How to Encourage Faster Tragus Piercing Healing and Reduce Pain

How to Encourage Faster Tragus Piercing Healing and Reduce Pain
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Tragus piercing is a popular type of piercing on the ear cartilage just in front of the ear canal. If you are thinking about getting your tragus pierced, you are probably wondering if the piercing will be painful. During the healing process, you may also feel some pain. So, the faster the tragus piercing heals, the less pain you will have.

All cartilage piercings are associated with some type of pain. However, usually with the proper care and attention, the tragus piercing will heal without too many complications. To help reduce pain and the healing time, you should always have your piercing done by a qualified professional. This will help to ensure that piercing the thick cartilage on your ear is a success.

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To help encourage faster healing of tragus piercing, your piercer should give you a list of aftercare instructions. Usually, it is recommended to regularly bathe the piercing to flush out any germs and prevent infections. There are also many home remedies that can help to promote healing and treat mild infections around a new piercing on the tragus.

This article looks at all you need to know about getting your tragus pierced. You will learn how to reduce pain associated with tragus piercing and also how to speed up the healing process.

What is Tragus Piercing?

Your outer ear is made up of cartilage folds which channel sound into the ear canal and protect your middle and inner ear from damage. The tragus is the small, triangular shaped cartilage at the opening of your ear canal.

Most cartilage piercings heal without any problem. However, when it comes to the healing process, there are more complications associated with cartilage piercings. This is because the cartilage has no blood supply which helps the healing process.

Dr. Donna Meltzer from the Stony Brook School of Medicine says that ear piercing through the ear cartilage has a greater risk of serious infection. Wounds in the ear cartilage are prone to bacterial infections including the Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes strains. This can result in the part of the ear becoming red, swollen, and painful.1

If you notice that a tragus piercing isn’t healing, or the signs of infection are getting worse, you should visit your doctor. Dr. Meltzer warns that, if left untreated, an ear-piercing infection can cause disfigurement.

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Is Tragus Piercing Painful?

Before getting their tragus pierced, most people want to know if tragus piercing is painful. Of course, puncturing your skin or cartilage will cause initial pain and discomfort.

The tragus is a fairly thick piece of cartilage and piercers have to exert some pressure to make the fine hole. However, there are few nerves in the tragus, which means that, for many people, the pain isn’t so great and not as painful as getting a belly button piercing. But, everyone has their own pain threshold and some people may find the piercing more painful than others.

You may also hear a popping or crushing sound when the tragus gets punctured. This is completely normal and isn’t anything to worry about.

How Long Do Tragus Piercings Take to Heal?

Tragus piercings take longer to heal than other types of piercings like your earlobe, belly button, or tongue piercing. The reason that cartilage piercings take longer to heal is because the tissue doesn’t have its own blood supply. This also means that any medications for a piercing infection prescribed by a doctor will take longer to work.

Expert in dermatology, Dr. Stephanie Gardner says that ear cartilage piercings can take between 4 months and 1 year to heal. However, the healing time of your tragus piercing will depend much on how well you care for your new piercing.2

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, it is common for new piercings to be swollen, red, and tender for a few days as the wound starts to heal.3 The hole where the jewelry is located may even bleed a little. This is a normal part of the healing process.

Tragus Piercing Aftercare

The key to encouraging faster tragus piercing healing is to care properly for your new piercing. Making sure that you follow good hygiene practices and keeping the pierced area free from microbes and germs is the best way to prevent any infection.

To ensure the fastest healing time possible for your tragus piercing, you should follow the advice given by doctors on WebMD. They recommend the following for successful piercing aftercare:2, 4

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  • Before touching your tragus piercing, always wash your hands.
  • Clean around the tragus pierced area with antibacterial soap to get rid of any lingering germs.
  • Use warm water to wash the tragus piercing for 5 minutes and do this 3 to 4 times a day.
  • Use a salt water solution as a warm compress and hold it to your tragus piercing to help prevent infections.
  • Apply a cold pack to your tragus area to help reduce any signs of inflammation like redness and swelling.

Other practical tips for looking after cartilage piercings are to regularly change your pillowcase and bed linens to prevent germs infecting your piercing wound, and take practical steps to boost your immune system to promote healing.

How to Prevent Tragus Piercing Infections

It is very important to prevent any infection from getting into a cartilage piercing on your upper ear. As well as cleaning your new piercing regularly until the wound heals, what else can you do to prevent tragus piercing infections?

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend a few tips on how to avoid infections and irritating newly pierced cartilage areas:

  • Avoid swimming in swimming pools, rivers, or lakes and keep out of the hot tub which can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
  • Only touch the pierced area or the jewelry in your new piercing when cleaning it.
  • Never play with your tragus jewelry while it is healing.
  • Be careful not to tug or pull the jewelry. For example, carefully remove hats in case they catch the jewelry in your tragus.
  • Keep your jewelry in until the piercing has completely healed.

How to Care for Infected Tragus Piercings

There are some great and effective home remedies that can help treat a mild tragus piercing infections. Natural ingredients that contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties are great for quickly getting rid of a mild piercing infection.

A word of warning: ear cartilage piercing infections can quickly become severe. If you still have signs of infections after a couple of days when using these natural remedies or if the infection continues to get worse, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

Sea salt compress for tragus piercing infections

Most doctors recommend using a sea salt solution for treating piercing infections. Salt is a natural antimicrobial agent that can help to prevent wounds becoming infected and can also help treat infected piercing wounds.

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The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommends using a saline solution to care for piercings that haven’t yet healed. The salt helps kill off infection-causing bacteria and the warm water softens any discharge, thus promoting healing.5

How to use:

To encourage faster tragus piercing healing and reduce pain with a sea salt solution, you should do the following:

  1. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a shot glass of warm water (boil the water first and allow it to cool down). Don’t use a stronger solution because you may irritate the punctured cartilage even more.
  2. Soak a clean piece of gauze in the salt solution to make a healing compress.
  3. Hold to your infected tragus piercing for up to 10 minutes to help promote healing and soften and remove any discharge.
  4. Apply the compress 2 to 3 times a day to help the wound heal faster.
  5. Repeat until all signs of the infection are gone completely.

You can also use a salt solution to get rid of a nose piercing bump naturally or treat an infected belly button piercing.

Tea tree oil

Another natural way to treat an infected tragus piercing infection is to apply tea tree oil to the affected area. Tea tree oil can be used to treat many types of fungal and bacterial skin infections due to its antimicrobial properties.

A review of the medicinal properties of tea tree oil in 2006 found that it is effective against a number of strains of bacteria. Researchers have found that it’s effective against Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus bacteria strains – these types of bacteria are the most common reasons for infections in new piercings.

How to use:

This home remedy for tragus piercing infections includes virgin coconut oil and tea tree oil for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You can make a healing ointment by using the following recipe:

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  1. Mix 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil with 2-3 drops tea tree oil.
  2. With clean hands or a clean cotton swab, apply the tea tree oil ointment to the tragus piercing to promote wound healing.
  3. Apply to the piercing after cleansing it with the sea salt compress.

The tea tree and coconut oil remedy will help to keep the skin around the new piercing soft and reduce inflammation.

Alternatively, you can apply tea tree oil directly to the new piercing. Although essential oils should never be placed directly on the skin, tea tree oil can be directly applied as a spot treatment to treat infections. Put a drop or two of tea tree oil on a cotton swab and dab on the site of the infection on your ear.

You can also use the tea tree oil remedy to help daith piercing heal faster.

Apple cider vinegar

To help clean an infected piercing wound and get rid of discharge, you can use raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar. Diluted apple cider vinegar can help to reduce infection around a tragus piercing and promote faster healing. The antimicrobial effect of apple cider vinegar is thanks to the level of acetic acid in it.

The journal PloS One reported on a study into the antiseptic effect of acetic acid. The study found that acetic acid prevents bacterial colonization of wounds and has good antibacterial activity. It was effective against the bacterial strains that often cause infections in piercing wounds.6

How to use:

Apple cider vinegar should be diluted before using it to clean a tragus piercing wound showing signs of a mild infection.

  1. Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with equal amount of water.
  2. Soak a piece of clean gauze in the cider vinegar remedy and apply to the infected tragus piercing.
  3. Hold on for 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat 3-4 times a day to promote healing of a tragus piercing and reduce signs of inflammation.
  5. Continue applying the apple cider vinegar compress until all signs of the infection have gone completely.

Aloe vera

The antibacterial and soothing properties of aloe vera gel can help to keep your skin soft and free from infection and encourage a faster healing of your tragus piercing.

According to a study from the Australasian Medical Journal, aloe vera gel is effective even against multi-drug resistant organisms. Aloe vera gel was shown to have antimicrobial properties that can help prevent bacterial infections in wounds.7

How to use it:

To use aloe vera gel to encourage faster healing of tragus piercing, use pure aloe vera gel which doesn’t contain many additives. Here is what you should do:

  1. With clean hands apply a little aloe vera gel around the tragus piercing.
  2. Repeat 2-3 times a day to help the wound heal faster.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to care properly for your tragus piercing to prevent infections in the wound. If the wound becomes infected, you should start treating it right away. However, if home remedies for piercing infections aren’t successful and the infection gets worse, you should visit your doctor.

Doctors from the NHS say that signs of a piercing infection that require professional medical attention are as follows:

  • The area around the tragus piercing become red and swollen.
  • The tragus piercing is painful to touch and the surrounding skin is very tender.
  • You notice colored discharge (yellow or green) oozing from the infection.
  • You have a fever.

Read these related articles:

Article Sources
  1. AAFP. Complications of body piercing.
  2. WebMD. Piercing.
  3. MayoClinic. Piercings.
  4. WebMD. Body piercing problems.
  5. NHS. Body piercing.
  6. PloS. The antibacterial activity of acetic acid.
  7. Australas Med J. Efficacy of fresh Aloe vera gel against multi-drug resistant bacteria
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