What is a helix piercing? Everything you need to know – Cosmopolitan

If you’ve ended up here, chances are, you want to know more about the helix piercing – what is it, how much it hurts, does it take long to recover and so on. And you’re not alone. With so many different kinds of ear piercings out there (the days of a singular ‘ear piercing’ are well and truly gone) – it’s easy to feel totally overwhelmed with all the choice. I mean, how are we supposed to know that the words ‘helix’, ‘tragus’ and ‘daith’ are types of piercings and not characters in Harry Potter?

If it’s a helix piercing that you want, read on to find out exactly wtf it is – aside from being the structure of DNA, obvs – as well as all the variations you can have done and the logistics behind getting your first helix piercing.

What is a helix piercing?

A helix piercing is any piercing made to the upper cartilage of the ear – but there are different kinds of helix piercings. A standard helix piercing is made in the outer upper cartilage, but you can also get forward, backward, double or even triple helix piercings. Who knew there were so many different options available?

What is a forward helix piercing?

First thing’s first – what makes a forward helix piercing different from a backwards one? Well, it’s actually quite simple: follow the curve of your cartilage around the ear until you reach the side of your face (i.e. right above the tragus) and this piercing area is called a forward helix. You can also have double or triple forward helix piercings.

What is a double helix piercing, or triple?

While the classic helix style involves piercing the upper outer cartilage once, if you have two or three piercings in the same spot, just above each other, these are called double and triple helix piercings. They’re the same piercing, this is more a reference to the number you have on the same ear. Makes sense, right?

Does getting a helix piercing hurt?

Our needle shy editor, Sophie, had both the helix and forward helix ear piercing done at boutique piercers Sacred Gold in London. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

“I’d had a helix piercing done before, back when I was 18, fainted outside the parlour and eventually had to discard of the cheap metal ring I’d put in (initially ignoring my sensitive skinned ways and the painful reaction).

“In adulthood, I wanted to approach it differently and, for anyone with the same tragic story, I highly recommend visiting a high end boutique piercer like Sacred Gold for a much more luxurious experience and supportive guidance and advice on piercing aftercare.

“The whole process was very quick, and the anticipation of pain was probably more intense than the actual piercing, but there’s definitely a bit of a pinch and shock when it does go through, which resulted in some hand squeezing of the unlucky friend that joined me.

“As I had both piercings done at once they started with the forward helix, which was the least painful of the two, maybe down to the fact that the cartilage is thinner there. They then worked outwards to the helix which was just as quick but I felt that pinch feeling a little more. They talk you through every step whilst they do it, making sure you are comfortable.

Because of my track record, they also set the chair so it was horizontal, sitting me back up slowly afterwards, and even offering sweets for a sugar boost, which really helped, and I can safely say no fainting episodes this time around.”

Things you need to know

Here are some of the useful tips Sophie learnt from the piercing experience:

  • If you want to get multiple ear piercings at once – to build that perfect earring stack – you’ll need to take it one ear at a time. It’s important to have an ear that is fresh-piercing free, so that you have a side to sleep on. To ensure your new piercing properly heals, it’s recommended that you avoid sleeping on it for the healing period.
  • You can confirm the earring placement before the piercing. The piercer will draw a dot on your ear, to suggest where they think the piercing should sit based on the anatomy of your ear, so that you can make sure you’re happy with the placement before it’s needle time.
  • You have to wait before putting in a ring. You can dive straight into a stylish stud, but they won’t pierce your ear with a ring, as they twist and move in the hole more easily, meaning they’re not the best jewellery to have during the healing process. You can swap in a ring once the piercing is fully healed.
  • You may need to downsize your piercing. The original bar they use can be longer or thicker to accommodate healing, which can then be changed at a follow-up appointment with the piercer.
  • Avoid getting your new piercing/s wet as this is not ideal for healing. After a shower you can give your ear a quick blow dry with a hairdryer on the lowest setting.

Best helix earrings

How long does a helix piercing take to heal?

This is where lobe and cartilage piercings really differ. While you might get over a lobe piercing in around a month, a helix piercing can take anywhere between three to six months to heal. Unfortunately, like the pain factor, it’s hard to give an exact healing time as everyone is different. Expect the piercing area to feel sore, turn red and even swell or bleed (initially). Lovely. There are some things you can do though, to help give your piercing the best chance of a speedy recovery – read on.

How do you take care of a helix piercing?

Like all piercings, keeping the area around the helix earrings clean is the most important way to avoid infection. Use a saline solution and gauze to clean gently around the area. Try to avoid cotton buds as the fibres transfer onto the piercing. While you’ll probably feel tempted to start fiddling with your new addition, don’t twist or change the jewellery until you are certain that the piercing has healed as this could prevent a proper healing process and even lead to infection.

What happens if your body rejects it?

Your skin can react in different ways to the piercing at first, with swelling, redness and piercing bumps all common side effects which you can treat at home or speak to a piercing professional to help treat. However, if it feels like your piercing is moving, taking too long to heal or is showing signs of infection, go to a piercing professional straight away to find out what the problem is.

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