A helix piercing is rarely a starter piercing. Most people begin with a lobe, naval or nostril piercings. Moving on to ear cartilage means longer healing times and a little more pain. But there’s no need to be intimidated. Whether a helix will be your first upper ear piercing or one more to the collection you can do it, you just need to know how to prepare.
What is a Helix Piercing?
A helix piercing is a piercing along the outer upper cartilage part of your ear. The name comes from a DNA helix, which the piercing bears some similarity to. The cartilage making up the DNA strands and the piercing forming the connecting strands of sugars and phosphates
Having two or three helix piercings are, respectively, double helix piercing and triple helix piercings. Other popular variations include:
- Forward Helix Piercing: A forward helix is forward-facing on the ear’s upper cartilage, directly above the tragus
- Anti-Helix Piercing (Snug): The anti-helix is placed on the cartilage fold inside of the outer cartilage. The exact placement varies depending on the shape of your ear.
How to Prepare
Choose a Piercing Shop
One of the first things to do is to choose a professional piercing shop. Whatever experience you may have with other piercings, a helix is a little more advanced. You want to get your cartilage piercings from a pro. Inexperience can lead to infection, damage, or -gasp- an ugly piercing.
In addition to this, you get the benefit all piercings get from a professional shop. That means a sterile environment and tools. Do not have your helix pierced with a piercing gun. As well as support and instruction throughout the healing process.
Get Aftercare Needs in Advance
If you stock up on aftercare products before your piercing, there is less to worry about after. In all likelihood, all you’ll want to do afterwards is stare at your new helix piercing, not go all around town for necessities.
Your piercing studio can recommend specific products. The core of your piercing aftercare kit should include:
- An antimicrobial soap like PurSan.
- A saline solution wound wash or salt soak, like NeilMed. Or the ingredients for your own sea salt soak.
- An applicator for the soak, such as sterile gauze pads or cotton balls.
This preparedness is a time saver and can help you manage pre-piercing jitters.
You don’t want t come to a piercing on an empty stomach. Eat a good, healthy meal no more than 2 hours before your helix piercing. This keeps your blood sugar up preventing dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting.
As well, bring a snack. Just like after you get a shot at the doctor’s office, you want to take a moment to recover and adjust your blood sugar after a piercing. It’s best to bring an individually wrapped snack like a juice box, to ensure it is safe and sterile.
Avoid Drugs, Painkillers & Alcohol Before the Piercing
For an anxious piercee, it’s tempting to steady the nerves with a drink before the needle. But alcohol before a piercing is a bad idea. It thins the blood, which can cause excessive bleeding and bruising. As well, having alcohol in your system increases the risk of swelling, infection, and pain. In fact, it’s best to avoid alcohol in the first few days after a piercing.
Drugs and painkillers can have a similar effect on the piercing. As such, it’s best to avoid them as well. If you’re taking prescription drugs you may want to consult with your doctor and/or piercer. Some conditions, like hemophilia, require a doctor’s note before making an appointment.
If you’re on antibiotics, it’s best to wait until you have finished the prescription. Reschedule your piercing if you’re sick. You want your body in tip-top shape to recover from the piercing.
It’s common to have a little anxiety before a piercing, but it’s best to try and stay relax. Staying calm relaxes your muscles, making the piercing easier for both you and your piercer.
There’s a lot you can do, starting with what you’re doing right now. Researching your piercing helps to calm your nerves. You can go in with the confidence and knowledge about what’s about to happen. It’s a great way to take control mentally.
There are plenty of other relaxation techniques for piercings. Some tips include:
- Bring a friend
- Listen to calming music or podcasts
- Breathing Exercises
- Positive thinking
Choose Your Helix jewelry
Of course, you’ll need jewelry for your initial helix piercing. But it’s worthwhile to think about what body jewelry you might want to switch to once the piercing heals. There’s a big difference in between choosing jewelry for a new vs a healed piercing.
For your initial helix jewelry, it’s all about healing. You want a piercing that won’t irritate the piercing. That means choosing non-allergenic materials like gold (14k-18k) and implant-grade titanium. As well, you want jewelry that won’t easily catch or shift. A ring, for example, is generally a poor choice for initial jewelry because it tends to move a lot, irritating a fresh piercing, and it’s easily caught on a hairbrush.
Once your piercing is fully healed, however, your options open up. You can become more liberal with your jewelry choice. This is when you can replace your barbell or stud with a ring.
It’s good to go in, not only with the jewelry you’re planning to have the piercer insert that day, but also have an idea of what type of piercing jewelry you want later. This lets the piercer know how you want the piercing to look.
There are 3 common types of helix piercing jewelry types:
- Captive Bead Rings
- Labret Studs
Common Helix Piercing Questions
How Long Does a Helix Piercing Take to Heal?
The helix is about in the middle for how long ear piercings take to heal. The average healing time is about 6 to 9 months. You’ll usually want to wait at least 2 months before changing out the jewelry, as changing jewelry before healing is traumatic for the piercing. Consult with your piercer to determine whether the piercing has healed enough.
How Much Do Helix Piercings Hurt?
People always want to know how much piercings hurt. It’s a fair question, although the initial pain is over quickly. A helix piercing is about in the middle, usually a 5 out of 10 on the pain scale. It’s a little less painful than most other cartilage piercings.
What Are The Helix Piercing Risks?
The helix piercing itself is fairly low risk - if you follow the proper aftercare and go to a professional piercing shop. Still, it’s worth understanding the risks to hammer home the importance of these factors.
Going to a professional piercer is essential, especially for a cartilage piercing. This area is prone to excessive bleeding, so proper placement is important. As well, the shape of your ear determines placement, so you want someone with plenty of experience and knowledge. Piercing in the wrong spot also creates a greater risk of scarring.
Your aftercare is something else you shouldn’t take lightly. Infections aren’t common, but they do happen if the piercing isn’t cared for. A severe helix piercing infection can result in keloids, large puffy scars that leave scars and may require medical treatment. In the worst case, an infection can lead to perichondritis, which can deteriorate the structure of the ear. If you see signs of infection or allergic reaction, talk to your piercer immediately and take action to prevent these conditions from setting in.
Get a Helix Piercing in Newmarket
When you get a helix piercing it’s essential to visit a professional piercing artist. They ensure your piercing is safe and beautiful, with all your questions answered and coaching you through aftercare techniques.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or visit our professional Newmarket piercing shop at the Upper Canada Mall.
Need an Experienced Piercer in Newmarket?
Working with an experienced piercer can make all the difference when it comes to the amount of pain you may experience. If you’re in the Newmarket, Ontario area and are concerned about the level of pain with regards to various ear piercings, give us a call or stop by today. We’d love to help walk you through what to expect and help you choose the right option.