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Nontraditional ear piercings have been rising in popularity.
One of the most well-known types is a tragus piercing.
We asked a professional piercer everything you should know about tragus piercings.
Piercings have become somewhat of a right of passage for many people. From some getting their first set of earlobe piercings as children to others adding to their collections as they go through different milestones, getting a piercing is no longer deemed a concerning act of teenage rebellion but rather a fashionable, trendy form of self-expression.
Though more untraditional piercing locations have surfaced over the years (looking at you, dermal piercings), sometimes you may just want to add a bit of flair to the place that started it all: the ear. As piecing culture has evolved, nontraditional ear piercings like snug, helix, and stacked-lobe piercings have become extremely popular alternatives to the quintessential piercings typically seen on the earlobe.
If you've been on the hunt for the next piercing to add to your collection, consider adding the tragus to your list of potential locations. "A tragus piercing is an ear-cartilage piercing located on the protuberance that covers the entry to the inner ear," Jef Saunders, cofounder of Gamma Piercing and coauthor of "The Piercing Bible", tells POPSUGAR. "The technical name for the tissue is actually tragus, which comes from the ancient Greek 'tragos,' meaning goat."
If a tragus piercing is in your future, we asked Saunders to break down everything you should know, from the cost to the best aftercare methods, ahead.
Tragus Piercings vs. Other Ear Piercings
Though tragus piercings are similar to traditional piercings in terms of being located on the ear, there are a few key differences that should be considered before getting one. "Tragus piercings are very similar to other ear-cartilage piercings in that they can take months to heal and they must be cared for meticulously," Saunder says. "Perhaps the biggest difference is that, because a tragus piercing is at the beginning of an ear canal, the use of earbud headphones and stethoscopes can lead to complications with the piercing." If you're an avid music enthusiast, this piercing may not be for you.
Do Tragus Piercings Hurt?
While pain levels are subjective, tragus piercings seem to be one of the less painful options out there. "Most clients who receive a tragus piercing find it to be more pressure than pain," Saunders says. "In general, though, the discomfort is no worse than that of any other ear-cartilage piercing, such as a traditional helix piercing."
Can Tragus Piercings Get Rejected?
Yes, tragus piercings can be rejected just as any traditional piercing can. "Rejection can be caused by a variety of complicating factors," Saunders says. "Typically, a tragus piercing that is pierced too shallow will suffer from rejection. In rarer cases, adverse reactions to unsafe materials can cause rejection as well."
Don't let the possibility of rejection stop you from getting a tragus piercing, though. There are steps that can be taken to mitigate any serious damage. "In the rare case that you see jewelry migrating in a tragus piercing, seeing a piercer is your best bet. Do not let a tragus piercing entirely grow through the tissue as that will make scarring more obvious," Saunders says. If your preferred piercer is unavailable, it is always best to seek medical attention as early as possible.
The Best Jewelry For a Tragus Piercing
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While a conversation should be had with your piercer regarding personalized jewelry recommendations, Saunders says that there are a few baseline options available to you. "I recommend tragus piercings to be started with straight barbells or straight flat-backs," he says. "These pieces can range in thickness from 18-gauge and thicker and usually are no shorter than 5/16 of an inch to start. Internally threaded or threadless barbells are a must, but externally threaded jewelry should always be avoided."
The most important thing to check with your piercer about is the size of your ear cartilage and how that factors into the options you have.
How Much Does a Tragus Piercing Cost?
Costs of tragus piercings vary quite a bit based on location. "In the US, I'd expect the piercing fee to vary from $30-$60, not including jewelry," he says. In his studio, Gamma Piercings, based in Ann Arbor, MI, tragus piercings start at $90 - $50 for the piercing and $40 for entry-level jewelry.
One of the most important parts of getting a piercing is the aftercare that goes into keeping it healthy. When taking care of a tragus piercing, Saunders has a few tips to share. He recommends doing these three or more times per day:
Step 1: Thoroughly wash your hands.
Step 2: Spray your piercing's entrance and exit holes with a wound-wash saline solution.
Step 3: Wipe any crusty discharge away from the jewelry with sterile swabs or nonwoven gauze soaked with saline.
Step 4: Pat the piercing dry with more swabs or nonwoven gauze.
Once daily: Rinse your piercing with fresh water in the shower. This should loosen any hard, crusty matter that forms on the jewelry. After your shower, do a saline cleaning.
When making your decision on whether or not to get a tragus piercing, consider these tips to first make sure it's the right fit for your lifestyle.