The Complete Guide to Getting an Anti-Tragus Piercing

antri tragus

@andysteiin/Byrdie 

Anti-tragus piercings are a type of cartilage piercing that have grown in popularity over the past couple years, especially as constellation and micro stud styles have become so chic. The earring goes through the fold skin on the small, curved area above your earlobe, sitting adjacent to the tragus (thus its name).

Because of the location of the piercing, you'll find that healing time can be a somewhat protracted, especially in comparison with other types of ear piercings. However, within a few months, your earlobe will be styling for years to come.

Ahead, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, Michele Green, MD, certified piercer, Janeese Brooks and certified Studs piercer, Ava Lorusso offer a complete guide to getting an anti-tragus piercing.

Do note that because some salons might not be offering piercings at the moment, it's not advisable to perform self-piercings. "Although it may seem tempting and seem simple, avoid self-piercings," advises Green. A botched self-piercing can lead to infection and other health concerns. "For the best outcome, it is best to see a licensed professional or dermatologist who will provide you with a safe and sanitary environment," she says.

Anti-Tragus Piercing

Placement: The small, curved area of cartilage above your earlobe and adjacent to the tragus (the small pointed area over the opening of the ear passage).

Pricing: Between $30 and $180, though the jewelry is a separate cost.

Pain level: 6/10

Healing time: Healing time for the anti-tragus piercing typically takes anywhere from three to nine months, according to Green.

Aftercare: Green says to wash the area with warm water and antibacterial soap, two times a day. She also recommends using sterile saline solutions which can help with the healing process as well.

What Is an Anti-Tragus Piercing?

The anti-tragus region of the ear is often described as the cartilaginous ridge that's located right on top of your lobe. An anti-tragus piercing is a type of cartilage piercing that calls for a barbell or ring, according to Brooks.

If you wear other earrings or have stretched lobes, it's best to check that there will be room for an anti-tragus piercing when your other jewelry is fastened properly.

Pain and Healing Time

Our experts rate the anti-tragus piercing pain factor between a six and seven on a scale of one to ten, though Lorusso says, "Pain is all relative." When it comes to healing time, this piercing takes a little longer to heal because of its location. Cartilage piercings, in general, require more healing time than ear lobe piercings, and the anti-tragus piercing is no different.

Says Brooks, "I would advise at any studio, regardless of price, to check the portfolio of the artist to make sure he or she has the skill for the piercing and can give you proper aftercare." 

It's vital to keep the area clean to promote proper healing. Green advises you "wash the area with warm water and antibacterial soap two times a day." All of our experts agree that you can also use a saline solution which can help in the healing process as well.

For best results, avoid sleeping on your anti-tragus piercing, advises Brooks. Lorusso says never to touch, twist, or move your piercing. "You're also going to want to hold off on wearing air pods or headphones for at least six months," she says.

According to Brooks, your anti-tragus piercing will be sensitive for a while, even up to a year after it's performed. "Healing takes up to nine months but can take up to a year to be completely fine," she says. "A little knock or snag on a shirt" can irritate a new piercing, so you have to be very mindful of it.

Cost of an Anti-Tragus Piercing

Most salons will charge for the service as well as the cost of jewelry. Service costs are per piercing and start at $35 for one piercing. Anti-tragus piercing jewelry costs anywhere from $30 to $180 depending on jewelry style and material.

Studs pierces with a curved 10mm barbell which retails for $40.

Side Effects of an Anti-Tragus Piercing

The side effects of an anti-tragus piercing are typical for cartilage piercings and include some swell and discharge. "The location of the anti-tragus piercing can cause irritation and discomfort, especially if it is your first cartilage piercing," explains Green. "This reaction can occur due to the fact that the cartilage of the ear lacks adequate blood supply. This makes it difficult to heal quicker." To help alleviate some of the discomfort during aftercare, Green suggests applying a warm compress to the area. She also underscores the importance of good hygiene, which not only means cleaning the anti-tragus area, but keeping things that come in contact with the piercing extra clean, like pillowcases and sheets.

According to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), you should always wash your hands thoroughly before touching any piercing.

Additionally, Lorusso says you can "expect some tenderness and a little bruising," which is totally normal. "Gold and yellow colored 'crust' will form around the piercing," says Brooks, adding that this is a possibility with any piercing. To care for any yellow discharge you might encounter, "try not to pick at them," she says. Instead, she advises you spray the area with saline solution.

If you have reactive or sensitive skin, Green advises you to take serious precautions because your skin type makes you prone to irritation and swelling. Redness, and in some cases, allergic reactions may occur due to reactive skin conditions. If this sounds like you, consult with your dermatologist before getting your anti-tragus pierced. Finally, to avoid unsavory side effects of any piercing, choose a salon that is impeccably sanitary and make sure you're being treated by a licensed professional.

You'll be able to change out your jewelry only "when your piercing doesn’t feel tender at all to touch," says Lorusso. To swap out, "twist off the top of the barbell and slide through your piercing. If you’re not sure if it’s totally healed, consult a piercer," she says. 

Brooks advises against changing out anti-tragus jewelry until the piercing is fully healed, or your piercer advises otherwise. Do note this may take up to one year.

What Type of Jewelry Is Used for an Anti-Tragus Piercing?

Curved Barbell: A curved barbell is a variation on a straight bar with screwable beads on each end. Usually, one of the beads is affixed, so you will only screw off the other to insert or remove the piercing. Curved barbells may be slightly curved or circular in design depending on aesthetic. They are our experts' primary suggestion for anti-tragus piercing jewelry.

Ball Closure Ring: Ball closure rings are popular for any type of piercing, although Brooks notes that any type of ring increases healing time. This type of jewelry consists of a ring, or captive bead ring (CBR), that closes with a captive ball and generally requires a trip to the piercer to change out the jewelry. If you choose to go the DIY route, it's advised you invest in special pliers to open and close this type of piercing.

What Jewelry Material Is Used for an Anti-Tragus Piercing?

According to Green, if you have reactive or sensitive skin, seek out surgical stainless steel. "In particular, 316L and 316LVM are the only body friendly types," she says.

Brooks and Lorusso favor implant grade titanium, while Brooks adds that solid gold is another viable option.

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