Ear piercings are some of the most mainstream types of body modification, yet there are still some piercings that are classified as ‘special’ or ‘exotic.’ A helix piercing is probably the most common of these ‘special’ piercings, and for good reason. They look spectacular, there’s room for quite a few on your ear’s helix, and there is a wide variety of jewelry that you can wear on your helix. In today’s article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about getting a helix piercing—including the pain (or lack thereof), the aftercare, and the different types of helix piercing jewelry!
Getting a Helix Piercing
There are several major areas on your ear that are important for medical professions and piercing artists alike. The lobe is the one that is pierced the most, but it is by no means the only location. The tragus and antitragus are the hard bits of cartilage that inner ear phones fit snuggly into, and piercings work well there, too. But the location we are talking about today is the helix of the ear.
In most animals, the helix points outwards, but ours has curved inward around the ear to amplify sound coming in. Some people even have a vestigial trait called ‘Darwin’s tubercle,’ where a small bump appears where an ear tip would normally be for certain types of monkeys. The helix trunk starts just above the ear drum, curves around the ear, and eventually flattens out around the ear lobe. The antihelix is the bit of ear inside of the curve, just above the antitragus.
Forward helix piercings are piercings of the helix trunk, or any piercing on the helix with the jewelry pointing in the direction its wearer would face. Regular helix piercings cannot face forward, and instead face to the side or backwards, depending on what type of piercing you get. Although piercings were once made with piercing guns, it is customary to use simple piercing needles due to the ease of sterilizing them. Also, the needles hurt less than the gun.
Helix Piercing Pain
Speaking of pain, do helix piercings hurt? I’m happy to say that they don’t. The anticipation of getting a piercing is certainly enough to get your adrenaline running and exacerbate any pain you might feel. Whoever is piercing your ear might pull at the cartilage, increasing your anxiety further. If you find yourself getting stressed, just calm down, and remember the most important part about your helix: it doesn’t have any nerve endings! It literally can’t feel pain!
You can practice right now on your own helix—try pinching it as hard as you can! You might feel something, but it’s more of a tactile sensation and not a painful one, isn’t it? Getting a piercing feels much the same way. The only pain you feel will be the piercer adjusting the position of your ear to get a clean piercing.
Helix Piercing Aftercare
Since your ear doesn’t feel pain, it will be crucial for you to check in on your ear’s health and its healing process. Thanks to the lack of nerves and blood vessels, it’s going to take a very long time for that ear to heal. Do you think four to six weeks for an ear lobe or tattoo is long? Try four to six months to get the wound closed, and up to two years for the site to finally go back to normal. That’s a huge window for potential infections, and it should come as no surprise that 34% of cartilage piercings end up infected. Keeping up on your aftercare is crucial if you want to keep the piercing and yourself safe.
When washing it, use something specialized for ear piercings, or go with plain rubbing alcohol or saline. Creams might seem like they would help, but they could ultimately clog the area and lead to infection. This area of the body sheds very slowly, so only disinfecting liquids should be used. If you notice swelling and feel a large amount of discomfort, even though it has been more than four days since the piercing, you should probably visit a doctor to see if it is infected.
While swelling, redness, itching, and fatigue are all common after getting a piercing, the worst of it should be over after that four day mark. Anything that lasts longer—or anything that oozes puss—is a sign that your body is not taking the piercing well. If your ear turns black, blisters, forms a rash, or is excessively itchy, you are probably having an allergic reaction and should get the jewelry removed as soon as possible.
Avoid changing your jewelry for at least eight weeks. You might be itching to try out new types of jewelry, but your body needs a long time to heal up properly. Turn your jewelry as often as you are comfortable with, or at least twice a day after the first few days of healing. This ensures that the jewelry won’t be absorbed. After eight weeks, it’s certainly possible to change out your jewelry. If you wait the full healing time, you’d be stuck with the same basic jewelry for two years.
Helix Piercing Jewelry
There is a wide variety of helix jewelry to choose from, ranging in size from small gem studs to large barbells that require two piercings to display. You can get some from your piercing store or you can browse online stores for better deals and a wider variety. Etsy in particular has hundreds of designs to choose from. Just make sure to avoid jewelry containing nickel, unless you are certain you don’t have a nickel allergy.
If you are pleased with the way your first helix piercing turned out, you can always get more. Helix piercings look amazing next to each other, and the helix can accommodate at least five piercings, maybe more, before it starts to look cluttered. You can go with small jewelry that accents the shape of your ear, or you can pick large and stylized jewelry that makes you stand out—whatever type of piercing you prefer, it’s sure to show off your unique personality.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the others at InkDoneRight! We focus mainly on tattoo culture, but we dabble a little in piercing art, too. As always, thanks for reading!
Picture Source: Pinterest