Tragus Piercing

Tragus piercing

Pop quiz time: Where does a tragus piercing go? If you answered in part of the ear, go to the head of the class.

What Is a Tragus Piercing?

You've probably seen plenty of ear lobe piercings, and probably quite a few cartilage piercings too, but a tragus piercing isn't something you run across everyday.

The tragus is that little nub of cartilage that lies just in front of the ear canal. Although you may not immediately consider this a prime piercing spot, adventurous souls are always looking for fresh spots to practice their passion for body modification. The tragus offers a few more millimeters of precious canvas.

The Procedure

Girl with earrings

Most tragus piercings are performed while you're lying down because the thick cartilage requires a bit more pressure to puncture, and it's easier to keep your head still in this position. A small gauge (usually 18 ga), hollow needle is usually the piercing instrument of choice, and some piercers prefer using a curved needle over a straight one. A small cork is used to protect the ear canal and catch the needle tip once it passes through the cartilage.

Once the hole is made, the jewelry is then threaded through. Although many types of earrings and other body jewelry can be used in a tragus piercing, captive bead rings are a good choice for this location, offering more comfort and greater protection for the ear canal.

Tragus piercings don't usually hurt as much as you might expect because there are very few nerve endings in this location. Mostly what you feel is the pressure needed to pierce through this exceptionally thick cartilage. Bleeding is variable depending on the location of blood vessels, but it does tend to go on for a bit once it has started, and it's not unusual to still have some seepage an hour after the initial piercing.


Girl with earrings

Caring for a tragus piercing is much like aftercare for any other body piercing. It will take approximately eight weeks to heal, and during this time you need to remain diligent to avoid getting and infection.

You will need to clean the area two to three times each day. This should be done by soaking a cotton ball in either saline solution or a disinfecting solution recommended by your piercing professional and washing both in front of and behind the tragus.

Be sure to soak around the earring so that some of the solution can be worked into the hole. Gently rotate the jewelry to help facilitate this, and also to keep the cartilage from adhering to the jewelry as it heals.

Resist the urge to scrape away any crusty build up caused by drainage from the area. This can lead to injury, or it can push some of the material into the piercing where it will likely act as a seed for an infection.

Here are some other measures you can take to help fend off infection and/or injury.

  • Resist the urge to finger your new earrings. This can transfer bacteria to the area.
  • Wash your hands before cleaning the piercing or changing your jewelry.
  • Do not allow anyone to kiss or whisper sweet nothings in your ears until they have fully healed. Again, you're aiming to reduce exposure to bacteria, even from your closest loved ones.
  • Change to a fresh clean pillowcase every other day to reduce bacteria and allergens.
  • Try to wear button up shirts rather than pullovers to avoid snagging your earrings while you ears are still quite tender.

A Unique Piercing

Piercing a tragus is a bit more difficult than other portions of the ear, but it really looks unique. If you're searching for something out of the ordinary, perhaps you'd like to give it a try?

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Tragus Piercing