The Beginner’s Guide to Cartilage Piercing



Cartilage piercing is a piercing that can be done on a variety of areas from the nose to the ears. Generally speaking, the care requirements and healing requirements will be the same. When most people hear the word “cartilage”, they think of the top of the ear.

Before going into detail about the process, let’s take a look at the many types of ear cartilage piercing options available.

The 6 Unique Areas

There are 6 unique areas of the ear where cartilage exists. These areas are defined as follows:

  • Helix: Just above the lobe.
  • Antihelix: Found between the helix and ear canal.
  • Conch: The actual inner part of the ear.
  • Daith: A small layer of skin just above the ear canal.
  • Tragus: The small flap of located where the face and ear meet.
  • Antitragus: The small piece of skin right above the earlobe on the opposite side of the Tragus.

There are also specific names for multiple piercing styles, but this is not common in most places. You will want to know which area of cartilage you want pierced.

You must remember that not all piercers will provide the above piercings. You will need to consult with the shop prior to scheduling to ensure that they provide one that you like.

I highly recommend that you go to a professional to have your cartilage pierced. This area is prone to infection and doing it at home is possible, but you run the risk of an infection. Instead, always go to a professional who knows what they are doing.

The Procedure

This method is usually done with a piercing gun, but it may vary from one shop to another. A general procedure will be as follows:

  • The area is cleaned with an anti-bacterial cleanser.
  • The area is left wet in some cases.
  • The placement marks are made using a special marker.
  • Upon agreement of the placement, the gun will be used.
  • The gun will push the piercing right through the cartilage in a brief, few seconds.

For all intents and purposes, you are finished. However, the professional will likely examine the ear and wipe off any leftover cleanser. You may be told to twist the earring in your ear a few times to ensure that the hole is made appropriately.

Finally, the ear will be cleaned off and ointment may be put on the area to lower the chances of infection.

That is all that is needed. You have now successfully had your ear pierced.

Immediate Care Needs

There are some immediate care techniques that must be done especially after the piercing has taken place. Always ensure that following your visit, you ask the piercer for their recommendations. The following care needs are common:

  • Removal: The hole will take many months to heal. Do not touch the ear aside from cleaning at this time. Do not remove the earring for 3 – 6 months to be safe. The only exception is if an infection has occurred and you are advised to remove the earring.
  • Cleaning Times: Most people recommend cleaning the ear 2 – 3 times a day. You should definitely clean the area in the morning and at night, but if you have time, cleaning the area in the afternoon is advised.
  • Cleaning Technique: Clean off any discharge or crust using a wet Q-tip. Once this is done, you will now clean the piercing area. An anti-bacterial soap will work perfectly. Let the ear air dry and twist the earring around twice in your ear.

This is pretty much the same exact technique you will follow when your initial 3 – 6 month period is over.

Normal Care Needs

After the initial period has ended and you are able to successfully swap out earrings, you will need to follow normal care advice. This is a period in which you can easily keep your earring out of your ear without fear of it closing.

In this case, you will want to follow the immediate care needs as well as:

  • Remove the earring monthly.
  • Clean the post and the backing with rubbing alcohol.
  • Clean the site of the earring and dry.

Now, you can simply put the earring back in, and you are good to go. There is one more precaution that you will need to be aware of once you have your cartilage pierced.

Infections and Other Issues

Infection can be painful. You will notice the following symptoms when an infection is present:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge

Upon noticing an infection, you will want to use anti-bacterial cream and rub it on to the area. You will want to clean the ear and also press a hot compress on the area for 5 minutes, four times per day. If you do not notice a difference in the symptoms seen within just 1 to 2 days, you will need to consult with a medical professional.

Normally, antibiotics will be given at this point, and the earring may need to be removed in some cases.

Why do infections occur?

  • Swimming in lakes or pools that have bacteria before the piercing has been given time to heal.
  • Improper cleaning and care after it has taken place.
  • Improper techniques or a mistake made during the process.
  • Dirty equipment that was used to pierce the ear.
  • Touching the area with dirty hands before healing is complete.

The most that you can do is try to avoid swimming and properly clean the area for the first 3 – 6 months. After the healing process, the chance of infection drops dramatically. However, you will always want to watch for signs of infection.

Pricing of The Procedure

You will find that cartilage piercings will cost, generally, under $85. This is the high-end price for this procedure. You will find most prices range between $35 and $85.

You will want to choose a reputable piercer that has a good reputation to ensure that the piercing is done right the first time and reduce the chance of infection.