Conch Piercings: Pain, Prices, Procedure and Pictures

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 19, 2020
    Last Updated: January 20, 2021

When you want to add another piercing to your ear, but you’ve already done your earlobe and your helix, you might want to check out the conch piercing.

Our guide will turn you into an expert as we walk you through the whole procedure. If you’re the type who likes to know exactly what’s going to happen as you sit in the piercer’s chair, then you’ve come to the right place.

What Is A Conch Piercing?

A conch piercing is when you have the cartilage of the middle portion of your ear pierced. That’s the spot that has the largest area of ear cartilage. It gets its name because this part of the ear looks similar to a conch shell.

You can have an inner conch piercing or an outer conch piercing. The lower part is commonly called the inner conch, while the upper part is known as the outer conch.

What Happens During A Conch Piercing?

After you’ve talked to your piercer about their dedication to hygiene and safety and you’ve decided to have a conch piercing, your piercer will prepare your ear for the procedure and clean it with disinfectant. That will help you avoid getting a preventable infection.

From there, they’ll mark the area by using a pen or a surgical marker. That will help make the placement as precise as it can be. Even being off by a few millimeters can alter the appearance of some unlucky conch piercings.

Conch piercing

Your piercer will then be ready to insert the needle to make the conch piercing. After the needle goes through, they’ll insert the jewelry. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes – it’ll be over before you know it. Don’t forget to grab your aftercare instructions before you leave.

Conch Piercing Pain: How Much Do They Hurt?

Conch piercings don’t hurt as much as many other of body piercings thanks to the low amount of nerve endings in the area. You can expect to feel a sting as the needle pierces the skin, along with some sensations of pressure, but the sharp needle should go through quickly and easily, making the pain short-lasting.

Dermal Punch

If you want a bigger hole so you can wear larger gauge jewelry, you may want to consider getting a dermal punch.

As it isn’t a good idea to stretch your cartilage piercings too much, one good alternative for those who want to wear bigger gauges in their outer conch piercing is a dermal punch. A dermal punch will make a bigger hole than a normal needle would.

Some people say dermal punches are more painful than a regular conch piercing. That makes sense because a bigger area of skin and cartilage is being removed with a dermal punch. If you’re more concerned about bleeding, the dermal punch will typically also bleed considerably more than a needle conch piercing will.

How Much Does A Conch Piercing Cost?

As with any piercing, the cost of a conch piercing depends on a lot of factors. You’ll usually pay extra if you have your piercing done in a big city, compared to a small town.

Conch piercings at most places will usually cost in the region of $35 to $70. For a dermal punch, you may end up paying a little more, but you should still be able to keep it under $80, even at an experienced piercer’s shop.

Aftercare and Cleaning

Plain sea salt is a great way to cleanse your conch piercing and help promote faster healing. The salt water solution you’ll want to use is really easy to make. All you have to do is grab one cup of really hot water and add one-fourth of a teaspoon of sea salt. Then you stir it until the salt has dissolved.

When the water is cool enough for you to touch without scalding yourself, take a cotton ball and dunk it in the sea salt water. Next, hold the cotton ball up to your conch piercing. You can replace the cotton ball with fresh ones until you’ve held a cotton ball up to your ear for about five minutes. You’ll want to do this at least two times a day, and it’s best to space out the soakings. Shoot for doing it once in the morning and once at night.

Another alternative to making your own salt water solution is to buy a ready-made piercing aftercare spray.​

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.​

For at least the first two weeks, you should stay out of public pools because you run the risk of introducing infection-causing bacteria into the piercing site. That bacteria could cause an infection down the road.

Always wash your hands before touching your piercing. Clean hands are a necessity and greatly reduce your chances of getting an infection. Apart from cleaning your ear piercing, try to leave the area alone.

How Long Does A Conch Piercing Take To Heal?

A conch piercing has an extended healing time. As you’re going through cartilage it takes a lot longer to heal than a typical piercing that simply goes through the skin.

A conch piercing will take anywhere from six months to one year to fully heal. If you don’t follow your aftercare instructions well and end up contracting an infection, the recovery time could be longer than that.

When Can The Jewelry Be Removed?

Conch piercings can look amazing with shiny new jewelry, and it can be tempting to swap your jewelry out for something else so you can freshen up your look, but you really need to keep it in for at least the first two months, maybe longer if the healing has been delayed for whatever reason. Your piercer will let you know when it’s okay to change your jewelry.

Conch Piercing Infections

One fairly common complication of getting a conch piercing is developing an infection around the site. It doesn’t happen to most people who get this piercing, but it is a real risk. For that reason, you should do everything in your power to ensure you don’t end up as one of the unlucky few.

When you have an infection, removing your jewelry may seem like a smart idea so you can eliminate part of the problem, but that’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing.

As with most body jewelry, you’ll want to leave your first piece of jewelry in until advised otherwise, because that’s the only thing that’s keeping the conch piercing from closing up. If conch piercings close up, bacteria will become trapped inside, potentially increasing the severity of an infection.

Common signs of infection include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge/oozing of pus
  • Fever and chills

If you think your conch may have become infected, speak to your piercer or a medical professional for further advice. If the infection is only minor, it should clear up with a bit of extra care at home. If the infection is quite severe, however, then you may need a round of antibiotics.


Infection is one of the biggest risks with a conch piercing, but there are other risks as well.

Conch piercings can be rejected, which is known as migration. During migration, your body slowly tries pushing the piercing out, much like it would with a splinter.

You increase your risk of migration if you use jewelry made out of metal that you’re allergic to. Watch for any signs of an allergic reaction in your piercing site. One of those signs can include irritated skin near the cartilage piercing site.

Allergic reactions can also make your skin feel itchy. It isn’t normal for your piercing site to be itchy, so if you experience that, see your piercer about swapping out your jewelry for another type of metal.

Another risk you run when you get a conch piercing is the formation of a cartilage piercing bump. These are usually due to either excessive scar tissue growth (keloids), granulomas, or pustules forming within the ear cartilage.

The piercing method itself can also lead to cartilage piercing bumps. If a piercing gun is used instead of a needle or dermal punch equipment, you can end up with these bumps too.

Can You Wear Ear In-Ear Headphones With A Conch Piercing?

Probably not, unless you’re able to find a pair that don’t press against the area and irritate it. You should also leave earplugs and in-ear headphones out completely until the area is fully healed. Once healed, it may be worth investing in a pair of over-ear headphones to avoid snags and other potential issues, which can become a common problem with cartilage piercings.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Conch

Conch piercings can look fantastic and absolutely eye-catching with the right type of ear jewelry. As long as you follow each of the steps set out in this article, your piercing procedure and aftercare phase should be plain-sailing.

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