College freshman Shannon Stalikas needed emergency surgery to stop the swelling of her ear and half her face after a piercing through ear cartilege became very infected.
"It was huge and pussing, and it was getting in my hair. It was so gross," says Stalikas.
"If you are going to pierce, have it done at a reputable place, ask them to use a needle not a stud gun, and only do it on the earlobe of the ear," says Dr. Robert Chmiel, an otolaryngologist.
Dr. Chmiel says the earlobe is the best place for piercing because it has better blood circulation to help fight bacteria and that an infection in the cartilege can lead to a permanent condition called cauliflower ear. He offers this suggestion to people who think they might have a piercing infection: Do not call the piercing place to get advice. Instead, call your doctor.