Helix Piercing: Healing, Pain, Cost, Jewelry, Aftercare
If you love your earlobe piercings, it’s a natural next step to think about a cartilage piercing. There are many different parts of your ear cartilage that you can pierce, but one popular area is the upper half of your ear. This is called a helix piercing.
If you’re thinking about getting a helix piercing, learn more about the pain, how it heals, different placements, and what type of jewelry you can wear in it.
What Is a Helix Piercing?
A helix piercing is a type of cartilage piercing done in the upper half of your ear. It can be a single piercing or multiple. It can also be positioned in various areas of your upper ear based on your preferences. Helix piercings may use hoops, studs, or other variations of jewelry.
Image: Ryan Dreyfuss.
Helix vs. Cartilage Piercing
A helix piercing is a variant of cartilage piercing. While a cartilage piercing refers to any type of cartilage being pierced, a helix piercing refers specifically to the upper half of your ear.
Types of Helix Piercings by Placement
A standard helix piercing is located in the upper, outer portion of your ear. It’s usually at the tallest portion of your ear, where it begins to round inward toward your head.
That being said, helix piercings can be located in various parts of your ear based on what you like best. Changing up the placement is a great way to customize for yourself.
1. Forward Helix Piercing or Front Helix Piercing
A forward helix piercing, also known as a front helix piercing, is done in the front cartilage of your ear right above your tragus. It’s positioned close to your head and usually fitted with a small stud because it’s a small area and requires an experienced piercer due to the placement’s complexity.
2. Outer Helix Piercing
Instead of piercing the front portion of your ear’s cartilage, the other helix piercing goes through the outer cartilage of your ear. In other words, the jewelry is placed at the outer edge of the side of your ear.
3. Vertical Helix Piercing
A vertical helix piercing is located at the very top of your ear. It goes up and down through the cartilage at the top of your ear so the jewelry is placed in a completely vertical position. Barbells are common for this piercing and some feature a dangling feature that will hang in the upper, inner portion of your ear.
4. Anti Helix Piercing
An anti helix piercing is also known as a snug piercing. This is the rounded ridge of cartilage across from your tragus. It’s not at the edge of your ear but goes in and out through the rounded piece of cartilage. It’s a harder, denser piece of cartilage that can be more painful than the outer area.
5. Low Helix Piercing
A low helix piercing is located just below the middle outer portion of your ear. It’s just above your earlobe where the cartilage begins.
6. Mid Helix Piercing
A mid helix piercing is located at about the middle outer portion of the ear. In other words, it’s in the cartilage directly across from the tragus. This is a common placement for a double or triple helix piercing.
7. Upper Helix Piercing
An upper helix piercing is located in the cartilage higher than the middle part of your ear. It’s higher than both the low and mid helix piercing and is placed toward the top of your ear.
Types of Helix Piercings by Quantity
There are numerous different variants of the helix piercing. For example, a helix piercing can have one, two, or three different perforations. If you love ear piercings, you may be interested in a double or triple helix so you can add more accessories to your ear.
1. Single Helix Piercing
A single helix piercing is one piercing in the upper ear cartilage. It’s the standard style with just one piece of jewelry.
2. Double Helix Piercing
A double helix piercing is two piercings in the upper ear cartilage. It involves two perforations right next to one another. Typically the jewelry should match with this type of piercing, such as two silver hoops, but you can ultimately wear whatever you’d like as long as they fit comfortably side by side.
3. Triple Helix Piercing
A triple helix piercing is three piercings in the upper ear cartilage. It involves three perforations spaced evenly apart, but usually close to one another. Studs are a common type of jewelry for this piercing. For example, you could wear three diamonds that get gradually larger in size as you move down your ear.
Helix Piercing Healing Time
How long does a helix piercing take to heal? Whereas lobe piercings often heal within a month, helix piercings can take 6 to 9 months to fully heal. It may take longer if you experience complications.
There are fewer blood vessels in your cartilage than in your ear lobe which is what lengthens the healing time.
Helix Piercing Healing Stages
Once you get your helix pierced, there are various stages to the healing process, including:
- Your piercing may start off swollen, sore, red, and hot to the touch.
- Swelling, redness, and pain should start to go down, though the area may still feel warm to the touch.
- There should be no discharge or bleeding and you may see minor flaking around the edges of the piercing.
- Once fully healed, there is no swelling, no redness, no flaking, no discharge, and the skin is not heated.
Helix Piercing Pain
Do helix piercings hurt? On a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the worst, people often rate a helix piercing at between a 4 and a 7.
However, you may experience more or less pain depending on your tolerance. Be sure to go to an experienced piercer, as they can lessen the potential pain by piercing quickly and efficiently.
How Much Is a Helix Piercing?
Helix piercings will vary in cost based on where you go. Typically, a helix piercing will range from $30 to $75. Jewelry can make the price go up quite a bit depending on what you choose.
It’s best to go with a reputable piercer and high-quality jewelry, instead of just going with the cheapest options. This can help prevent infection and other complications.
Helix Piercing Jewelry
When choosing what type of jewelry you’d like for your helix piercing, you need to consider the style, material, length, diameter, and gauge.
1. Types of Helix Piercings
You may get a small hoop, a stud, or a bar for your helix piercing. However, you must ensure it fits comfortably where it’s placed. You also may need to start with a stud and wait for the piercing to fully heal before swapping to a hoop.
2. Recommended Metals for Helix Piercings
Piercing stud implant-grade titanium with cubic zirconia 16G $18.9, SHOP NOW.
Implant-grade or surgical titanium is probably the best overall choice on the market. It is a lightweight metal that is hypoallergenic and corrosion-resistant. That makes it ideal for initial piercing jewelry as it places less pressure on swollen lips. You'll also find a wider variety of pieces made from this material because it is easy to shape.
Stainless steel is durable and high-quality but does contain trace amounts of nickel that can be tricky for sensitive skin. Gold is softer and can also trigger skin allergies.
3. Helix Piercing Size
- Helix piercing gauge: Helix piercings are commonly 16 gauge (1.2mm) or 18 gauge (1mm).
- Diameter: If you go with a hoop, they can range in size from 4mm to 10mm, depending on the thickness and anatomy of your ear. Standard sizes are 1/4" (6mm) and 5/16" (8mm).
- Post length: If you go with a stud, it can also range depending on the thickness of your ear, usually from 4mm to 10mm. The standard size is 5/16" (8mm).
For information about other piercings please refer to our complete piercing size chart.
4. Jewelry for Forward Helix Piercing or Thin Helix
Since the cartilage for a forward helix piercing is generally thinner, the jewelry you need will likely only be 4mm or 6mm long. Common gauge sizes for forword helix piercings are 16G(1.2mm) and 18G(1mm), and the common diameter is 1/4"(6mm).
And since it’s in an area of your ear with limited space, you’ll likely need a flatback stud. This means the earring will go in from the back of the piercing and will be screwed on at the front.
When Can I Change My Helix Piercing?
You should wait until your helix piercing is fully healed to change it. This typically takes between 6 months to 9 months. If you take your helix jewelry out too soon, it could introduce bacteria, irritate the piercing, get infected, and even close up.
How to Take Helix Piercings With a Flat Back Out?
To take out a flat-back helix piercing, you must first wash your hands. Then, you will get a firm grasp on the back of the earring, holding it in place while you gently unscrew the front toward the left. Once the front piece of the earring has been unscrewed, you can gently wiggle out the stud, moving it backward out of your ear.
Helix Piercing Risks
As with any piercing, there are several potential risks of getting your helix pierced. These may include:
- Infection: where there is oozing, pus, a foul odor, swelling, pain, and potentially a fever
- Bumps: where there is a hard, raised portion of skin, also known as a keloid
- Swelling: where the area is red and hot, which can be addressed with a cold compress
- Rejection: where your body rejects the piercing and it needs to seal up and be re-pierced, potentially in a different location
If you experience any symptoms of an infection or other complications, you should contact your piercer and a medical professional as soon as possible.
Helix Piercing Pros and Cons
There are several pros and cons of a helix piercing. Some pros may include:
- It’s a fun piercing option that can compliment other piercings.
- You can get a double or triple helix design.
- There are various jewelry options to choose from.
- You can customize the look by choosing your placement.
- Once healed, you can switch out jewelry easily.
- Ear piercings are relatively easy to get and can be budget-friendly.
Some cons may include:
- They take longer to heal than ear lobe piercings.
- You need to wait for it to fully heal before changing the jewelry.
- They can be more expensive than an ear lobe piercing.
- They require attentive aftercare to help prevent infection.
- They could easily get caught in your hair or bother you when you sleep on your side.
How to Clean Helix Piercing?
The best way to prevent helix piercing complications is to perform the right aftercare. This involves cleaning your piercing at least twice a day. Your piercer may give you a saline solution, or, you can make your own at home by dissolving ¼ teaspoon of sea salt into 1 cup of warm water.
To clean the piercing, you’ll soak something like a cotton ball in the saltwater solution. Then, you’ll apply it to the front and the back of the piercing to saturate the area. If needed, you can use a dampened cotton swab to gently brush away any crust.
- Use a homemade saline solution or an antibacterial cleanser approved by your piercer each day.
- Use safe metals like K gold and implant-grade titanium that you aren’t allergic to.
- Avoid touching and playing with your helix jewelry.
- Allow it to fully heal before changing the jewelry.
- Avoid sleeping on the ear you had pierced.
- Avoid contact with scented soaps, perfumes, chemicals, and other chemicals.
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap when you do clean or touch the piercing and jewelry.
You should ensure you get pierced by someone experienced and reliable who utilizes the right cleaning and sterilization procedures. You’ll also need to choose high-quality jewelry that you aren’t allergic to. After you get your piercing, be sure to follow all instructions from your piercer.
If you’re thinking about getting a new piercing, a helix piercing could be great for you. Check out different placement and jewelry options. Then, find a reputable piercer and make sure you fully understand all of the potential risks. With the right aftercare, you could have a piercing that you’ll enjoy for years to come with various jewelry options to suit your personal style.