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How to Heal an Infected Daith Piercing

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

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 probability of getting infected. Mine got infected nearly straight away after getting it pierced in January of 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!

What can you do about an infected daith piercing?

What can you do about an infected daith piercing?

How to Prevent Daith Infections

Daith piercings (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 it 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 should either be 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 jewelry, make sure you’ve washed or sanitised 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 with a saline solution 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 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 mine done as the earbud pressed too hard against my piercing. Instead, I opted for over-ear headphones, which I wore for about two months until I 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

  • inflammation of the ear or surrounding areas
  • swelling that doesn’t go away after a few days
  • redness
  • pain
  • heat 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 help is antibiotics.

  • Saltwater 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.
  • Tea tree oil. If you add a couple of 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, which eventually flushes out the wound and removes the bacteria. If you take it out, you also risk the chance of the piercing 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 who 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, and 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.

My Daith Piercing Got 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 after several days of habitually touching it, 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 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 saltwater soaks.

How Long Does a Daith Piercing Take to Heal?

The daith is a relatively delicate piercing so, without an infection, it should take about a month and a half to heal. But as I said, this piercing placement is prone to complications.

You might want to take a look at some other "delicate" piercings for women, although you don't have to be female to like the way they look!

How Long Might an Infection Delay Healing?

It took about two months for my piercing to heal, including the roughly two 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 :)

What About You?

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

Question: How long should we wait before seeing a doctor if we have an infected daith piercing?

Answer: I'd say if you're at the point of "thinking" you need to see a doctor- see a doctor. There's no point in delaying it.

© 2019 Brittany Brown

Comments

Hallie on November 15, 2019:

I got mine done a little over a month ago and their is a bump where the piercing at very sore what do u recommend

Brittany Brown (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 24, 2019:

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!

Julie on August 24, 2019:

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 !