How to Clean a Tragus Piercing

The tragus is the small piece of cartilage that partially covers the ear canal. If you’ve decided to have your tragus pierced, it’s important that you keep the hole clean and free from bacteria and infection-causing germs. Clean the inside of the piercing daily with saline solution. Wash the outside of the piercing with antibacterial soap. Proper and regular cleaning prevents infection and ensures you have a great-looking earring to show off.

Method One of Two: Rinsing a Newly-Pierced Tragus

  1. Purchase 1 gallon (3.8 L) of distilled water and natural sea salts. Beginning the day after your tragus was pierced, plan to clean your tragus 1-2 times a day for 6-8 weeks. Both distilled water and sea salt are available in most grocery stores and supermarkets. When picking up the salt, make sure that it’s all-natural, non-iodized, and contains no added ingredients. You’ll likely need to buy a higher-quality salt than ordinary table salt.
    • You can stop doing saline water soaks once the tragus piercing has healed.
    • Distilled water is very affordable; it usually costs about $1 USD per gallon.
  2. Mix the water and salt into a saline solution. Measure out 4 tsp (33 g) of sea salt into your 1 gallon (3.8 L) of distilled water. Mix the ingredients by replacing the cap on the gallon of water and vigorously shaking the bottle.[ After you’ve agitated the bottle for about 30 seconds, the salt will be completely dissolved in the water.
    • Store the saline solution in a kitchen cabinet when you’re not using it.
  3. Fill a coffee mug ¾ full with the solution and heat it in the microwave. Due to its position on your head, it’s difficult to soak your tragus in salt water. The best way is to pour the saline solution into a large mug. Place the mug in the microwave and heat it on high for 20-30 seconds. This should be enough to heat the water to roughly the temperature of your body.
    • The amount of liquid needed to fill your mug will vary, since mugs come in all sizes.
    • If you don’t have a suitable coffee mug, any other type of glass will work. You could try using a shot glass or a pint glass.
  4. Soak your tragus piercing in the saline solution 1–2 times per day. Once you’ve warmed the mug full of saline solution, remove it from the microwave and set it on a counter or tabletop. Carefully lean your head sideways over the mug, with your tragus piercing facing downward. Lower your head until your pierced tragus is fully immersed in the saline solution and leave your ear there for 7–15 minutes.
    • Soaking the tragus piercing will keep the tragus piercing clean and prevent infections.
  5. Clean your tragus piercing with a compress if it won’t fit in the mug. If you try to soak your tragus piercing in a mug and, for whatever reason, you can’t get your ear below the water level, use a saline compress instead. Again, microwave the mug full of saline solution so it’s at body temperature. Then, fold a clean paper towel into fourths and dip it into the warm solution. Pull the paper towel out of the mug and hold it directly against your pierced tragus for 7–15 minutes.[
    • While using a compress won’t clean your pierced tragus quite as effectively as submerging the piercing in saline solution, it’s still much better than nothing.
  6. Rinse your ear off with tap water to remove the salt. Once you’ve soaked your ear—or applied a compress to it—for 7–15 minutes, pull it out of the mug or remove the compress. Cup your hands under a running faucet and splash clean water onto your ear 2–3 times. This will rinse off the salt from the piercing.[
    • Excess salt left on your skin can dry the skin and the pierced hole. This may slow the healing process.Advertisement

Method Two of Two: Protecting Your Pierced Tragus

  1. Wash the outside of the piercing with antibacterial soap once daily. All you need to use to clean the healed tragus piercing is a bar of antibacterial soap. It’s easiest to clean the piercing when you’re in the shower. Lather up the soap and spread the lather on the outside of your ear and tragus piercing to clean the skin. Rub delicately so you don’t agitate the piercing, and rinse the suds off immediately.
    • Wash your tragus piercing in addition to cleaning it with saline rinses while the piercing heals.
    • Never stick soap deep into your ear canal, and don’t try to press soap bubbles under the piercing or inside the piercing hole.
  2. Do not fiddle with the recently-inserted jewelry. It’s important to let the tragus piercing heal around the piece of jewelry that your piercing specialist has inserted. To this end, don’t spin the jewelry around in your ear, don’t tug on it, and avoid fiddling with the piercing in general. A hands-off approach will allow the piercing to heal and prevent scabs from developing.
    • It goes without saying that you should never remove the jewelry from a fresh piercing.
  3. Do not sleep on your pierced tragus. Sleeping on the side of your head with a pierced tragus will put pressure on the piercing and may cause it to swell up or develop a scab. So, if you just had your left tragus pierced, sleep on your right side, back, or stomach for at least a month.
    • Once the piercing has healed, you can sleep however you like.
  4. Never apply harsh cleaners to your tragus piercing. Your freshly-pierced tragus will be extremely sensitive after it’s been pierced. While applying stringent cleaning products to the hole will clean out bacteria, the products will also agitate the piercing and slow down the healing process. So, avoid using products like:
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Neosporin
    • Antibacterial soap
  5. Wait at least a full month before having a smaller bar inserted. Most professional piercers will put a larger bar into the tragus piercing, so that the hole won’t grow shut after it’s been pierced. If you’d like to switch out the large bar for a smaller, less-noticeable piece of jewelry, wait at least 4 weeks. If you switch out jewelry sooner, the piercing could heal itself shut. Always check with a professional piercer before swapping out jewelry in a recently-pierced tragus.

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