Cartilage piercing is one of the most common types of body modifications and piercings. Let’s be honest: almost everyone has a piercing or some other type of body modification nowadays. Rare are the people without any body modification. Cartilage piercing is different than having an earlobe pierced. And I will explain the difference along the way. But first I want to share some things that nobody tells you before you get your cartilage pierced.
7 truths nobody tells you
- Cartilage piercing is like the gateway drug of the piercing world. Almost nobody stops at one piercing. Piercings are like an itch that must be scratched for many people, and cartilage is the first step. Yes, some people have their earlobe pierced, but cartilage is where things get serious.
- You will probably experience anxiety beforehand. Nobody is as courageous as they think. We all feel scared and anxious before big events. If your palms are secretly sweating and your heart is beating faster, don’t worry. It’s normal to be a bit anxious, but if you go to a professional with a good reputation, they will make sure you’re in good hands.
- You might be surprised by the lack of initial pain. If you opt for the needle instead of the gun, there’s almost no pain. The initial pain, at least when opting for the needle, is like a cat suddenly jumping on you and digging in with her claws.
- Speaking of the piercing method, you won’t hear a crunch unless you opt for the gun. The needle is sharp and allows the piercer to work with speed and precision. They will easily puncture your skin and then insert the jewelry. Years ago, stores used a piercing gun, which delivered a rather shocking crunch.
- You should not change the jewelry initially. Most people want to change their boring jewelry from day one. But don’t do that. Unless there’s an issue with the size or material, you should wear your initial jewelry until the area is fully healed.
- Sleeping is going to be irritating, especially if you’re used to sleeping on one side. Say goodbye to snuggling. Sleeping on your cartilage piercing hurts, and can slow down the healing process.
- Your body might reject the piercing. It can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common one is allergies. Some people are allergic to the type of metal used in your jewelry. Just so you know, nickel is a prevalent allergen, which is the reason why titanium jewelry is a better option.
Cartilage piercing can be done in so many different ways. There are different types of both ear and nose piercing. And it depends on your preference. Here is a breakdown:
- Helix piercing is done on the outer rim of cartilage on the ear. And there are two subcategories. The forward helix (the area closest to the head) and the industrial helix (when two piercings are joined by a single piece of jewelry).
- Anti-helix is the area between the ear canal and the helix.
- Snug is the lower portion of the anti-helix. In this case, the cartilage is pierced from one end to the other.
- Conch involves the inner conch or the cup-shaped portion of the ear. The outer conch, on the other hand, involves the flat area between the rim and the helix.
- Daith is the small portion of cartilage located just above the ear canal.
- Tragus is located over the ear canal, and anti-tragus is located above the earlobe around the tragus.
- Nostril piercing passes through the nostril on either side, finishing in the inside of the nose.
- You can also do a piercing on the nose tip, which is within the nostril and ending up at the tip of the nose.
- The septum is the piece of tissue in the middle of the nose. This tissue separates the two nostrils.
Do’s and Don’ts
I want to share some tips regarding what you should do and what you should avoid.
- Wash the piercing, but only with clean water or a saline solution. Avoid soap and shampoo cover the piercing.
- Once you’re finished cleaning the area, pat it dry.
- Never touch your piercing with dirty hands. Make sure they are clean and dry.
- Try to eat more nutritious foods to give your body a healthy boost and improve your immune system. This will prevent infections.
- Clean your bedding and pillowcase regularly to prevent infections.
- No swimming, since you cannot expose your piercing to chemicals. You might have noticed that swimmers cover their ears with band aids.
- If you smoke, it might be a good idea to ditch smoking for a while, or at least until the area heals completely. Smoking is a major irritant.
- For the first year, use only standard, hygienic steel inserts.
- Never try to twist the piercing and break the crust. Leave the crust alone; it is one of the most important parts of the healing process.
How long does it take for the piercing to heal?
The cartilage piercing is one of the most challenging areas because of the healing process. The process is long and can take anywhere between 3 and 12 months. It depends on many factors.
One thing you need to understand is that in the first week or two, your piercing will be swollen. You will also notice a discharge. That can send you into panic mode, thinking that you have an irritated or infected piercing. However, that is part of the normal healing process.
There are two terms used for cartilage piercing: “angry” and “infected.” An angry piercing is actually normal, and it is part of the healing process. An angry piercing is irritated, swollen, and can give off a discharge. You might also notice mild bleeding. An infected piercing, on the other hand, becomes red around the edges, is painful to touch, and gives off a foul odor. In addition to those symptoms, you might look for signs of streaks or marks in the surrounding tissue, and feel the piercing to see if it is hot when touched. If your piercing is infected, you need to see a physician.
Are there any downsides?
Everything in life has its pros and cons. When it comes to cartilage piercing, the biggest drawback is the location of the piercing. If you’re not careful, your jewelry can get snagged in your hair, clothes, glasses, brushes, or combs. It’s not painful, but it can leave your piercing sore and irritated (in addition to it often being difficult to unsnag).
Once your piercing gets snagged, you need to wash it with antibacterial soap or any ear care solution. If not, it might get infected.
Another drawback is the healing process. As I explained previously, the healing process can take a long time. The reason is your tissue heals from the outside in. That means that while your outside tissue might be healed, the inside is still raw and sore. Many people make the mistake of thinking their piercing is healed when it isn’t, leading to soreness and infections.
The last drawback is also linked to the location of the piercing. Cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply, making it more prone and susceptible to infections than other kinds of piercings. And since there’s no blood supply, antibiotics will not help.