Most of the cartilage piercing care is to keep your piercing clean. Maintaining a proper follow-up routine is essential during the healing process, but taking care of your cartilage piercing over the long term is also good, as infection can occur anytime, even after a piercing has healed.
Fortunately, cartilage piercings are easy to care for, and this guide has all of the information you need to have a trouble-free, beautiful piercing.
How long does a cartilage piercing take to heal?
Cartilage piercings usually take 4 to 12 months to fully heal. As with all piercings, they heal from the outside in, which means they appear to be healed from the outside for a while before the healing process is actually complete.
If you tend to heal slowly when you get a wound, treat your cartilage piercing like it hasn’t completely healed for at least a year.
What to do on the day you get your cartilage piercing
In general, what you do after the piercing will determine how well it will heal. However, there are a few things you can do before your piercings to speed up the healing process.
Eat before you go
Eating a snack or light meal before getting a new piercing will not only help you better deal with the pain, it will also prepare your body for healing.
With proper nutrition, your body can make all of the antibodies and additional blood flow it needs to heal. This is especially important for cartilage, which receives less blood flow than other parts of the body.
Check if someone is available to accompany you
This isn’t a necessity, but if you’re feeling anxious, bringing a friend with you can help you better deal with the pain of being pierced.
Have ibuprofen ready
You shouldn’t take oral pain medication before a cartilage piercing, as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, and naproxen cause blood thinning, which can lead to increased bleeding. However, you can have one of these anti-inflammatory pain relievers ready to take afterwards. They help reduce swelling.
Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol
Drinking enough water can help regulate your blood pressure so that you are less likely to pass out during the piercing process. It also helps with blood circulation and the healing process. Drinking alcohol can dehydrate you and make you bleed more when you pierce it.
Know your ear
Before you go to the piercing salon, you need to know exactly which part of your cartilage you want to pierce which side. You don’t want to keep the piercer waiting while you think about it, and you don’t want to make a quick decision that you may later regret.
Also, consider aftercare for your piercing. You may not want to be pierced on the side you sleep on or in a place where you are likely to bump or get caught.
Follow the aftercare instructions
After you have pierced your cartilage, the piercer will give you instructions on how to care for your new piercing. It should be something like this:
Admire your new piercing
Go ahead and look in a mirror to see how valuable your cartilage piercing is. It may look a bit red and irritated by now, but once it’s healed you will likely be pretty lucky that you had the experience.
What should I do during the rest of the aftercare?
Aftercare is one of the most important parts of a cartilage piercing. In fact, it is the difference between a healthy piercing that heals well and looks great, and one that gets infected and damaged. The good news is that it’s easy.
1. Soak the piercing with salt water (or a prepared saline solution for piercings) once or twice a day.
2. Spray the piercing with salt spray occasionally throughout the day.
3. Wash the jewelry with soap and water every day and rinse thoroughly. However, don’t let the soap get into the piercing itself.
You should follow these follow-up procedures for at least three months or until you are certain that your cartilage piercing is completely healed.
You should note that lumps and bumps are relatively common
What Not To Do While Your Cartilage Piercing Is Healing
In addition to knowing what to do to keep your piercing clean and healing well, there are of course a few things that you should avoid.
Don’t go swimming right away
You should wait until your cartilage piercing is no longer an open wound before entering any body of water (other than a shower).
For cartilage piercings, it is advisable to wait about a month before swimming with the piercing to avoid infection from bacteria in the water. If your piercing is bleeding, swollen, or leaking pus, do not swim until the symptoms have subsided.
Do not touch the jewelry
In the past, some piercers recommended twisting or twisting earrings in order for the piercing to heal properly. This is no longer recommended. You should keep your hands off your earrings to prevent bacterial infection. This also means that you don’t have to twist or move the earring. And if you actually move the jewelry, your cartilage piercing is more likely to damage and prevent it from healing well.
Do not sleep on the piercing
When you sleep on your piercing, it will be pressed against your pillow or bedding, or against your head. This exposes your piercing to bacteria and sweat, and leads to irritation. Placing on the piercing will make it feel sore for longer. Instead, let your piercing breathe and maintain good blood flow by not pressing it against anything while you sleep.
Don’t pick a crust
Your cartilage piercings will likely leak a clear to yellowish liquid that will dry as a crust around the area. The fluid is a normal part of the healing process and doesn’t mean you have an infection. Do not try to peel the crust off with your fingers or fingernails. Instead, wipe it down with a cotton swab dipped in saline.
How to clean a cartilage piercing
They know that you should clean your cartilage piercing with saline solution. But how exactly do you do that? It’s easy. And you have three options. The first way is to use a pre-made saline solution for piercings. The second is to make your own saline solution. The third option is to purchase specially designed piercing aftercare products.
The best aftercare product that I have personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. It is not only vegan-friendly, but also completely free of alcohol and additives. The solution is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and comes in a generous spray bottle for easy application. When used from the beginning, the spray will shorten healing times and aim to relieve persistent aches or pains.
Use saline solution
Wash your hands first before cleaning your piercing. If you start with clean hands, you won’t be able to transfer bacteria to the job site.
Next, pour the saline solution into a clean, flat glass just big enough to dip the pierced part of your ear. Hold the piercing underwater for about 5 minutes.
Use a clean cloth, cheesecloth, or cotton swab dipped in saline to remove any crusts that have loosened from the soaking around the piercing. Finally, rinse the piercing with clean water and dry it.
How to make your own saline solution
Saline is just a solution of salt and water. However, you should not use table salt (iodized salt) to clean piercings.
Take a quarter of a teaspoon of kosher salt or sea salt and stir it into 1 cup of warm distilled water. You can buy distilled water from most grocery stores. The distillation process removes impurities and minerals from the water. The water doesn’t have to be too hot, just hot enough for the salt to dissolve.
When can I stop cleaning my cartilage piercing?
There is no exact time when everyone should stop cleaning their cartilage piercing as each individual heals at a different rate.
What remains the same for everyone is that the inside of the piercing is not completely healed at the same time as the flesh on the outside of a cartilage piercing. That means you will need to clean your cartilage piercing for at least a month after it appears to have completely healed.
Signs that the piercing is fully healed are that the area of the piercing is normally colored and not red, puffy, or tender; no clear or yellowish drainage of liquid; and no pain when the area is touched.
The earliest healing of a cartilage piercing is 3 months for most people. Even so, cleaning your ear with saline solution for up to a year is not a bad idea.
It is really that easy. Keep hands and dirt off your piercing and rinse it off with salt water as needed. No harsh detergents such as alcohol or peroxide are required, which can dry out the surrounding skin. If you follow the simple steps above, you should have a beautiful, perfect looking cartilage piercing for years.