Helix Piercing Guide

Helix PiercingHelix piercing is an ear piercing type done on the helix of the ear. It is a form of ear cartilage piercing, and as such, it brings all the benefits and risks of cartilage piercings. Namely, it looks very effective but it needs to be done by a reliable, knowledgeable piercer in order to prevent any potential problems.

Helix piercing may not be the most popular ear piercing type – earlobe piercing is sure the most famous ear piercing! – but it’s relatively common. The reason is because it’s very attractive and effective, so it’s not surprising that so many people choose this piercing type.

These piercings are often worn with other ear piercings, and it’s not rare to have more than one helix piercing done in pairs or multiple piercings done next to each other. Another great thing about helix piercings is that there are special jewelry types, helix shields, made specifically for this piercing type.

Placement and Procedure

Helix piercing is done on the helix of the ear. The helix is defined as the outer rim of the ear cartilage. Typically, helix piercing is done on the tip of the ear, but other placements are also possible.

Keep in mind, however, that some of these alternative placements actually make it into a different type of a piercing. For example, outer conch piercing may sometimes be mistaken with a helix piercing. This is why one should never focus too much on the names of piercings themselves. It’s always better to simply explain to your piercer where you wish to have your piercing done. You don’t need to trouble yourself with the exact terminology.

That being said, helix piercing is relatively easy to understand, since it is located on the outer rim (helix) of the ear. Any piercing done on this area counts as a helix piercing. Since the outer rim of the ear is cartilage, this is also cartilage piercing, which dictates the procedure and aftercare.

The procedure itself is not complex, but it requires a knowledgeable piercer. For this reason, make sure to choose a good piercing studio and an experienced piercer to perform the procedure. Helix piercing is usually done with a hollow piercing needle. The gauge is typically 16 gauge or 14 gauge, so this is considered a small-gauge piercing.

A good news is that helix piercings are typically not painful if your piercer knows what they’re doing. Another reason to get a knowledgeable individual! This part of the ear is not rich in nerve endings, so it should not be too painful on itself. However, many people report some pain during procedure, probably due to the pressure the piercer has to apply in order to pierce the cartilage. This is why your comfort with this type of piercing largely depends on your piercer’s technique. However, the pain should not be significant during the procedure.

On the other hand, cartilage piercings are known to be painful afterwards, so this is something to keep in mind. Expect some pain in the hours after the procedure. However, it should slowly go by the next day or at least to be less intense. If the pain persists in the same or greater intensity, it might be a sign that something is wrong. Since ear cartilage piercings can lead to complications pretty quickly it’s advisable to seek medical help if the pain and discomfort persist.

Helix piercings take a long time to heal, around 8 to 12 months. You should be able to notice improvement and more comfort before this time, but keep in mind that the piercing is fully healed only after this period. If you wish to change your initial jewelry, you need to wait at least 2-3 months before doing it.

After the procedure, you may expect some tenderness and localized swelling. You may also notice some clear or very pale discharge (lymphatic fluid). These things are normal. However, pain, tenderness and swelling should not persist. If that happens it may be a sign of infection.

Jewelry

Typical jewelry for helix piercings are Captive Bead Rings, but some people choose to use studs and labret jewelry types. Some people even prefer to wear short straight barbells in their helix piercings.

Many people choose to have two helix piercings connected by a single jewelry piece, creating an Industrial Piercing. Industrial Piercings use special, long straight barbells as jewelry. During the healing time, however, you may need to wear two separate jewelry pieces (such as two Captive Bead Rings) until the helix piercings are healed. Some piercers, however, choose to connect an Industrial Piercing with a single straight barbell right from the start.

A special type of helix jewelry is helix shield. This is a special, richly-ornamented jewelry piece made to sit on the surface of the ear. Helix shields are very beautiful and attractive, but they can be used only on fully-healed piercings.

Additional Info and Tips

  • A common variation to helix piercing is the inner helix piercing, which is located on the inside of the helix. It is positioned on the inside of the rim of the ear.
  • Antihelix piercing, on the other hand, is a special piercing type. This one is done on the antihelix of the ear. The antixelix is located under the helix and closer to the ear canal.
  • Industrial Piercing” is usually understood as two helix piercings connected by a single jewelry piece, but the term actually refers to any body part – whenever you have piercings connected by a single jewelry piece it is an Industrial Piercing. Helix Industrial is just the most popular form.
  • Never agree to be pierced with a gun! Piercing guns are sometimes used for cartilage piercings by amateurs, and they put you at a significant risk. Find a reliable studio and a knowledgeable piercer – a good piercer will never use a gun!
  • Since cartilage piercings are difficult (or nearly impossible to stretch) if you wish to have a larger gauge helix you will need to use dermal punches.
  • As a cartilage piercing, helix piercing comes with similar risks as other cartilage piercings. Namely, if not done properly, it can lead to infections and even ear collapse in more serious cases. If can happen very quickly (a few days or even hours after getting your piercing done) so it’s important to seek medical help immediately if you experience prolonged pain and other problems. To prevent this from happening make sure to choose a reliable piercer to perform your helix piercing.
  • Helix piercing aftercare is similar to other piercing aftercare instructions. Make sure to clean your piercing a few times per day using a saline solutions. Do not twist or turn the jewelry and make sure to touch your new piercing as little as possible (in fact, it should be left alone except when you clean it). During the healing time, it’s advisable to avoid harsh chemicals (perfumes, shampoos, body lotions, etc.) from getting into your piercing.
  • The lymphatic fluid may build up around the hole and jewelry and form a crusty substance. However, you should not twist or turn the jewelry to remove it! Don’t worry, your piercing is not “growing into” the flesh. Simply remove the crust during cleaning and leave your ear alone. Do not pick on the crust and never attempt to remove it with your fingernails. This crust is not harmful and can wait for your next cleaning (you should clean at least twice per day so it’s easy to remove the crust).
  • Helix piercing, as any cartilage piercing, is prone to migration and rejection. Many helix piercings are long-lasting but you need to take appropriate care of it and observe it regularly to prevent and notice any changes. If you catch it on time, you may be able to prevent infections and other problems and thus make your helix piercing long-lasting.

Inner vs Outer Conch

conch-piercingA Conch Piercing is one of the more unusual ear piercing types, even though it’s popular with some people. It is one of the cartilage piercings, which makes it a bit trickier to perform than earlobe piercings. Cartilage piercings also tend to be more painful. However, this is not a reason to give up if you really desire to have a Conch Piercing.

There is a certain confusion about Conch Piercings. Namely, there are two distinctive types of Conch Piercings: Inner and Outer Conch. People sometimes confuse the two and are unsure about their similarities and differences. If you wish to get one of those (or both!) you need to know which is which and what their main differences are.

Inner Conch Piercing

Inner Conch is by far the more popular variant. If no closer distinction is mentioned, chances are that “Conch” will refer to Inner Conch piercing. Inner Conch is done on the specific part of the cartilage in the center of the ear, adjacent to the ear canal. There is a small cup-shaped area that is pierced.

This specific placement is characteristic of Inner Conch. All Inner Conch piercings are done on this cup-shaped cartilage area, or else the piercing in question cannot even be considered “Inner Conch”.

If the area is large enough, it is possible to have a large gauge Inner Conch piercing. However, the only way to achieve this is with a dermal punch. Cartilage piercings are almost impossible to stretch properly, so if you want to have a larger Inner Conch piercing it’s best to go with a dermal punch.

Outer Conch Piercing

Outer Conch piercing is a more unusual placement. It is performed on the flat part of the ear cartilage, ideally between the helix and the antihelix of the ear. The placement itself is tricky, because it has to be done on this specific spot to “count” as an Outer Conch piercing, or else it would be a simple Helix or Antihelix piercing.

In fact, these spots on the cartilage are located near each other so there is often some confusion whether the piercing in question is Outer Conch or not. Ideally, an Outer Conch piercing should be done on the cartilage but away from the rim/edge, unless you are going for a Helix piercing.

However, those who do not care about the names and simply want a piercing on this particular spot have nothing to worry about – you can simply tell your chosen piercer the exact spot where you wish to be pierced. You don’t need to know the name of the piercing or stress about getting it right.

Another way to perform an Outer Conch piercing is through dermal punching. This way, it is relatively easy to have a large gauge piercing in the cartilage, which would otherwise be very difficult (or impossible) to achieve.

Inner vs Outer Conch: The Verdict

As you can see, Inner and Outer Conch Piercings are very similar (hence the name), so it’s easy to confuse one for the other. Both are cartilage piercings done on the inner side of the ear, though Inner Conch is more so (as the name implies).

The main difference is the placement: Inner Conch has a very specific placement on the cup-shaped area near the ear canal. Outer Conch doesn’t have a special placement so there is more freedom when performing this piercing type.

Another potential difference is jewelry. Typically, Outer Conch allows for more space and freedom when choosing jewelry (for example, Captive Bead Rings), while the Inner Conch typically uses simple studs. However, this is not set in stone and there is always room for some experimentation.

Additional Tips for Industrial Piercing

Industrial PiercingHere are some additional things to know about Industrial Piercings. This is among the most popular piercing types, and while most people know how to recognize it, there are still some things one can learn about Industrial Piercing.

If you want to get an Industrial Piercing it’s very important to know how to take a good care of it. Aftercare is of utmost importance for any type of ear cartilage piercing. Since Industrial Piercing is basically two piercings in one, it means you basically need to take a double care of it.

However, none of this means that Industrial Piercing is dangerous or particularly problematic. You just need to stay informed and to know what to expect of your Industrial Piercing.

Some of the most important things to know about Industrial Piercings include:

Placement

An Industrial Piercing has to be placed properly in order to work. Since this piercing consists of two holes connected by a single barbell, it means the holes have to be positioned properly and carefully. Inadequate placement will not only look bad but will also make it difficult or impossible to put a single barbell through both holes.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself for just one type of Industrial Piercing placement. While diagonal is the most common choice (in which the barbell goes diagonally from one side of the ear to the other), you may choose a different placement. For example, many people choose horizontal of vertical Industrial placement.

Two Holes and Two Piercings

As you probably know, Industrial Piercing consists of two piercings connected by the same barbell. It means that the procedure involves piercing two holes. Typically, each of these piercings has its own name and its own placement.

The most common Industrial Piercing type (diagonal) actually consists of a helix and anti-helix piercing connected by the same barbell.

Vertical Industrial Piercing consists of a rook and a daith piercing, two conch piercings, anti-helix and a rook piercing or a daith and a lower conch piercing. Other combinations are also possible. You may even run two Industrial Piercings parallel to each other.

Ideal Gauge

Typically, Industrial Piercings are done at 14 gauge. Some piercers choose to use 16 gauge instead, but this is rare. In case you think you are pierced with too small gauge, you can stretch your piercing to 14 gauge. However, keep in mind that extensive stretching is not possible nor recommended. Most Industrial Piercings are good at 14 gauge.

Special Barbells

Industrial Piercings typically use straight barbells. However, these barbells are not standard barbells used for other piercing types. Since the holes connected into an Industrial Piercing are often separated by an inch or more, a barbell that goes through them has to be long enough to accommodate it.

This is why Industrial Piercings use special, long barbells. These barbells can be simple in design or they may include certain decorations, typically in the middle of the barbell.

While the choice of decoration is up to you, keep in mind that you have to order a special Industrial Barbell for your piercing. A simple straight barbell just won’t do.

Aftercare Tips

Aftercare is very important for any piercing, but it becomes even more vital in the case of Industrial Piercings because there are basically two new piercings to take care of. Some quick tips on how to care for your new Industrial Piercing:

  • Clean both of your piercings regularly. It’s best to use a simple saline solution or special cleaners designed for new piercings. Don’t use harsh chemicals.
  • Avoid hot tubs and swimming pools during the initial stage of healing.
  • Don’t touch your new piercing and don’t twist the jewelry.
  • Keep your hair away from the piercing and avoid wearing earphones for a while.
  • Check your piercing regularly to see if it’s healing properly.
  • If you notice any problems or if your piercing becomes tender, it’s a sign that there’s a problem. Make sure to clean it properly, but if the problem resist, consult your doctor. Ear cartilage piercings can get infected quickly and they can lead to numerous problems if not treated immediately.

Helix Shields

5 Gem Shield

5 Gem Shield

Helix shields are among the most beautiful jewelry types. They come in many different designs and varieties, so it’s possible to find just the one that suits your needs. Helix shields are unique and truly draw attention to your piercing. They look very attractive so it’s not surprising so many people choose them as their favorite jewelry types.

Choosing the Best Jewelry

While helix piercing is not rare in any way, it’s not the most popular type of piercing either. It means that sometimes, you don’t use jewelry created specially for this kind of piercing. It’s important to remember that the piercing itself is often made with a small gauge needle, so it usually requires small jewelry. For example, small gauge Captive Bead Rings tend to be a common helix jewelry.

However, keep in mind that a helix piercing is done on the helix of the upper ear, which gives certain options when it comes to jewelry. You can go with a simple jewelry type if you like, or you may use something more attractive. This is where helix cuffs and shields come into play.

Using Helix Shields

Helix shields are great because they are specially designed for helix piercings. They will sure make your piercing more attractive and noticeable. These are also made to rest comfortably against the ear to provide the best experience.

Helix jewelry comes in many different types. There are fancy rings you can use, elaborate cuffs or richly detailed shields. Most of these jewelry pieces have additional decoration, such as gems or charms. These fancy jewelry pieces make a great addition to your ear jewelry collection so you can use them in almost any situation.

Popular Ear Piercing Types

Ear PiercingEar is the most popular body part for piercing. Almost all parts of the ear can be pierced, so there are many different types of piercings performed on the ear. Some are more common than the others, some are more sensitive than the others and take longer time to heal. Regardless of the type, ear piercings are relatively simple to perform and they can be very effective.

Here is the list of the most popular ear piercing types:

Earlobe Piercing

Earlobe piercing is the most popular type of ear piercing. In fact, it’s the most common of all body piercings. Earlobe piercing is so widespread and socially acceptable that many people don’t even consider it body piercing in true sense of the word. Earlobe piercing is easy to perform and it heals quickly. There are many types of earrings suitable for this type of piercing.

A special type of earlobe piercing is stretched piercing. It’s sometimes called “gauging”, though it’s a wrong term: gauge is the size of the jewelry. Many types of piercings can be stretched to a larger size, but the most common are stretched earlobes. There are special types of jewelry made for stretched piercings: ear plugs, flesh tunnels, earlets, tusks, spirals, and more.

Industrial Piercing

An industrial piercing (also known as the scaffold piercing) consists of two holes connected by a single jewelry piece. It’s typically done on the upper ear cartilage. During the procedure, two piercings are made: one close to the head and the other further down the cartilage on the opposite side of the ear.

The most common jewelry type for industrial piercings is long, straight barbell. It’s inserted through the first piercing from behind the ear and it goes diagonally across the front of the ear cartilage to the second piercing. It’s not uncommon to wear a pair of captive bead rings instead of a straight barbell. Those who wish to use straight barbells for their industrial piercings can choose between numerous unique barbells with special decorations or spirals to make their piercing stand out.

Helix Piercing

The helix piercing is performed on the outer curly rim of the ear cartilage. It’s important that this piercing is done with a needle and not piercing gun (in fact, it’s best to never use a piercing gun; it’s only suitable for earlobe piercings and it’s not even the best method to perform that type of piercing). Most people get more than one helix piercing to wear several jewelry pieces on that side of the ear. A special type of helix piercing is the orbital piercing. Here, two piercings are made and the jewelry goes from back to the back of the ear, so it looks like it’s orbiting through the cartilage.

Anti-Helix

The anti-helix piercing is done on the ear part just the opposite of the helix. It’s also known as the snug piercing. This type of piercing requires micro-jewelry. Many people choose to get both helix and anti-helix piercings and pair them with the same jewelry types. The most commonly used jewelry for this type of piercing are curved barbells or circular rings.

Tragus Piercing

The tragus piercing is performed on the small piece of the thick cartilage projecting in front of the ear canal. It’s typically done at a small gauge (16g). The most common jewelry for this piercing is captive bead ring.

Anti-Tragus Piercing

The anti-tragus piercing is performed on the part of the ear cartilage directly above the earlobe.

Transverse Lobe Piercing

This is a piercing that goes horizontally through the ear lobe. It takes more time to heal than the regular earlobe piercing. Typical jewelry worn in this piercing are straight or curved barbells.

Rook Piercing

The rook piercing is done at the folded inner rim of the ear. This inner ridge of the ear runs down the center and it’s parallel to the helix or outer rim. It’s important to understand that the look of this piercing depends a lot on the anatomy of your ear.

Conch Piercing

There are two types of the conch piercing: the inner and the outer. The inner conch piercing is made on the center cartilage adjacent to the ear canal. These piercings are usually done at larger gauges (10g or 8g) and they can be stretched to accommodate ear plugs. The most common jewelry type for this piercing is barbell.

The outer conch piercing is made on the flat part of the top outer ear. It’s done at a smaller gauge (16g). Typical jewelry for this piercing is curved barbell or a captive bead ring.

Daith Piercing

The daith piercing is performed on the outer rim of the ear cartilage, closest to the head. It’s often performed with a curved needle to prevent damage to other parts of the ear. There is another variation of this piercing: the inner daith. This one is performed on the horizontal part of the cartilage, directly above the ear canal. The most commonly used jewelry for daith piercing is a captive bead ring.

Different Ear Piercings

 

Ears, July 2011

 

Most people that are into body modifications started with getting their ears pierced. Ear piercings are the oldest, most common, less extreme and more accepted of all body modifications. Piercing the ears can be found in all different kinds of cultures all over the world throughout history. Both men and women have been known to pierce their ears. Depending on the size and shape of one’s ear, there are many different parts of the ear that can be pierced.

 When your Ear is your Piercing Ground:

The ear lobe is the easiest, most common part of the ear that is pierced. This part of the ear can be stretched and gauged because of the type of tissue located in this area. A piercing gun is used to pierce the ear lobe. The ear piercing gun is designed in such a way, so that the ear can be pierced with the jewelry and the earring back be put on the end of the post of the earring, all in one shot. The cartilage of the ear, at the top part of the helix, is another popular area to have pierced. This piercing can be pierced with a piercing gun, however, it is not recommended because the force of the gun can cause cartilage to shatter and take the area longer to heal. The other areas of the ear are usually pierced with a hollow body piercing needle.

The helix is the upper rim part of the ear that goes down the outside about half way and meets the lobe. Many people have their helix pierced multiple times and put captive bead rings in them.  The conch is the portion of the ear that looks like a “shell” adjacent to the ear canal.  A barbell or captive bead ring is mostly worn in this area. The anti-helix is a ridge located under the helix and it contains the snug and rook. These piercings are very painful and harder to heal then most of the other ear piercings. The snug, located on the lower part of the anti-helix, is pierced with curved or straight barbells. The rook, the upper part of the anti-helix close to the head, can be pierced with a curved barbell or a captive bead ring. The folds of cartilage located closest to the ear canal is call a daith piercing. This can have a different variety of small gauge body jewelry put into the piercing.  The tragus piercing is the “little nub” over top of the ear canal.  The body jewelry used for this piercing are usually a captive bead ring, curved barbell or even labret studs.  The ridge located above the ear lobe has been labeled the anti-tragus. This is another painful piercing in the ear. And this piercing usually needs a curved barbell.

Another piercing that is often done is called the industrial. The industrial is when two separate piercings are connected with one barbell. Usually piercings within the helix are used to create an industrial piercing but some use other piercings in the ear and connect them. An orbital piercing is much like an industrial piercing in the sense that it connects two or more piercings, but instead of a barbell a ring is used.