By Elly Niedzviecki
Cartilage and body piercings are fairly prevalent among students today, but from personal experience it can be difficult to find reliable info about piercing care. Some examples of popular cartilage piercings would be helix (near the top of the ear) and nose piercings. If you have questions about these types of piercings, whether you're thinking about getting one or already have one, this interview provides the basic need-to-know information about cartilage and body piercings. Although I was getting excited to head over to New Tribe and sit down to interview Stacy, a professional piercer (who has been doing piercings for 15 years) sadly with the Coronavirus and semi-lockdown going on, the interview ended up being over email. New Tribe Tattoo + Piercing where Stacy works is a reputable studio located slightly west of Queen and University. It's been open for over 28 years.
“What is the standard cartilage piercing care?”
Clean your piercing(s) no more than 2 times a day for the first 8 weeks. After that anytime you are in the shower make sure to soak off any dry gunk with warm water and push off excess with a Q-tip. Never touch your piercing, especially with dirty hands - make sure your hands are always clean when doing aftercare. The average healing time is a minimum 8 weeks but most can take up to a year.
“Do the cleaning requirements change when the piercing has healed/started to heal?”
Once it has healed you do not need to clean it daily. It’s best to rinse when you shower.
“What cleaning products should you use? (Are there budget options?)”
You can use a saline spray - make sure it is for piercings (not wound wash or nasal spray)! You can spray it directly on your piercing, let it soak for up to 5 minutes, then use a Q-tip to wipe all the dry gunk off. Or a more budget friendly option would be a bar of vegetable glycerin soap (which you can buy at your local Bulk Barn or health food store).
“Would it be considered high maintenance to look after your cartilage/ body piercing?”
Depends on what you consider high maintenance, twice a day shouldn’t be too much (ie: do it after you brush your teeth in the morning and at night) and don’t touch your piercing in between.
“What are common cleaning mistakes/ What is some common misinformation shared about piercings?”
- Using too much salt to water ratio when doing a salt water soak
- Cleaning with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
- Twisting your piercing
- Using piercing guns
“What does an infection look like on a (cartilage/nose) piercing? How do you treat it?”
Infections on just about all piercings will look red, are hot, have green and yellow discharge coming out and are very painful. Treatment varies on how bad the infection is. Sometimes salt-water soaks can clear it up or you need to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic.
“How can you tell the severity of the infection?”
Depends how painful and inflamed it is.
“Can you still get infections once your piercing has healed/a while after you got it pierced?”
Yes, you can. If the area gets irritated enough and is neglected it can get infected.
“What are the things that everyone should know before getting a cartilage /or body piercing?”
Some piercings you may not be able to safely get and heal. Not everybody is suitable for every piercing…some piercings are anatomy specific. Ie: navel (belly button), Industrial, Snug, Tongue (to name a few). A piercer will determine that for you.
“Besides cleaning it, are there other infection-preventative measures you should be taking/ what are the things you should avoid after getting a piercing?”
Avoid trauma to the area (ie- catching on clothes, or in today’s climate, an ear piercing getting snagged on your mask straps can cause trauma). Less is always more - just do the minimum requirements of cleaning. Sometimes overdoing it can cause irritation or infection! Avoid swimming/public bodies of water for the first 8 weeks.
“What are the major differences between cartilage piercings and lobe piercings (besides the location on the ear?”
Not a whole lot, other than maybe your pain tolerance when getting the piercing. Lobes are much softer, thus healing a lot faster.
“If you have questions about piercings, where should you go to get answers?”
NOT GOOGLE! Not your friend who pierced themselves! Contact the piercer/shop who pierced you.
“Do you have any advice specifically for teenagers/ younger people getting body and cartilage piercings? ”
DO NOT PIERCE YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS BODIES YOURSELF! And if you do, DO NOT BRAG ABOUT IT TO YOUR PIERCER! - 1,000,000/100 recommend. It does not sound bad*ss like you think it does! It is dangerous and, in all honesty, embarrassing. You will be made fun of behind your back after you leave HAHA.
“Does where you get your piercing matter? If it does, why?”
YES! Just like tattoos, although the piercing itself is not permanent, do your research! Go to reputable shops. Check google reviews and Instagram! USUALLY the cheaper the price of the service is… the more likely you will have a problem with the end result (I would say that goes for ALL services like hair, nails, etc). Yes, I understand not wanting to break the bank to get a piercing either. I would look for places with a $40-$100 range (depending on the type/complexity of the piercing you want). In my 15 years of piercings, the majority of people that come to me to help/fix/take out their problematic piercings, they got it done at a shop that has $15-$20 piercings!
“What should people look out for when figuring out where to get your piercing?”
In terms of shops, check their Instagram for HEALED photos. If there is NONE, I’d proceed with caution.
“When should you not be getting cartilage/body piercings?”
Summer time! If you like beaches, swimming and cottages, you’ll miss out on 8 weeks of that (your entire summer pretty much). Get your piercings in the winter so it can be healed and ready for your summer!