If you are thinking of getting a cartilage piercing or have just had your ear or nose pierced, after-cartilage piercing care is very important to make sure the new piercing heals properly. Even if you have a professional piercer who uses the best equipment, knowing how to care for your newly pierced ears or nose will make sure you avoid any problems during the healing process.
Cartilage piercing in the nose and ears are prone to serious infections. Of course, you can expect some redness, throbbing pain, and swelling around the hole just after the piercing. However, after a few weeks, any sign of infection should be gone and you just need to use the proper cartilage piercing-care regime so that it heals well without any problems.
The reason why cartilage piercings can take longer to heal than earlobe or tongue piercings is that there are no blood vessels in the cartilage. Therefore, the healing process is slower, and extra care has to be taken to regularly cleanse and disinfect the pierced hole in the cartilage. In fact, depending on the type of cartilage piercing, it could take up to a year to heal fully.
What is Cartilage Piercing?
Cartilage is a type of tissue that is softer and more elastic than bone but harder than flesh. Cartilage makes up most of your nose and ear. In fact, the only flesh in your ear is in your earlobe.
Ear cartilage piercing
Ear cartilage piercings require special care because the new piercing can be irritated when you brush your hair, sleep, take off a hat, or use glasses.
Each part of the ear cartilage has its own name. For example, the helix is the part on the outer rim of your ear, close to the top of the ear, and helix ear piercings are one of the most popular types of piercings in the ear.
Other parts of ear cartilage that are popular for piercing are the anti-helix, conch, tragus, anti-tragus, rook, and auricle.
Nose cartilage piercing
Most people get their nose pierced through the lower nasal cartilage on one of their nostrils. However, piercing the septum – the nose cartilage that separates both nostrils is becoming more popular.
Cartilage Piercing – Will there be Pain?
The fear that cartilage piercing causes a lot of pain is probably the greatest worry you have before letting the piercer put in new jewelry. However, the piercing process shouldn’t be any more painful than getting your earlobe pierced. More and more professional piercing salons use needle piercing, which is generally less painful than gun piercing.
You should expect that you will continue to experience mild pain around the pierced area for anywhere between 2 weeks and a month. During this time, it is very important to take care with the new piece of jewelry in your piercing to avoid aggravating the wound even more.
How Long Does Cartilage Piercing Take to Heal?
The time it takes for different piercings in different parts of the body to heal depends on various factors. Cartilage piercing can take between 3 and 6 months to heal, with some piercings even taking up to one year to heal completely and become “seasoned”.
In the first 2-3 moths of the healing process, it is important not to remove or change the jewelry in the piercing and you should avoid playing with it or tugging on it.
Cartilage Piercing Care – What to Do and What to Avoid
Cartilage piercing care is very important due to several reasons. According to WebMD, there is a greater risk of cartilage piercing than other types of piercing. Piercings in the outer ear cartilage or nose cartilage are prone to bacterial infections caused by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria strain. It is also more difficult to treat infected pierced cartilage areas with antibiotics.1
There are a few simple home remedies to help speed up the healing process of a cartilage piercing and to treat mild bacterial skin infections. These remedies can also help to prevent cartilage piercing bumps from forming around the new piercing.
Sea salt rinse
Most piercers recommend cleaning the piercing twice a day with a cleansing saline solution. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom recommends dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in a shot glass of warm water. Apply the sea salt rinse to the cartilage piercing using a clean cloth or cotton ball to help kill off infection-causing germs and soften any discharge from the wound. Dry the wound with a clean piece of tissue paper.4
Using a saline water rinse is also one of the best ways to treat an infected belly button piercing.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil can help to kill off most types of bacteria that cause skin infections. In fact, studies have shown that it is effective against the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria strain that causes the majority of cartilage infections after piercing.5
Mix 1 tbsp. coconut oil with 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to make an antibacterial skin ointment. Apply the tea tree oil remedy to the affected area on your ear or nose. This will help to moisturize the area and reduce redness and swelling caused by the infection. Repeat 2 times a day until signs of the mild infection have gone.
The antibacterial and soothing properties of aloe vera gel can help to keep your skin soft and free from infection. Aloe vera has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent bacterial infections in wounds.6
Make sure that you use pure aloe vera gel that doesn’t contain many additives. Apply a little aloe vera gel around the infected cartilage with a clean cotton swab to keep the wound free of germs that cause infections.
Apple cider vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is also an effective antibacterial agent against the P. aeruginosa strain.7 You can dilute equal parts of raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar with water and use it as an antibacterial soak to disinfect the wound and help any mild skin infection heal quicker.
Read my other related articles:
1. How to Get Rid of Nose Piercing Bump
2. Warning Signs of Infected Belly Button Piercing and Best Treatment Options
3. The Best Home Remedies For Getting Rid of Ear Infection
- WebMD. Cartilage Piercing Riskier Than Earlobes
- WebMD. Cosmetically devastating
- Mayo Clinic. Take good care of your piercing
- NHS. Caring for a new piercing
- Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62
- Australas Med J. 2012; 5(6): 305–309
- European Journal of General Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2008, pp. 104-106