Cartilage piercing: should I or shouldn't I?
July 28, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Do you have good info on (ear) cartilage piercing & care in NYC?

So, I got my my upper ear (the cartilage part) pierced several years ago; after six months of awesomeness I tried to change the piercing and it ended...badly. Not horribly, just a keloid-esque infection for several months afterwards. Bye bye, piercing.

Years later, I'm back! I'd really like to get it to work this time. I have no other piercings, so I really am a newbie at the whole piercing-care thing. No piercers in my family either, except my sister, who had an abortive piercing misadventure when she was eleven or so.

Three questions:
1. I really do want to get my ear pierced again. Should I? Or am I one of those unfortunates whose body just doesn't like a shard of metal in it?

2. Recommendations for good, clean places to get cartilage pierced in New York City? Also, can I get it pierced with a ring, or do I need to start off with a stud?

3. Recommendations for piercing care so that I don't have to repeat my misadventure? In retrospect, I probably was not caring for it correctly. The mall kiosk lady gave me alcohol for cleaning and told me to turn my piercing several times a day. I've since been told that this was terrible advice.
posted by MaddyRex to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
not pierced myself but on the recommendation of many friends the folks a new york adorned are experienced, professional and good with solving problems.
posted by jeffe at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2008

1) Yes get it pierced again! Mall kiosks are really not suppose to do cartilage, those guns can shatter it. You'll be fine with a needle-weilding pro.
2)No recommendations, but I've heard good things about the place Jeffe linkes to. Yes, you can get a ring.
3) They'll give you car instructions, but it will likely be salt water soaks, and NOT turning it, or even touching it.
posted by piedmont at 10:00 AM on July 28, 2008

1) Maybe. You mention a mall kiosk lady: if you go to a professional piercer, rather than a mall kiosk, you run a much lower chance of complications, and you'll get up-to-date, correct healing advice. Furthermore, cartilage can be a bit of a pain to heal (not much blood flow, etc.) If you were pierced with a piercing gun, well, those work fairly badly on cartilage. They cause a great deal more trauma to the tissue (including the risk of shattered cartilage), and correct sterilizazion of piercing guns can be a problem. Plus, mall piercers are much less likely to be able to match placement of the piercing to the actual shape of your ear, deal with problems like allergies and sensitivities, etc.

So yeah, it's worth trying again, but definitely, definitely go to a good, safe, professional piercer. I'm not familiar with NYC piercers myself, but I suspect someone will show up with specific advice soon.

2) Actually, starting off with a stud is often not a great idea. In many locations, and for many types of piercings, captive bead rings are easier to clean, and are less of a problem if the area around the piercing swells or gets infected. (For me, rings also have the advantage of being less likely to get caught in long hair.) The only downside is that they tend to stick out a little more.

3) Ask your piercer! This is why you go to a professional piercer. However, to give you a general idea of what good aftercare is, here's what I did for my most recent piercing: I soaked my ear in a mild sea-salt solution for 5 or 10 minutes once or twice a day. I touched the piercing only with sterile cottonballs, and any crusties were generally removed by the soaking. Beyond that, I tried my best not to touch the piercing at all, to sleep on my other side, etc. BMEzine's aftercare overview is pretty standard.
posted by ubersturm at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2008

Seconding New York Adorned. I used to work with the fabulous Greggy Most, so if he's your piercer, send along my regards!

Some more good info here, here, and (though you've already found it!) here.

Much luck! : )
posted by kwaller at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2008

definitely get it pierced again! it's a fun accessory to have. i got my cartilage pierced at the mall [it's my fifth, after 2 in each earlobe] and it turned out fine, but you might want to go to a more professional place considering your past experience. you will be pierced with a stud first, and i think you have to keep it in for ~6 months [maybe longer; i remember the cartilage stud was to be kept in much longer than an earlobe stud bc it takes longer to heal]. i was given "cartilage cleaning solution" [not alcohol] and i used it pretty regularly. i was told to turn the stud after swabbing it. i did develop a nasty bump at the back of the piercing, but it healed after a few weeks of diligent swabbing with the solution. since you had problems when you tried to change the piercing, i'd say you're probably not "one of those unfortunates whose body just doesn't like a shard of metal in it." if that was the case, you'd probably have had problems early on. when you get it pierced, they will tell you when it's safe to change, so wait until then. i tried changing mine early, and that's what caused the bump. [i didn't like the stud, so i tried changing it to a ring.] good luck!
posted by asras at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2008


i cannot recommend any in nyc, but you definitely want a pro, with a needle, not a teenager with a gun.

you can start with a ring, which is probably what your piercer will recommend. you don't have to turn it (that can tear the hole if there's dried gunk on the ring when you turn it). do warm salt water soaks. no alcohol, no iodine, none of that solution shit from claire's.

your professional piercer (who will cost more than clarie's, but is worth it) will give you an aftercare sheet, and explain anything you have questions about. if you have problems, you can go back to his or her shop and ask more questions.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:06 PM on July 28, 2008

New York Adorned is GREAT...very professional, clean, clear instructions, and a wide selection of jewelry. Ditto the salt water soaks.
posted by kenzi23 at 7:01 PM on July 28, 2008

Hey everyone -- thanks for the recs. Just got it pierced (with a ring) at New York Adorned, as recommended, by Danielle Garcia. It seems to be healing well, and what a great place! Everyone was friendly, very professional, clean and it smelled comfortingly like disinfectant. A very good experience.
posted by MaddyRex at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2008

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