Tragus Exploratory Piercing and Subsequent Stretching
A majority of my past piercings have been done in a ritual setting and for spiritual reasons. My tragus, however, was pierced mostly out of curiosity.
I have commented previously that there seem to be a few ways to pierce a tragus. Some of these methods include:
1.) Use a straight needle. Put a receiving tube into the individual's ear. Pierce into the receiving tube. Bend tragus to allow removal of needle and insertion of jewelry.
2.) Use a straight needle. Put forceps on the tragus. Use forceps to bend the tragus over. Guide straight needle straight through the tragus.
3.) Use a straight needle. Put a cork in the person's ear to insure that you don't pierce too deeply. Pull the needle back out and promptly insert jewelry, or insert a taper to buy yourself more time.
4.) Use a curved needle. Pierce into a receiving tube. The curved needle allows the needle to be removed and jewelry inserted with less bending of the tragus.
Of these methods, the last method was the one I was familiar with. It seemed the most reasonable to me. It seemed to be the least traumatic on the piercing site, and should be the least painful for the individual being pierced.
But what about those other methods?
Specifically, I saw an interview with Jim Ward and he was talking about the evolution of piercing. He mentioned that there was a time when the beveled needles were used while still attached to a syringe. The needles were pushed into the skin, and then pulled back out. Then jewelry was inserted. Clearly, pushing the needle straight through and following the jewelry right behind it was better. It meant that the "hole" was never empty, and thus, it would not have a chance to close. But what about that "in-and-out" piercing method?
I examined this method as a possible solution to my situation. I wanted a tragus piercing, but I wanted the jewelry to lay perfectly perpendicular to the surface of my skin. Many of the tragus piercings I had seen appeared to be angled slightly, most likely to ease the removal of the needle. Dare I try it?
I gathered my tools: an autoclaved 17g piercing needle, an autoclaved disposable receiving tube, a cork, nitrile gloves, anti-bacterial soap (a specific bottle used only prior to piercings and frequently cleaned), 3x3 sterile gauze, and a number of other things. I put all these things in a "prep box" that I have. It is just a plastic box that has been wiped down with Clorox. It is where I gather my items prior to a self-piercing. I also chose an 18g pyrex glass single-flared plug that was 1/2" long. I did not want to use a captive bead ring, but I wanted to make sure I would have plenty of room for swelling, in case there was any.
With all my tools gathered, I set them aside and took a hot shower. Any time I receive an ear piercing, I make sure my hair is clean. I also washed behind my ears, inside my conch, etc.
After my shower, I got dressed and retrieved my prep-box. I prepared my area by laying out my tools, changing gloves a number of times. Then came time to do the piercing...
I cleaned my tragus. With new gloves on, I removed the 17g needle from the autoclave packet. I had been examining my tragus for several days, so I knew approximately where I wanted the entrance hole to be. I had marked my tragus a number of times with a fine point Sharpie. The only mark remaining was the one I liked. It stayed even though I cleaned the area.
I put the needle up to my tragus. The needle promptly sunk into the skin, like a warm knife into butter. I met some resistance once the needle hit cartilage. With a little more pressure, the needle went the rest of the way through and into the receiving tube.
Then I pulled the needle out, slowly. I got to experience first-hand how uncomfortable this can be. There is clearly more damage being done to the piercing site as the sharp needle is pulled back out through the same hole.
I retrieved the jewelry and attempted to put it in. I could not line up the entrance hole, the hole through the cartilage, and the exit hole inside my ear. Urgh. Fortunately, I had a second autoclaved needle nearby. I changed my gloves again, put the used needle in the red sharps container, and retrieved the second needle.
The entrance hole was visible. I used the same hole again. I attempted to use the same entrance angle in an attempt to use the same hole in the cartilage. I was immediately met with resistance. I added more pressure until the needle went through the cartilage. The needle again sunk into the receiving tube.
This time, I ran some bottled water through the hole utilizing a small syringe I had. I squirted the water around the entrance hole and twisted the needle to allow some of the water into the hole. I was hoping that, by lubricating the hole with some simple water, that I would be able to insert the jewelry a little easier.
I again pulled the needle out the same way it went in. I quickly fetched the jewelry and this time it slid right in.
I looked at my tragus in the mirror. It was swollen beyond belief. My body usually swells when I receive a cartilage piercing, but this one was extra-swollen because I had to pierce it twice. I put cold water on a 3x3 gauze and put it on my tragus. The coolness eventually brought the swelling down slightly.
Within three days, the swelling had almost completely subsided. By the seventh day, I decided I wanted to put a shorter piece of jewelry in it. This was not one of my brighter choices. I knew it was inadvisable, but I decided to do it anyway. I put in an 18g 5/16" nosebone and found it was too short. Then I tried a 16g 3/8" flat-back labret. I unscrewed the ball, and put the flat-back and the post in from inside my ear. It went in surprisingly easily. I left that in for about a week. Then my 7 month old daughter grabbed me by the ear, and my tragus began to swell. Instead of down-sizing to the 18g glass, I decided to stretch the then 2 week old piercing to 14g. Again, dumb. I put in a 14g captive bead ring. Again, it swelled.
That was just a few days ago. It is still rather swollen and sore, mostly from my own impatience. Stretching a new piercing is inadvisable and extremely uncomfortable!
Throughout the process, from initial piercing at 18g through its stretch to 14g, I used LITHA and water. I "left it the hell alone" for the most part, but on a couple of occasions I did use a little bit of water on the end of a q-tip to wipe away some of the crust that accumulated around the flat-back labret and then on the captive bead ring. I have had more crust on the inside of my ear than on the outside.
As for relative pain, it was slightly more painful than many of my other piercings. I believe this was because I had to pierce it twice, and because of my impatient stretchings. I believe the pain level for this piercing to be entirely manageable. If you like the way the tragus piercing looks, you will probably love having your own tragus piercing.
PIERCED: May 2006 EXPERIENCE SUBMITTED: June 2006
submitted by: Shaman-1
on: 07 June 2006
in Ear Piercing