Tragus and Anti-Tragus Piercings

Tragus piercings and anti-tragus piercings are becoming increasingly popular – in fact, tragus piercings are now one of the most common ear piercings around. Ear piercings are the most familiar form of Body piercings and the tragus and anti-tragus are fresh expressions of the mundane ear lobe piercings.

The tragus is a thick little piece of cartilage that juts out from the ear canal. To get an understanding of the exact location of the tragus, place a finger by the outer corner of your eye. From this point, trace the finger back, in a straight line, until you touch your ear. The first piece of your ear you will feel is your tragus. You should be able to grasp this little nub between your fingers – this is where the piercing will go through.

There are all sorts of misconceptions about the tragus. Some people may try to tell you that piercing your tragus will affect your balance – that is simply not true. Your balance is affected by fluids in your ear drums, which are located deep within your ears, and are far away from any pierce-able surface. The tragus does not have anything to do with your balance, so don’t be fooled by uneducated people who might try and tell you otherwise. In fact, the only purpose a tragus has is to hold your headphones (such as the standard iPod headphones) securely in your ears; and once pierced, there are thousands of headphones to choose from which will not irritate your piercing. Honestly, the tragus has nothing to do with your ear, your hearing, or your balance. It is just a flap of cartilage – perhaps if humans developed sonar and echo-location the tragus would be useful (super developed traguses help bats use sonar, for example) – but alas, on our species, it’s just a surface begging to get pierced!

The tragus is recommended to be pierced with a captive bead ring, but a barbell will suffice. The reason rings are almost always preferred for the initial piercing as opposed to barbells is because rings tend to heal quicker, better, and more securely. Once healed, you can use any type of jewelry, even typical jewelry normally reserved for ear lobes. Your piercer will help you choose which gage is right for you (and by the way, expanding the tragus is not unheard of, but rare), mark the location on your ear, and push the needle right through. Some piercers may put a cork behind the tragus to “catch” the needle, some piercers just use clamps to aid the needle through, and yet others just use their hands. Each piercer is different, so they will pierce according to their style. Clamps are the most common method, and many people report that the actually clamping to secure the skin hurts more than the piercing! The tragus piercing should be painless – there aren’t a lot of nerves there – but some people do feel slight and temporary pain. Because it is so close to the ear, some people even say they hear a little “pop!” sound as the needle pushes through. Should you hear a little noise, it’s nothing to be concerned about. Once the needle is in, the jewelry is slid into place and secured, and you are done! The whole process, from prep to finish, shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

The tragus does take a while to heal – sometimes up to a year to be fully and completely healed. Many people irritate their new piercing by placing their dirty cell phones up to their ear or by sleeping on the ear with the piercing. I suggest NOT doing either of these for at least the first six months. If your piercing does become infected (and it shouldn’t with proper aftercare), soak it in warm salt water, don’t touch it with your hands, and perhaps (using a q-tip) rub some diluted tea tree oil around the piercing. Never use any sort of rubbing alcohol, for this will irritate and scar your piercing. Your piercer will give you a complete rundown of what to expect and how to handle your new piercing though, so pay attention to their advice.

The Anti-Tragus is very similar to the tragus. It is pierced the same way, the aftercare is the same, and the healing time is the same too. To locate your anti-tragus, place a finger on your earlobe (generally where someone’s first ear piercing would be) and with your finger, draw a straight line up. The flap of cartilage you come to before the empty space is your anti-tragus. Your tragus and anti-tragus are located very close to each other, and the anti-tragus is just opposite of the tragus. Just like the other piercing, this piercing does not affect your hearing or balance. The anti-tragus is rarer than the tragus, mostly because many people don’t think they can get this area pierced, but it can be pierced and it does look great when healed. Curved Barbells and captive ring beads are used most frequently in these piercings.

If you are considering an anti-tragus or tragus piercings, be sure to use a licensed professional. Once it is fully healed, the way your ornament or decorate the piercing is completely up to you, and the jewelry possibilities are endless!

Do’s and Don’ts When Going for Ear Stretching for the First Time

If done the wrong way, ear stretching can give you unbearable pain, and can even kill your ears, (yes, literally!). Ear stretching is the latest trend, in which, one punctures and stretches one’s ear lobes, to an extreme level, wears a stylish carved jewelry (as plugs and tunnels) in the stretched part. Some traditionalists believe that it is irksome or disturbing, but gauged ears look pretty appealing and attractive. However, this body art should be done very carefully. If you are going to stretch your ear lobes for the first time, here are a few Dos and Don’ts to follow. But before we proceed to that, let us have a look at some consideration, before you step into a professional body art workshop -

There’s no looking back! When you get your earlobes stretched, remember that it is a permanent fix, your old natural ears would never return. It is also true with piercing. Cosmetic surgery is the only possible repair for stretched ears. So, before you go for ear stretching, you should make up your mind, and decide, if you really want this or not.

Consult a renowned body art center – If some accident occurs, because of the mishandling or the lack of experience of the piercer, you wouldn’t be able to get your old natural ears back. To avoid such (and any) mishaps, visiting a professional piercer is always advisable.

Dos and Don’ts

Being a newcomer to the ear stretching fashion, there must be running around some rumors, in your mind, which you heard from someone, or one of the friends or relatives of someone. Well, if you have decided to stretch your earlobes, you should approach with a positive frame of mind. Here are some clear suggestions or Dos and Don’ts -

Suggested Material – Surgical stainless steel is considered as the best material for ear plugs or body art jewelries, for the first timers. After the stretching is healed, you can wear charms made up of any material.

Recommended Size – ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ is one of the most heard stories of all time. When stretching your ears for the first time, you can use the tapers starting from 14G to 18G, based on the structuring of your ears and lobes.

Reducing the Pain – There are a number of solutions – like composition of Karanja oil and Jojoba Oil – which you can apply while inserting the drill through your lobes. These are naturally medicated oils that lower the pain during the procedure, and help healing the skin more quickly. You should never use any water base solution while stretching your earlobes.

Bleeding - If it bleeds, you should stop, and wait for the injury to recover completely. Ideally, there are very less chances of bleeding, but when it happens, you should discontinue it for a while.

How To Know If Your Piercing Is Infected

You decided on a body piercing, found a reputable piercer, and survived your appointment. Now your piercing is doing something unexpected, and you’re worried that it might be infected. Are these the normal signs of healing, or are you and your piercing headed for trouble? Read on to find out how to tell if your piercing is infected.

Any time your body is injured – including piercing – you might see the five signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. These are normal and indicate that your immune system is at work, but they can also be signs of infection. The difference is a matter of degree and timing.

Symptoms

Your piercer should tell you what to expect during healing. If you know what is normal, you will be able to detect trouble early. Let’s look at the possible symptoms of infection:

Redness – It is normal for a new piercing to be slightly reddened because blood flow to the area is naturally increased. Sure signs of trouble include redness that won’t go away, an expanding area of redness, or red streaks that track away from the piercing.

Heat – Heat also occurs because of increased blood flow and indicates a problem if it increases over time, is hot and not just warm, or just will not go away.

Swelling – Swelling is caused by a build up of fluid. Oral piercings are especially prone to it – a tongue piercing can take a week to ten days to settle down. Swelling is problematic if it does not go down as quickly as expected or gets worse. Your jewelry must be long enough to accommodate swelling. Otherwise, it is very hard to clean, and there is a risk that the jewelry could pull through the piercing and be lost under the skin.

Pain – It is normal for a piercing to be tender for a few days, especially if it is subject to movement (e.g. tongue, lip), or aggravated by clothing or bumping. Pain that worsens with time or is extreme indicates a problem.

Loss of function – An eyebrow might not have a lot of work to do, but a tongue will be slowed down by a piercing, and an infection will make this worse. A pierced body part that will not move or is too painful to move is not normal – you may have an infection.

Two more symptoms

Fever/chills/nausea

- Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and nausea, is a definite sign of trouble. You either have a localized infection at the piercing site or a more serious (potentially fatal) systemic infection. Consult a doctor if you have a high and/or persistent fever, chills, or nausea. These are not normal reactions to piercing and you may need antibiotics.

Pus/discharge – Not every discharge indicates infection. During the early stages of healing, a healthy piercing will discharge lymph, which is just blood plasma without the larger proteins. It is a clear or slightly yellowish fluid that dries to a crust and is easily removed with warm water.

Pus, on the other hand, is definitely a sign of infection. It is largely made up of dead white blood cells and bacteria. It may be whitish, yellow, green, or gray, and may have bloody streaks and an odor. Yellow, green, or foul-smelling pus indicate a serious infection. Seek medical attention.

What to do

If you think you have an infection, contact your body piercer immediately. Piercers are often more knowledgeable than doctors, who can be prejudiced against or unfamiliar with piercings. However, if you think you are in trouble or your condition worsens significantly, you must seek medical attention. If you lose a piercing, you can get it redone – it is not worth risking your life or serious tissue damage.

Mild infections can likely be treated at home. One time-tested remedy is the salt-water soak. Dissolve 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of sea salt in 1 cup (250 ml) of warm (not so hot that you scald yourself) water in a clean cup, ideally a disposable plastic one for each treatment. Soak the piercing or make a compress with a clean washcloth saturated with the salt water. Do this two or three times per day, fifteen minutes per session.

Avoid antibiotic creams or ointments as they trap dirt and debris and do not allow the piercing to breathe. Do not remove the jewelry from an infected piercing. This could allow the piercing to seal, trapping pus and causing an abscess. Pay special attention to infections in facial or oral piercings – their proximity to the brain makes them especially dangerous.

Prevention

The best strategy is prevention; follow the aftercare instructions from your piercer. He or she will recommend a mild cleanser and a cleaning schedule. Never touch a piercing with unclean hands. Never use alcohol, peroxide, iodine-based products or harsh antibacterial soaps. They are much too strong and will dry skin, kill cells, and impede the healing process.

Tips on Stretching Piercings and Gauging Earlobes

The following tips on stretching piercings are specifically aimed at gauging earlobes, where earlobe piercings can be enlarged to very large sizes to incorporate many different types of ear jewelry including awesome flesh tunnels.

Stretching piercings has been popular in many civilizations throughout history, taking many forms from gauging earlobes to stretching labret and septum piercings. In the very early periods of history the materials used were wood, stone, bone, horn, shells, claws and talons, shaped and carved to facilitate stretching piercings.

The oldest known incidence of humans gauging earlobes was discovered in 1991, in a glacier in the Otztal Alps between Italy and Austria, where a 5,300 year-old mummified body was found with tattoos and an earlobe piercing of between 7 mm and 11 mm diameter. Although the method used was known for definite, this may have been carried out by a method known as dead stretching, where progressively larger ear jewelry is forced through the hole that gradually increases in diameter.

Preparation

In preparation for gauging, make sure that you have a good anti-bacterial soap without perfume. Then you will need a sea salt solution – make it using three tablespoons salt in just enough water to dissolve it, and at least enough to bathe your earlobe in. Never use hydrogen or any other peroxide as antiseptic – the soap and salt solution are enough.

You will also need some warm water to bathe your ear with before each phase of ear stretching, or you could alternative have a warm shower first. This softens the ear and helps prevent tearing of the skin/scar that could lead to bleeding.

Finally, you will need some lubricant: avoid Vaseline or any other mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricant. Most tips on stretching piercings recommend emu oil and jojoba, each of which offers gentle antiseptic and skin conditioning properties while acting as a perfectly adequate lubricant.

Gauging Earlobes

When stretching piercings, the two recommended methods are the taper method and the Teflon method. The taper method involves inserting a tapered rod or pin into the piercing, the narrow end being of the same gauge as the piercing, and the broader end one gauge down. The size of the taper is that of the desired gauge of piercing. So if your piercing is 16g, the taper will be a 14g taper, ranging from 16g to 14g. These are equivalent to 1.2 mm to 1.6 mm.

Never use a taper any more than one step down. However, since piercing gauges are always even numbers, one step down is 16g to 14g or 12g to 10g. Also, as the gauge figures drop, the actual diameter increases. So while 16g is 1.2 mm, 10g is 2.4 mm.

There are a number of different types of taper, including a tapered pin on ear jewelry, so you simply insert ear jewelry tapering from your current gauge to the new one. The problem here is that a fully tapered pin will not stretch your ears evenly – the pin has to be of the same diameter all the way through, or your piercing might also be stretched with a taper.

To overcome that, you can use an insertion rod, which is a tapered rod of about 3 inches. After warming your ears with the warm water or shower, and washing them with anti-bacterial soap, apply the lubricant to the taper and slowly work it through. Once it reaches the thicker end, follow it through with ear jewelry of the new size, and you are done. Wipe off excess lubricant and clean the ear with anti-bacterial soap and then some of the salt solution.

An even safer way is to wind a layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape round the pin of your ear jewelry and push it through the lobe. If you can see any space at all when you pull on the ring, then you can safely do this. Wait until the ear has accepted it then do it again, and so on until you have reached the new size, when you can use larger ear jewelry.

If there has been any severe pain or the piercing bleeds, then you must stop immediately and allow the piercing to heal properly before trying again. If you try stretching piercings too soon, before they have fully healed, then you can tear the skin and even have a blowout, both of which will make it difficult to stretch again.

Gauging Earlobes: After-Care

After-care when gauging earlobes is fairly straightforward. It should not be so much a matter of tending after a piercing until it heals, but more keeping it clean, and turning the new sized jewelry now and again. You are waiting until the ear has accepted the new size of hole permanently so that you can perhaps change the hole diameter once more. The stretched skin has to be allowed to thicken and get harder – give about three times longer than your original piercing took to heal. If you want to use a flesh tunnel, then you can continue stretching piercings until the diameter reaches an appreciable size.

Done properly, and following the above tips, stretching piercings is safe and relatively easy to do. Many extend the diameter of their piercings this way, and gauging earlobes is likely the most popular form of pierce stretching carried out at the moment. Take your time – waiting is difficult, but if your ear is not ready for the next stretching it will likely be damaged.