If you're excited to begin your very own ear party, but prefer to start small, a tragus is a great first ear cartilage piercing. This classy-yet-minimalistic piercing is a favorite of celebrities like Rihanna and Scarlett Johansson.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know before you get your tragus pierced– from the expected pain level of getting the actual piercing and proper aftercare to our top style tips for once it’s healed. Are you ready to join some of the world’s top trendsetters with gorgeously curated ears?
In this guide:
- What is a tragus piercing?
- Types of tragus piercings
- Pain and healing time
- Styling tragus piercings
The tragus is the small and thick piece of cartilage that covers the opening of the ear canal. It usually has a rounded triangle shape, but can vary in size and shape from person to person.
Surface tragus piercing
A surface tragus piercing is a dupe of a tragus piercing. This means that instead of getting your cartilage punctured, only the skin is pierced. The surface tragus is placed in the same area as the tragus piercing, but because the jewelry lies beneath the skin, there is a higher probability of your body rejecting it. If this happens, your body recognizes the body piercing as a foreign object that needs to be pushed out.
If you pinch your earlobe, you'll likely feel a triangular-shaped piece of cartilage sticking out above it. That’s the anti-tragus. Want to stand out among the typical piercing-lovers? The anti-tragus is perfect for trendsetters who want to add a bit of flair to their ear lobe piercings and anyone who wants to invite a completely unique piercing to their ear party.
Double tragus piercing
If one is great, two is even better! The double tragus piercing is located in the same spot as a standard tragus piercing - on the flap of cartilage that covers up the ear canal. A double tragus will require two separate piercings at the ear canal – work with your professional piercer to space these correctly.
Vertical tragus piercing
This piercing is located on the same small fold of cartilage as the traditional tragus piercing. However, instead of piercing through the cartilage toward the ear canal, this piercing goes in and out the front side of the tragus only. A vertical tragus is usually pierced with a curved barbell and looks great on fashionistas with a prominent tragus area.
The price depends on the piercing studio location and the experience level of your professional piercer, but you can expect a tragus piercing to cost somewhere between $30 and $60, not including the jewelry.
It is so important to do your research, find a reputable studio, and follow all of your piercer's suggested aftercare to avoid infection.
A major red flag? Professional piercers will never use a piercing gun. They’ll always use a needle. Piercing guns harbor bacteria, and the blunt force they use to push the jewelry through the ear can contribute to cartilage bumps and other healing complications.
Does getting a tragus piercing hurt?
This is the top question people ask before getting this piercing. The good news? This piercing is not as scary as you may think.
Because it’s comprised of thick cartilage without many nerve endings, the tragus is actually one of the least painful locations to get pierced. Like most cartilage piercings, you're more likely to feel pressure rather than pain when getting the tragus pierced.
Most people say tragus piercings hurt just a little, and that the pain is sharp and short and rank it a 5 on a 10-point scale. However, pain is personal. Everyone has a different pain threshold, so how much a tragus piercing hurts will vary by individual.
How long does a tragus piercing take to heal?
There’s no one in the world quite like you– and that makes it tricky to estimate healing time. A lot of things can influence a tragus’ healing time, but most people are fully healed within 3 to 12 months.
While other ear piercings also require plenty of healing time, the tragus can is particularly tough. This location gets jostled every time you talk on the phone or listen to music while wearing headphones.
Can I wear headphones with my tragus?
Press pause! Professional piercers recommend that you avoid touching your tragus for several weeks after getting pierced to prevent bumps and infections. That means headphones and earbuds are a no-go while your tragus is healing. Don’t worry music lovers! You’ll be listening to your jams again in no time!
Will a tragus help with migraines?
Some people swear that ear cartilage piercings relieve migraine pain by stimulating pressure points– just like acupuncture. Unfortunately, these claims aren’t backed by academic research institutions. Body piercings may not have any health benefits, but their style benefits are guaranteed!
When can I change my tragus piercing jewelry?
Piercers recommend leaving the initial jewelry in until the piercing is fully healed. You may be ready to switch up your jewelry, but patience is a virtue! Studies have shown that changing your tragus earrings within the first six months can slow down the healing process. At the very minimum, wait at least 8 weeks before making any changes.
Your piercing is almost healed if:
your piercing is no longer tender
any weeping, discharge, or crusting has stopped
Are you ready to change your jewelry? Check out our tragus earrings collection
Why shouldn’t I get a tragus?
The shape of the tragus varies greatly from person to person. If your tragus is too thin, too small, or in a difficult location, it might not be possible to get this piercing. There are other options in the tragus area, like the anti-tragus, so talk to your piercer about other fun cartilage piercing options.
Getting a tragus requires vigilant aftercare practices. If you can’t commit to a cleaning schedule, this isn’t the piercing for you.
The location of this cartilage piercing next to the bacteria-ridden ear canal makes it extra susceptible to infection and scarring. Beyond standard piercing aftercare practices, here are some aftercare tips unique to tragus piercings.
What's the best way to clean my tragus?
To make sure you heal quickly, clean your piercing twice a day with a sterile saline solution for the first two to three months.
Avoid touching, twisting, or moving the piercing—any excessive trauma or pressure will prolong the healing process. For the first couple of months post-piercing, avoid sleeping on your new piercing or going to bed with wet hair. Warmth and dampness is a breeding grounds for bacteria, so keep it clean and dry!
Our best advice? Until it's completely healed, leave the piercing alone unless you’re cleaning it!
What should I do if my tragus gets infected?
If you suspect an infection in your ear canal, go back to your piercer as soon as possible. They’ve seen it all before and will advise you on how to treat your infection. In some cases, they may switch the jewelry so that your new piercing has more space to swell and heal.
A beautifully adorned tragus can add a lot of style to your ear stack. Here are our biggest tips on how to style your tragus.
Where can I find jewelry for my tragus?
Our absolute favorite thing about tragus piercings is the versatility of the jewelry for this spot. Here at Assolari, we’ve curated a collection of 14k and 18k solid gold tragus piercing studs and hoops in all of the hottest styles!
What kind of earring looks best in tragus piercings?
By far, cartilage studs are the most popular kind of tragus earrings. A simple cartilage stud earring with a tiny gemstone is both understated and eye-catching.
Don’t limit yourself, though! Teeny tiny hoops are another stunning option. Piercings allow you to express your individuality, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
How to change out tragus jewelry
Your initial piercing jewelry for a tragus will probably be a piercing stud with a flat back. The two most common closing mechanisms for this type of earring are the internally threaded screw and the push pin. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to change out your piercing jewelry so you can start expressing your personal style as soon as your piercing is healed.
Internally threaded screw:
To remove a threaded screw earring, hold the back piece as you gently twist the front piece to unscrew it. These earrings involve a couple of small pieces, so be careful not to lose the front piece.
To insert this type of earring, put the post through the back of your tragus and gently twist the front piece to tighten and secure your jewelry.
To remove a push pin from your tragus, gently pull both ends of the earring in opposite directions, twisting the front of the earring as you pull.
To insert a push pin earring, place the post into your piercing from the back of the tragus, and fasten it by pushing the top of the earring onto the post. The post is bent on purpose– that’s what keeps this earring together!
What size should I choose for my tragus earring?
Tragus piercings, like all ear cartilage piercings, are typically pierced with a 16 gauge needle, which is 1.2mm thick.
Tragus piercing studs usually have a post length of 5 or 6mm for a snug fit, and 7 or 8mm for a looser fit. If you're going for a hoop, choose a standard tragus hoop earring with a diameter of 6mm to 8mm.
Need some extra help with jewelry sizing? We put together an in-depth guide to answer all of your top jewelry sizing questions.
What material is best for tragus jewelry?
It’s all about quality– not quantity! Choose metals that are safe for sensitive skin. While they are more expensive, they encourage happy healing; cheaper metals run the risk of being rejected by your body.
Solid Gold: Go for the (14k) gold! While it may be tempting to choose a cheap metal, remember that higher quality metals will help you heal quickly and lower the risk of infection.
Surgical stainless steel: Medical-grade stainless steel is used for surgical implants. While this metal contains a small amount of nickel, the low rate of release makes it safe for most people. Note: if you have a severe nickel allergy, you’ll want to skip this metal.
Titanium: This is another medical-grade metal, but unlike stainless steel, titanium is completely hypoallergenic. It’s more expensive, but if you have a severe nickel allergy, titanium is your best option for a safe healing process.
Ear piercing inspiration
Which piercing should I get after a tragus?
- A tragus paired with a rook piercing is one of our favorite combinations. This chic combo is ideal for trendsetters who crave something unique.
- Adding a daith to a tragus is a much-loved combo for many fashionistas.
- Adorn your external ear by adding a helix to your tragus.
WANT US TO STYLE YOUR EAR?
If curating a luxurious ear stack is your goal, Assolari can help!
We’ve designed hundreds of ear stacks for customers, and we look forward to creating your dream stack, too! Just tell us about your piercings, personal style, and preferences, and we’ll put together an ear piercing stack we’re sure you’ll love! This service comes with a $60 voucher toward your next purchase, so don’t hesitate, book your consultation today!
Ear Styling Service
Bring your dream ear stack to life! Ever wondered how to style the perfect ear stack? Or maybe what piercing should you get next? Well, Brunna is not your fairy godmother, but she can definitely help you figure it out!… read more
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Want more inspo before setting on cartilage piercings? Check out Assolari's ear stack ideas!