julie 

        3 weeks ago

        I had a daith piercing a month ago, after a week it was infected and I was in hospital on a drip . It’s now all healed but they took the ring out so it’s healed up, I would like this done again as I suffer from bad migraines, would you advise to have the same ear pierced as this is the side I get all the headaches !

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