While many people choose to get their ears pierced, cartilage piercing has become an increasingly popular variation. Earrings are the most popular type of body modification in the world, and recent years have seen a trend towards more unique ear piercings.
What is Cartilage Piercing?
Cartilage is a thick, dense connective tissue. It is more sturdy than skin, ligaments or tendons, but not quite as hard as bone. There are many parts of the body that contain cartilage, such as the coverings of large and small joints, as well as your nose, rib cage and ears.
When people talk about cartilage piercing, they're speaking of the cartilage in your ear. This portion of the ear is above the ear lobe, and you can feel the thick, sturdy texture of the area by grabbing your own ear. Piercings through this part of the ear's structure are becoming more and more popular as people look for different places to pierce.
Different Types of Ear Piercing in Cartilage
There are several different types of piercings that can be done in the cartilage of the ear:
When most people think of a standard cartilage ear piercing, they are thinking of a helix piercing. This area of the ear is the curled portion of the ear along the outside edge. Piercings through this area can go through the ear just once (a standard helix) or can pass through the ear twice (as in the case of an industrial).
The conch is located in the middle of the ear's cartilage, in the scooped in location that resembles a sea shell (which is where it got the name). A relatively easy cartilage piercing, it can be hard to match conch rings if you choose to get one in each ear.
Tragus piercings are very popular. This part of the ear is comprised of thick cartilage; it is the small protrusion just above the earlobe close to the head. Many people state that this type of cartilage ear piercing is quite uncomfortable, and that you may hear a pop sound when getting it done.
As with any piercing, it is important to keep your new cartilage jewelry clean and sterile. Cartilage can take between two and 12 months to heal (depending on the location and your body), and while healing this type of piercing can be painful. Irritation can make the piercing take longer to heal, so it's important to not try to change jewelry too soon, or leave jewelry out for extended periods. Additionally, larger jewelry (gauges above 14 ga) will take longer to heal and be more uncomfortable. Especially painful are those piercings that pass through the cartilage more than once, such as an orbital or industrial.Many shops will recommend that you clean your new piercing with a salt water solution (1 tsp salt in a small cup of warm water), or you may want to try using a prepared solution such as H2Ocean.
Above all, NEVER get your cartilage pierced with a gun. This can cause extreme scarring in your ear area, known as a keloid, as well as possible infection and other damage. Always go to a professional piercing shop to get any body modifications.