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Cartilage (Helix) Piercing in Nairobi, Kenya

(Variations, Pain Threshold, Healing Time, Aftercare, Jewelry Guide, and Possible Side Effects)

A cartilage piercing, specifically a helix piercing, involves perforating the upper, outer edge of the ear cartilage. This type of piercing is popular for its aesthetic appeal and versatility.

Cartilage Piercings

It’s quite easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the variety of ear piercings available today. Any piercing of the ear’s upper cartilage is referred to as a helix piercing, albeit there are different kinds of helix piercings. You can get a forward, reverse, double, or even triple helix piercings in addition to the regular helix piercing in the upper outer cartilage.

What are the different types of Helix Piercing?

Forward helix piercing

What distinguishes a forward helix piercing from a backward helix piercing? Actually, it’s fairly simple: just follow your cartilage’s natural curve around your ear until you reach the side of your face (i.e., just above the tragus), where there is a forward helix piercing. 

Double, or Triple helix piercing

While the traditional helix method only involves one piercing of the top outer cartilage, if you have two or three piercings in the same spot, just above each other, these are called double and triple helix piercings. This more refers to the amount of piercings you have in the same ear even though they are the same.

Considerations before getting an Helix Piercing

Before getting a helix piercing, it’s important to carefully consider several factors to ensure you make an informed decision and are prepared for the process and aftercare. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Professional Piercing Studio: Research reputable piercing studios in your area. Look for studios with experienced, professional piercers who follow strict hygiene and safety practices.
  • Piercer’s Qualifications: Ensure that the piercer is trained and experienced in performing helix piercings. Ask to see their portfolio of previous work.
  • Placement and Design: Discuss the placement and design of the helix piercing with your piercer. Choose a location and jewelry style that suits your preferences and complements your ear’s anatomy.
  • Pain Tolerance: Be prepared for some pain and discomfort during the piercing process. While it’s typically brief, everyone’s pain tolerance is different.
  • Healing Time: Understand that helix piercings can take several months to fully heal. Proper aftercare is crucial during this period.
  • Aftercare Commitment: Be ready to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer diligently. This may include cleaning the piercing with a saline solution and avoiding touching the piercing with dirty hands.
  • Swelling and Redness: Expect some swelling and redness around the piercing site, especially in the initial days and weeks following the piercing.
  • Jewelry Options: Discuss jewelry options with your piercer. Choose high-quality jewelry made from materials such as surgical steel, titanium, or biocompatible materials to minimize the risk of complications or allergic reactions.
  • Infection Risk: Understand the risk of infection and other complications. Proper aftercare is essential to minimize these risks.
  • Rejection and Migration: Be aware that helix piercings can be prone to rejection or migration, where the body pushes the jewelry out over time. Proper jewelry choice and aftercare can help reduce these risks.
  • Lifestyle Considerations: Consider how the piercing may impact your daily life, such as sleeping on that side, wearing headphones, or participating in sports or activities that could put stress on the piercing.
  • Visibility and Style: Helix piercings are quite visible and can be a fashion statement. Consider whether this level of visibility aligns with your personal style and whether it’s acceptable in your workplace or school.
  • Future Plans: Consider any future plans or career goals that may be affected by the piercing. Some professions or workplaces have strict policies regarding visible piercings.
  • Consultation: Before getting the piercing, have a consultation with your chosen piercer to discuss your expectations, ask any questions, and receive personalized advice.

Cartilage (Helix) Piercings FAQ’s

Does it hurt to get a helix piercing?

For a far more opulent experience and supportive counseling and advice on piercing aftercare, we strongly advise going to a professional and accredited boutique piercer like Rebel Inks Tattoo Kenya.

At Rebel Inks Tattoo Kenya, we try to make the whole process very quick, and the anticipation of pain is probably more intense than the actual piercing, but there’s definitely a bit of a pinch and shock when it does go through, which results in some hand squeezing of the unlucky friend that joins you.

How long does it take for a helix piercing to heal?

This is the key distinction between lobe and cartilage piercings. A helix piercing can take between three and six months to heal, whereas a lobe piercing may heal in about a month. Unfortunately, because everyone heals at a different pace, it’s difficult to predict an exact healing time. The piercing area may hurt, turn red, swell, or even bleed (initially).

However, there are several things you can do to increase the likelihood that your piercing will heal quickly.

Like all piercings, keeping the area around the helix earrings clean is the most important way to avoid infection.  Gauze and a saline solution can be used to gently clean the region. Cotton buds should be avoided since the fibers can transfer to the piercing. Even though you may be tempted to start tinkering with your new jewelry, wait until you are positive that the piercing has healed before twisting or changing the jewelry since this could obstruct the healing process and even cause infection.

Cartilage (Helix) Piercing Aftercare

Helix piercing aftercare is as easy as cleaning it twice daily with saline solution (or antimicrobial soap). The hardest part of the process isn’t bathing, though; it’s making sure to take all reasonable precautions to keep your piercing from becoming irritated. Avoid wearing items like headphones or beanies that could touch on it to reduce friction. If you’re a side sleeper, Rebel Inks Tattoo Kenya advises you to lay on the side opposite the ear that was pierced because sleeping on a freshly pierced ear can have unfavorable effects.

Cleaning Process
  • Soak a clean, sterile cotton ball or pad in the saline solution.
  • Gently clean around the piercing site, removing any crust or discharge. Avoid rotating or twisting the jewelry.
  • Use a fresh cotton ball or pad for each cleaning, and do not reuse them.
  • Jewelry Movement: Do not twist or turn the jewelry during cleaning, as this can disrupt the healing process and cause irritation.

As much as possible, you should refrain from touching or unsettling your piercing since irritation can result in inflammation and, in rare situations, infections. Rebel Inks Tattoo Kenya E also advises washing your hands before touching your piercing if you must.

Never put anything on your piercing that you wouldn’t put in your eyes if you wanted to take good care of your piercing during the healing period.

Keep an eye out for signs of infection, including increased redness, swelling, pain, discharge with an unusual color or odor, and fever. If you suspect an infection, contact your piercer or a healthcare professional promptly.

Type of Jewelry Used for a Helix Piercing

Hoop/Ring: For a helix piercing, a hoop, also known as a ring, is a common option. It’s a ring-shaped piece of metal, however, it can be easily bent due to its flexibility. Simply pull apart the two ends to remove a hoop.

Stud: A stud is a tiny piece of jewelry with a long, thin backing that is put into a piercing’s hold. You fasten a tiny fixture on the other side of a stud to seal it in place.

Type of Jewelry Material Used for a Helix Piercing

The ideal metals to use are stainless steel or titanium because they are largely inert and shouldn’t produce a reaction in your body.

Stainless steel: Because it can be formed into a variety of colours and shapes without losing any of its outstanding quality, stainless steel is a highly popular material for helix jewelry. However, stainless steel does contain nickel, so if you have a nickel allergy, avoid using it.

Titanium: Given its many diverse aesthetic options, titanium is equally as reliable material as stainless steel. The sole distinction between the two is the absence of nickel in titanium, making it completely safe for everyone.

Gold: Gold isn’t always the finest metal for helix jewelry, but it’s still a good option. Gold is an excellent option if you want to match your piercing to the rest of your jewelry or for other purely cosmetic reasons. To avoid wearing jewelry made of too-soft metal, make sure it is at least 14 karats thick.

How to Replace a Helix Piercing

A helix piercing can be easily replaced, but wait until it has fully healed—three to six months—before attempting to replace the jewelry. Rebel Inks Tattoo advises working with your piercer to make the initial adjustment because errors must be avoided at all costs. Additionally, your piercer can demonstrate how to adjust the jewelry so that you feel comfortable doing it yourself. If it’s a stud, you just need to take the backing out of the piercing and slide the ring out by gently pulling on the flexible metal ring. Simply insert the new one after that in the same way.

Visit your piercing specialist for assistance if you need it. Especially in the first few months, removing the piercing runs the risk of the hole closing up.

Side Effects of Helix Piercing

If you don’t take good care of the piercing, you run the greatest risks of infection and scarring.

Infection: When aftercare is neglected or the piercing becomes too inflamed, an infection can develop. Infections frequently show themselves through redness, swelling, green or yellow pus, and discomfort. If you notice any symptoms, get medical attention right away.

Scarring: If the piercing gets too inflamed while receiving aftercare, a scar emerges, which might leave some unpleasant markings near the piercing site.

Keloids: In order to adequately protect against the physical damage of a piercing, extra scar tissue grows around the wound after the skin has healed to generate keloids, which are elevated scars. They can vary in size, but they rarely hurt and only contain scar tissue.

Rejection and Migration: Cartilage piercings can be prone to rejection or migration, where the body pushes the jewelry out over time. If you notice signs of migration or have concerns about the placement of the piercing, consult with your piercer.


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