I am a big fan of the tragus placement; here, I share everything you need to know before you get pierced.
What Is a Tragus Piercing?
The tragus is the small projection of cartilage immediately in front of the ear canal. Piercing it involves perforating the cartilage with a small-gauge, hollow needle and inserting jewelry—either a ring or a stud.
The tragus is vulnerable to infection, so take care to find a professional piercer who follows proper procedures. However, it is also true that tragus piercings are not that painful, as there are very few nerve endings around the area.
Before you get your tragus pierced, make sure you are confident about the piercer and their gear. Most professional piercers will use a hollow 16-gauge (1.2mm thick) needle. They'll usually use a curved needle, since many prefer to wear hoops in the tragus, and the curved needle can make it easier to work in this cramped area.
Does It Hurt?
Because it's mostly cartilage, the tragus has fewer nerve endings, so it probably won't be the most painful piercing you've ever gotten. The pain will be the strongest during the actual piercing. The tragus may bleed and may continue to bleed for a few hours. There will continue to be some discomfort and swelling over the next few days, but with a good aftercare regimen, the entire process is completely bearable. Within a week, the pain and discomfort should go away.
Tips to Avoid Infection
Clean the tragus with saline solution immediately before and after piercing. This will significantly minimize pain. There are different concentrations of saline solution. Ask your piercer which is best for you.
Don't touch the pierced area and jewelry. Even if there is irritation, leave the tragus untouched for at least 5-7 days.
Clean your hands with antibacterial solution before changing earrings.
Don't let anyone else touch the area.
Clean the area with saline solution two or three times a day after piercing. This will help reduce pain over the next few days.
Don't change the jewelry until six weeks after piercing (or until fully healed).
Make sure to use a Q-Tip that has been soaked in saline solution.
Don't sleep on the same side as your piercing for a few weeks.
Proper Aftercare of a Pierced Tragus
Aftercare is vital. In addition to the steps listed above, follow these steps to avoid infection and speed healing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning your piercing.
- Clean the area with a saline solution and a Q-Tip at least twice a day, but no more than three.
- Make sure to also gently clean the area behind the tragus. This will ensure that the solution reaches deep inside the hole.
- Other than this, don't touch the area at all.
- Avoid using the pierced ear when you talk on the phone. Try to sleep on the opposite side.
- Make sure your bedding and pillowcase are clean.
Should I rotate the jewelry?
No, not until it is fully healed. There is no reason to rotate the jewelry, and doing so might damage the healing skin. (Artists used to recommend this in the past, but new evidence shows that touching the jewelry only adds risk of damage and infection.)
How to Make Your Own Saline Solution
It's easy to make saline solution at home. If you follow the instructions, homemade saline solution is just as good as store-bought. Even mainstream sites like Healthline recommend doing homemade sea salt soaks. A typical solution is .9% saline, about the same as human tears.
Here is what you'll need:
- 1 cup of warm distilled water
- 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon sea salt or table salt (non-iodized is best)
- a clean glass jar with a tight lid
Add the salt to the jar of warm water, cover, and shake until dissolved. Refrigerate and use within one month, as bacteria can grow in saline solution. If it ever looks cloudy or dirty, throw it away. Keep the saline solution clean by not dipping into the container— instead, pour what you need into another (clean) cup.
If you don't have distilled water, you can boil the water for 15 minutes before adding the salt instead, but you must use this solution within 24 hours.
Risks of Tragus Piercings
- Sleeping on It. Pressure and unclean bedding pose risks for an unhealed tragus piercing, especially for side-sleepers.
- Wearing a Hat. It's not a great idea to wear a hat—even a clean one—until your tragus piercing is entirely healed.
- Listening Devices. Using earbuds, earphones, or phones all pose risks as these devices can introduce bacteria to an unhealed piercing.
- Pulling on Clothing. Even pulling a sweater over your head can be risky, as clothing is apt to catch and pull the jewelry, tearing the skin.
If Your Tragus Becomes Infected
There is a possibility of infection with any kind of piercing, but the only reason this would happen is if proper aftercare was not followed or the piercer didn't follow all safety precautions.
During piercing, the tragus will bleed and may continue to bleed for a few hours. Afterward, it is common to experience pain and swelling for a few days. There is no need to worry as long as they subside within seven days. Consult a doctor if you notice any of the following after seven days:
- soreness around the piercing
- continued bleeding
- yellow or green discharge
- foul smell from the piercing
Even if you do notice any of these symptoms of infection, don’t panic. Do not remove the jewelry yourself, as this may cause the hole to close and trap infection within. Consult both your tattoo artist and your doctor.
How Long for a Tragus Piercing to Heal?
Most cartilage piercings typically take from 3 to 6 months average to heal, and tragus piercings specifically take at least four months to fully heal. Of course irritation, infection, and personal differences can affect heal time.
Common Questions About Tragus Piercings
Do tragus piercings help treat migraine headaches?
Both the tragus and the daith are parts of the ear that lie near the vagus nerve, a pressure point that has been traditionally used by acupuncturists to treat migraines and headaches. Some believe that piercing these points offers steady and constant relief of headaches, although most of the evidence is anecdotal and few studies have been done.
Do tragus piercings get infected easily?
Yes, a tragus piercing is particularly prone to infection, probably because it touches the pillow when you sleep and also risks exposure to dirty hair and harsh, irritating shampoos.
When can I change my tragus jewelry?
Changing your jewelry is risky until you are fully healed. Wait at least 16 weeks and make sure there are no signs of infection before you try swapping jewelry.
What is an anti-tragus piercing?
The anti-tragus is located just across the ear opening from the tragus. It is on the middle ear cartilage above the lobe.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Erin on November 13, 2017:
I love piercings however, I had my baby belly without the baby of course lol. But the aftermath of stretch marks that were 27 years old so anywho.........
I went for it a belly piercing andit easnt to painful wehn it was pierced (probably cau se he went through a stretch mark and I was standing when he marked the pierced mark he wanted to Pierce. I am totally new and never been body pierced so I thought I knew what he was doing well.......... He then had me lying down in my back and he continued to do the piercing I don't qustion cause I thought I know WTF he was doing.
He did the piercing and told me to swipe around the jewelry with alcohol a couple times a day and DO NOT NOT NT RAKE A SHOWER FOR ONE WEEK!!! AMD TO TUEN THW BELLY RING AFTER RUBBING THE QTIP WITH ALCOHOL........SO I DID EXACTLY I MEAN TO THE TEA EXACTLY WHAT HE TOD ME AND NOW HERE IS THE SAD STORY.... BEAR WITH ME I KNOW ITS LONG RANT BUT I LOVE YOU GUYS TOO ,
Vicky on July 26, 2017:
I was told to avoiding table salt by piercer and use sea salt !
Kelsey on February 26, 2017:
I got my tragus done 2-23-17 and I love it. It really have not had that much pain. I am just worried about infection. I don't have one now but it is just a fear. It hurt so much when I got both left and right ears done. Got them done on the same day.
tiffany on April 01, 2016:
I had mine done 8 days ago and I bled a lot once it was done. She said to rotate, move the earring so it does not get stuck. I'd like to get it changed out in 2-6 months with a stud or barbell. It hurts to move it and its very hard to move it or rotate the hoop; its hard to tell if its being moved or not moving.
Helen on January 03, 2016:
I had my tragus done months ago, it didn't hurt much no soreness healing very well then thought I lost my stud only to find it had gone back into the hole, and now it keeps weeping and crusting and help on what to do would be appreciated thanks
autumn on September 28, 2015:
I got my tragus pierced a couple weeks ago and I feel like my hole in the back has stretch. I afraid I will accidentally pull the bar through the hole. What do I do?
nancy on August 29, 2015:
I got my tragus done a couple of days ago and love it but my question is if you don't have saline solution can you use hydrogen peroxide or alchol??? and by the way it hurt like a bitch and I screamed like a little girl...lol...but I love it...
nicola on August 24, 2015:
Got my tragus done 5 months ago and I really love it. Yeah my mate when we were drunk hit more like punched my ear had a wee infection but it cleared up so easy. Its normal for diabetics and piercings to take longer to heal. No pain when done so go for it I got my peirceing and bar for 25 quid in scotland. I have lobes industrial and tragus in my right ear snake bites.
Lisa on August 16, 2015:
Wanting to get a tragus peicing. ...what side do i get it on
Rebecca Gomez on August 08, 2015:
Got my tragus piercing last summer a couple of days ago or today ? (At16 years) So it's my one year anniversary with it! It's not that painful actually and my piercer was awesome! If you're thinking about doing it I say go for it bust just know that wearing earbuds will never be the same ( if you're not wearing a hop earring there) my piercer gave me a stud and I haven't changed it yet bc I didn't want an infection. Now that it's been a year I think it's time for a change. Follow the rules above and you'll be just fine :)
Kasey on July 31, 2015:
Ive had my tragus pierced for a year (this is the second time) .. when i first got it pierced in was in the middle of the cartliage after battling pain and soreness it finally subsided however its moved to the top of the cartliage and is now just under the skin.
Is this caused by my body rejecting the piercing or what!? Has anyone else had this issue? .. its done this both times
Tiffany on June 24, 2015:
I just got my tragus done a few days ago. For me, it was by far the most painful piercing, and I have many piercings. It was fine for a day or so after, but it gets very sore. The whole right side of my head feels like a big bruise, which aches when I eat, or even smile. I've also had a lot of scabs and blood every time I clean it with my saline solution. Which, is what my piercer recommended I use. Thinking about switching over to my H2ocean spray to see if I get any better results!
Heather on June 03, 2015:
I've had my tragus pierced for about 1 year and a half now... this is the second time I had it done. It is by far the most painful piercing I have. The first time I had it done 5 years ago I passed out from the pain. The second time I just got a little nauseous.
But it's SO cute it is well worth the pain.
I did however BOTH times have a keloid develop next to the piercing, just kept cleaning with h2ocean and it eventually went away both times.
Georgie on May 30, 2015:
Hi, I really want my tragus piercing but my mum won't let me. Ive already had my double lobes, helix and belly pierced ( I'm 13 btw). I have a high pain tolerance so I'm not scared about the pain but I was thinking more about the healing. Could anyone help me with getting my mum to let me. Thanks xx
Adam on May 16, 2015:
I have 2 scaffolding, 2 Tragus,2 Spaces and eyebrow, but my other Tragus didn't bleed at all but my other one today just little bit of blood?
Rachel on April 22, 2015:
To answer some questions & verify things: Always go to a professional tattoo/piercing place for piercings other than lobes, (even then still recommend a piercing artist)! You can shatter the cartilage. A saline solution is a teaspoon of non iodized sea salt and warm water that's been sterilized, (boiled) or h2ocean.
Louise on April 07, 2015:
Just had my Tragus pierced today and can honestly say I felt only a slight pinch as he pierced it.
Would totally recommend it.
It's my 11th piercing and will say it's the least painful one.
suzie on April 02, 2015:
Ive had my tragus done for 3 month now. It got infected bad had to go to the doctor and was on antibiotics for 2 weeks tried salt water ,tea tree oil and still not fully healed.
gin on March 27, 2015:
I had my tragus done a week ago it was done with a gun and a stud was put in with the butter fly clip.does this sound normal
Megan on March 25, 2015:
I had got my tragus done 2 days ago and it hurts so bad :( but it's a beautiful piercing and i would recommend it :)
MO on March 25, 2015:
I just got my piercing to both of mine this past Saturday, no problems so far, but these two piercing by far hurt the worse. I have had my nose,eyebrow, and lip pierced before but I can say I like these two the best out of all of them.
Lucy on March 20, 2015:
I got both of mine done at the same time about a week ago now. It didn't hurt for me at all. I slept just fine that night and two days later was able to listen to my earbuds and talk on the phone. They had me make my own saline solution and rip a paper towel so it cleans it on both sides of the Tragus and I couldn't be happier. I just wanna know when you can put in a different piece of jewelry
Amanda on March 19, 2015:
Is it bad to get both ears done at the same time? Wouldn't it hurt to sleep at night?
RACHAEL on March 04, 2015:
I got my done the 3/03/2015 and just wanna ask why does it hurt so much to smile to eat to talk some time
Lisa Ling on February 07, 2015:
I just got my Tragus pierced and it didn't hurt at all. This was the second time I had it done.
Alli on February 02, 2015:
I just got my tragus pierced today and let me tell you, I have 6 tattoos and a few piercings (my tolerance for pain is pretty good) and I screamed like a little girl using some not nice words. Most painful one yet. But after about 2 hours I can't feel anything. I got it done on both ears and the only thing that's bothering me is a little swelling. Overall, I love them!
jess on January 25, 2015:
Got mine done yesterday and all I can say is ouch. But wasn't too bad and for all my ear piercings I've used salt and boiling water cooled down to clense them had no problems.
catieee on January 20, 2015:
I just got mine piercing two days ago or something and the piercer didn't tell me anything about the saline solution!!! Where can I get it? Could it be available at pharmacies since I live in a country that doesn't sell saline solution in grocery stores. Please help me out!!!
Maggie on January 07, 2015:
Mine was $40 and I tipped the piercer. So, it was about $47.
Also not to scare anyone, but I have 3 tattoos, and 6 piercings. My tragus was by far the most painful. I almost passed out. I am aware that tattoos are a completely different type of pain, but I'm just giving some reference.
aria on January 07, 2015:
How much is a tragus piercing? Im only 14 but i really want it done! :)
chloe on January 06, 2015:
I had my tragus done about six months ago and I love it, however mine actually hurt more than any of my other piercings as it depends on the thickness of the cartilage inside :) that being said it only lasted about fifteen seconds and it wouldn't stop me getting it again x
Allie on January 03, 2015:
I got my tragus pierced today and my guy did an amazing job. It didn't hurt at all i just felt some pressure. He pierced my rook too and I had no problems with that either. Love this piercing!
stacy on December 30, 2014:
H2ocean is a great saline solution to use. I've used it on all my piercings and they all healed rather quickly.
Sarah on December 21, 2014:
Yes there is such thing as having a small tragus-if a trusted piercer said it was to small do not go and try to get it someplace else because then you could really damage your tragus.
Kelly on November 30, 2014:
I just got ma tragus pierced 2 days ago it didn't hurt when I got it but now it's hurting I don't know what to do
sunshineladyoo on November 29, 2014:
I am 61 years old went with granddaughter to mall she has hers done love it so grandmother (me) decided I'm getting it done it's been 7 days still a little sore but love it get it done doesn't hurt ur love it
Abhishek Gupta (author) from Kolkata on November 04, 2014:
The scale of infection could be damaging and high..It should cause trouble for hearing if carried out in the right manner but 14 years is too young for getting your tragus pierced. I would suggest to wait for a couple of years before you do get your tragus pierced. Lastly, these are possible suggestions and it is advised to get your tragus checked professionally and get answers to all your queries which you have...
Sara on November 03, 2014:
i am planning to get my tragus pierced but am afraid of 2 things
1)will infection effect my hearing
2) how do you know if your tragus is large enough to get a peircing (I am 14)
Please excuse any ignorance I may have and respond asap
Jenelle on October 25, 2014:
Just got my tragus pierced on my right ear today n already lovin it!!!! :))
Jimmy on October 20, 2014:
I got mine done about a month ago, not very painful at all. They put a barbell in it and I want a hoop,preferably a captive bead.
Meags on October 19, 2014:
I used to have my tragus pierced but I took it out for work. I've had it done again but they didn't pierce through the scar tissue, they've done it just next to it. I love it but every now and then l move my neck or smile and it hurts inside my ear near the piercing and down the side of my neck. Is this normal? I don't remember this happening last time.
Lacey on October 18, 2014:
I had my tragus pierced over 7 months ago, i can't seem to loosen the ball, and i have new jewellery to put it.. Anyone know any tips on how to loosen it and what way to loosen it, pierced on my right ear.
Aaliyah on October 18, 2014:
I want the tragus piercing soooooo bad but I'm still scared about the pain and aftercare.
Celine on October 14, 2014:
JUST GOT MY TRAGUS PIERCED YAY!
Katie on October 14, 2014:
I've had mine pierced for almost two years and you can wear earbuds as long as their small. It can feel a little awkward to get them in after its healed. I wouldn't recommend putting them in until it heals.
Fanny on October 04, 2014:
I'm really thinking of getting one but can anyone asnwer this please, when you've had it for a while (so that it has healed and all) can you use earphones to listen to music just as usual or woulf that be impossible?
Leah on September 26, 2014:
I'm thing of getting mine sons but I'm only 13 it it really sore
hannah on September 09, 2014:
Hi i think iv got a keloid comeing help
Becca on August 28, 2014:
Love the flower pircing in the picture. Where can I get it from??? Any help??
marie on August 27, 2014:
Got mine done 9 days ago and have severe inflammation and soreness at the moment, the only thing preventing me from taking it out is that you're advised not too in case of serious infection, im raging as I do love it. I have been ritually cleaning it but read somewhere that you can over clean it too, hopefully I will see an improvement in the next day or two...(if I can last that long)
Sharnae on August 21, 2014:
Got my piercing done almost 2 weeks ago, thought it would hurt... not at all! ! Love the piercing. Use sea salt soaks diligently
Sarah on August 18, 2014:
i just got this pierced yesterday. i have pierced my tongue and nose and naval and this was by far the most painful one. all of my other piercings were quite painless so u wasn't exactally ready for this one to be painful! surprised me. it really does depend on the person.
Carolina on August 13, 2014:
Just got my piercing a couple hours ago and I don't feel any discomfort at all. It was actually quite painless for me to be honest. I was expecting soooo much more pain. I guess it's different for everyone. I'm happy with the way it all went.
kayla on August 11, 2014:
Hello, which saline solution do you use ?
Nela on July 26, 2014:
I just had my tragus pierced yesterday and it was a bit painful, especially while inserting the jewelry, it felt huge amount of pressure. Today it feels normal, no pain, soreness, and i forget its even there oh and I LOVE IT!!!!
Rune on July 07, 2014:
Never rotate a new piercing, it just rips the newly healing cells around it and causes the healing time to dramatically increase.
Otherwise it sounds like good advice tho.
nevaeh on June 14, 2014:
The tragus is a cute piercing but still scared about it.
Lisa Stover from Pittsburgh PA on September 10, 2013:
I actually have never seen this type of piercing, very interesting.