What is Cartilage Piercing?
Cartilage is the connective tissue present on the ears and nose. The skin is harder but softer than bones. Ear cartilage piercing involves the needle to pierce through the cartilage and jewelry is inserted. It is highly popular, especially among women and the upper ear cartilage is the commonly 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 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.
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.
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.
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 piercing is done on the thick fold of the cartilage 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.
It could be done on the earlobe or ear cartilage’s flat portion. The name is derived from the way it is performed.
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 with anti-bacterial soap before touching anything.
- Further, the needle, jewelry, and any other equipment should be sterilized.
- Alcohol and anti-bacterial soaps clean them up.
- Once the piercing is done, rinse the area with water and leave 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 might swell and the area becomes red due to the infection. A pathogen called Staphylococcus Aureus causes this infection after the piercing takes place. 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
Mix salt with warm water mixed and apply in case infection occurs. Cleaning it with salt solution often makes it better. Further, 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 much 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 the application of beauty creams on the ear
- Letting the jewelry on until the piercing heals
- Avoid fidgeting with the jewelry or touching it with dirty hands
- Avoid swimming as 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, 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.