Ear/Cartilage Piercings- What’s the Difference?

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Cartilage piercings are some of the most popular piercings, perhaps because there are so many different kinds and combinations to decorate your ears with. There are tons of places on your ear to get pierced, all with different healing times and optimum jewelry. Here at Wicked, we want you to know exactly what you’re getting into with each piercing so you can have a healthy, beautifully decorated ear.


Helix/Scapha Piercing

Helix/Scapha Piercing

Helix or Scapha piercings refer to the cartilage curve on the top of your ear and take approximately 3 to 9 months to heal. The initial piercing involves either a ring or a barbell sized 18G to 14G with the occasional 12G or 10G. These piercings often have the same pain level as an earlobe piercing, although the healing process is usually much more difficult with persistent soreness.

tragus piercing

Tragus Piercing

anti tragus piercing

Anti Tragus Piercing


Tragus and anti tragus piercings take approximately 3 to 9 months to heal as well. The initial piercing involves a ring, barbell, or labret sized 18G to 16G. As always, the level of pain is highly dependent on your pain tolerance, but tragus piercings are not usually too painful. Many people with tragus piercings report hearing the cartilage crunch at the initial piercing.

conch piercing

Conch Piercing

Conch piercings refer to a piercing in the deep bowl shaped central shell of the ear. These piercings usually take about six months to heal. The initial piercing is usually a barbell seized 14G to 12G, as a ring may provide unnecessary irritation to a healing conch piercing. This is usually not a very painful piercing, and since the piercing is a bit more protected than helix piercings, i’ve found that irritation is usually less frequent.

rook piercing

Rook Piercing

A rook piercing refers to the small ridge of cartilage near the upper part of the ear. Rooks usually take about six months to fully heal. The initial piercing usually involves a curved barbell sized 18G to 16G, although a ring may be used. Rook piercings are usually not very painful at the initial piercing.


daith piercing

Daith Piercing

Daith piercings refer to the cartilage at the inner origin of the helix. Healing times range from 3 to 9 months, and the initial jewelry is either a ring or a curved barbell at 18G to 16G. Daith piercings are usually not very painful, but can be easily irritated if you sleep on your side.

triple forward helix piercing

Triple Forward Helix Piercing

Forward helix piercings, or “ear head” piercings, are placed at the upper juncture of the ear and head. These piercings require 3 to 9 months to heal. Initial piercing jewelry can be a ring, barbell, or mini barbell sized 18G to 14G. Depending on your anatomy, some people fit one, two, or three piercings at this area. In my experience, it is very easy to irritate these piercings, especially if you have long hair that could catch and yank the piercing. Again, piercing pain depends on your pain tolerance, but I didn’t find this piercing to be very painful at all.

snug piercing

Snug Piercing

Snug piercings refer to a horizontal piercing that frames the anti helix. Snug piercings take anywhere from 3 to 9 months to heal. Initial jewelry usually involves a curved barbell sized 16G to 14G, but occasionally a ring may be used depending on the shape of your ear.  Depending on how thick the cartilage is there, it may be more painful.


Of course, the main factor that decides whether or not your piercing heals is how you take care of it. Each piercing described above should be cleaned multiple times a day during the healing process with either a saline solution or a sea salt soak. To alleviate redness and soreness, a warm water washcloth can be applied to soothe pain. Infection can also be avoided by changing your pillow sheet frequently and keeping it clean. Biggest piece of advice I’ve got for you? DON’T TOUCH IT. This applies to all piercings and is the easiest way for an infection to make its way over to your piercing.

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