The tragus is a ear cartilage piercing that goes through the small triangular shaped flap that is located in front of your ear canal. This piercing has become quite popular all over the world, especially in the last decade. We are going to go over the jewelry types, risks, aftercare and some tips so you can make an informed decision before getting this body piercing.
The great thing about a tragus piercing is that it’s so popular that you have a wide variety of jewelry to choose from. Labret studs, barbells and ball closure rings are quite common. You can of course find some very nice custom jewelry as well. For those of you out there that are allergic you can use Bioflex labret stud in place of metal.
How Much Does It Cost?
The price of a tragus, or any cartilage piercing varies upon where you live. In my local area (Chicago) the price can range from $30-$60. You can get an idea of pricing in your local area with a modified google search. Simply go to google and type in including the quotations. “tragus piercing price+ your zip” or you city
This will produce a few ‘local’ search results. While your getting prices take your time and look over their website and social media pages. A good indication of the studio really cares about their business is how well their site is designed and if they keep up to date information on their social media pages. Keep in mind that spending a few extra dollars to get pierced in a professional shop will cost much less than a visit to the doctors or dentists office later.
There are a few things you can do to help strengthen your body for the healing process. They are all quite simple and are really just part of living a healthy lifestyle overall. To start with, eat a well balanced diet and take a multivitamin. Just leave the vitamin bottle out by the bathroom sink or where you store your toothbrush and it will quickly become part of your morning routine. Also try and get yourself on a sleep schedule. When you sleep your body recharges and actively heals so it’s quite important to get good sleep. If you’re used to partying like a rock star, it may be time to chill out, for at least a few weeks and give your body some good rest. Healing time for a tragus piercing varies by the individual. Overall 2-6 months is average but some people do report it taking a year or more.
The Healing Process: What’s Normal.
As you heal you may experience some swelling, a little bleeding and some tenderness of the area. This will lead into some possible discoloration, itching, secretion of a clear-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on your jewelry. Do not panic if you have some discharge. A clear or slightly yellow discharge is a secretion that contains lymph and dead cells. This is perfectly normal. This is NOT a problem but rather an indication of a healing piercing.
When you should be concerned is if you’re secreting a thick pus-like discharge. In this case you should head back to your piercing and have he/she have a look. If it appears to be infected visit a physician for treatment. DO NOT remove your jewelry before visiting the Doctor! Keeping the jewelry in place creates a pathway for the discharge of pus. If this pathway closes, you may develop an abscess which is a much more serious condition
Your piercer should give you a printout and go over aftercare instructions with you. He or she may offer some products to help you. For the tragus piercing they may recommend H2Ocean Piercing Spray. H2Ocean is quite a popular brand when it comes to aftercare for body piercings and tattoos. Their products are all natural and contain no alcohol. The spray comes in very handy for pretty much any body piercing except an oral. For oral they produce a sea salt mouth wash.
Along with the spray they may recommend Dr. Piercing’s Aftercare – Ready to Use Swabs. These are antiseptic, anti-microbial, analgesic individual swabs that are easy to use and help reduce any scaring. Combing these with the spray give you a entire aftercare package that’s easy to use and you don’t have to worry about making your own cleaning solution.
Speaking of making your own solution they may go over with you just how to do it. The formula for a sea salt cleaning solution is :
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine free) sea salt.
- One cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water
You do not need any more salt than a ¼ teaspoon as too much salt will actually extend the healing process. Simply dissolve the salt into the water and you’re good to go. To clean your piercing using the salt water mix, first be sure to wash and rinse your hands thoroughly and damp dry with a paper towel. Then dip a cotton ball in the solution and let it soak around the piercing. Do not aggressively rub it as you do not want any fibers to get caught on the stud. Once you’re done use a paper towel to dab the area dry. Do not use a cloth towel as you do not want any cloth fibers getting caught in around your jewelry. This can lead to an infection. Always pay close attention when you are cleaning around your jewelry not to introduce any type of foreign material into the wound. You should cleanse the area around your piercing two to three times a day. No more than this as it can cause irritation.
Things To Avoid
While your body is in the healing stages there are some things that you should avoid doing as it can increase your healing time and increase your risk of infection.
- Don’t play with your jewelry. It is very important especially at the start of the healing process to NOT play with your jewelry.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Beta Dyne, Iodine, Hibiclens, Bacitracine,Mycitracine, Neosporin, or lotions. These products damage the tissue and/or slow the healing process.
- Use any ear care solutions such as Bactine or any product containing benzalkonium chloride. These chemicals can irritate your wound.
- Over clean: Going overboard cleaning can not only irritate your wound but cause it to take longer to heal. A cartilage piercing already takes a considerable amount of time to heal, you do not want to prolong it.
- Be sure to avoid anything touching the area. This can include ear buds, cell phones and your dirty little fingers!
- Avoid all oral contact, no letting your significant other anywhere near your ear. Bodily fluids during your healing process can cause infection.
- Avoid stressful situations as much as possible.
- No smoking, excessive caffeine or alcohol.
- No swimming or hot tubing. If you decide to ignore this advice please be responsible and hit a local Walgreens or local drug store and pickup a box of Nexcare Waterproof Bandages.
- Avoid any hairspray, gels, lotions or any type of beauty product.
- Do not remove any crusty build up with your fingers or anything else. You may end up getting some of this crust inside the wound and causing an infection.
Does a tragus piercing hurt?
Ahh the most popular question of them all, does it hurt? Well each of us is different when it comes down to how our bodies deal with pain. Some people have a very high threshold for pain while others have a very low threshold. If you have ever had any other body piercing or injury for that matter you should have an idea of your threshold. That being said, cartilage piercings in general, for most people, are on the lower end of the pain scale. Most people find that they have more discomfort from the slotted forceps than anything.
Tragus Piercing Risks
One of the most frequent problems people run into with the tragus piercing is catching their jewelry on clothing. The most common occurrence of this is when you pull a t-shirt over your head. If possible, it’s best to wear button up shirts for awhile after you get your piercing done. But if you’re going to wear a t-shirt be sure to pay extra special attention when you are lifting it or pulling it down over your head. When a shirt gets caught on your jewelry it can irritate the wound. This will cause some pain and may eventually lead to an infection.
Be careful when cleaning your ears with a Q-tip. The Q-tip can get caught on the end of the stud causing irritation and pain, which has the possibility of leading to an infection. It’s is very important to be careful anytime you insert something into your ear while you are in the healing process.
Another complication arises when a piercing technician uses a stud that is too small. When your tragus swells up it will envelope the back of the stud. This is quite painful and can be very difficult to get out. This can lead to having to cut the jewelry out with a scalpel. Needless to say this will not be a pleasant experience.
Cartilage piercings such as the tragus, helix, rook or conch are prone to Hypertrophic Scarring which is an over development of scar tissue that forms around your piercing. If you run into this issue you can try the Chamomile Tea Treatment. It’s quite easy and inexpensive.
- Go to any grocery or health food store and pick up a pack of Chamomile Tea bags.
- Steep 1 tea bag in boiling water.
- When the boiled water starts to change color, pull out the tea bag and let stand above the cup.
- Let the tea bag cool down to a hot but comfortable temperature (as hot as possible without burning).
- Place the entire tea bag directly on top of the scar tissue.
- Hold it there for 10 minutes.
- Repeat this entire process 2 to 3 times a day, with a fresh tea bag each time, for as long as recommended by your piercer. It is important to treat your piercing for the entire length of time recommended – some piercings may look fully healed when they are not.
Mitigation is the process in which a body piercing will begin to move, which eventually leads to your body rejecting your jewelry. The chance of a tragus piercing rejecting is fairly low.
Should I pierce myself?
This is one of the most popular questions I receive when it comes to any body piercing. Quite honestly, the answer to this is always no. With the tragus though you really don’t want to risk doing it yourself and here is why. Go ahead and grab your tragus with your first finger and thumb and squeeze hard. You can feel for yourself just how tough that ear cartilage is. Think for a moment how much pressure it would take to push a needle through this hard cartilage. It would be very easy to simply slip which could cause you to injure yourself. A trip to the doctors office is much more costly than the cost using a professional.
Have a few extra t-shirts around? Good. Here is a great little trick to use. Make sure the t-shirt is clean of course and use it as a pillow cover. Turn it nightly for two nights and then reverse it and repeat. This will give you four clean surfaces.
Be sure to keep anything that will come into contact with your ear clean. Keep your cell phone clean along with anything else that may come in contact with your ear. Such as winter hats, glasses, home phones et cetera.
Be mindful of your hair. One of the most common issues with any ear piercing is getting hair caught in the jewelry. Be especially diligent with the tragus piercing as it is more prone to infections.
This information is based on a combination of common sense, and research. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you suspect an infection, please seek medical attention.