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Sunday 24 March 2019

So you want a cartilage piercing...

The trend of having lots of dainty piercings is definitely having a moment, and if you're anything like me, you're probably lusting over all the earring-porn on the Astrid & Miyu Instagram and crying over the fact it costs £55 to get your cartilage pierced at one of their pop-up stores. 

I had my cartilage pierced twice whilst I was at uni - I loved the first one so much, and the piercing shop I went to offered 20% student discount and numbed my ear before piercing, so it was a no-brainer to get a second one. I was totally in love with my piercing collection until about a year ago, when I decided to try to change the earring in my cartilage myself, an action which is in the top 5 of my biggest ever regrets. 

Since I started working for a jewellery brand I became obsessed with the idea of changing my stud for a ring, and with small silver hoops being relatively affordable I decided to just try one out. When I got home that day I unscrewed the labret style earring that I had in currently, and spent the next hour trying to get the hoop to close in my ear. It was near enough impossible without having someone else there to do it up for me, as there's just no way you can see where the hole of the hoop is, and things only become trickier when you're using a mirror and your lefts and rights switch. Some blood, sweat and tears later - quite literally, I gave up and took the earring out intending to replace it with the original labret style that I had previously had in. However, the fun didn't end there, as I couldn't find the stud. 

Here began the panic again, thinking that my piercing would now close as it didn't have anything in it, so I decided to try again with the hoop. I actually managed to do it up this time, but my ear was most certainly not happy and was incredibly painful to sleep on. 

My ear felt like it did when I first had it pierced for a good few days after this whole ordeal, but I thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, a small bump started to form around where the hoop had gone through the piercing, so I googled this and 'piercing bumps' seemed pretty normal, treatable by salt water and chamomile tea bags. I tried all of it - and nothing worked, the bump just kept getting bigger. After a few weeks I had really had enough of this giant thing on my ear so I googled it again, and soon discovered that it was not just a 'piercing bump', but rather a Keloid - I was so upset, I'd ruined my piercing and quite frankly, my whole ear (yes, I'm dramatic, I know).

What is a Keloid scar?

A Keloid is a tough scar which is raised, generally pink in colour, and are most common in people with darker skin tones. Not to be a nerd, but I've researched them quite a lot so I thought I would share my knowledge. When you break skin, what happens is that collagen gathers up all the damaged skin from around the wound and tries to help the wound to seal which causes a scar (I'm sure you've all had a regular scar before...). Anyway, generally scars fade and become much less noticeable, but sometimes scars continue to grow, which is what happened in my case.

Can you get rid of a Keloid scar?

No, is the short answer. I had read up and up on the internet about all these 'home remedies' and procedures that you can have done, but I tried all the home remedies and none of them worked. I then booked a doctors appointment, at which point the doctor just confirmed that it was a Keloid, and said there was nothing that they could do - he literally scoffed when I asked if Bio-Oil would help. Basically, you can go under the knife to have it removed, but this can result in the Keloid growing back much larger, which of course would defeat the whole point. I believe if you catch it before it really enlarges there are options which can stop it getting bigger and reduce the redness, therefore making it far less obvious. 

Can you prevent a Keloid on a piercing?

Essentially, yes. Cartilage is more prone to developing these large scars than other areas, and getting your piercing done with a needle rather than a gun can reduce the likelihood of Keloid scars forming. If you clean your piercing, don't aggravate it, and see a professional when you want the piercing changed, you probably won't develop a Keloid scar.

I'm by no means trying to scare you out of getting your cartilage pierced, but please just learn from my mistakes, let your piercing heal properly and don't try to change the piercing yourself. It sounds so silly but I used to be so confident with a high ponytail and generally having my hair tied up, but this has really knocked my confidence. Knowing that everyone can see it when my hair isn't down, and visibly seeing people stare at it when they are sat next to me or having a conversation with me is awful.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with a piercing?

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