You’ve probably seen a helix piercing around. Whether it’s a dainty detail or a bold statement, it’s always perched toward the top of the ear and gives you an easy way to switch up your look. And like a piercing in the lobe, the helix piercing is on its way to becoming a classic.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about getting a helix piercing for a while to complete your earscape. Maybe this is the first you’re hearing of it, and you want to know what’s so hot about this placement. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn what, exactly, a helix is and whether a piercing there is actually more painful than one in the rest of the ear. Most important, you’ll learn about essential aftercare from the team at Studs, the millennial’s go-to jewelry brand and piercing studio. Find out everything you need to know about helix piercings, below.
What is a helix piercing?
You may have seen some piercings placed in slightly different locations along the ear and wondered if they all qualify as the helix. The answer is: yes. “A helix piercing is any piercing along the upper and outside cartilage ridge of the ear,” says Studs piercer Shannon Freed. “Anatomically, the term helix describes that area of the ear.” However, there are names for different placements along that curve. A flat helix lies on the flat part of the inside of your ear, while a forward helix is on the cartilage closest to your face. A snakebite piercing on the helix is when you have two piercings along the ear close to each other.
So whether you’re piercing the top end or somewhere just above the midpoint of your ear—if it’s middle, then it’s a “midi”—you’re still a part of the helix-adorned club.
Do helix piercings hurt?
Let’s get real about helix piercing pain. Does it actually hurt more than the lobe? “Pain tolerance varies, but generally your helix will hurt more than your lobes as it is less fleshy,” says Freed. Cartilage tissue is denser, which can require more force to pierce through, resulting in a bit more pain. But the pain is temporary, and your beautiful new piercing is forever.
How long does a helix piercing take to heal?
“Healing is subjective and is dependent on factors such as your overall health, sleep and stress levels, and your aftercare regimen,” says Freed. Makes sense, as our bodies react to and recover from physical stressors at different rates. But if you’re looking for an average estimate, Freed says at least two months. “The initial healing time for a helix piercing is two to four months. For the piercing to be fully healed, it takes six to nine months. Healing timelines will vary based on your specific piercing and your body, but you’ll know your ear is healed once any discharge, swelling, redness, flaking, or soreness stops.”
What about aftercare?
As your new helix piercing heals, it should feel less painful. Proper aftercare is key to making sure your new ear piece not only looks great but feels that way too. Freed’s recommendation is to keep your hands off the fresh piercing. “Don’t touch or twist,” Freed says. “And spray saline front and back no more than twice a day. You’ll also want to be careful of snags and sleeping on the piercing, as this disrupts the healing process.”
When you are cleaning, it’s important to stick to saline solution. The salt helps pull out excess discharge while increasing blood circulation. You’ll want to avoid rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and ointments, as they can dry out and further irritate your piercing, which will extend the total healing time.
What should I do about an infected helix piercing?
“Some people confuse irritation with infection! While some irritation is common, with the right aftercare, there shouldn’t be much infection,” says Freed. “It’s totally normal to experience slight bleeding, ‘crusties’ (dead skin cells), swelling, tenderness, itching, bruising, or soreness. These symptoms will typically only last a few weeks.” But if you experience any symptoms outside of these, Freed recommends checking in with your doctor.
What’s the average cost?
If you’re ready to take the plunge on a helix piercing, plan to spend around $30 on the piercing itself plus the cost of jewelry. Because you’ll want to pick from precious metals like solid gold or titanium, budget at least another $30 for the pretty stuff. If you’re in need of a little inspiration for your new ear bling, scroll on.
A classic helix piercing gets a twist with this starburst stud and connecting chain. The final look: a celestial arrangement you’ll dream about.
In Full Bloom
If you prefer a stud over a hoop but want something a little more eye-catching, a flower earring like this lotus one is the perfect balance.
A Royal Affair
This colorful snakebite piercing is elegant with a little edge. Dress it up or down depending on your mood.