Back in September of 2012, I paid perfectly good money to have some stranger stab a needle through the thickest part of my ear. Here’s my advice for those interested in a conch piercing:
- There are two pronunciations of the word ‘conch’; konk and kontsch. My research suggests “konk” is right. Chances are that your piercer will prefer whichever one you don’t say and perhaps sound a trifle dismissive when they ‘correct’ you.
- Know what you want. What kind of jewelry do you plan to wear in the healed piercing? Are you aiming for a giant ring, a tiny labret, or something else entirely? Know in advance what gauge you prefer and whether or not the sparklies of your dreams come in that gauge and perhaps diameter. Do you know where to buy or order that jewelry?My ideal piece of jewelry was a plain, surgical steel hoop that set me back about eight bucks. If you’re looking for something more elaborate, Anatometal is a popular choice for custom options. If you’re richer than Croesus, BVLA and Maria Tash sell gorgeous fine jewelry.
- Speak up: tell the piercer exactly what you want. Make sure you two are envisioning the same results.
- Yes, getting pierced will hurt, but not fatally. Watching YouTube videos of others’ conch piercing experiences will give you an idea what to expect. Personally, I don’t remember the pain of the actual needle penetrating…. only the moment when the piercer reached for something on a faraway table while holding my ear with one hand. Ouch.
- Fresh piercings will bleed for a little bit. Please don’t wear your best shirt. If you don’t want to clutch a paper towel to your head, use an ace bandage to strap it on, Van Gogh-style.
- Keep your cleaning stuff in a small spray bottle or a clean bulb syringe for fast, focused wound-soaking. You’ll be cleaning your piercing x times a day, with whatever your piercer recommends. Make it easy on yourself with a small spray bottle or bulb syringe. Cleaning your piercing in the shower will be easier than trying to soak your ear in a mug of saltwater.
- You’ll want a special circular or semi-circular pillow while the wound heals. Those U-shaped neck pillows for traveling are good, but if you don’t have one you can easily twist an old shirt or pair of sweatpants into a circle for the duration of your healing. My helix (upper, outer ear cartilage) piercing took nearly nine months to heal and interrupted my sleep, both because I didn’t think to use a special pillow. I just curled one hand into a C-shape and slept with it under my head. Fine in a pinch, but not a long-term solution.
- Open wounds smell bad. Your piercing is a wound. The subtle stink will pass, but you might encourage your loved ones to whisper into or nibble the other ear for awhile.
I’m extremely happy with my conch piercing. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
That said, a conch hoop can be uncomfortable, especially for side-sleepers. A rigid conch hoop can push against one’s also-fairly-rigid ear. Resting your head on someone’s shoulder can be uncomfortable for both parties. Switching to a labret earring instead of a ring may be more comfortable, or less uncomfortable.
Here’s how my left ear looks now:
Better without the blood, eh?
Questions, comments, war stories about your own piercings? Please share with the class in the comments below!