Location: The vertical tragus is located in the same area as a regular tragus piercing: where the protruding lobe of cartilage that shields the opening of the ear canal meets the side of the face, just above the jaw.
Alternate Names: Although usually referred to as simply “vertical tragus,” this piercing may also be called an inverse tragus, transverse tragus, tragus surface piercing, or occasionally a “side burn piercing.”
Piercing: Like most other ear piercings, the vertical tragus is performed with a hollow piercing needle. Depending on anatomy and personal preference, the piercer may also make use of a surgical pen, an indwelling cannula, a pair of pennington forceps, a hollow needle receiving tube, or cork.
Aftercare: Most piercers will recommend sea salt soaks for this piercing, which often requires a bit of extra ingenuity. Based on the anatomy of this area of the ear, one proven method includes soaking sterile cotton balls or gauze in the solution and holding them against the skin. Once initial healing is complete (around the 12 to 16 week mark), some piercers will allow the use of a premixed sea salt spray.
Jewelry: The most common jewelry for a transverse tragus piercing is a small curved barbell, or when performed as a true surface piercing, a staple shaped surface bar. Some may also be able to wear circular barbells such as horseshoes in this piercing, but it varies from person to person, as not all vertical tragus piercings are in exactly the same position.
Prevalence: According to many sources, the vertical tragus was first popularized by famous Pennsylvania piercer Luis Garcia. Initially, this piercing was a true vertical piercing, going through the tragus itself, rather than the skin at the side of the face. In recent years, different variations have developed, although all of them still remain relatively rare in most areas of the Unites States.