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The Ultimate Tragus Piercing Guide: Learn about the benefits, procedure, aftercare & much more

Tragus piercing with star stud

Photo by anaivette licensed under CC BY 2.0

Are you looking for information about tragus piercings? Whether you’re curious about getting one and need some arm-twisting, or you’re ready to get one now, our expert tragus piercing guide will tell you everything you need to know about what it is, the pros and cons, the procedure, jewellery types, healing times, aftercare and so much more. We’ve also included pictures too!

What is a tragus piercing?

A tragus piercing is a very popular piercing located on the small notch of cartilage, called the tragus, that pokes out right in front of your ear canal. The piercings are usually done at a small gauge, either 14G (1.6mm or 1/16″), 16G (1.2mm or 3/64″) or 18G (1mm or 5/128″), and the most common types of jewellery worn in tragus piercings are labret studs, standard hoop earrings or ball closure rings (BCR)/captive bead rings (CBR) with a small diameter.

Most commonly, people only get their tragus pierced in one ear, and it is uncommon to see people with their tragus pierced on both sides. Although tragus piercings are commonly worn by females, over the past 2 decades there has been a huge increase in males that are getting their tragus pierced too.

There are a few different types of tragus piercings you should check out to see which one you like the most:

  1. The standard tragus piercing: Passes from the front to the back of the tragus cartilage and comes out above the opening of your ear canal.
  2. Vertical tragus piercing/surface tragus piercing: A surface piercing that doesn’t actually pass through the tragus at all. A barbell is used to pierce the regular bit of skin vertically right in front of the tragus.
  3. Double tragus piercing: The same as the standard tragus piercing, but there’s 2 (or more) of them!

Tragus piercing benefits

Pros:

  • They look amazing
  • They suit both guys and girls
  • You can switch up your jewellery between studs and rings
  • Some people believe they are effective in getting rid of headaches and migraines, similar to the effects of acupuncture

Cons:

  • Can sometimes get in the way when you wear in-ear headphones
  • It takes quite a long time to heal as the cartilage is thick (around 3-6 months)
  • They need fairly constant cleaning due to the placement just outside the ear
  • The placement makes putting in a labret stud from behind a bit difficult to put in by yourself

Tragus piercings for migraines/headaches

There are many theories around tragus piercings getting rid of migraines and headaches, but scientifically there is no evidence to prove that these piercings have any impact. The theories about using tragus piercings to treat migraines and headaches stems from the theory behind acupuncture.

Acupuncturists believe that electricity, nerve endings, and pressure points in your body can be stimulated, realigned, and modified to treat pain. For patients who suffer from headaches or migraines, acupuncturists usually place a bunch of small needles into the ear cartilage in order to stimulate the nerves and activate channels in your brain that are said to reduce the pain. People who get piercings to treat migraines believe that puncturing the daith or tragus provides vagus nerve stimulation by hitting this pressure point.

Although these theories have not been proven, many people still believe that tragus piercings can reduce the severity of headaches and migraines. If you suffer from either headaches or migraines and you’ve consulted your doctor, why not try giving a tragus or daith piercing a go?

Do tragus piercings hurt?

Tragus piercings are known to be one of the lesser-painful ear piercings, as there are very few nerve endings in the tragus as it’s filled with cartilage. Most people describe their tragus piercing experience as “There was a slight sting, but I felt a fair bit of pressure.” The pressure felt is quite common in cartilage piercings because the cartilage is hard, so the piercer has to apply a fair bit of force to get the needle through. A lot of people also describe a “pop” once the needle passes through (As cringe and scary as this sounds, it’s actually not that bad!).

Pain: 4/10

4/10

Pressure: 7/10

7/10

Discomfort during healing: 5/10

5/10

There’s always a risk of bleeding for any piercing… After all, you’re getting a needle put through your skin! Despite this, tragus piercings don’t usually bleed very much but you will likely get a little bit either during the piercing procedure or within the first couple of days after getting one. This is totally dependant on your genetics, your health, or if you’ve consumed alcohol or a lot of caffeine.

Pro tip: You should never drink alcohol at least 24-48 hours before getting any piercing as it thins your blood!

What’s it like to get a tragus piercing?

Getting your tragus pierced is usually quick and easy. Most professional body piercers will have you in and out in about 10-15 minutes.

Here’s a video of a woman getting her tragus pierced. Didn’t look like it bothered her much at all! ^

When you get your tragus pierced, here’s what you should expect:

  1. Firstly, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll usually have to read and sign a terms and conditions form about all the risks and procedure. Make sure you read it all carefully before you sign it.
  2. Once you’re ready, the piercer should make you feel comfortable and sit you down on a chair or side of a table. They will generally ask you a bunch of questions about what you want, and pick out any jewellery if the parlour offers options. They will usually recommend the best jewellery to aid healing, but if you want something different, simply ask and they will give you some recommendations.
  3. Once you’re all ready, your ear and surrounding areas will then be wiped down with an alcohol swab to kill any germs or bacteria. Your ear will feel a little wet which is fine.
  4. Next, the piercer (with gloves on) will use a special non-toxic skin marker pen to mark where the piercing needle will go then show you in a mirror. Make sure you’re totally happy with the placement. Most people get their tragus piercing right in the centre so it looks proportional, or a little closer to where the tragus joins the side of your head – This is completely dependent on the shape of your tragus as everyone’s is a little different. At this point, ask any questions you have or get them to move it and show you again. Remember, if you don’t speak now, you’ll be stuck with it.
  5. The piercer will get the steralised needle, jewellery, and any tools they need for the job ready. The piercer will usually grab a pair of forceps that will be used to help guide the needle. These look like scissors with a long, skinny stem and a loop at the end to grip the tragus.
  6. Your piercer should line everything up, get you to take a deep breath in, then during your big deep breath out they will pop the needle through. When you get your tragus pierced, you’ll usually experience about 10-20 seconds of pressure – this is normal.
  7. Your piercer will then get your jewellery ready, place it against the flat end of the needle and slide it through. This part may be a tad uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds.
  8. The piercer will clean everything up around your ears. Your tragus piercing might bleed a little, if you’re more prone to bleeding/have thinner blood, or you’ve had alcohol or lots of caffeine in the past 24-48 hours. After all, you have just had a needle put through you. (Note: Getting a piercing after you’ve been out drinking is definitely not recommended as it thins your blood and slows down the healing process.)
  9. Once that’s all done, you can check your new tragus piercing out in the mirror then go show it off to your friends!

If for some reason your piercer doesn’t do any of these, make sure you stop and ask. A good piercer will usually tell you what they’re doing, but if in doubt, always ask!

Pro tip: Always ask for a needle piercing, not from a gun!! Single-use piercing needles are known to be much more sterile than piercing guns. Most pro’s will use needles for everything, but there are still some cheaper piercers or well-known chains (you know who I’m talking about) that still use guns.

How much do tragus piercings cost?

The cost of a tragus piercing can differ significantly depending on a number of factors:

  • Jewellery – Gold and titanium usually costs more than standard jewellery (the most common is surgical steel).
  • The location of the store – Inner-city parlours pay way more rent than suburban studios.
  • Piercer experience and reputation – Expect to pay more for quality! Actually, we recommend it.. Always do your research and make sure your piercer has lots of experience, especially with the more difficult piercing types.
Country/ContinentAverage cost (with standard jewellery)
USA$25-50
UK£20-30
Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Italy)€20-40

 

Hot tip: Always check your piercer’s website for prices or give them a call and ask when you book your appointment. Also make sure you confirm that the costs include jewellery, as there are still a lot of piercing parlours that charge an additional fee for jewellery. If you turn up without a booking, always ask before you even enter the room to get it done – we don’t want you to get stung with crazy fees.

Types of tragus jewellery

The most common types of jewellery worn in a tragus piercing are studs/labret studs, standard rings/hoops, or captive bead rings (CBR)/ball closure rings (BCR).

Labret stud

Studs (or labret studs)

Labret studs are commonly used for tragus piercings as they have a flat bottom that doesn’t get in the way of your ear canal, and a small threaded ball to screw on the other end. For a tragus piercing, the bar will be fed through from the back-side with the flat part staying behind the tragus. Labret studs are very good if you wear in-ear headphones, but they can be a bit fiddly to put in and out if you need to do it a lot.

  • Most common gauge: 16G or 14G
  • Most common bar length: 8-10mm
  • Most common ball sizes: 3-5mm
  • Recommended material: Surgical steel, gold or titanium
Hoop earring

Tragus rings/hoops

Just a standard ring like you’d wear in your earlobe – these usually have a clip to open an close them. Try to look for ones that close fully flat and you can turn them 360 degrees.

  • Most common gauge: 18G or 16G
  • Most common diameter: 6-10mm (it’s best to go for a smaller one here but this depends on the size of your ear opening)
  • Recommended material: Surgical steel, silver, gold or titanium
BCR/CBR

Ball closure rings (BCR) / Captive bead rings (CBR)

A complete ring that closes using a ball (or bead) which has a small notch on either side where the ring ends pop into. Small diameter BCR’s/CBR’s (they’re the same thing) look great in a tragus piercing, but can be very difficult to put back in yourself like with most of the other ear piercings – so bring a friend for this one until you get some practice!

  • Most common gauge: 18G or 16G
  • Most common diameter: 6-10mm (it’s best to go for a smaller one here but this depends on the size of your ear opening)
  • Most common ball sizes: 3-5mm
  • Recommended material: Surgical steel, silver, gold or titanium

Tragus piercing pictures

Tragus piercing aftercare

Getting your tragus pierced is usually over and done with pretty quick, but you’ve still got a few months of healing ahead of you. The way you look after them for the next few months is crucial to the health and longevity of your piercing. After all, you want to keep it for a long time, right!?

How long do tragus piercings take to heal?

3-6 months

Tragus piercings take about 3-6 months to fully heal. Like any cartilage piercing, tragus piercings take a significant amount of time to heal properly as cartilage doesn’t regenerate as fast as skin tissue. Whilst it may seem healed and no longer be painful to touch, it takes much longer than you might realise to fully heal a wound from the inside.

Pro tips:

  1. Your new tragus piercing is likely to be painful for the first 3-5 days after getting it.
  2. Depending on your jewellery type, tragus piercings are usually fairly easy to bump or get caught on your clothes, or when you’re washing your face or hair.

How to clean your tragus piercing

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
  2. Use a salt and water mixture or a store-bought salt wash/spray solution like H2Ocean to soak the piercing and area around it if you can to flush and dampen the dried skin.
  3. Very gently push the stud from the back as far forward as you can so the stem of the bar is revealed behind the ball.
  4. Dip a swab or cotton-bud (Q-Tip) in the salt water mixture and gently clean the piercing hole and jewellery and wipe away any “crusties” (hardened loose skin), but be careful not to irritate it. This should take around 20-30 seconds.
  5. Put your finger gently on the ball and carefully push the stud back into the hole until the ball touches the skin at the front opening of the piercing hole.
  6. Repeat step 4, angling your Q-Tip slightly to get the whole area.
  7. Very gently slide or move the jewellery back and forth once or twice so the salt water mixture can enter the piercing hole.
  8. Dab the area dry with a clean towel if the area is wet.

Note: If you’re wearing a ring instead of a stud, simply repeat the steps above and turn the ring gently in both directions.

When can I change my tragus piercing?

Tragus piercings take about 3-6 months to fully heal, so it is recommended that you don’t change your jewellery for at least 3 months as this may cause irritation or an infection. As exciting as it is to start switching your jewellery out for some different bling, always keep the same one in for as long as you can to let the piercing hole fully heal.

How to remove a tragus piercing

Removing a tragus (labret) stud:

  1. Using one hand, gently place your index finger on the back of the flat part behind your tragus, pushing the stud as far forward as it can go (this should not be painful).
  2. With your other hand, use your thumb and your index finger to grip the ball and turn it counter-clockwise (lefty-loosey, righty-tighty!). Only the ball should be spinning, not the bar.
  3. If the ball doesn’t begin to loosen, put a bit of extra pressure on the flat part of the stud to push it against the back of your tragus. The friction between the flat part of the ring and your skin should be enough to loosen the ball from the front.
  4. Once you twist the ball a few times, grip the ball tightly so you don’t drop it. Once the ball is off, place it somewhere safe.
  5. Push the stem of the stud through the hole from front to back until there’s enough sticking out the back to grab with your other hand, and remove it completely.

Removing a ball closure ring (BCR) or captive bead ring:

  1. Carefully turn the ring until there is enough solid part of the ring to grip between your thumb and index finger.
  2. With one hand, grip the exposed part of the ring between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Using your other hand, grip the ball between your thumb and index finger.
  4. Place your index finger gripped to the ring right next to the ball and put pressure on the ring to stabilise it. At the same time, use your thumb that’s got a grip on the ball to put the same amount of pressure in the opposite direction and the ball should pop out. Have a firm grip on the ball with your thumb and index finger to keep ahold of it so it doesn’t go flying.

Note: Some BCR’s may require a special tool called ring opening pliers, but you shouldn’t need these for smaller gauge rings commonly used for tragus piercings

Pro tip: If your piercing is infected or hurts to take out, do not remove it. Consult your piercer and a GP/doctor immediately as removing the jewellery can result in the hole closing up and your infection having nowhere to go.

Tragus piercing infections

Cartilage piercings like tragus piercings are no joke! Since tragus piercings are always out in the open, infections are relatively common during healing. Some symptoms/signs you might have an infected tragus piercing include:

  • Yellow, pus-like discharge
  • Red skin
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing around the area
  • A burning or hot sensation
  • Itching

Whilst some infections may clear up on their own, never leave it to chance. If you suspect your tragus or any other cartilage piercing is infected, contact your piercer and seek medical treatment immediately as infected cartilage is much more serious and may need antibiotics to treat. If in doubt, always seek medical advice.

Bumps on your tragus piercing

If you’ve got a bump that’s come up on your tragus piercing, chances are it’s a keloid scar.  Keloids are growths of scar tissue caused by trauma to your skin and can form either on the front or the back of your tragus cartilage beside the piercing hole. Keloids can range in colour from light pink to dark brown, and people either experience a little bit of tenderness or no pain at all around the site of the scar.

Lots of people get keloids, it’s actually quite common for people to get them. They commonly occur on younger people, but your skin colour and your genetics also play a part.

Keloids can be a bit unsightly, but you can check out this guide on how to treat keloids on your ears by Healthline.

Can a tragus piercing help with weight loss?

No, that’s a myth. There are rumours flying around about how different forms of ear stapling can assist with weight loss – you can read about them here – but we’re skeptics on that theory.

Ready to get your tragus pierced?

If you’re inspired and ready to get your tragus pierced, simply click the button below to find a professional piercer near you.

We hope you’ve learnt a thing or 2 about tragus piercings after reading this guide. If you liked it, make sure you share it with your friends…It’d mean that world to us 🙂 If you think something’s missing or you were looking for more information, please let us know on our feedback page.