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Everything You Need to Know about Cartilage (Helix & Tragus) Piercings

*This post is sponsered by Urban Body Jewelry. Thank you for supporting brands who support College with Caitlyn.

After getting my nose pierced I kind of became piercing obsessed. Forget tattoos, get yo girl another piercing.

Originally, I only planned on getting a couple helix piercings, and maybe my doubles, but after talking to my little sister last fall about ear piercings I decided I wanted four helix piercings, a tragus piercing, a daith piercing, and my doubles.

So when I realized how cheap piercings were in Scotland, I went a little crazy and got four. I now have two helix piercings on my right side, one on my left, and my left tragus pierced. All of these are considered cartilage piercings.

Like I did with my nose piercing, I wanted to compile a bunch of common questions I had myself before getting them for your future reference!

Related: Does it Hurt to Get Your Nose Pierced?

Everything You Need to Know about Cartilage Piercings: Helix and Tragus Piercing Care

How much do helix and tragus piercings hurt?

To me, helix piercings are nothing. I barely even felt them. The worst part is putting the jewelry in. Now tragus piercings, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game. I was super nervous about getting my tragus piercing because I read a few testimonials about people hearing a pop with the cartilage there breaks, and noises like that freak me out. Luckily I didn’t hear anything, but it did hurt so bad that I was reflexively pulling away from my piercer without even realizing it. So yeah it freaking hurts.

My helix piercings didn’t ever really hurt. I got two of them during winter though, so when it was super cold outside, and my ears about froze off, they started to hurt. And I guess when my hair got caught in them that hurt as well. I would recommend sleeping with your hair in a braid or bun or a sleeping cap. Although, my hair usually only got wrapped on them if it was windy outside, not in the middle of the night.

My tragus piercing, on the other hand, hurt so badly the next day that I couldn’t put earbuds in.

How long is the healing process for helix and tragus piercings?

This depends on many factors: how you clean it and how often, if you sleep on it, and if you play with it or touch it. But, on average from the research I’ve done, both helix and tragus piercing are usually healed within four months. However, piercings heal from the outside in, so while they may look healed, they may not actually be! Just be wary of that.

You can change your jewelry to shorter barbells or to hoops once they are generally healed, but I would recommend having a piercer do it for you because the balls are usually screwed on super tight. I had to buy rubber gloves and have a friend do it for me to change mine.

How do I choose placement?

Before I got any of my new ear piercings, I planned out how I wanted all of the ones I wanted to look in the end. I decided to have my right ear helix piercings lower since I wanted my right daith pierced and my left helix piercing higher since I wanted my left tragus pierced. That way my ears wouldn’t be too crowded.  I also looked at a bunch of ear piercing layouts just by searching them on Pinterest.

When I got my helix piercings, the piercer always drew about three dots on my ear and I got to choose which one I wanted. This was super helpful. They don’t just stab you where they want, you do get to choose!

Lastly, when considering placement be sure to think about how you sleep. Laying on a piercing all night can make it get infected easier or extend the healing time. One of the few reasons my tragus piercing is still not fully healed four months later.

How to clean them?

Rule number one: never clean your piercing with cotton swabs, balls or pads. NEVER. The cotton threads may get lodged around your piercing and make the healing process harder, or make your body reject the piercing.

I had no idea of this fact until I watched a video from Urban Body Jewelry about how to take care of tragus piercings.

It taught me that I should be dipping a paper towel in a salt solution and soaking it for about seven minutes twice a day. Or submerging my ear in a mug of a warm salt solution. I started doing this just recently instead of using cotton swabs, and the swelling around my tragus piercing has gone down immensely. It feels and looks weird, but I promise it works. Just lay down on your side, ease your ear into the mug, and throw on some Netflix or YouTube.

My Piercings and New Jewelry

It’s been six months since I got the helix piercings on my right ear and four months since I got the helix and tragus piercing on my left ear. So it was about time for some new jewelry!

Blue Crystal / / Teardrop  / / Crescent Moon / / Aqua Flat Top

UBJ was actually nice enough to send me some new pieces to change out my standard barbells! They gifted me four pieces and I’ve already gone ahead and put two in.

Crescent Moon / / Blue Crystal

Also, peep that ugly tragus bump. That’s your incentive to not be dumb and lazy like me and sleep on it and play with it and clean it with cotton swabs. Don’t be like me kids!

However, when it’s healed I want to change my tragus to the mini blue one! It’s going to be so dainty and adorable. I’ll also be ordering a mini hoop to add to the lower helix piercing on my right ear soon!

Speaking of ordering new jewelry, they were sweet enough to give me a discount code for y’all! Use code COLLEGEWITHCAITLYN at checkout to get 10% off your purchase at Urban Body Jewelry


I hope this you found this article helpful if you plan on getting a cartilage piercing soon or have one and aren’t sure how to take care of it. Also, make sure you check out Urban Body Jewelry because the quality of their jewelry is amazing and the team there is so sweet!

Also, let me know if I inspired you to get a piercing. So far I know of three people I’ve inspired and it warms my heart!!

Do you have your helix or tragus pierced?

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