So I had a Scaffold or Industrial Piercing in my right ear nearly 4 months ago, and you can find the post about my experience here; this post had a lot of hits, so I thought I would give you an update, hopefully it will be helpful to people considering getting this done.
The first 4 weeks were relatively good, there was minimal bleeding from the piercings the first week and the redness went down the first 1-2 weeks. It ached. A lot. Having a shower those first few weeks was an absolute nightmare, having to lather up the hair near my ear was extremely painful and made me feel sick. Even brushing my hair felt like I was playing russian roulette with my tangle teezer.
After the first few weeks the pain reduced dramatically; it only really hurt if I accidentally touched my ear, or caught it with my hairbrush (ooooouch!). I cleaned the piercings twice a day with a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt disolved in boiling water (letting it cool so that it’s hot, not boiling), at first using cotton buds (Q-Tips) and then using cotton wool balls; I also fully soaked my ear in the hot salt water for 20 minutes a couple of times a week. The redness & swelling was almost completely gone. There was a nasty incident when I went to the hairdressers and she caught the top piercing with a comb – my goodness that hurt like a biatch- but other than that, it was okay.
Then in April things took a turn for the worst. April & May were ridiculously busy months for me; I worked away a lot (so the healthy eating wasn’t exactly going to plan), and as I have mentioned, when I’m in the office or visiting another site I work 12-14 hour days. I am having issues with my health, and am currently under the care of a rheumatoligist, so it’s fair to say I’m quite run down.
The top piercing started to get a bubble forming around the bar, and I noticed that it was excreting puss. I upped the salt baths, but it didn’t really help so I went to my GP who prescribed a course of antibiotics. I went about my business, continued cleaning the piercings, finished the course of antibiotics, but the infection was still there. The infection did start to get better the first few days of the course, but then it swelled up again.
I went back to my GP a week after I finished the course, as I was working away all of that week, and he said that it could be that the course of antibiotics wasn’t long enough, and prescribed another weeks course of antibiotics; I asked if it would be better to do a two week course if the last one wasn’t long enough, but he said a week should be okay. He asked me to come back if the infection didn’t go, and he would swab the puss to see what was causing the infection. He also asked if I could take the piercing out; I explained that it takes up to a year for this type of piercing to heal, and I had been advised not to take it out until then. I also said that in my research prior to having the piercing, the advice given is that if the piercing does become infected and you take it out, the infection will become trapped under the skin. My doctor didn’t seem convinced by this argument.
This course seemed to do the trick, I couldn’t see any signs of infection, and the swelling had gone down. There were bubbles around the piercing holes, but in my internet research I had read that this can sometimes happen, and that using salt baths, camomile soaks and tea tree oil these can be removed.
A few weeks later, when on yet another work trip, my ear started to swell dramatically and a large lump formed on my lower piercing; puss started to come out of the top piercing again and my ear was very painful. I suffer from cluster migraines, and they tend to show up for a visit whenever I am ill, run down or stressed. That week was probably the worst week of my life, as I was away from home, and I couldn’t call in sick, as the visit had been planned for a while.
When I went back to the GP I saw a different doctor, who put me on a two week course of antibiotics but said that if this didn’t shift it, I would have to take the piercing out. I was devastated; after all the pain, constantly keeping it clean, and not to mention the cost of all these antibiotics, it felt awful to be told to remove the piercing. I told the doctor what I had read about removing the piercing but he said that this wasn’t true. In his opinion my body was rejecting the piercing, and trying to push it out, and this was causing the infection; he said that if I removed the piercing my ear would heal.
Two weeks later, course completed, ear much better, tra-la-la.
A couple of weeks ago the bubble on the bottom piercing swelled up; the next few paragraphs are going to be disgusting, just to warn you, if you are squeamish stop reading here.
Around the bottom piercing hole there was a patch of hardened dry skin, from the previous infection sites; underneath this a large bump formed. Underneath the hard skin the lump was a nasty yellow colour; my whole ear was inflamed and the salt soaks weren’t helping. I experienced shouting, stabbing pains in my ear, towards the back of my head, and felt sick.
I had to travel for work in the morning to another site, so I wasn’t able to go to the doctors; I knew that I had to do something, so I took the piercing out. Removing the bar made me feel even more sick; as I pulled the bar out a mixture of puss and blood squirted out of the piercing holes. I cleaned my ear as best as I could, and then did a half hour salt soak, where my whole ear was in the solution.
The next morning, my ear was still inflamed, extremely painful, and the lump had become even bigger. I cleaned my ear quickly before heading to the train station and took some pain killers. This day seemed like the longest day of my life; I couldn’t eat, I felt so sick and I had one of the worst migraines i’ve ever had.
I was so dizzy & off balance I kept thinking i was going to collapse.
When I got home late that night, I examined my ear, and it was even worse than it had been in the morning; removing the bar had obviously not helped, in fact it seemed to be exacerbating things. I cleaned the bar, and put it back in my ear. even though the piercing had only been out for about 36 hours, the holes had healed over; I had to use another earring to re-open the holes (which I sterilised) and this made my ears bleed.
I cleaned around my ear and tried to put the bar back through; this took about 30 minutes, because it hurt and it made me feel sick. As I put the bar back through the bottom piercing the lump was lacerated and blood & puss exploded out; i know that sounds dramatic, but it’s the only way I can explain it, it gushed. Crying and trying not to be sick or faint, I cleaned the mess as best I could and then attempted to push it through the top piercing. I was shaking with the effort to make myself do it; if you have had a piercing you know how painful it is, imagine trying to do that to yourself with no anaesthetic. Once through the top hole, more puss & blood.
I cleaned the piercings, but both holes continued to bleed throughout the night. I got an appointment to see a different doctor in the morning (my GP wasn’t available); by this time the lump had gone down dramtically, it was still sore, but it appeared to be a lump of hard skin now, with little or no puss. The doctor examined me and diagnosed me with a sinus infection (which wasn’t helping matters) and prescribed yet another course of antibiotics. I explained what had happened with my ear, and he examined it, but wasn’t sure if the residual lumps/ bubbles around the hole were signs of infection or scarring; he advised that the antibiotics i was prescribed for my sinuses would also help with my ear if it was infection, but if the lumps didn’t heal I would have to go back to the GP, as these would need to be removed.
i am on the 5th day of the course, and the inflammation, tenderness and lump have all reduced dramatically. I will not know if the lump is infection or scarring for another week or so, depending on what happend once the course of antibiotics have finished.
In my opinion I should not have removed the bar; when i removed the bar, my skin healed over and the infection as trapped, causing the lump to swell and get worse. I seriously have never felt so sick in my life.
I will provide another update when I know what is happening. Sorry if this was too much information, but I know that when i was looking into getting this piercing I wanted to know other peoples experiences.
I would like to emphasise that I am not a doctor, and have no medical expertise; if you think your piercing is infected please go and see you doctor. The opinions stated in this post are based on my experiences.
I am suffering from poor health and a long term condition that will have impacted on my bodies ability to heal, and I suffer from chronic sinus infections, so please bear this in mind if you are considering getting a scaffold piercing and are put off by this post.
Let me know your experiences in the comments; I hope this was helpful.
There is a 1 Year Later update here.