If you love the look of multiple earrings but already have a couple piercings in your ear lobe (or maybe even the popular helix piercings), you might be looking for other cool options.
A conch piercing is a type of cartilage piercing named after the shape of the ear (which looks a bit like a conch shell). It’s on the innermost section of cartilage in your ear — the small little bowl outside of your ear canal.
You can get an inner conch piercing, which is a piercing through the middle part of the ear. It’s higher up than an outer conch piercing, near the daith (the ridge of cartilage over opening of the ear canal).
An outer conch piercing is a piercing a little lower and closer to the outer edge of the cartilage. You can wear a hoop in an outer conch piercing because it’s close enough to the edge of the ear.
While absolutely beautiful and versatile for all types of earrings, conch piercings can be a bit intimidating, even for someone who’s had piercings before! Here’s everything you need to know before going to get one done.
Is the Conch Piercing Painful?
Let’s get to the most important question that’s probably on your mind: How bad does it hurt?!
It comes down to your level of pain tolerance. But because of the hard type of ear cartilage in the conch (and other piercings toward the middle of your ear), it will definitely hurt more than your ear lobe piercings and likely will hurt more than upper cartilage piercings like the helix.
Typically, a conch piercing is done with a needle and only takes a couple of minutes. However, if you’re hoping to be able to wear larger jewelry, your piercer may recommend a dermal punch. This involves using a device to cut a small circle of cartilage to make a bigger hole.
Either procedure involves going through the cartilage, so you can expect to feel a sharp pain and some pressure during the initial piercing. After, you’ll likely feel some hot and throbbing pain for the next several hours (and even possibly for a few days!).
During the healing process, you might feel some pain while cleaning your piercing. It might also hurt if you roll over onto that side while sleeping. Thankfully, this only lasts for about a month, but can be longer if you got a dermal punch.
I personally got this piercing many years ago and it was definitely the most painful piercing I’ve ever gotten. I have a fairly high pain tolerance and this one hurt bad! I got it done with a friend of mine and she agreed that it was incredibly painful.
However, I’m totally glad that I got it done, even though it did hurt!
How Much Does a Conch Piercing Cost?
If you’re getting a lot of different piercings (and buying jewelry to go with it!), you’re probably wondering how much does a conch piercing cost. It depends on where you go, but you can expect to pay at least $35 for the piercing itself. This price doesn’t include the cost of the jewelry, which can push the price up quite a bit.
Don’t choose your piercer based on price, though! You want an experienced professional piercing artist who can make the piercing less painful and make sure it’s done right!
What’s the Piercing Procedure?
When you go to the piercing studio, you’ll pick out the jewelry you want with the help of your piercer. They will clean your ear and mark the spot where they plan to make the hole.
Make sure you like the placement, and speak up if it’s not what you want. An expert piercer can advise you on the best placement based on the shape and size of your ear.
When you’re satisfied with the placement, they’ll use a needle or dermal punch to pierce the ear. Some people find taking a deep breath or looking away to help with the pain level.
Then the piercer will place the jewelry and clean off the pierced area.
What is Conch Piercing Aftercare?
Once you’ve gotten a conch piercing, it’s very important to practice good aftercare to prevent infection or inflammation. Clean your new piercing twice a day with a sterile saline solution for the first three months and avoid fiddling or messing with your piercing.
Along with your daily saline wash, avoid wearing earbuds as these can also irritate the piercing. Also, try not to sleep on your piercing until it is fully healed, as doing so could also cause the piercing to become irritated.
How Long Will It Take to Heal?
Healing time in ear cartilage piercings takes longer than your earlobe piercing. You can expect the healing process to take six to nine months if you got your piercing done with a needle.
If you got a dermal punch, it will take at least a year, if not more, to fully heal. The time range depends on how well you follow aftercare instructions (clean it twice a day!) and your general health.
If you’re worried that your piercing is infected, don’t hesitate to call a doctor!
When Can You Change the Jewelry?
You’ll be able to change the conch jewelry in about six to nine months. You may want to return to the piercing studio before initially changing out your earrings and to get the go-ahead that everything is all healed.
What Jewelry Can I Wear?
Conch studs and bars look great for inner conch piercings, and studs and hoops look amazing for outer conch piercings.
Look for earrings made out of good material that won’t make you prone to irritation. Materials like surgical stainless steel, titanium, solid 14 or 16 karat gold, and niobium are your best options.
For the initial piercing jewelry, a bar is a good choice because it allows for some swelling without being uncomfortable and is easy to keep clean.
You’ll want flat back stud earrings for your conch piercing. Traditional stud backings can dig into your head when you do something that pushes on your ear.
Small hoops are a good option for outer conch piercings. Just wait until your piercing is fully healed to start wearing them. You want a piece of jewelry that doesn’t wiggle around quite so much while the hole heals.
What Are the Risks?
Lastly, with anything, there are always risks. Infection and inflammation are always a risk for piercings, but cartilage carries a great risk of infection than the earlobes.
You may notice some swelling after initially getting your piercing, but that should subside after a few days.
Also, there is a small risk of developing keloid, excess scar tissue that can grow much larger than the needle hole forming a small (or large!) nodule. This is genetic, so it might be a good idea to talk to family members to see if they have ever dealt with this condition.
While everyone’s experience will vary depending on how good your piercer is and your own pain tolerance, piercings in the hard cartilage of the inner ear are probably the most painful ear piercings.
The conch piercing is among these painful piercings, along with the snug and anti-tragus. Some people say an industrial piercing is the most painful — maybe because it involves two cartilage piercings!
On the pain scale, lobe piercings are the lowest, then upper cartilage, then inner cartilage are considered the most painful.
If you’re into acupuncture, you might know that some ear piercings are supposed to have acupuncture benefits. Conch piercings are associated with relaxed muscles and easing chronic pain.
Look into auriculotherapy to find out all the therapeutic points on the outer ear!
While your piercing is healing, you cannot wear AirPods or other earbuds. Once your ear is completely healed, you can wear your earbuds, but make sure they’re clean so they won’t cause an infection at the piercing site.
Depending on the shape of your ear, you may find earbuds or AirPods irritating while wearing a conch earring. You might want to switch to over the ear headphones.
Conch piercing can add a nice flare to your ears, but it’s important to go into your piercing prepared. The main takeaway is to really be consistent with cleaning your piercing every single day. That’s your best way to make sure everything heals as it should and that you’ll be good to go!