Sweet Summer Mods: Tragus and Anti-tragus Ear Cartilage Piercings

by Cat
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tragus ear cartilage piercing

The tragus piercing is on my own personal bucket list of things that I want to get done this year. It is subtle, stylish, girly, and looks fabulous with elegantly petite jewelry.  The tragus is that small nub of protruding cartilage that starts at the face and extends over the ear canal. You can wear barbells, studs, or small hoops in this beautiful little piercing, which is a wonderful addition to your style. It’s contemporary, and generally acceptable in the workplace due to its subtle placement. Vibrant gems make any tragus jewelry stand out and sparkle.

Tragus piercing procedure is as followed: the ear is cleaned and marked with a surgical marker, and then the forceps are used to clamp and secure the ear in place. The piercing is done with a 18, 16, or 14 gauge hollow needle. (The piercing needle used can be either straight or curved.) Your piercer will then smoothly slide the needle in through the marked spot in front and out the back into a receiving tube. Then it is filled with your brand new body jewelry.  The most common initial jewelry is a straight barbell or mini barbell. A BCR or horseshoe that is 5/16, 3/8, or 7/16inch in diameter can also be used in your fresh new piercing.

tragus piercing being performed

Due to the small amount of nerve endings in that area, tragus piercings are generally not too painful. These piercings are usually performed while you’re lying down, as the thick cartilage requires more pressure to puncture. It is also easier for your piercer to stop your head from moving in this position. Some people claim to hear a crunching or popping sound with this piercing. This may startle you, so be prepared and try to relax, any jumping or movement during the piercing can seriously harm you and cause an inaccurate piercing. The angle of your actual piercing is anatomically dependent; usually it’s placed at a right angle to the tissue.  It must be set far enough from the edge to avoid rejection.

Ear cartilage piercings can be quite tricky to heal. The tragus gets in the way when talking on the phone, listening with headphones (especially ear buds), or using any kind of earpiece. It is wise to avoid use of all of those items on the freshly pierced ear for several weeks to allow for proper healing. There’s a much higher chance of contracting germs on those ear pieces as well, which may cause an infection or rub on the piercing, detracting from healing and causing general discomfort.

piercing of the tragus cartilage

Proper jewelry is another key to better healing and a more appealing aesthetic. For instance, a ball captive ring that is too big or too small will irritate the new piercing, stunt healing, and will look silly. You also need to be careful of material if you have sensitive skin: solid grade 23 titanium, 14kt gold, and bioplast body jewelry are all hypoallergenic options that are perfect for a fully healed piercing. I think that barbells look more pleasing on a smaller tragus; the BCR can be too overpowering on a small lobe. I love the tragus barbells with little tiny dangles because they are absolutely adorable. The small gems and decorative charms add a new cute element to the piercing. Unfortunately not everyone can get their tragus pierced. Some tragi are smaller than others and may be impossible, or not wise, to get pierced. But don’t get mad if your piercer refuses to do a piercing on you, this is a good thing. It means that you have found a true professional who cares more about your safety than money. Hug your piercer and then give him/her a high five and discuss what piercings you actually can get. Perhaps an anti-tragus piercing would be more suited for your anatomy?

piercings of the ear cartilage

The anti-tragus is the nub of cartilage located across from the tragus on your ear. The piercing is placed on the little vertical cartilage ridge above the lobe and next to the intertragal notch, the channel at the bottom opening to the ear canal above the earlobe and below the tragus. (This spot is also considered the lower front rim of the conch.) The initial jewelry is a ball captive ring, curved barbell, or mini barbell. Many piercers recommend barbell jewelry for initial piercing due to comfort issues. Ring style jewelry will rest toward the ear’s rim or the tragus. As with any piercing, not everyone has a well enough defined area to pierce. Also, if the piercing is placed too deep, it can pass through the ear and cause many problems. As always, make sure you are getting pierced by a professional and stay very still during the procedure. Because the tissue is vertical, getting the piercing at the proper angle is integral to the anti-tragus piercing’s success.

The ear is cleaned and marked where the piercing will be. Forceps are used to support the tissue. Then a 18-14 gauge hollow needle is inserted through the ear, exiting towards the face, where it goes into a receiving tube during the jewelry transfer. Both tragus and anti-tragus piercings have a similar procedure, healing time, and aftercare regiment. Healing time for a tragus or anti-tragus piercing (or any cartilage piercing for that matter) is anywhere from 3 to 9 months. Follow your piercer’s aftercare guidelines closely; the piercing should be cleaned and observed regularly even after healing to maintain its health. Make sure to keep hair and hair products away from the new piercing to avoid irritation.  The most common way to clean it is using a sea salt water solution or another saline solution such as H2Ocean . The jewelry should not be changed until the piercing has properly healed. (Initial jewelry is always larger to accommodate swelling.) Your first jewelry change should always be done by your professional piercer to ensure that the proper sized jewelry is used.

H2Ocean piercing and tattoo aftercare

Photos of tragus and anti-tragus piercings are very popular on social networks such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. These are contemporary piercings that are rising in popularity among teens and adults alike. Both piercings are very unique, beautiful, and trendy.  The large range of jewelry that can be worn in them makes them very versatile to fit anyone’s personal style. I love how delicate and girly the tragus and anti-tragus can look with sparkling studs or dangles, and how they can have a little bit more of a rock and roll appearance with a BCR or spiked barbell. If you are looking for a piercing that will get you noticed without being too in your face, then the tragus and anti-tragus piercings are for you!

by Cat

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