Tragus Piercing Information & Aftercare
Tragus piercings look interesting. The tragus is the small flap of cartilage at the front of your ear where it joins the head. It is usually a rounded triangle shape and how far it sticks out from your head depends on your anatomy since not everyone's tragus' is the same size. If your tragus is too shallow or too thin it can affect whether it's possible to pierce the flap or it's ability to keep the jewelry without rejection. Tragus piercings take a longer time to heal than other piercings – up to 2-3 months. It is often quite hard to heal because of the placement.
How a Tragus Piercing is Done
Usually the area is disinfected or washed before piercing. This is because ear wax and other debris can be full of bacteria which may get into the piercing. Some piercers actually put a cork into the ear canal to keep any skin or debris from falling back into the ear. The piercing is usually done laying flat or on your side with a hollow surgical needle. It is normal to bleed a little after a tragus piercing for a few minutes up to a few hours. The piercing requires a bit of force because it goes through cartilage and it it normal to hear a slight “pop” when that happens. It is not a particularly painful piercing when done properly using a piercing needle. There are some shops (such as Claire's) which will attempt to pierce the tragus with a piercing gun. This is usually done by untrained piercers and should be avoided. A sterile needle is the only way to correctly pierce a tragus.
Most tragus piercings use internally threaded barbells because they are easiest to fit in and out of the piercing. Depending on your preference you may get a barbell between 18G - 14G in size. The average tragus piercing uses a 5/16" length barbell but because the thickness of a tragus can differ this may not fit your anatomy and your piercer will adjust the length accordingly. Since most piercings swell initially it's important to have a barbell that leaves enough room for the swelling without becoming embedded in your ear. It's important to have that room on the barbell during the healing for swelling, draining, and cleaning but you can step down to a more snug piece of jewelry once the piercing itself has healed in a couple of months.
During the entire healing period you want to avoid rotating the jewelry. This is because if it scabs rotating the jewelry will rip that scab and disrupt the healing process. You should avoid sleeping on the piercing if possible and try not to hit or knock it with a brush or hand. If you are wearing headphones opt for in-ear headphones as this will help minimize the chance of irritation or infection from over-ear designs. When you sleep on the piercing you put pressure on it which can cause scar tissue and swelling. If you can't avoid sleeping on it you should keep your hair tied back from the piercing and keep a clean pillow case on the bed to avoid getting dust mites or bacteria into your piercing but do not cover the piercing itself.
Do not put alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or neosporin on the piercing. This affects your healing. You'll also want to avoid anti-bacterial soaps and scented soaps. You can wash the outside of the piercing with a sea salt water solution with clean hands, barely rubbing the piercing so that it isn't rotating. This will keep the outside from becoming crusty. You can soak the piercing in the same saline solution mixed of 1 gallon distilled water to 4 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt. Soaking is difficult because of the location, but you can do it with a small glass shot glass or coffee cup filled with the solution and your head tilted to the side. You can also do a compress with a clean cloth soaked in the solute.You don't want to use cotton balls or q-tips because the small hairs can get stuck in the piercing and irritate it or cause an infection. They can also become wrapped around the piercing jewelry.