Thinking About Getting a Helix Piercing? Here's What You Should Know First

Have you been thinking about adding to your jewelry collection with a new helix piercing?

If you're reading this, the answer is probably yes. Helix piercings are placed on the upper cartilage of the ear, which is why they're often simply referred to as "cartilage piercings." They're a popular style of piercing for anyone who wants to branch out from the more standard lobe piercings, and they can make for the perfect accessory—so long as you're willing to put in some work, that is.

Like all piercings, a helix piercing is technically a procedure, and therefore, should definitely be taken seriously. That's why we've gone ahead and created a list of some things you should know about these piercings before you get one so that you can make the best decision for you and know exactly what you're signing up for.

1. It's Going to Hurt More Than a Lobe Piercing

If you've never gotten a cartilage piercing of any kind before, you might not know what to expect pain-wise. Most people that decide to get a helix already have a lobe piercing or two, but the difference in tissue type means that there's a difference in how much the piercing will hurt as well. Your ear cartilage is tougher and has more nerve endings than your lobes, so naturally, it will feel different. However, the pain isn't anything to be too afraid of—in fact, most people place it somewhere in the middle of the pain scale, and it lasts for barely a split second, although you'll feel something twice since your helix will need to be pierced with the needle before the jewelry can be inserted.


2. It Needs to Be Done by a Professional— With a Needle

Remember what we just said about the needle? Yeah, a piercing gun like you may have gotten your lobes pierced with is out of the question. First of all, all piercings should be done only by a professional and only using a needle (those guns actually cause trauma to the tissue and are more likely to cause problems). If you don't know where to look to find one, check Google—usually a local tattoo shop will also have a piercer on site.

Woman getting helix piercing through ear: Shutterstock. Helix piercing. Ear piercing procedure in the salon

(via Shutterstock)


Also read about: 5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Piercing


3. You Won't Be Able to Choose the Jewelry You Want Right Away

Because piercings need to be done with extremely high-quality metals (like titanium or surgical steel) and due to a variety of other factors, you probably won't be able to pick your dream piece of jewelry to wear for a couple of months at least.


Also read about: A Definitive Ranking of Ear Piercings, From Least to Most Painful


4. Aftercare is Critical

Aftercare means a whole lot more than using whatever wash you were given at Claire's or Piercing Pagoda years ago if that's how you got your lobes pierced. Listen to what your professional piercer tells you, but there's a good chance they'll recommend a saline rinse two to three times a day and avoiding irritating the piercing at all costs—plus, no twisting like what you may have been told in the past.


5. It's Extremely Easy to Irritate

While we just said that you should avoid irritating a new helix piercing at all costs, doing so is definitely a lot easier said than done. Because a helix is located at the top of your ear, it's exceptionally easy to get caught on things when you're going about your daily life (like the shirt you put over your head, the towel you wrap your hair with after a shower or even your friend's arm when they go to hug you). Even the way you sleep can potentially aggravate the piercing and extend the healing process, which is why you should avoid sleeping on the side your piercing is located on until the piercing is fully healed.


6. It Takes a While to Heal

While the initial healing period for a helix piercing is about two to four months, it takes from six to nine for it to be considered fully healed—and that's only if you've managed to avoid irritating it in the meantime. A piercing that's been aggravated too many times takes longer to heal, which is why our point about taking care of your piercing is so important.

Woman with new helix piercing in ear: Shutterstock. piercings on an ear. Conch and helix piercings close up.

(via Shutterstock)


7. Healing Isn't Always Pretty

During the healing process, you'll probably think your helix is fully healed well before it actually is. Don't get too confident, though, as major problems can still occur—and these problems aren't all that pretty. Piercings bumps don't happen to everyone, but they are more common for cartilage piercings and should be treated promptly and properly. You could also notice things like swelling, redness, flaking, soreness and even bleeding if the piercing is new or irritated. When in doubt, talk to your piercer or even a doctor if it looks seriously infected.


Also read about: Everything You Should Know About Ear Piercings


8. You Have to Go Back to Get it Downsized

Sorry to break it to you, but these piercings aren't exactly a one-and-done. You'll probably need to go back to your piercer to have them "downsize" it. This is because most piercings require jewelry that is longer or wider than standard in order to accommodate the swelling that's likely to happen at first, but oversized jewelry also leads to greater opportunities to accidentally damage the piercing and prolong healing. About two to three months after you initially get your piercing, you should go back and have it downsized.

Woman getting conch piercing: Shutterstock. piercings on an ear. Conch and helix piercings close up.

(via Shutterstock)



While this may be the side of helix piercings that people don't always tell you about, it's all good information that might help you know what to expect. Of course, if you want to learn more about this type of piercing and what you should know about it, click HERE for your go-to guide to all things helix piercing.