What is Cartilage Piercing?
Cartilage is the connective tissue present on the ears and nose. The skin is harder but softer than bones. In ear cartilage piercing, the needle is pierced through the cartilage and jewelry is inserted. It is highly popular, especially among women and the upper ear cartilage is the most widely pierced area.
The ear cartilage is thicker compared to the skin on the forehead or the neck. Thus many ornaments assist the process of perforation by allowing air absorption which helps in healing of the wound. Although jewelry made out of various materials are available in the market, doctors recommend the use of products made of gold, diamond, and titanium. Depending on the choice of jewelry, the ear cartilage piercing is categorized into the following types:
- Industrial Ear Piercing: The helix is pierced twice and the same jewelry could be used on both the perforations or different pieces of jewelry could be worn. Helix is a sensitive area and should be pierced only by an expert. It takes as much as a year to heal completely.
- Helix Piercing: Upper ear when pierced is commonly termed as Helix Piercing. A needle or hoop is used to pierce the helix and it gets healed in around 8 months. Forward Helix Piercing is another type of this piercing.
- Earlobe Piercing: It is the most common of all and least painful as it is done on the part which is not in the cartilage. For the same reason, it heals in around a month.
- Conch Piercing: Inner conch piercing is performed in the middle of the cartilage while the outer one is performed on the outside rim of the cartilage. Usually, it also takes about 6 to 8 months to heal.
- Tragus and Anti-Tragus Piercing: Tragus piercing is piercing the thick fold of the cartilage of the ear which is actually quite painful. Anti-tragus piercing, on the other hand, is conducted at the part opposite to the Tragus, over the earlobe.
- Rook Piercing: The thickest part of the ear, the area above the tragus is fleshy and hence pains a lot when pierced.
- Dermal Piercing: It could be done on the earlobe or ear cartilage’s flat portion. The name is derived from the way it is performed.
- Daith Piercing: The fold closest to the canal is pierced in Daith Piercing and it takes 6-8 weeks to heal.
- To start with, the piercing specialist should wash his hands before touching anything with anti-bacterial soap.
- Furthermore, the needle, jewelry and any other equipment that is required should be sterilized.
- Alcohol and anti-bacterial soaps clean them up.
- Once the piercing is done, rinsing the pierced area with water and leaving it untouched to dry itself is the best possible way to ensure it is dirt free.
- Clean the discharge with a cotton bud and avoid wiping the pierced area with a towel as it could lead to infections.
When an infection occurs, it usually causes a burning feeling, releases yellow fluid, irritates, and pains. It may also get swollen and the area could get red due to the infection. A pathogen called Staphylococcus Aureus causes this infection after the cartilage has been pierced. There are many other reasons that include:
- An improper technique of perforation or incision
- Swimming in contaminated water
- Using unclean tools
- Playing with the piercing with dirty hands
- Wearing jewelry of poor quality
Warm water mixed with salt should be applied in case infection occurs. Cleaning it with salt solution often makes it better. Furthermore, rubbing ice gently on the ear also helps. But if the condition is still not improving, you should seek medical help.
It can take as few as 3 months or as long as 12 months for a piercing to completely heal. Because aftercare is essential regardless of the kind of piercing you have, it usually involves the same steps. These include:
- Cleaning the piercing at least once every day
- Avoiding application of beauty creams on the ear
- Letting the jewelry on until the piercing gets healed
- Avoid fidgeting with the jewelry or touching it with dirty hands
- Swimming is off limits for the contaminated water can make matters worse
- Anti-bacterial soaps work best on the pierced surface but again, overusing them can cause irritation too
Cartilages are sensitive and they should only be pierced by an experienced professional. Any kind of mistake can make the pain worse so try to stay on guard as much as possible. Don’t delay in consulting the ENT or a dermatologist if you suspect that the condition is getting worse.