Tragus Piercing Swelling

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Tragus piercings are really cool and stylish — they’re kind of a step up from your regular earlobe piercing. Since they’re a relatively new trend, it’s best to get it pierced at an experienced and reputable tattoo parlor or piercing shop.

Swelling with a tragus piercing should only be a cause for concern if it doesn’t seem to be going away or is getting worse. A few days of swelling and soreness shouldn’t be cause for alarm. If the swelling is accompanied by prolonged redness, discharge and overwhelming pain, you may be dealing with an infection.

What can cause a swollen tragus piercing?

  • Excessive touching
  • Contact with hair
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Bad hygiene

The Risk of Tragus Piercings

Piercings in more fleshy areas with more blood flow heal relatively fast with little complications. Tragus piercings are a little bit more complicated. They can actually take much longer to fully recover because you’re piercing through cartilage. Tragus piercings take about three to six months to heal, while earlobe piercings, for example, only take about six to eight weeks to heal.

Along with taking longer to heal, cartilage piercings are also more prone to swelling and infection. This is because there’s less blood flow to cartilage, meaning that our infection-fighting cells arrive in smaller numbers when needed. 

Causes of Swollen Tragus Piercings

The first thing to note is that mild swelling for a couple of days after the procedure is definitely to be expected. You’ve just had a needle poked through our ear after all. However, if the swelling lingers, or continues to get worse instead of better, then there may be other factors at play.

Bad Hygiene

If you’re not cleaning your piercing and the surrounding area properly, bacteria will find its way in. Any experienced or reputable piercer will give you detailed aftercare cleaning instructions. This usually involves cleaning your piercing twice a day with salt-water or a saline solution. If you neglect to do this, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk for infection.

Excessive Touching

Continually playing with or touching your new piercing is a sure way to transfer germs and bacteria. Remember that swelling occurs as a natural reaction to an infection. This is your body’s defense system in full action. Touching your new jewelry with your dirty fingers can help trap dirt in the pierced hole. If you’re just dying to touch it, clean your hands thoroughly with a good antibacterial soap beforehand.


Anything that isn’t sterile or sanitary that comes in contact with your piercing can contribute to swelling. If you have long hair that hangs over your ears, it can get caught in the piercing. This can irritate the wound and expose it to more bacteria. Be sure to keep your hair tied up during the first couple of weeks — that applies to dudes, too!

Tight Earrings

If the jewelry has been screwed on too tightly, there might not be enough oxygen getting to the wound. Like any other open wound, piercings need room to breathe. If not given sufficient oxygen, the risk of infection increases.

Is It An Infection?

If it’s just a bit of swelling, monitor it for a couple of days. If the swelling isn’t going away or getting worse, be on alert for infection. Since tragus piercings have a longer healing time, the chances of infection are higher. Look out for symptoms like:

  • Redness and inflammation
  • Tender skin
  • Yellow or green discharge
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Bumps 
  • Increasing pain
Infected Tragus Piercing

These are the most common symptoms associated with tragus piercing infections. If you experience one or a combination of these, you can try to treat it at home with some simple DIY remedies. If the symptoms persist or get worse, contact a medical professional.

Remedies for Swollen Tragus Piercings

If you’re looking for some relief or think you may have a mild infection, these remedies can help you out:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Salt-water or saline solution
  • Hot and cold compresses

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can work wonders for cleaning piercings:

  1. First, clear the infection of any dirt or debris
  2. Dip a cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and gently clean in and around the piercing
  3. Repeat twice a day until the swelling subsides

Salt-Water or Saline Solution

If the rubbing alcohol is too harsh, you could use a simple saline or salt-water solution, instead. Follow the same instructions as the rubbing alcohol.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.

Hot and Cold Compresses

Cold compresses are necessary for calming inflammation. Hot compresses relax muscles and promote blood flow. This is important for piercings through the cartilage where there’s minimal blood flow.

You can soak a piece of cloth in hot salt-water and apply it directly to the piercing site. For the cold compress, you can simply wrap an ice pack with paper towels and apply it directly.


Tragus piercings come with a longer healing time. This is because you’re piercing through cartilage, not skin. A swollen tragus piercing shouldn’t be a significant cause for concern. You should only begin to worry if the swelling gets worse or you’re experiencing other symptoms associated with infection.

If you fear that you may have an infection, go to your piercer for a consultation first. They’ll be able to advise if you should see a medical professional. In the case that this swelling is an infection, your doctor will prescribe you some antibiotics.