(Closed) Upper Ear / Helix Piercing?

posted 4 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
1002 posts
Bumble bee

I have two helix piercings on each side (used to have three on one side).  I did them myself, using a piercing stud and an apple.  (Not the best method – for one thing, you’re supposed to use a potato if you use that method, not an apple, which is too acidic…that stung.)

It’s not overly painful compared to other piercings.  I definitely prefer tattooing, though.  I suggest going to a tattoo parlor and having it done by a professional piercer using a hollow needle, NOT by someone using a piercing gun or stud.  It took longer to heal than my lobe piercings.  I have found that I am more comfortable wearing straight/barbell style earrings.  (I actually wear the labret studs with the flat backs, like these, as the flat back is comfortable against the back of my ear, and the ball is visibl in the front.)  Visually, I prefer the style of hoops or some of the more ornate cuffs, but they’re not comfortable to sleep in, and I don’t take my piercings out unless I’m cleaning them.

For healing, everyone experiences different things, but some basic pointers:

Titanium studs make a difference in healing – less infection.  Salt water is good for rinsing.  I have found that lubricating the piercing with neosporin (once in the later healing stages when you’re able to remove the piercing for regular cleaning/flushing/changing/etc, not the early stages when it’s still an open puncture) can be helpful if I feel an infection coming on, because it makes it slide into the piercing easily (no tissue tearing) and the antibiotic properties help.  Some people like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as an astringent, but alcohol is usually too harsh.  Hydrogen peroxide can be okay if you’ve got a bad infection that needs to be flushed out.  Otherwise, I would stick to witch hazel for major cleaning, and salt water for regular, daily flushing.


Post # 3
2509 posts
Sugar bee

I had my helix pierced when I was 14. I think the healing process was maybe a week? I wear a hoop in it now, had it pierced with a stud.

The pain of getting it was probably on par with a bee sting. The pain of having it snag on your shirt however…just be careful.

Post # 4
4943 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

View original reply
CityBearBride:  I have an upper cartilage piercing! I had it pierced about 5 or so years ago at a tattoo/piercing shop.

How painful is it? It’s not painful per se, but rather an annoying hot feeling. It was difficult to sleep on that side for a while, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

How long does it take to heal? I think about 6-8 months is what they told me.

What’s the healing process like? Nothing really – the area is just tender for a while where it’s not completely comfortable sleeping on that side. 

Do you have a hoop or a stud? I have an open horseshoe-shaped hoop – the same one that was put in when I had it pierced. I’d like to change it to another type of hoop, but haven’t. 

Anything else to know? Since I’ve never taken it out, I always have to tell my hair stylist to be careful when brushing/cutting my hair. 🙂 There would be nothing worse than having a comb rake through the hoop. haha



Post # 5
555 posts
Busy bee

I had it done and the piercing part was not painful at all. It actually hurt less then my 4th lobe. However, the healing took forever!!! And now I also know why! I got another piercing in my ear the other week (Tragus) and the girl told me to NOT twist it or touch it and not even use cotton swabs to disinfect, but only use a saline spray (no touching this way). And -oh my god- it is almost healed!

My helix on the other took about 6 months (no kidding) to heal. It would constantly get infected and I got a little bubble which would often cause pain etc. But again, I think that was only due to handling it wrong. If you don’t touch it, disinfect with spray and be careful, it will heal very fast! The only thing that is a bit annoying about the helix, is that hair often gets trapped in it. 

PS. You obviously need to go to a good piercer who uses surgical steal, so that the piercig CAN’t grow into the skin. Never go to a Claire’s or anything like that! 

Post # 6
2626 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

It doesn’t hurt that much.  Just very tender for awhile, and would be hard to sleep on that side.

Mine took about 3 months to heal, I now wear a stud all the time- though I change out which kind.


ETA:  I actually went to Claires and they used the gun.  I didn’t have an issue with that, but I did the same thing for all of my lobe piercings, so that’s all I’m familiar with.

  • This reply was modified 4 years ago by  lahela017.
Post # 7
2251 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I had a helix pierced for a long time. However, it took almost 2 years to heal it. At first I had a gold plated   surgical steel stud in it,  but the ear kept getting infections,  it was very painful and swollen, I could not sleep on that side.   After few months of suffering i purchased a silver earrng for it, but the same story continued. I ended up buying a solid 10k earring with no relief.  At last i splurged and bought a solid platinum earring and the hole healed within 2 months.  Lesson learned: if you don’t want a giant bulbous scar on the back of your ear get a solid gold or platinum earring – not those cheap crappy ones they sell at the piercing shop.

Post # 8
3001 posts
Sugar bee

I don’t recommend it.  If cartilage becomes infected it can be a very serious matter.  

I once got talking to a young woman on a train who said that her ear was sore and she had had to take out her earring.  She showed me her ear which was turning black and had a lump behind it larger than the size of a grape.  Her cartilage had become infected and it looked to me as if blood poisoning was setting in.  I persuaded her to ring her family so that they could pick her up and take her to hospital.  

Pierce the lobe instead and get yourself some really pretty earrings.

Post # 9
2120 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

I got mine pierced when I was 17 I think. It didn’t hurt that much when it was done, but it was pretty sore for a couple weeks afterwards (I’m an idiot and pierced the side I sleep on lol). I still occasionally get soreness, which is weird, since I never wear any heavy earrings, only a diamond stud, and it’s been 15 years. Full disclosure is that I did get it pierced with a piercing gun, but I’ve never had any serious issues with it or any scarring. I bet it’d be better to go to a piercing place, but I worked with what I had back in 2001 lol.

Post # 10
784 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016 - Simsbury 1820 House

I had two helix piercings. One with a hoop, one with a stud. Both at a reputable piercing shop (please don’t go to the mall.) The piercing itself wasn’t too painful; however they take a LONG time to heal. A helix piercing technically takes a year to heal because it’s cartilidge. Healing wise, sea salt soaks is the way to go. I’m a side sleeper and could not sleep on it. If I accidently turned over, I would wake up in pain. The stud over the hoop definitely helps keep the piercing in place because you are not supposed to turn them. I gave up on mine and let them heal up.

Post # 11
784 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016 - Simsbury 1820 House

I also know someone who had a helix piercing gone very badly, left it in too long, and ended up developing a cancerous, infected tumor. Not pretty. Stick to lobes.

Post # 12
784 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2016 - Simsbury 1820 House

View original reply
Polyphemus:  I would double check the research about Neo and hydrogen peroxide. Both, in the professional piercing world, are HIGHLY recommended AGAINST. Neo clogs up healing tissue and hydrogen peroxide kills the healing process.

Post # 13
9525 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I had a spike and a hoop in my ear during my younger years. It is a fairly easy piercing. Aout the same pinch of pain that a normal ear piercing is. It took a week to heal both times. I kept it for about a decade. It has been so long since I took them out the piercing has healed over. I never had an issue

Post # 14
210 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

I have pierced lobes, and got my helix pierced in college.  I’m a total needle-phobe and it hurt a lot less than I thought it would.  

I had some healing issues though.  My piercing bled a lot whenever I would accidentally bump my ear or something at first.  It never got infected though.  My main problem was that I got too excited about changing the earring and tried to do it before it was completely healed.  I got the original earring out ok (it was like a half hoop thing) but had a lot of trouble getting the new hoop in.  I wound up spening a few hours with the earring out just to give the piercing a break, and the piercing closed.  Oh well.  I still have a little lump on my ear where the piercing used to be.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s kind of annoying that it’s there.  The lump developed while I still had the earring in, which is probably why I had so much trouble changing the earring.

So…long story short… if you get the piercing make sure you go to someone reputable who will use a hollow needle (like a tattoo parlor).  Piercing guns are fine for earlobes, but can severely damage cartlige.  Then take really good care of it and don’t change the earring until it is COMPLETELY healed.  I really liked the piercing, and have considered doing it again, but my Darling Husband doesn’t like them and it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth.

Post # 15
178 posts
Blushing bee

I have several cartilage piercings and the #1 most important piece of advice I can give is DON’T GET PIERCED WITH A PIERCING GUN!!!!! DO NOT GO TO CLAIRE’S. 

Please, for the health of your cartilage, go to a piercer in a tattoo shop who uses a sterilized hollow needle. Something sharp that will slide through the ear like butter. The guns used in jewelry shops use the post of the earring to ‘pierce’ your skin. Think of it like pushing a pencil through paper vs using a hole punch. A hole punch is sharp and leaves a clean hole. A pencil tears through the paper, creating a ton of collateral damage. A piercing is technically a wound. You want to give the ‘wound’ it’s best chance by making sure it is clean and controlled. Cartilage piercings have a higher rejection rate to begin with, so you want to go to someone who will get it done as smoothly and quickly as possible in a controlled and sterile environment.

 Bonus: it is much less painful than a gun as well! Just a quick pinch with a needle. I remember when my mom took me to get my lobes pierced with a gun, it was like all of the blunt-force trauma of a punch concentrated on a tiny point! And the bruising!! You don’t want that on your fragile cartilage. And, the butterfly back jewelry used by a gun is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria! Lots of nooks and crannies for the puss and dead skin to gather in. A professional piercer will most likely use a curved, internally threaded barbell made of surgical steel. This is much easier to clean and will allow for any swelling to happen more comfortably.

 My helix piercing took about 6-8 weeks to fully heal. But it was fussy and even after the recomended healing time it swelled occasionally. Just keep following the care instructions given to you at the time of your appointment. And try not to sleep on it lol! Done that. My ear swelled up some much I couldn’t see the ridges in it. Not fun haha. Hope you enjoy it! And remember, if you don’t enjoy it, you can always take it out. Spring/summer is such a great time to experiment with body mods! Think of all the cute jewelry! 

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