Conch Piercings – Ultimate Guide With Images
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 conch piercing guide will turn you into an expert on this type of piercing and it will help you figure out if you want to move ahead with it. It’ll walk you through the whole procedure if you’re the type who likes to know exactly what’s going to happen to you in the piercer’s chair.
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 go ahead with your conch piercing, your piercer will prepare your ear for the procedure.
The piercer will clean your ear with disinfectant. That will help you avoid getting a preventable infection.
From there, he’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 your conch piercing.
Your piercer will then be ready to insert the needle to make the conch piercing. After the needle goes through, he’ll insert the jewelry. The whole process only takes a couple minutes – it’ll be over before you know it.
Before you walk out of the piercing parlor, make sure you have discussed your aftercare instructions with your piercer. It might be best to have them print you out a sheet with the instructions on it in case you are feeling dazed and confused from having your piercing done. Some people feel fine afterward, while others still feel a little shaky from nerves.
Conch Piercing Pain - How Much Do They Hurt?
The pain level depends upon which method you’re using to have your conch pierced.
If you’re using a needle, it won’t be too bad – it will feel the same as a helix piercing and it will hurt a little more than getting your earlobe pierced. The pain level won’t be overwhelming.
But if you want a bigger hole so you can wear larger gauge jewelry, you may want to consider getting a dermal punch.
Because it isn’t a good idea to stretch your cartilage piercings 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.
But some people also 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.
You really need to make certain that this is a piercing you want to always have before you commit to a dermal punch. Because the piercer will actually be removing a round area of tissue and cartilage, this hole will be permanent. It won’t close up if you decide to stop wearing jewelry.
If you’re worried about pain, the dermal punch may hurt more, but it is bearable for most people. If you’re more concerned about bleeding, the dermal punch will typically also bleed considerably more than a needle conch piercing will.
When you’ve decided you really want a conch piercing – whether by needle or dermal punch – you should ignore your fears and have it done. Sometimes in life you only regret the things you didn’t do.
Follow your heart and make sure to follow any aftercare instructions as well. You can get through any pain if you want something badly enough.
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 pay extra if you have your piercing done in a big city, compared to a small town. If your piercer is in demand, expect to shell over more money than you would at a start-up who is trying to build his client list.
But, at most places, you can expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $80. For a dermal punch, you may end up paying a little more, but you should still be able to keep it under $90, even at an experienced piercer’s shop.
When you’re deciding upon a piercer, remember that paying extra for experience isn’t a bad thing. It may be worth the extra money. They’ll have the process down to a science so it will be like second nature for them to perform the conch piercing.
They’ll also be able to tell you if you should consider a dermal punch, depending upon what gauge of jewelry you want to wear.
Try not to decide upon who will do your piercing solely based on cost. Pick the best piercer for the job because you don’t want just any hack who hangs out a sign to do your piercing. You want an artist who cares about your satisfaction and health as much as they care about getting paid.
Get a feel for whether your potential piercer practices high levels of hygiene. Determine if you’d feel comfortable asking them about any possible complications you might experience. If you think they wouldn’t have a great bedside manner, you might want to keep looking because you may have follow-up questions you’ll need answered.
What To Do Before Getting A Conch Piercing
You should make sure you have all the aftercare items you’ll need to take care of your conch piercing. It may not be the best idea to run to the drugstore right after your piercing to grab your supplies. Being prepared ahead of time is a good idea in case you don’t handle the piercing as well as you thought.
Then you can head home and obsess about it there instead of wandering around the store trying to round up all the supplies you’ll need.
Make sure to grab some sea salt, Q-tips and cotton balls and you’ll be all set if you had a simple conch piercing done. If you opted for the dermal punch, you might want to grab some gauze as well, in case it bleeds a lot in the first day or two.
Conch Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide
Plain old 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. Then 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. 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.
My Favorite Piercing Aftercare Product
The best piercing aftercare product I've ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray.
Not only is every single ingredient completely natural, but the spray works brilliantly on all skin types (including sensitive skin) and comes in a very generously sized can.
Many users of the spray advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process, it appears to decrease healing times and helps to reduce any lingering pain/soreness.
Read more about the H2Ocean Piercing Spray here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular piercing sprays on the market.
For at least the first two weeks, you should stay out of public pools because you run the risk of introducing bacteria into the piercing site. That bacteria could cause an infection down the road.
The other main rule you should follow is to always wash your hands before fiddling around with your piercing. Clean hands are a necessity because they greatly reduce your chances of getting an infection. When you aren’t cleaning your ear piercing, you shouldn’t be touching it at all so you don’t contaminate the area.
How Long Does A Conch Piercing Take To Heal?
A conch piercing has an extended healing time. Because you’re going through cartilage it takes a lot longer to heal than a piercing that simply goes through skin.
If you’ve had an earlobe piercing and think it will be comparable to that time frame, you are sadly mistaken. 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.
You can shorten your recovery time by doing simple things to bolster your immune system too. If you get enough sleep, eat well and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need, your recovery time will be faster.
In the meantime, staying away from illegal drugs and tobacco will help your immune system continue to operate in tip-top shape.
While you are healing from your piercing, you shouldn’t change out your jewelry at all. It can be tempting to swap it out for something else so you can freshen up your look, but you really need to keep that one in at least for the first two months of the healing process. You may need to keep that jewelry for longer than that.
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.
Infections are a little depressing because you want to sail right through the pain of the piercing procedure without any additional problems. But if you do get an infection, just remember to do everything your doctor tells you to do. Now isn’t the time to get lazy – if he tells you to clean the site several times a day you should do it.
If you are given antibiotics to fight an infection that is starting to spread, make sure you follow all your prescription instructions.
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.
You want to leave your jewelry in because that’s the only thing that’s allowing your piercing to remain open instead of closing up. If it closes, that fluid from the infection will stay inside your ear instead of draining out. You definitely want that fluid to drain out – it’s better for you.
So if you’re tempted to remove your piercing at the first sign of trouble, you should fight that urge.
If your infection happens soon after you get your conch piercing, it can be difficult to tell if you’re facing symptoms from the piercing procedure or if you really are getting an infection. Many of the symptoms are vague enough that they can be chalked up to either circumstance.
Let’s look at some of the common symptoms and how you can use them to help you figure out what’s normal and what might point to a bigger problem:
Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire. Pain is one of those symptoms you should be able to pinpoint. If you’ve had your piercing in the past week, obviously you’re going to be feeling the pain. That’s normal so you don’t need to suspect an infection just because your ear continues to hurt in the first several days after a piercing.
If it’s two weeks past your piercing date and your ear has started to feel better, but then you notice it’s suddenly feeling much worse – that’s a bad sign. Any pain that seems to be growing or increasing past the first week of piercing should be taken seriously as a possible infection.
Redness frequently happens with infected conch piercings. You’ll notice the area around your piercing has turned red and stays that color. That’s different from your piercing temporarily being red because you slept on it or because you hooked it on a shirt you were taking off.
A little bit of bleeding may occur when you first have your conch pierced. Over the course of the next few days, you may notice there’s some clear or whitish discharge coming out of your piercing. It will form a crusty surface when it’s allowed to dry on the skin. That’s all within the range of being normal.
But when you see green, yellow or other colors of discharge coming out of the piercing site, that’s a red flag. You should definitely check with a doctor if you notice that happening because it could mean an infection has developed.
If you get a little bit of the discharge on your fingers, take a whiff. It may seem like a strange thing to do, but the odor of the discharge will give you a big clue as to whether you should worry or not. If there’s a funky smell to it, you likely have an infection.
Fever And Chills
If you notice you’re starting to get the shivers and feel like you’re freezing, you should grab a thermometer and check to see if you have a fever. If you have a high temperature, make an appointment with a doctor.
Even if your fever turns out to be completely unrelated to your suspected piercing infection, it’s still worth getting checked out.
If an infection has spread past the piercing site and caused a fever, that means it poses a serious threat to your health. Infections can become life-threatening if not treated properly so make sure you bring it to your doctor’s attention as soon as possible.
Conch Piercing Risks
Infection is one of the biggest risks with a conch piercing, but there are other risks as well.
Your piercing could 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 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 an ugly cartilage piercing bump. That happens mainly to people who aren’t gentle enough on their fresh piercings or who don’t follow their aftercare instructions.
But these bumps can also happen for other reasons such as jewelry that’s too tight or loose.
The piercing method itself can also lead to cartilage bumps. If a piercing gun is used instead of a needle or dermal punch equipment, you can end up with these bumps too.
If you are one of the unlucky ones who end up with these cartilage bumps, you should start doing sea salt solution applications if you haven’t been. If you’ve been doing the sea salt soaks twice a day, try adding a third time in there.
You should also do a warm compress a couple times a day. That can help reduce the swelling by increasing the blood flow to the area and potentially draining any built-up fluid in the piercing site.
Other risks of getting your conch pierced include scarring, which is a big risk especially if you or your family members are prone to getting keloids.
Being aware of all the risks attached to conch piercings will help you make an educated decision as to whether you want to proceed with this piercing. But remember, a lot of people who have their conch pierced won’t have any of these complications. There’s a good chance you won’t either.
Conch Piercing Jewelry
You’ll have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing jewelry for your conch piercing. You can get pretty much anything you can imagine – studs, barbells, hoops and more.
But your first piece of jewelry shouldn’t be too heavy because you don’t want to slow down the healing process. Your piercer will be able to recommend what gauge of jewelry to use and what weight might be too heavy.
Make sure you listen to what they’re saying because they know what they’re talking about.
You may want to go with a metal that doesn’t generally cause allergic reactions because an irritated piercing site will take longer to heal. Also, if you end up with an allergic reaction, you’re going to increase your odds that your body will reject the piercing.
A good metal to go with is titanium because that seems to cause fewer allergic reactions than some other metals do. Nickel, in particular, is one that you may want to stay away from, especially if you’ve had reactions to it in other piercing sites before.
While it can be tempting to get a cheaper piece of jewelry, especially when you’ve already forked over some money for the piercing, it’s best to go with a quality piece.
You’re going to be wearing that piece of jewelry for a long time as your conch piercing heals, so it had better be something you’re not going to get tired of looking at.
Conch piercings can look super cool and that’s the main reason why people are willing to take on the risks of this piercing. As long as you remember to use caution after your piercing by following your aftercare instructions, you should be fine.
After a few months of recovery time, you’ll be strutting your stuff with your new jewelry and you’ll likely be loving your conch piercing.