Helix Piercings: All You Need To Know

Helix piercings have been sported by many celebrities by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Gal Gadot, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston and Kylie Jenner. As you can see different types of people can easily pull off this well known piercing (and don’t worry there are many varieties, one is bound to suit you). 

These piercings are subtle, can easily be hidden by your hair, and remain chic/dainty when the occasion calls. So a great starting point is to get all of these important questions looked at before you get this piercing. Ofcourse, if you’ve already got one already, stick around for some aftercare tips. 

What is a helix piercing?

Helix piercing is a type of jewelry piercing which is pierced on the cartilage of the outer upper ear. People love to get pierced at this area because it looks more subtle, and it helps if your job is against too many piercings. Ladies love to get pierced here because it gives them a nice detail on the ear. 

Various types of helix piercings exists such as Standard helix piercing, Double helix piercing, Triple helix and Forward Helix Piercing. 

The process

Since the helix piercing is a cartilage piercing, it should only be done with a needle. It should NEVER be performed with a gun. If someone is piercing the cartilage (including the nose or anywhere else) with a gun, they should be reported as this is not only illegal but potentially dangerous. P.S I got mine done in India with a gun – bad idea and let’s just say my piercing is long gone. 

The gun cannot be sterilised as well as a brand new needle under autoclave, and a gun can also cause permanent damage to the ear as it can shatter your cartilage, causing the ear to collapse or become deformed. I still have a huge internal bump on the cartilage  from the gun method. 

A good piercing studio will pierce your ear with a needle and a small tube. For a forward helix, they will clamp the area first, slide the needle through, and put the jewellery into the tube thread, sliding it in and screwing the ball on tightly so it doesn’t fall out. The piercer should mark the dot on your ear and allow you to check the position before they pierce you.

Lastly, don’t allow a friend or someone to pierce you at home or in their home “studio,” even if the equipment was labelled as sterile. Chances are it has only been washed with alcohol or boiled rather than properly sterilised. You can never be sure whether it is truly sterile or not, especially if it came through the post. Even if something has been cleaned beforehand, nowhere will be as clean as a professional, licensed studio.

Pain

This is difficult to answer because it’s so subjective. All of us have different pain thresholds, so something that hurts your mates, might not even make you flinch. Generally, any ear piercing will hurt because you’re essentially putting a hole through your skin (it would be weird if it didn’t) so at the very least you should expect some kind of discomfort no matter what.

Different parts of the ear are bound to hurt more than others because the flesh varies. The ear lobe is generally considered the least painful piercing whereas cartilage piercings – like the rook, septum, nose, daith etc, will usually be more painful because it’s tougher.

Plus there are not many nerve endings as there would be on your regular skin. That’s what makes helix piercing not painful. The best practice before getting pierced is actually to be familiar with the procedure, and not to freak out about it. Nothing is painful if you don’t over think about pain all the time. The procedure is only a couple of minutes long and the pain is actually only a couple of seconds while the piercer is making the hole.

Healing

Usually, it can take up to 6 months for the piercing to properly heal, although it depends on the person because everyone’s different. Make sure it’s properly healed before you change the jewellery. You’ll know when it’s okay to change because it shouldn’t be painful, sore or weeping.

You should clean the fresh wound several hours after it is pierced, before you go to bed at night. Use the piercing liquid they gave you and do not use any form of cream, peroxide, or anything else that has been used by another person. Creams can cause bacteria to build-up and clog the piercing, possibly leading to infection. Peroxide is too strong for most piercings and can prolong the healing process, cause a lot of pain, swelling, or even blistering of the skin.

You can buy a special cleaner in most studios or online. Many of them consist of saline with tea tree oil. Clean the piercing one or two times per day and leave it alone as much as possible.

Aftercare Tips

Aftercare tips will ensure that your earring heals quickly and you keep any chances of infection at bay.  

  • Keep the area around the jewelry clean and that will help you to avoid getting an infection. Use saline solution and a cotton bud to clean the area. 
  • Wash your hands properly before cleaning the area.
  • Avoid touching the piercing while it’s in the healing process.

How to Clean your Helix Piercing properly?

You should clean the fresh wound several hours after it is pierced, and usually before going to bed at night. Just follow the simple instructions that the piercer will give you on how to clean it. Use the piercing liquid that you will be given personally by the piercer and don’t use any other form of piercing cream, peroxide or anything else that was not personally given to you and prescribed by the piercer.

Special cleaners are usually sold by the studios. Many of the cleaners consist of saline with tea tree oil. You should clean the piercing two times per day and leave it alone as much as possible.

Infected Helix Piercing

Most of the times when people get pierced nothing serious happen. But sometimes you can get an infection from the simplest things. But sometimes we can’t know what is wrong and we might think that redness means infection. There are some signs to help you determine what is going on with your piercing and also we will help you to know what you should do about it.

Redness

Having redness is normal when you have your ear pierced, but also if your ear is getting red that means that something is wrong. First, you must consider if you have snagged your ear with the clothing you are wearing. While dressing up watch out for the piercing because that may cause some redness. Also if the redness doesn’t go away in a week or more, that can mean that there is some infection going on.

Swelling

By monitoring the swelling of your piercing you can determine if something concerning is happening.

Some swelling is to be expected in the first couple of days. If the swelling continues and escalates though, you may want a doctor to take a look at your ear, especially if it is accompanied by a hot feeling skin.

Pus production

If your pus continues to seep from your piercing more than one week, you should keep an eye on things to make sure there is no infection present.

A white or very pale yellow pus leaking from a piercing is very normal as it is a sign of healing but  it is not normal to have anything of a darker colour, especially brown, since this is a sign of a bad infection.

If you notice the pus has changed color or smells foul, consider going to the doctor so that he can determine the best course of action. 

Fever, high temperature, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue or flu symptoms

If you end up with a fever after being pierced you need to go to your doctor as soon as possible. He will examine you and your ear and prescribe some antibiotics to drink in order for the fever and possible infection to be gone. Drink every pill that the doctor prescribes you until the given time. Even if it looks that it is healed if you still need to drink the antibiotic don’t stop because you might run into a bigger problem.

Heat

If the skin around the piercing increases in temperature, becomes uncomfortable or is accompanied by swelling and redness, then this could be a sign of allergic reaction or early infection.

Migrating

This doesn’t have anything to do with you travelling but instead it refers to the piercing moving from a normal location to somewhere else. 

This drawback can leave  scar lines and be rejected, or just move anywhere from a small amount to a completely different spot. It can still heal normally but you should have a piercer check it out.

Severe itching

If your piercing is itching excessively or very badly, this can be a sign of an allergy to the metal or the cleaning solution used. Speak with your piercer.

Bleeding

A small amount of blood is common after a piercing with some people, however, if your piercing is bleeding without getting caught on anything or if it’s bleeding a lot, you should speak to your piercer.

Skin turning black

Though in some piercings this can be a sign of bruising, piercings in the ears are different. In the ears, this can be a common symptom of a metal allergy, especially with surgical steel or anything that contains nickel.

Blistering, scales or a rash around the area. 

This is most commonly a sign of allergies or the use of peroxide.

Please be aware that many of the symptoms above can signal allergy, infection, or problems with cleaning. It is not healthy to over clean the piercing just as it is not healthy to be unhygienic with it. See more information on the do’s and don’ts of a new piercing below.

If you have any concerns you should speak to a piercer right away.

If your piercing happens to be infected, DO NOT remove it as the hole can close, trapping the infection inside your body.

How to Take Out a Helix Piercing?

In order to take out the piercing, you should first consult with your piercer. But usually, it’s very simple. Hold the bar with one hand and use the other hand in order to unscrew the ball of the piercing. Different designs have different mechanisms to unscrew but usually, it’s a ball that needs to be unscrewed. Remember turning right will tighten the pierce and screwing to the left it will loosen it up. And as soon as you loosen it you can remove it gently from your ear.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get One or Both of Them?

This depends entirely on the studio. Most places in the UK will pierce a helix from the age of 12-14 with parental consent if you are under the age of 16. 

If they suspect you are underage or giving them false information, they will refuse to pierce. It’s a good idea to phone ahead and check with wherever you’re planning on going.

Cost

The typical cost of a Helix Piercing around 20$ to 55$. Every piercer has their own price but this is the general price of what you’ll have to pay for getting your ear pierced.

With various types of helix piercings to draw inspiration from, you can safely go ahead and accent your ears.

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