Getting Your Cartilage Pierced? Here's What You Should Know

Choosing what type of piercing to get next in your ear is a tough decision. Once you have your lobes pierced, the options get infinitely more complicated. Whether it's your rook, tragus, helix, industrial, conch, or anti-tragus, the truth is, there are more types of cartilage piercings than we can keep track of. And that doesn't even account for all of the new trends constantly popping up, like constellation piercings.

Plus, once you decide on a location, it's time to ponder over jewelry. (We admit — that might be the best part.) After that's settled, you'll need to pay special attention to aftercare because making sure your piercing stays in tip-top shape is no easy task. There are a lot of things to factor in before getting your cartilage pierced for the first time, but don't worry, we've got your back.

To help you do some research before you book your appointment, Louisa Schneider, CEO and founder of Rowan, an at-home piercing company with registered nurses, answered all of the most commonly asked questions and told us everything you should know before getting your cartilage pierced, ahead.

Different Types of Cartilage Piercings

"There are 12 different types of cartilage piercings," Schneider tells POPSUGAR. "Tragus, anti-tragus, helix, snug, rook, daith, outer conch piercing, orbital, forward helix, industrial, auricle, and transverse lobe piercings."

Each cartilage piercing is located on a different part of the ear — hence its name. If you know the location you want to get pierced but don't know the proper terminology, the easiest way to find it is by doing a quick internet search and looking at a diagram of the ear.

Do Cartilage Piercings Hurt?

With any piercing comes a little pain. "Pain is relative, what hurts for one person may not hurt for the next," Schneider says. If you're nervous about the pain, there are options to help. For example, at Rowan, you can get the area numbed with Lidocaine to help alleviate pain.

How Long Do Cartilage Piercings Take to Heal?

The healing time for any piercing is widely dependent on the individual and the aftercare procedure followed. In general, cartilage piercings are harder to heal than lobe piercings. "All cartilage piercings generally heal in about six months, in comparison to lobe piercings, which take around six weeks," Schneider says. "Cartilage piercings tend to be more sensitive and tender than lobe piercings, requiring extra care during the healing process."

Anyone who has ever had both an ear lobe piercing and a cartilage piercing knows this struggle all too well. Lobe piercings can feel like they're healing themselves; meanwhile, cartilage piercings have a tendency to put up a fight. This is because of two things: a lack of blood flow to that area of the ear and how much the piercing is irritated.

"The cartilage has an extremely limited blood supply, so healing is slower and in contrast to the ear lobe," Schneider says, citing it can take anywhere from three to six months to heal for some people or as long as six to 12 months for others.

Additionally, irritation is more likely with cartilage piercings. "For example, if it's on an area of the ear that led to constant irritation while you sleep or use earbuds, that will make the piercing harder to heal," she says. "Due to the long healing process, aftercare is crucial when piercing the cartilage."

What Types of Risks Are Associated With Cartilage Piercings?

Cartilage piercings can take anywhere from six months to a year to fully heal and the prolonged healing time makes it more susceptible to irritation and infection. "According to medical research, there is a higher complication rate associated with high ear or cartilage piercing," said Schneider. "The complications can result in poor healing, infection, and cosmetic deformity if an infection is not treated early and aggressively."

To lower your risk of infection, closely follow the aftercare steps your piercer gives you and note that you shouldn't remove your cartilage starter earring at all for the first six months. With patience and diligent aftercare, you shouldn't have any issues.