Cartilage piercings 101: everything about the tragus piercing

Have you ever had to plug your ears because of an annoying (loud) sound? Chances are you’ve had and if not, do it now. How did you do it? You probably helped yourself a bit by pushing down on the helpful little flap right in front of your ear canal. That’s called a tragus and today we’re going to fill you in about everything you need to know before getting a tragus piercing.

Don’t be shy… read on!

Table of Contents

What is a tragus (piercing)?

The tragus piercing is a type of cartilage piercing, unlike a lobe piercing that only goes through fleshy tissue. The little flap of ear cartilage that covers your ear canal is pierced and a stud or hoop is inserted. As we mentioned, the tragus is the flap of cartilage that sits just in front of your ear canal. Still confused? You use the tragus to press your ears shut, and it is where earbuds lean on.

Usually there’s one piercing possible, but if you have a bigger tragus count yourself lucky! Maybe there’s enough place for two.

There is also an anti-tragus: this is the edge of cartilage just above the earlobe and it is directly opposite the tragus piercing.

History?

History wise, there’s no documentation on this piercing prior to the modern history of the times when piercings for fun became a thing. That doesn’t necesserily mean that it wasn’t done before, though. As with any body part you’d like to get pierced, there’s probably been someone before you that had the same thought and has tried it out. So, who knows?

There’s a high possibility that this piercing, as many others, came to a reality in the Gauntlet. The first body piercing studio of it’s type and the one that kickstarted the body piercing industry. It’s popularity probably shot up around 2005 and as to why, there’s not a lot of explanation.

The early 00’s were a… weird time for fashion to say the least. We don’t mind the piercings, though.

Why you should consider getting it: the pros

If you’re anything like me, when you do take the time to think about a decision, you like to weigh out the pros and cons. Although it’s maybe not that difficult to think of yourself, we’ve summed them up for you.

Socially accepted and easy to hide

Not that you should care about society’s opinion about anything that has to do with your personal choices when it comes to your body, but if you do, this one is a safe option.

The tragus piercing is one you could wear in most conservative environments without getting weird looks. It’s not considered ‘freaky’ or ‘extreme’.

If you have longer hair, you can even cover it without anyone noticing! If you don’t put your hair behind your ears, of course.

Relatively quick healing

The most hateful thing about any type of body modification is, say it with me, the healing process.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, this cartilage piercing is fairly easy and quick to heal. Anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks if you’re lucky. If you’re extremely lucky the healing piercing might need less time, unlike other cartilage piercings.

If you have longer hair, you can even cover it without anyone noticing! If you don’t put your hair behind your ears, of course.

Endless jewelry options!

If you like to switch up your looks, or at least your piercings, this one is definitely destined for your ears!

You can put almost any type of jewelry in this piercing. Anything from the good old-fashioned rings or regular ball stud, to the fancy intricate labret or barbell jewelry. If you want to go bold, you can and if you’re more elegant, there’s also options for that!

If you have longer hair, you can even cover it without anyone noticing! If you don’t put your hair behind your ears, of course.

Enhances your ear

This is only looks-wise, of course. It makes it so that a piece of anatomy we’d usually ignore is now pretty!

Getting a piercing on your tragus really is a way to make it all ‘click’, especially if you have more than your lobes pierced. A jewelry there really fits perfectly, so, it’s not like it’s randomly floating like e.g. dermals can look like sometimes.

Reliable healing history

The fact that there’s not a lot of documentation prior to the 80’s about this piercing is honestly, a very huge plus. Because so many people have gotten this piercing over the (relatively) recent years, we know this piercing is an easy one to heal.

It isn’t an ‘experimental’ piercing, where you have no idea if it will cause you issues like rejecting or getting easily infected. We know, thanks to the history we do have about it, that it usually heals with no problems.

…And quite frankly, when people experience problems when it comes to healing, it more often than not means they effed up somewhere along the road. It’s either people having struggles being consistent with the healing method, their body just being ‘bad’ at healing piercings, or going to a non-reputable piercer.

Tragus piercing

The cons

Behind every pro, there’s unfortunately a con. Personally, we think the pros outweigh the cons with this one, though.

Isolation is hard

This is more of an annoying one, but one you should know. Isolating the piercing is mostly handy for when it’s healing. You know, keeping it clean, not putting any pressure on it, etc…

Well, with this one, it’s pretty difficult. If you like to sleep on your sides, you can say goodbye to that for a few weeks/months. You’ll also have to be pretty careful with your hair getting caught up in it during this period and for those who wear makeup, be careful with that too.

Sleeping is harder

Now that we’re on the topic of putting pressure and moving it around, depending on your sleeping habits, you might want to take this one into consideration if you’re considering getting a tragus piercing.

As we already said, there should be no pressure put on your new tragus piercing. Sleeping on your pierced side will do that and move it around as a result. Since you’re unconcious while you’re asleep, you’ll have no idea if you tugged on it until you’ve woken up. So, if you like to sleep on your left side, think about perhaps piercing the right ear.

Anatomy matters

This isn’t really a con nor a pro in our eyes, but it’s something to know about before hyping yourself up.

Not everyone can get tragus piercings done unlike e.g. nose piercing or a regular lobe. It’s a bummer for those who’d want it but, it is what it is. Your tragus might be not be big enough, thick or wide enough.

Closed off ear canal

If you like using earbuds or just anything that goes in the ear canal, you can say goodbye to those luxuries aswell. Unless you stick to the labret types of jewelry, but even then… Especially during the healing times, there’s simply no way around keeping your ears ’empty’.

If the issue is wearing earbuds, just wear headphones instead! Over-the-ear headphones specifically. It’s important not to put any pressure on a new piercing and that’s hard to avoid with this one.

Earbuds or other things that go in your ears will not only cause for the piercing to move around (which you should also avoid), but they’ll also cause immense pressure on your new piercing.

Luckily, you have the option of going with a labret (flat back) piercing stud once it’s fully healed. And no, you can’t do this before it’s completely healed. Well, you can and it’s recommended, but the jewelry will have to be long enough so that there’s enough place for swelling. So, you still can’t go around this one.

Closes quickly

This one can be either a pro or a con, depending who you ask. Some people (me included) get piercings for the hell of it, impusively. It’s fun and it looks good. This means those people can sometimes get bored of it quickly too, so this is actually a pro if you ask me!

However, majority of the human population rethinks stuff before modifying their ear. That said, if you have a job where you need to be piercing-less or you participate in activities like e.g. a fighting sport, that require you to be piercing-less… it might not be the ideal piercing for you.

This is why it’s important to go to reputable piercers when getting it done, or any piercing for that matter. We’ll briefly touch on this topic aswell.

Okay, but will getting a tragus piercing hurt?

With all of the pros and cons out of the way, let’s answer the most commonly asked question first. Do tragus piercings hurt?

The short answer: yes. The long answer is that it’s still a piercing after all. There’s a sharp, hollow needle puncturing a body part of yours, so getting your tragus pierced will hurt more or less.

It honestly all comes down to your personal pain tolerance, but most people who have gotten it say the pain level is just as expected. If anything it’s more uncomfortable than painful. With most cartilage piercings, there’s also a not-so-fun noise that comes with them, more specifically – the cracking of the ear cartilage.

How do I find a reputable piercer?

You’ve already done the first step, namely, informing yourself about the piercing itself. Finding a professional piercer in a sea full of DIY at home ‘professionals’ can be confusing at times, so here’s some things to look out for.

Informative?

The first thing, is whether or not the piercer informs you by themselves about the risks. If you ask them questions and you try to understand, analyse their answers. Are they short and do they try to enlighten you, or are they just reassuring you with ‘Don’t worry about it’? If so, they’re probably more concerned with you paying them instead of your wellbeing.

Oh, and something very important to keep in mind: if you see a piercing gun laying around or if they bring out one instead of a needle. Run. Run and never return! Side note: piercing guns are not actually made for safe piercings.

They should also recommend you have this pierced with a barbell or a labret stud, simply because it heals easier that way. It can be done with a ring aswell, but they have a higher profile and they move around much more.

Passionate?

If they’re passionate about their job, they should be happy to inform you about everything by themselves. Even if they don’t, as we said, just interrogate them.

Don’t be too annoying of course, you don’t want to come off as the trust-issues-client type. Just see if they seem passionate about it or not.

Experienced?

Most professional piercers nowadays have social media, where you can look through stuff they’ve done. That said, there’s also a lot of piercers from the ‘older’ generations that just don’t care about that stuff.

So, stop by and just ask them how long they’ve been doing it. You could also simply be honest and your potential piercer you’re a bit anxious and want to be sure you’re in good hands. There’s nothing they haven’t heard before and don’t know how to deal with.

Aftercare instructions?

We’ll never understand why some piercers dont give aftercare instructions out to their clients. It’s the most important part after getting it to avoid an infection and there’s a few things you’re supposed to be doing for a few months after getting it done.

Demand these instructions. In short, be sure to use sterile saline solution on the wounds of the piercing and on the actual piercing aswell to clean crusties off.

Do you guys have any ear cartilage piercings? What other body jewelry do you guys rock? Any issues with sensitive skin and piercings? Be sure to let us know!

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