Cartilage Piercing Healing Times

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 16, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Cartilage piercings can take up to a year to heal completely, but they generally heal within three to six months. Everyone is different, so this can vary from person to person. Keeping your cartilage piercing clean and maintaining a good aftercare routine is key to ensuring that it heals appropriately within this timeframe and stays clear of infection.

Cartilage piercings should take between three and six months to heal. This depends on:

  • Cleaning the cartilage piercing using saline solution daily
  • Efficacy of the aftercare routine
  • Vulnerability to infection

Types of Cartilage Piercings

The different types of cartilage piercings are:

  1. Helix: This is in the outer area of the ear, where there’s less circulation, so it can take a little longer to heal than the average healing time

  2. Snug: This piercing goes from the front of the mid-helix to the front of the conch

  3. Flat: The placement of a flat piercing is through the flat bit of skin between your cartilage and ear canal; this type of piercing can take a longer time to heal

  4. Conch: This piercing is in the inner conch, which is the cartilage at the center of your area; it can take up to four months to heal completely

  5. Tragus: Tragus piercings are placed through the little flap of cartilage in front of your ear canal and have a shorter healing time than piercings on the outer ear

  6. Anti-tragus: This type of piercing goes through the fleshy bit of cartilage opposite the conch

  7. Daith: A daith piercing goes through the smallest fold of cartilage in your ear where the outer ridge that goes along the top of the ear connects with the inner ear

  8. Rook: A rook piercing is placed in the upper ear above the tragus in the anti-helix

  9. Industrial: An industrial piercing connects any two piercings in your ear with a barbell; the most popular version of this piercing is linking a forward helix piercing and a mid-helix piercing

  10. Orbital: An orbital piercing consists of two piercing holes with one ring that goes through both; this piercing enters and exits the same part of the ear

Looking After Your Cartilage Piercing

Cartilage piercings generally heal completely within a timeframe of three to six months. The healing time of a cartilage piercing varies from individual to individual and depends on how well you look after it. In some cases, cartilage piercings can take up to a year to fully heal. Maintaining a good aftercare routine can speed up the healing process and can also help to prevent infection. Here’s some of our best aftercare advice:

Keep It Clean

Wash your cartilage piercing with soap and water daily, ensuring you don’t get soap in the hole itself, as this can irritate it.

Soak your cartilage piercing in saline solution daily to keep it clean. You can also mist the cartilage piercing with saline spray throughout the day.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.

Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean your piercing, such as alcohol, as these can irritate.

Avoid Infection

Wash your hands before cleaning your piercing to avoid any bacteria getting into your piercing. Avoid touching your cartilage piercing while it’s healing as this can irritate it and may cause infection if bacteria from your hands get into the piercing.

Wait until your cartilage piercing has healed before going swimming — we recommend waiting for about a month, as pools contain a lot of bacteria that can cause your piercing to become infected.

Other Tips

Don’t sleep on your piercing, as this may irritate it or cause it to snag on loose bedding. Be careful not to catch your cartilage piercing on your hair or clothing by covering the piercing or tying your hair up.

Although it may be tempting, try not to pick at any crust that forms around the piercing site; instead, wipe it off with a saline-soaked cotton bud.

Avoid alcohol consumption while your cartilage piercing is healing, as alcohol thins your blood and can hinder its healing process.

Bumps Along The Road…

Bumps may develop around the piercing site, known as keloids. These bumps are caused by the formation of scar tissue. They’re completely normal and aren’t a sign that your cartilage piercing is infected.

Do You Think Your Cartilage Piercing Has Healed?

Everyone’s body heals differently and at varying rates. There are a few signs which can be an indicator that your cartilage piercing has healed:

  • Color of the piercing site is normal
  • No redness
  • Swelling has gone down
  • Piercing site isn’t painful to touch
  • Piercing isn’t secreting any clear or yellow fluid

If you tick all these boxes, it’s likely that your cartilage piercing has healed, but keep cleaning it, as an infection is still a possibility even after a piercing has healed.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Keep in mind that cartilage piercings heal from the outside in. Therefore, even if your cartilage piercing looks healed, there’s probably still some healing going on under the surface of your skin.

Is Your Cartilage Piercing Infected?

Nobody wants an infected piercing, but alas, bacteria will sometimes manage to worm its way into your body’s new accessory. There are a few things that you can keep a lookout for if you suspect your cartilage piercing of being infected:

  • Fever or the piercing site being hot to the touch
  • Excessive swelling
  • Redness or red streaks around the piercing site
  • Pus or colored discharge secretion
  • Severe pain that has not subsided after some time

Speak to your doctor if you need clarification on whether your cartilage is infected. Don’t attempt to treat an infected cartilage piercing yourself without first seeking medical or professional advice.


Cartilage piercings tend to heal after around three to six months, but no two people are the same. Cartilage piercings heal from the outside in, so don’t stop looking after it just because it looks better.

Keep your cartilage piercing clean by using a saline solution daily. Maintain a good aftercare routine to ensure that it heals properly and remains clear of infection. Watch out for any signs of infection and speak to your doctor or piercer if you think your cartilage piercing may be infected.