So many people nowadays are very keen on body modifications. Out of all these, piercings may be the most popular. When the normal earlobe piercing is not enough, you can always get a cartilage piercing as a way to enhance your look and add to that “wow” factor.
If you have already made up your mind about getting a cartilage piercing, you are likely wondering about a few things. Specifically, what will you experience during the piercing and after? What types of jewelries should and can you wear during and after the healing process?
Asking all these questions are natural and are actually important – especially if you are new to the whole piercing business. It is a unique experience and far different than the usual ear lobe pierce. If you are getting a cartilage piercing or just plain curious, read on for all things you should know about it.
What is a Cartilage Piercing?
- 1 What is a Cartilage Piercing?
- 2 Types of Cartilage Piercing
- 3 What Happens During a Cartilage Piercing?
- 4 What Happens After Getting Pierced?
- 5 How Painful is a Cartilage Piercing?
- 6 How Long Does a Cartilage Piercing Heal?
- 7 Cartilage Piercing Aftercare Guide
- 8 Piercing Infection
- 9 Choosing the Jewelry for your Piercing
Ear lobe piercings and even the navel or eyebrows pierce through skin. This is perhaps the most common type of piercing. However, there is another one that is also rather common – the cartilage piercing.
Basically, it is a way of piercing through the skin and the cartilage.
But what is a cartilage? If you haven’t been paying attention during your biology class in school, the cartilage is a connective tissue. It is present in various parts of our bodies, for example the ears and nose. Our cartilage is harder than skin but softer than bones, making it possible to be pierced by a needle or a piercing gun.
The cartilage in our ears can be found on the upper part. This is where cartilage piercing takes place. But there are various names for various places around the ears. Nonetheless, they are known to be under the category of cartilage piercing.
This body modification has been very popular among women. However, more men are getting these piercings over the years as well.
Types of Cartilage Piercing
Cartilage is present in various parts of the body. It is in your ears and your nose – two places where you can get piercings.
Today, we will be focusing more on ear cartilage piercings. Here are some of the areas and the types of piercings you can get.
- Helix – The helix is located on the outer rim of the ear and extends from over the lobe and curves around to meet the temple. You can get as many piercings here as you want. So much so that cartilage piercing and helix piercing has become synonymous.
- Anti-helix – This is the curve of raised cartilage inside the helix. The part where the helix and anti-helix meet is where you can get a snug piercing.
- Conch – This is the inner part of the outer ear.
- Tragus – This is the little triangle on the outside of the ear canal. It has a thicker layer of cartilage.
You can also get the industrial piercing. It pierces two sides of outer and upper part of the ears. With two piercings, it can take longer to heal.
What Happens During a Cartilage Piercing?
To be completely honest, getting a cartilage piercing is the same with getting any kind of piercing. And it is usually over before you even know it.
But most people do have some mixed emotions before getting one. A lot of experienced piercing enthusiasts are most likely excited with their new pierce and would be planning which jewelries to buy once it is healed. For newbies, it is normal to feel anxiety and nervous. You might be worrying whether you will be in a lot of pain. Or sometimes, you can’t even help but imagine the worst.
With a good piercer and following their direction, you will be absolutely fine.
As far as the process goes, here is how it usually goes:
Select and find a piercer. It is much better if your piercer is recommended by someone you know or close with. If you have found one, go to them and select a jewelry you will be wearing. It will take quite a while before you can start changing your jewelry so you should choose one that you are comfortable wearing for perhaps a few weeks to a couple of months or so.
This one is important and should always be done: your piercer should disinfect the area where you’ll be pierced. The needles they use should also be disinfected. This is to avoid possible risk of infection as it heals.
They will then mark the place where you want to be pierced. It’s really just a dot done with surgical marker.
The piercer will ask you to either lay on a bed or recline on a chair. You should be comfortable. Then they will simply pierce the area with a hollow needle or a gun. If they did it with a needle, the jewelry will be placed afterwards.
And that’s it. You are done. Just wait for it to completely heal and you can now change your jewelry whenever you please.
What Happens After Getting Pierced?
Getting pierced will be painful. But it’s not unbearable and since the procedure only took a little while, the pain won’t be extreme.
However, a few hours after getting pierced, you will still likely feel a little sting. But you will feel the warmth more. The pain and the heat can stay up to a couple of days yet it will be more less intense than the first few hours. If it lasts longer than that and you see bumps and puss coming out of your pierce, contact a physician immediately.
How Painful is a Cartilage Piercing?
Ranking a cartilage piercing pain can be difficult since everyone handles pain a little differently. For those with low pain tolerance, it would be really painful. For those who can handle a lot more, there’s hardly any pain.
There are also several types of cartilage piercing and each one can have a different level of pain. Helix piercings, for example, is when you get pierced on the upper rim of the ear. This is considered as a cartilage piercing. You will feel less pain if you compare it with getting a snug piercing. Snug piercing is located on the middle outer rim of the ear where the needle goes through a thicker area of cartilage.
Also, ear cartilage piercings are better than nose cartilage piercings – which makes a lot of sense. Your nose is more sensitive to pain than ears do.
However, you have to know that getting pierced will cause pain, no matter where it is located. Still, it is completely tolerable.
But really, the initial pain is not what you should be worried about. Enthusiasts struggle more with the first couple of weeks after getting their piercing. Since your wound is still healing, it tends to get more painful.
How Long Does a Cartilage Piercing Heal?
Cartilage piercings will take more time to heal than your average skin piercing. But just like with the pain level, you can not really tell exactly when a cartilage piercing heals.
There are several factors that you have to put in mind that changes the healing time. For example:
- How healthy are you? With a better immune system, you will be able to heal yourself faster. That is why you should take care of yourself if you intend to get body modification procedures such as tattoos and piercings.
- Where is the piercing located? Thicker areas of cartilage will take more time to heal than areas with thinner layers. Apart from that, if the area is usually disturbed and irritated, it will take longer to heal.
- Did you encounter infection? If you developed an infection on your piercing, chances are it will take a lot longer to heal. That is because you first need to guarantee that the infection is completely gone. And then the body will come back to healing the wound.
That being said, you will have to wait an average of 4 to 12 months of healing time.
Cartilage Piercing Aftercare Guide
In order for you to enjoy your piercing earlier, you have to take good care of your piercing for the duration of its healing time. You want to avoid getting it irritated and developing infection.
With that being said, here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to cartilage piercing aftercare.
Be gentle with your movements.
This is especially important during the first few weeks of getting your piercing. Apart from chances of irritating the area and getting infection, it will also be painful for your part.
It does not matter whether you are cleaning your wound or your body in general, just be gentle with your movements around the part. Even putting on your top should be done in a gentler manner. Just be aware that you have this wound that you should be working around.
Always clean your piercing.
Clean your piercing with saline solution and cotton. It’s better to do it twice a day; once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Again, be gentle with your movements but try to thoroughly clean the area. Make sure that you also get the solution on the wound.
But before anything else, clean your hands well before handling your new piercing.
Avoid touching if unnecessary. And that means no touching with your hands or with other objects. If you got a cartilage piercing on your ears, you will have to avoid receiving calls on that side. You can’t also use earphones or headphones.
Do not change the jewelry.
You might have this urge to change your jewelry after a few weeks. But unless it is fully healed, don’t. You’ll only end up irritating the area and it will also be painful. It’s like going through the process again, only a couple more times stressful and painful. If you can’t put back your jewelry because of the pain, it will likely heal and close up and you don’t want that.
Again, be careful with the jewelry you choose and make sure you’re okay with it. You’ll have plenty of options and time to change them when it has healed.
Change your sheets every day.
This is a hard chore but very well worth it. You should change your pillow sheet, bed sheet, and even your blanket every day and wash them as soon as you can. This is to avoid getting infection.
Wash these sheets with antibacterial laundry soap just in case.
Be wary of how you sleep.
This may be the most challenging of all. You can’t really tell what’s happening when you are asleep. So even if you do not want to move, you will likely still move and lay on the side where your piercing is. There are chances that you will wake up with a bloody piercing. That could be caused by sleeping on it.
It is hard but try to sleep on one side or on your back.
Do not pick off the crust.
One sign that your wound is healing is when it starts oozing some white-yellow stuff. This can form into crust around the wound and your jewelry.
However, do not pick it off. It will fall on its own so do not pick it off. You will be disrupting the nature cycle of its healing and you can actually cause infection. Let it heal on its own and if you’re really worried about how it looks, just try cleaning the area with saline solution.
We are all trying to avoid infection whenever we get any kind of wound; intentional or unintentional. If you are getting a cartilage piercing, it is best to keep it clean always. Know that cartilage infection is much more painful than a skin infection.
Before you drive to your physician, you should know which signs should be a cause for alarm. Swelling, pain, and warmth are common for a new piercing. You will notice these for a few days after getting your piercing. Itching and oozing of a white-yellow fluid is natural and a sign that the wound is healing.
If you suspect that you got one, here are the symptoms to double check if you do have an infection.
- yellow, green, or gray discharge
- uncomfortable pain
- uncomfortable swelling
As soon as you feel these symptoms, make sure that you go to your doctor. They will provide you with medication. Infections can be treated but it should heal first before your piercing starts healing itself again.
Choosing the Jewelry for your Piercing
The first jewelry you choose will be the one that you will use until your piercing heals. That means it can potentially be your jewelry for a year.
That being said, choosing which kind of jewelry is important. It should be high-quality and make sure that you are not allergic to the material. Metals like gold and titanium are great choices.
There are also several types of jewelries that you can use. Each type provides you with endless options of designs. Here are some types of jewelries you can use:
The studs is great for a helix piercing. Simple studs are perhaps the most popular. But labret studs are also gaining some attention. These kinds of earrings have different designs and can be made from different types of metals.
2. Captive Rings
Captive rings are perfect for conch piercings. But it’s a rather universal earring and can be worn on various parts of the ears. It it is a circular jewelry with a ball or decoration and a segment that pops out for insertion and taking off. You can close it by popping the segment back in the dimple.
These look a lot like captive rings without the balls and decorations. It can be made from different types of materials and a segment can be popped out. You just need to pop it back to close it.
4. Straight Barbell
Barbells are usually worn on other parts of the body and other types of piercings. But you can see straight barbells being used on other cartilage piercings such as in the tragus or an industrial piercing. Straight barbells are pretty much long and straight jewelries with decorations on one end – usually a ball or stone.
5. Curved Barbell
This is the type of barbell jewelry that is often used in various cartilage piercings such as conch piercings. These are shorter than straight barbells and are slightly curved. The decorations or balls are on both ends.
6. Circular Barbell
Circular barbells are pretty close to looking like captive rings but both ends do not meet. Instead, each end has its own balls, gems, charms, or other types of decorations. These are perfect for a lot of cartilage piercings such as daith, conch, and helix piercings.
Clickers are a lot like circular barbells but instead of balls, it has a straight horizontal section that pops out. One end has a dimple where the segment can be popped into to close it. This is a perfect jewelry for daith piercings.