The tragus is the small lobe of cartilage that protrudes over the entrance to the ear canal. A tragus piercing involves perforating the tragus with a small gauge needle and inserting a piece of jewellery. While a tragus piercing can be relatively painless, it does tend to take longer to heal than earlobe piercings. As such, effective aftercare is essential to prevent infection and aid healing.
After a piercing, the skin around the puncture needs to heal. For a tragus piercing, this takes approximately 4 and 8 weeks. During this period, the tragus piercing should be cleaned twice a day. Cleaning the piercing ensures that bacteria do now infect it. An infection can cause a follicular cyst, when a hair or dead skin cells get into the piercing, an abscess, which traps infected fluid under the skin, or a keloid, whereby callouses form.
Things you need
The best way to clean a tragus piercing is with a saline solution. You can purchase readymade saline solutions, but it is easy -- and cheaper -- to make your own. Simply mix one teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water until it dissolves. Alternatively, place both ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently until the salt dissolves. You will also need some cotton wool balls or cotton buds to apply the solution to the ear.
Wash you hands thoroughly before cleaning your tragus piercing. Alternatively, clean your piercing after taking a shower. Soak a cotton ball or the end of a cotton bud in the saline solution. Hold it against the piercing and squeeze slightly so that the liquid soaks into the puncture. Gently rotate your earring or stud to allow the liquid to penetrate all of the piercing. Repeat for approximately 5 minutes, using successive cotton balls or buds as they dry out.
Other cleaning agents
You may wish to swab the tragus piercing with a cotton ball and one or two drops of antibacterial soap. Do so after swabbing with the saline solution, using the same technique. Hydrogen peroxide gels and tea tree oil can also be used as cleaning liquids, particularly if the area has become infected.
Besides this cleaning regime, there are preventative measures you can take to minimise the risk of infection in your tragus piercing. Avoid touching the piercing with unwashed hands. Equally, avoid objects touching the tragus. This includes headphones, mobile phones and clothing. If possible, keep hair away from the piercing, as contact with dirty hair is a common cause of infection. Try to avoid sleeping on your tragus piercing, and change your pillowcase regularly.