A Complete Guide to Helix Piercing

There is plenty of room for playing with piercings around the ear. In the area between the earlobe and the navel, you can get many different kinds of piercings. Helix piercings are trendy and are sometimes called cartilage piercings, however, due to their appearance. There are many variations of this piercing, and it is usually done on the upper ear, with different jewelry styles and placements.

Helixes don’t have any medical application; they are only for aesthetic reasons. You might want to consider getting your ears pierced with a helix if you feel it would fit your vibe, or if you’re considering it for any reason. Find out what you need to know about the upper ear piercing.

What is a Helix Piercing?

helix piercing 1

As the name implies, the Helix refers to the long curved ridge of cartilage that begins just above the Tragus and curves around the top of the outer ear before finishing just before the soft tissue of the lobe region. There is also a secondary ridge running along the edge of the ear that follows the line of the outer helix; this is called the Anti-Helix. The Anti-Helix is like an ignored second child, now that they have been ignored for so long, they are now the antisocial ones listening to death metal in their locked room (maybe?) Don’t worry, the Anti-Helix also has a piercing, it’s snug, but I’ll discuss it later.

Designed to direct sound waves towards the eardrum, the Helix catches sound waves and directs them. With its rounded, curved shape, the shape resembles a baseball/softball mitt, reaching out in a desperate attempt to catch the sound before it passes.

This curve covers a considerable portion of the ear, so the exact placement along it can be more precisely described. These variations of the Helix piercing are listed below.

Since helix piercings are located somewhere on the outer cartilage of your ear, they are often referred to as cartilage piercings. As far as the piercing itself is concerned, there are several variations, including the forward helix, triple helix, and anti-helix (or snug) piercings-the difference between each type is where it is located.

Forward helix piercing

When you follow the curve of the top of your ear around to where your head meets it, you will find a nook where the forward helix piercing goes through. Additionally, it can be referred to as the anti-helix or inner-helix piercing.

Triple and double forward helix

There will be two more studs ascending from the initial forward helix, resulting in a three-stud line. In the case of a double forward helix piercing, there are two studs in total.

Helix piercing

An area of ear tissue just below the ridge on the downward turn of the arc near the ridge.

Flat Helix piercing

An earring stud is slotted along the top arch of the ridge, slightly away from the curve for a more natural appearance.

Pain and Healing Time

The pain of helix piercing needs to be talked about. Are helix piercings worse than lobe piercings? As your lobes are less fleshy, the helix is generally more painful than your lobes, due to its reduced flesh content. Due to cartilage’s density, it may require a bit more force to pierce through, which can result in some discomfort. You’ll feel pain for a while, but it’ll pass and your new piercing will last for the rest of your life.

Depending on your tolerance level, it’s roughly a four or seven on the pain scale, says Hannah Ruhga, a piercer at Moth Art & Tattoo Collective. Although passing a needle through the skin is painful, any piercing will do, since it’s essentially just a wound. Consider both your own pain threshold and the experience and skill of your piercer in order to help alleviate some of the pain.

“Usually, they always come back for more because it’s worth it!” expresses Ruhga.

The healing process for helix piercings takes approximately three to six months. As you heal your new piercing, if you don’t take proper care of it, it may take longer; otherwise, you may have to get it re-pierced and begin again.

Wound healing can vary from person to person,” according to Rachael Earnest of Legacy Dermatology and Restoration Center, a board-certified dermatologist. For some individuals, the healing process may take up to one year.

There are numerous factors that contribute to healing, including health, sleep, and stress, as well as how well you follow your aftercare plan. Physical stressors are handled by our bodies at different speeds, which makes sense since they impact how our bodies react and recover. According to Freed, you should budget at least two months for an average estimate. Initially, helix piercings take between two and four months to heal. It takes six to nine months for a piercing to completely heal. Depending on your specific piercing and your body, healing timelines will differ, but once the redness, swelling, flaking, or discharge from your ear stops, you’ll know it is fully healed.

What should I do about an infected helix piercing?

Irritation and infection are often confused by some people! Even with some irritation, there shouldn’t be much infection as long as the patient takes proper care after the procedure. The first few days after surgery are normal to experience slight bleeding, puss, crusties (dead skin cells), swelling, tenderness, itchiness, bruising, or soreness. It usually only lasts a few weeks for these symptoms to appear. Nevertheless, Freed recommends consulting your physician if you experience any symptoms outside of those listed above.

Cost of a Helix Piercing

Depending on where the piercing studio is located, your piercer’s level of experience, and the jewelry you select, the cost of a helix piercing will vary greatly. The typical price range for it, however, ranges from $30 to $75. Make sure to choose a piercer based on ability rather than price; don’t go for an affordable one simply because it is inexpensive.


For aftercare, you should wash your helix piercing twice a day with a saline solution (or antibacterial soap, according to Earnest). Washing isn’t the hardest part of the process; the most difficult part is being careful to avoid irritating your piercing. Using accessories that may catch on it, such as beanies or headphones, will reduce friction. Lucia Valentini, an ear-piercer in Barcelona, also recommends lying on the opposite side from the ear with the piercing if you’re a side sleeper because sleeping on a fresh piercing can result in infection.

In addition, it’s important to avoid touching or upsetting your piercing as much as possible, since irritation might lead to inflammation or, in some cases, an infection. In addition to washing your hands before touching your piercing, Earnest recommends that you always protect your piercings.

“If you want to take good care of your piercing during the healing process, you should think, ‘Never put on your piercing something you will not put in your eyes,’” advises Valentini.

Side Effects of Piercing

“Infection and scarring are the two biggest risks if you don’t properly care for the piercing,” as an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology, Joshua Zeichner speaks.

Infection: When aftercare isn’t followed properly, or when the piercing has become excessively inflamed, an infection occurs. The most common symptoms of an infection are redness, swelling, green or yellow pus, and tenderness. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Scarring: In the aftermath of piercing, a scar may form if the piercing becomes too irritated. This can leave unattractive marks around the piercing site.

Keloids: The term keloid refers to an abnormally raised scar formed when the skin heals around a wound, causing an excess amount of scar tissue to grow in response to the trauma. Their size can vary, but generally, they don’t hurt nor do they contain any tissue other than scar tissue.

How to Change Out a Helix Piercing

Helix jewelry is easily changed, but be sure that the piercing has fully healed before you do so. This will take between three and six months. When making the first change, Valentini recommends having your piercer assist you, as it is crucial that the process goes smoothly. Additionally, your piercer can make sure you are confident enough to change the jewelry yourself after the procedure is explained to you. Whether you choose to remove the stud backing or the flexible metal ring, you just need to slightly separate it from the piercing. Once that is done, insert the replacement as before.

 “If you have any difficulty, visit your piercing professional for help,” suggests Dr. Zeichner. “Especially within the first few months, if the piercing is removed there is a risk that the hole will close up.”

Type of Jewelry Used for a Helix Piercing

Stud: A stud is a small piece of jewelry consisting of a thin, long backing, which is placed into the hole of the piercing. Fixtures are attached to the back of studs in order to seal them in place.

 Hoop/Ring: A hoop is also known as a ring and is a popular choice for helix piercings. There’s a ring-shaped piece of metal that can bend easily thanks to its flexibility. The end of a hoop can be easily removed by simply pulling them apart.

Jewelry Material Used for a Helix Piercing

“Stainless steel or titanium are the best metals to use since they are relatively inert and should not cause a reaction in your body,” claims Zeichner.

Stainless steel: If you are looking for helix jewelry, stainless steel is the ideal choice because it comes in various colors and shapes while retaining its good quality. All stainless steel does have nickel, so it is not suitable for people who are allergic to nickel.

Gold: Gold may not be the best metal for helix jewelry, yet it’s not a bad choice either. It’s a great choice if you want your piercing to match the rest of your jewelry or if you simply like gold’s aesthetic appeal. To avoid metal that’s too soft, you should only get jewelry with at least 14 karats.

Titanium: Titanium is a solid choice that is just as versatile as stainless steel since it comes in a variety of finishes. There is only one difference between titanium and stainless steel: titanium does not contain nickel, thus it is a safer material.

How should I clean the jewelry?

London-based Laura Bond Jewellery, a family-run business that carries luxury earrings, provides expert cleaning tips.

The following items will be needed:

  • The best container is a shallow bowl or tub made of plastic
  • A piece of aluminum foil
  • A kettle for boiling water
  • A few tablespoons of baking powder or bicarbonate of soda

Follow these steps:

  • Prepare your tub by lining it with aluminum foil, making sure the shiny side of the foil faces upwards.
  • Ensure that your jewelry is touching the foil before placing it in the tub.
  • Boiling water should be poured over the jewelry so that it is fully submerged.
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons per liter of boiling water of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder should be added. Watch it bubble and fizz and you might see the tarnish lift off and the beautiful luster of the metal show through. Depending on how badly tarnished the piece is, it may need repeated cleaning and polishing.
  • To avoid being burnt, wait 10 minutes then carefully remove the jewelry from the tub with a spoon.
  • To dry the jewelry, use some paper kitchen towels.

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