I am an 18-year-old girl of Indian origin suffering from small bumps on the area of my ear piercings. These bumps bleed when I accidentally scratch them. The area around these bumps has turned reddish and scaly too, with severe itching making me unable to wear any earrings. Please help.
The bleeding bumpy lesions on your earlobes most likely suggest a diagnosis of pyogenic granuloma (PG). PG is among the relatively common skin lesions and is believed to occur due to a reactive proliferation of capillary blood vessels, and therefore sometimes it is also known as lobular capillary hemangioma. Some degree of discomfort and repeated mild or sometimes profuse bleeding is a hallmark of PG, which is true in your case as well.
Though its real cause is not completely known, certain mild traumatic injuries such as ear piercing or staphylococcal infection of hair follicle are among the common precipitating factors. Both genders can suffer this, though women are more affected than men.
Therapeutic options to treat the lesions of PG include freezing through liquid nitrogen cryotherapy and chemical cauterisation through silver nitrate (which are only effective for smaller lesions). For bigger lesions, electrical cauterisation or electrodessication and curettage are the treatment of choice. In about 10 per cent cases, recurrence of PG can be observed, where its complete surgical excision is a curative treatment.
Regarding red, scaly and itchy rashes, it most likely suggests a diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). About 6-7 per cent of women are believed to suffer from ACD caused by nickel, which is quite a common component of most jewellery, including earrings. You will need extended skin allergy patch testing to confirm the above suspected diagnosis. If it confirms you to be allergic to nickel, then total avoidance of wearing any costume jewellery will be the only effective treatment. Your existing skin rashes can be treated by application of a topical steroidal ointment for a period of 5-7 days.
Finally, you should immediately stop wearing any ear studs or earrings until your pyogenic granuloma is completely treated. Otherwise this will become a likely source of repeated mild trauma and will continue to worsen or enlarging the lesions, with more frequent bleedings.
Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir is a Dubai-based dermatologist. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to email@example.com.