Cartilage earrings are very similar to regular earrings, but they are made to go into piercings on the cartilage of the ear rather than in the earlobe, which is free of cartilage. In most cases, cartilage earrings are in the form of studs, barbells, or occasionally hoops. Some of these earrings are also cuffs, which curve around the outside edge of the ear. These earrings are also often made of the same materials that regular earrings may be made from, such as silver, gold, or surgical steel.
There are several different areas on the ear that may be pierced for cartilage earrings. Some of the most common types of cartilage piercings include the helix, which is the outside edge of the ear that curves inward, and the tragus, which is where the cartilage begins just above the earlobe. Some people also choose to get orbital piercings, which means the exit hole and entry hole are even with each other. Additionally, a conch piercing is when the middle cartilage inside the ear is pierced.
A person who has just gotten a cartilage piercing should choose his or her first cartilage earrings carefully. This is because cartilage piercings usually take a long time to heal, typically much longer than earlobe piercings, and the same earrings need to be worn until the healing process is complete. In some cases, it may take up to a year before the first pair of earrings can be changed, although the time is usually closer to six months. For this reason, the earrings chosen should be comfortable and made of a material to which the wearer is not sensitive. A high-quality metal such as sterling silver or gold may be best to wear initially.
Regardless of what type of cartilage earrings are chosen, it is likely that no earrings will be comfortable unless proper care is taken of the piercing site. For the first three days after the area is pierced, it should typically be cleaned at least twice a day with anti-bacterial soap. After that, using the anti-bacterial soap just once a day is normally acceptable. Many people stop cleaning their piercings as soon as the pierced area appears to be healed from the outside, but this is not usually recommended. The inside of a cartilage piercing may take much longer to heal than the outside, and the daily cleaning regimen should be kept up until both the inside and outside are completely healed to avoid infection.