Piercing 101: Everything You Need to Know About Tragus Piercings

Kelis side view tragus piercing

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If you're looking for a new accessory, you may want to consider an ear piercing (or two). The curated ear has been trending among cool-girls and celebrities alike, and for good reason. Whether you're shopping for something subtle or edgy, there are plenty of options to choose from.

One of our favorites is the tragus piercing, which "In terms of history, [is] quite new, probably first seen around the 1980s," says piercing expert Jasmine Howell. Still, the tragus continues to be a popular choice as far as ear piercings go. Celebrities from Zoë Kravitz to Rihanna to Scarlett Johansson have all been seen sporting an adorned tragus. Keep scrolling to find out more about getting a tragus piercing, including the pain level, healing time, and cost.

Meet the Expert

Jasmine Howell is a piercer at Maria Tash and Harrods based in London. With over five years of professional experience, she specializes in ear, facial, and body piercing.

What Is a Tragus Piercing?

A tragus piercing sits on the small area of cartilage that partially covers your ear canal.

In terms of anatomy, the outer ear is made up of cartilage and skin. While the fleshy lobe remains the preferred choice among traditionalists looking to get pierced, areas of cartilage, like the tragus, may entice those interested in something slightly different, or in addition to, their already pierced lobe. According to Howell, "As piercers, we’re looking for a small flat area that will support being pierced. Provided your ear is suitable, [tragus piercings] look great on pretty much everyone."

You may have also heard of a surface tragus piercing, which is placed in the same area as the tragus piercing, except rather than puncturing the cartilage, just the skin is pierced. However, because the jewelry lies beneath the skin, there is a high probability of the body rejecting it, deeming it a foreign object that needs to be pushed out.

How Much Do Tragus Piercings Hurt?

Sure, pain is relative—to a point. Generally speaking, how much does a tragus piercing hurt? Howell says, "Most cartilage piercings to me feel like pressure rather than pain. For example, I’ve had both a tragus and helix piercing done, and I wouldn’t say one was more painful than the other. Although, people are sensitive in different areas, so the amount of pain you would feel will vary depending on the person." No pain, no gain, right?

How Do You Care for a Tragus Piercing?

When considering getting any type of piercing, proper aftercare is paramount. After all, you don't want the excitement of your new earring to be overshadowed by said earring contracting an infection. In order to avoid such a scenario, Howell recommends, "cleaning your piercing twice a day with a sterile saline solution for the first two to three months. Avoid touching or moving the piercing—any excessive trauma or pressure will prolong the healing process. To put it simply, leave the piercing alone unless you’re cleaning it!"

How Long Does It Take to Heal?

While any ear cartilage piercing is tricky to heal, the tragus, in particular, gets in the way when talking on the phone, listening to earphones/earbuds, or using a Bluetooth earpiece. Germs are likely to be on those ear devices and will stunt your piercing's healing time. It's advisable to avoid anything from coming into direct contact with your tragus for at least a few weeks after getting pierced.

Howell adds, "Applying any pressure onto the piercing while it’s healing will prolong the healing process. We would recommend not sleeping on it for the first couple of months. Travel pillows can come in handy to prevent pressure. A lot of things will factor into the healing time of a piercing, but generally, we would say anywhere between six to 12 months."

Since the tragus piercing can swell quite a bit more than other ear piercings, a ring would be much more challenging to heal, as it may not accommodate room for swelling. Instead, opt for a bar as your initial ear jewelry.

How Much Will It Cost?

The price of a tragus piercing will depend on where you're getting it done, less for reasons that have to do with the act of piercing than for the piece of jewelry. The cost of tragus piercings typically falls within a range of $30 to $40. Howell elaborates, "Most inner ear cartilage piercings are roughly the same price. Jewelry choices vary, the only limitation being: How many diamonds?" While it may be tempting to go for a metal that is at a lower price point, it's worth noting that higher quality metals like stainless steel and 14K gold will encourage healing and are ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Tragus Earring Shopping List

Scalloped Set Diamond Threaded Stud
Maria Tash Scalloped Set Diamond Threaded Stud $245

Set in a scalloped bezel, this white gold diamond stud would nicely accent ear cartilage or lobe.

tragus piercing: Maria Tash 3.5-2.5mm Spike Threaded Stud Earring
Maria Tash Spike Threaded Stud $140

This edgy, yet elegant spike threaded stud sure knows how to make a statement.

tragus piercing: Maria tash Diamond Paisley (Right) Threaded Stud Earring
Maria Tash Diamond Paisley (Right) Threaded Stud $160

The paisley pattern of this curved teardrop stud adds texture while its single diamond sparkles.

Turquoise Eternity Clicker
Maria Tash Turquoise Eternity Clicker $410

Ten natural turquoise stones line this 14K rose gold eternity ring, making it breathtakingly beautiful.

Black diamond trinity threaded stud
Maria Tash Black Diamond Trinity Threaded Stud $165

This trinity threaded stud features three small black diamonds that stand out against the white gold setting.

Lightning bolt diamond stud
Maria Tash Diamond Lightning Bolt Threaded Stud $315

Adorned with 10 white diamonds, this lightning bolt threaded stud is electrifying.

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