Conch Piercings

Conch Piercings are located within the hollow space of your ear; it is called a conch piercing because of the resemblance it has to the conch shell. Literally pierced right through the center of your ear, this is not a very popular piercing (as far as numbers go), but people who have conch piercings (and other bod mod enthusiasts) absolutely love them!

Conch Piercings go through the thick cartilage located directly in the middle of your ear. Because there is a copious amount of surrounding tissue, migration or rejection risks are nonexistent. If you are looking to begin your first foray into body piercing (outside of traditional ear lobes), this is a great piercing to start with!

Experienced and reputable piercers will not have difficulty in piercing your conch. Unlike some other ear or body piercings, there aren’t any strange angles, bends, or specific equipment that must be used. The piercing is a straight shot using a simple, basic, sterile piercing needle. The Conch is one of the easiest places to get pierced.

Once you and your piercer agree that a Conch is right for you, your piercer will recommend the best jewelry – it usually is a captive bead ring for the initial piercing. And just to forewarn you, the gauge (that is, the thickness) of the jewelry might appear to be rather large. Don’t be alarmed! These piercings call for jewelry of a larger girth, and it won’t hurt anymore than if it was pierced with a smaller gauge. Once your piercing has healed (it will take about a year to be fully and completely healed) you can replace it with a myriad of affordable and fun jewelry. The first three to six months are very crucial in the healing process, so take good care of your ear!

Your piercer will mark your ear with a marker to denote where they think it will look best on you; once you have confirmed or rearranged the position, your piercing will happen. Clamps are usually used (all they do is secure the area from moving), and a straight piercing needle will push through on your exhale. It is a very fast procedure, and your jewelry will slide in your new hole. Once your piercer has finished securing the piercing, your ear might feel a little hot and your heart may be thumping rapidly, but that is just the adrenaline and endorphin kicking in. Enjoy it while it lasts – many people live for that thrilling feeling! The actual pain ranges from person to person, but most don’t feel any pain. Like so many piercings, this one looks more painful than it actually is, so don’t be nervous!

You can get more than one piercing in your Conch, and then it’s called a Conch Orbital. Basically, an Orbital is two separate piercings joined together by one piece of jewelry (please see my orbital article for more information). You can also get the Conches in both ears pierced but I would suggest staggering these two piercings so as to ease the healing process. For example, for about 3 months after your piercings, you really shouldn’t sleep on the ear with a pierced Conch; getting both Conches pierced simultaneously may therefore interfere with your sleeping patterns and may lead to prolong healing in both ears. Discuss with your piercer if a conch orbital is right for you – if you think you may want one in the future, alert your piercer so that they can give you a piercing in the right location.

The aftercare for the Conch is very easy – not only is this an easy piercing to get, it’s easy to take care of, and it’s easy to find jewelry for it! Soaking your ear in warm salt water (properly called a saline solution) is one of the best ways to assist your new piercing. The next best thing to do is NOT TOUCH your new piercing! It’s very hard to do – it’s a new addition to your body so you will doubtless want to play with it – but don’t touch it! Human hands are covered in germs and bacteria and fidgeting with your new vulnerable piercing can lead to infection. Only touch it when you are cleaning it, and be sure your hands are clean first! Other simple tips to avoid an infection include not putting your cell phone on that ear, don’t sleep on it, don’t use headphones that go into your ear canal, and try to keep long hair away from it (it can wrap around the back) during the healing time (once it’s healed, no big deal if your hair touches it).

Taking care of your Conch is very easy, all it takes is routine cleaning, abstaining from touching it, and common sense! Your piercer will give you a complete rundown, so pay attention. Should any problems arise, return to your piercer and they should be able to provide you with more advice or solutions. Enjoy your conch, and get ready to be the envy of many!

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.