While not as painful as other body piercings, a cartilage piercing on the ear rather than a lobe piercing requires attention. However, the right jewelry and concept can lead to beautiful results. 

We detail what you need to know before you head to your local parlour, types of cartilage piercings and what aftercare may look like for an industrial piercing, helix piercing and the daith, to name a few.

Things You Need to Know Before You Get Your Cartilage Pierced

Getting your cartilage pierced is a different experience compared to getting your ear lobe pierced. 

Doing your research before you commit to any type of piercing is an essential step in the process: this should help you decide whether you should admire cartilage piercings from afar or if you have the commitment to invest in one on your own body.

Although everyone’s experiences getting a piercing will differ, here are some parts of the cartilage piercing process you should be aware of before you get yours. 

The Truth About Cartilage Piercing Pain

One of the more significant questions that come to mind before a cartilage piercing is how much it will hurt, especially if it’s your first time. 

Many people believe that piercings are incredibly painful, but it depends on what type of piercing you get and the chosen location on the body. When it comes to cartilage piercing pain, many clients are surprised at how little they feel. 

At the same time, it’s essential to realize that the amount of pain you experience will differ from the next person. It will mainly depend on your pain tolerance level; some people have a higher threshold to pain than others. 

While it won’t hurt that bad, it will hurt more than a traditional ear piercing. Cartilage tissue is tougher to pierce through than an earlobe, so it can be considered more painful.

There is A Longer Healing Process for a Cartilage Piercing

You should also know that cartilage piercings take a lot longer to heal than a regular ear piercing. 

Cartilage piercings heal from the outer surface to the inside, which means that even though it might look healed, it will still feel sore on the inside layer. 

When this happens, many individuals forget to continue taking care of their piercing because they believe it has fully healed. Unfortunately, this can lead to infection and cause the healing process to be longer.

Sleeping Can be Uncomfortable for a While

One of the most significant downsides of getting a new cartilage piercing is that it’s going to suck sleeping on it for a while. We recommended you try not to sleep on the side of your new piercing while it still needs to heal since this can cause irritation and swelling. 

Don’t Use Soap and Water to Clean Your Cartilage Piercing.

You want to try and avoid getting an infected cartilage piercing as much as possible!

You need to clean your cartilage piercing using a saline solution that you can sometimes buy at the piercing shop you get your piercing done. 

Alternatively, you can buy one at the drugstore. Carefully clean your piercing on both sides using the saline solution on a cotton pad twice a day. Make sure also to follow any other instructions that your piercer might have provided. 

It’s also essential not to overclean your piercing and stick to cleaning it only twice a day as it could become irritated with excessive cleaning.

Types of Cartilage Piercings

Cartilage is anything above the ear lobe that feels harder or tougher than normal skin. Different cartilage piercings have other names based on what area of the cartilage the piercer is piercing. 

Below are some common cartilage piercings, their names and what type of jewelry you can wear in them. 

Outer and Inner Conch

Conch piercings go through the inner middle shell of your ear. This area is also the most prominent and thickest cartilage piece of your ear. It gets its name because it looks like a conch seashell. The outer conch is the lower part of the middle of your ear, and the inner conch goes through the upper-middle shell of the ear, closer to your ear canal:

We recommend wearing jewelry with a straight post, such as a barbell, flat back barbell or threadless or pushpin posts worn in your conch piercing. 


The tragus piercing will go through the center of a small flap of cartilage directly in front of your ear canal, known as the tragus. 

We don’t usually recommend this piercing as a first-time cartilage piercing since it can be challenging to pull off if your tragus is small or thick. Since it is located so close to your ear canal, you might hear a slight popping sound when the needle goes through it, making you feel unsettled. 

conch piercing ottawa

A piercer will usually pierce the tragus with a straight barbell, flat back barbell or threadless post to make sure there is enough room for the swelling that ensues. Once it heals, you can use a ring, a hoop cartilage piercing, circular barbell or curved barbell. 


The helix piercing is an upper ear piercing that is quite popular and is one of the more common cartilage piercings. An artist will usually pierce using a captive ring, circular barbell or straight barbell.

helix piercing ottawa


An industrial piercing technically involves two piercings at once, both an outer helix and forward helix piercing. 

Both will be connected using a long straight barbell. You typically cannot turn an existing cartilage piercing into an industrial because both piercings need to be aligned in the correct position. 

When the industrial piercing first arrived on the scene in the 90s, you could only wear it with a straight, stainless steel barbel. There are now customized barbells explicitly made for this piercing that feature curved bands to the bar and other decorative accents. 


A Daith piercing will go through the minor fold of cartilage in your ear and is located right above your ear canal. It sits above the tragus and in front of the conch. 

An artist will pierce you with a captive ring, seamless ring or a clicker ring. This is the only cartilage piercing that a captive ring or other ring-type jewelry is encouraged during the healing process. 

You can get rings with different shapes, such as stars, hearts or crescent moons. This means this piercing is particularly fun and customizable. 

Aftercare of Your Cartilage Piercing

As we mentioned a little above, cartilage piercings take longer to heal than other types of piercings. They can take anywhere from a few months to a year to fully recover!

Keep in mind that the aftercare of a cartilage piercing is more involved. Always keep your jewelry during this period, as there is a higher chance of the piercing closing. It is also imperative to clean the piercing with a saline solution twice a day.

Cartilage piercings are also more prone to becoming infected compared to other skin piercings. They can become swollen, migrate or reject as with other piercings. Try not to touch the piercing or remove the earring. Also, be cautious of catching it in your bed sheets or clothing. 

If you need to handle your piercing, wash your hands with soap and water beforehand. Nobody wants an infected ear piercing!

Take care to avoid bodies of water like lakes or public pools. Doing so can introduce bacteria to your piercing that can lead to infection. Keeping your piercing clean will lead to the best outcome in terms of healing. Always use high quality body jewelry in your cartilage piercing to avoid any rejections.

Are You Interested in a Cartilage Piercing Studio in Ottawa?

Always get your piercing done at a professional piercing parlour like Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery. 

If you want to book an appointment, you can book a consultation online. Or, if you have any questions or concerns about your piercing, then don’t hesitate to contact one of our professional piercers!