Helix Piercing - Pain, Infection, Risks, Healing Time, Cost

Helix Piercing

The piercing of the helix or cartilage (upper ear) is known as helix piercing. The piercing is usually made to wear a piece of jewelry. Usually a small gauge, a needle or a gun is used to make the hole. However, piercing with a gun should be avoided because it gives a sudden shock to the ear. Some piercers also use a small cork to obstruct the canal opening of the ear in order to restrict the entry of foreign materials into the ear. A typical jewelry would be a stud, or a bead ring. Some people also choose a double helix piercing. The two holes are held by the same piece of accessory such as a barbell. It is also known as industrial piercing.

Helix piercings are generally not painful as the helix is devoid of any nerve endings. The procedure however could be painful for some individuals due to the pressure needed to make the perforation. The amount of pain also depends from one person to another and on the expertise of the piercer to have the ability to carry out the process without causing much pain. The actual pain is quite short lived for a few minutes. Even though the piercing is not that painful it is very important to take care of it and one should refrain from touching it as much as possible. In the initial days of piercing it is very important to avoid contact with any kind of chemical such as body sprays. Touching the area with unwashed hands can cause infections as it carries bacteria. Some people also have a habit of twisting the jewelry which is also dangerous especially in the first few days as it can tear the fistula that heals the skin inside the hole. It can further cause hypertrophic scarring which will take a longer time to heal. Rejection of the piercing can also happen.

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The cleaning is the most important part of the aftercare process which can simply be done by dabbing cotton in soaked warm water or with a sterile saline. The saline can easily be made at home by mixing 1/4 tsp rock/sea salt with 8 oz warm water. You can also use Antimicrobial soaps that contain chloroxylenol or triclosan but not in routine and only if there is an infection as it makes the pierced area more irritable. If you have swelling or a feeling of tenderness after the piercing then there is nothing to panic about it as it is a normal thing. There is a secretion of lymphatic fluid which is white or pale yellow in color. This doesn’t mean that you have some sort of infection. The crust formed by the lymphatic fluids also forms a crusty substance that can easily be removed while cleaning. You must avoid scratching the crust as it can cause further infection.

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Healing time for helix piercing

The helix piercing usually heals in five to six months depending upon the individual’s skin and the weather the piercing is done. Piercings usually heal faster in winters and should completely be avoided in monsoon and summers as the moisture can create a lot of problems, from delaying the healing to increasing infections and pain. It is also better to opt for a simple and small stud or jewelry till the time the piercing heals. After 7 to 8 weeks you can change the stud.

Different jewelry for helix piercing

The piercing can be adorned with jewelry of different shapes, sizes, and colors. You can also try gems, or can get custom made jewels/stones according to your style. Some common types of jewelry include studs, captive bead rings, and barbells. A labret stud is a straight rod with a jewel that is attached from one end to the other with a flat disc. A captive ring is a metal ring with the ends connected by either a straight bar or a bead giving it a circular look. A microdermal resembles a small implant often inserted on the top most part of the helix. A barbell is made up of a single rod with beads at both ends. Barbells come in different shapes like horseshoe, curved, or circular.

Cartilage Piercings are more risky than the Earlobes

Even though the helix is devoid of nerve endings and its piercing doesn’t cause much pain but the cartilage piercings are generally more prone to infection from the bacteria as compared to earlobe piercing. The infection is stubborn and nasty and doesn’t usually respond to a lot of antibiotics. The infection is caused by the stubborn Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. This doesn’t happen in the case of earlobe piercings. Some patients also need a surgery or get cosmetically deformed. This bacterium needs stronger antibiotics like Cipro that is more effective than the drugs like amoxicillin.

Helix Piercing Cost

The cost depends on the place you get the procedure done from and the type of jewelry.  It is always better to go to an experienced hand.  Helix piercing can cost between $20 and $50 depending on the jewelry and the labor rate of the shop.

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