When Can I Change My Conch Piercing?

After being considered taboo for many years, body piercing has become trendy over the last two decades. And along with the piercing of other body parts, the range of ear piercings has grown considerably. One ear piercing that is fast growing in popularity is conch piercing. Typically pierced using a barbell or labret, the question is often asked when one can change their conch piercing.

One should always wait until a piercing has completely healed before replacing the jewelry; a conch piercing is no exception. The conch piercing would take longer to heal, and one should not change conch jewelry before about nine months to give the piercing time to heal.

The healing time for the conch piercing would vary from person to person and would also depend on how the piercing was done and how well it has been looked after for the duration of the healing process. The type of jewelry worn could also influence the healing time. At best, a conch piercing could be fully healed after about three months, but the worst case could take as long as 18 months.

When Can I Change My Conch Jewelry?

A conch piercing, like any other piercing, takes time to heal. While the piercing is healing, it is always best not to fiddle with it. Not only could touching a new piercing spread dirt or bacteria from your hands and infect the piercing, but moving the jewelry around in the piercing would unnecessarily inflame the piercing and extend the healing time.

Professional piercers recommend that one should not change conch piercing jewelry before the piercing is nine months old. The average healing time of a conch piercing is three to nine months, so, in most cases, it would be safe to assume that the piercing is healed after nine months. If the piercing is swollen or red after nine months, it would be safer not to change the jewelry.

It could be rather difficult for people to change their conch jewelry themselves. Firstly, due to the positioning of the conch piercing in the ear, it might not be possible to see the piercing. Secondly, due to the limited space around the piercing, it might be rather tricky to loosen the balls on the barbell or labret. Most recommend that a professional piercer change the jewelry the first time.

Why Do Conch Piercings Take So Long To Heal?

A conch piercing is a piercing through the thick inner cartilage of the ear. All cartilage piercings take longer to heal, and the conch piercing is no exception. As the cartilage on the conch piercing is thicker than the outer cartilage of the ear known as the helix, a conch piercing would probably take longer to heal than a helix piercing.

A conch piercing pierces the cartilage of the ear, which is not soft tissue like the earlobe. A conch piercing heals from the skin inwards, so the piercing might appear fully healed while it’s not. Over time, the skin literally forms a tunnel of scar tissue through the cartilage. The piercing is only healed once this process is complete.

The cartilage does not have good blood flow. As blood flow is an essential factor in the healing of any wound or piercing, the absence of good blood flow means that the conch piercing would take considerably longer to heal than areas with good blood flow, like the ear lobes, tongue, and eyebrows.

Another reason the conch piercing takes longer to heal has to do with the positioning of the piercing. The conch piercing’s location on the ear means it could snag on hair and clothes, which would agitate the piercing and extend healing. One’s tendency to sleep on the side where the conch piercing is located could further hamper healing.

How Can I Speed Up Conch Piercing Healing?

Even though the healing process of a conch piercing would be long, there are several things one could do or not do to ensure optimal healing of the conch piercing. When all the following are correctly adhered to, it will speed up the conch piercing’s healing.

  • Have the piercing done by a reputable piercer – Make sure that the piercer you use has a good reputation and that the studio and equipment are sterile. A poorly done conch piercing could get infected very quickly, so choosing a good, reputable piercer is the vital first step in ensuring quicker healing of your conch piercing. Research piercers first and choose the best one.
  • Use the correct type of jewelry– Most people would prefer to wear nice-looking jewelry in their conch piercings right away, but this could hamper the healing. A ring should never be worn in a new piercing, as this could further hamper the blood flow around the piercing area, thus extending the healing time. Conch piercings should be done with a simple barbell or labret.
  • Proper aftercare – A reputable piercer should advise you on the proper aftercare for your conch piercing. It would help if you cleaned your new conch piercing with saline twice a day. Failure to clean the piercing properly would likely lead to an infection, which would extend the healing time of the piercing. Also, never touch the pierced area without cleaning your hands first.
  • Do not fiddle with the piercing – Moving the jewelry around in the piercing is not conducive to healing. It should be left alone to heal. Touching your piercing could also spread dirt and bacteria to the piercing, leading to infections and extended healing time. Although some might say you should turn the piercing when cleaning it, most recommend that you leave it alone.
  • Do not sleep on the side of the piercing – One should avoid sleeping on the side where the conch piercing is done until the piercing is fully healed. If you sleep on your piercing, it will move the jewelry inside the piercing and agitate it, which will extend the healing time.
  • Avoid using headphones– Using in-ear headphones with a fresh conch piercing is an absolute no. It is also best to avoid over-ear headphones, as these could agitate your conch piercing or spread bacteria that would lead to an infection.
  • Do not change jewelry before the piercing is fully healed – One should avoid fiddling with a conch piercing until it is fully healed. Fiddling in this instance includes changing the jewelry. If one changes conch jewelry before it is properly healed, it would be a setback for healing. The piercing might even close if the piercing is removed too quickly.

Why Should I Get A Conch Piercing?

There are many reasons people like to get a piercing, which is valid for a conch piercing. The same reason would not apply to most people as people are different. Here are a few reasons people might want a conch piercing.

  • It is trendy – Over the last few years, many celebrities have shown off their conch piercings, including Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Scarlet Johansson. People who like to look and act like their idols and want to be part of the “in” crowd often opt for a conch piercing.
  • Making a statement – As the conch piercing is part of the ear, it is a way of making a statement without making it as obvious as a septum, eyebrow, or lip piercing. Conch piercing is a more subtle statement piercing.
  • It looks great – Many different types of jewelry can be worn in a conch piercing, varying from small, diamond-studded barbells to larger, more bulky jewelry, like bead closure rings. People can change the jewelry in their conch piercing to adjust to the look they want, from subtle and feminine to making a bold statement.
  • Relieves migraines – Many people believe a conch piercing could help relieve migraines. Although there is no scientific evidence that this is, in fact, the case, many people still get a conch piercing for this reason, and there are several people would testify that their migraines have stopped after they got their conch piercing.
  • Relieves anxiety – Just like with migraines, there is no scientific evidence to confirm that a conch piercing relieves anxiety. However, acupuncture and acupressure of the conch area are often used to relieve anxiety. Many people would get a conch piercing to help with their anxiety issues.

What Jewelry Works Best For A Conch Piercing?

As is the case for any piercing, it is always best to wear jewelry made from hypoallergenic metals. These include surgical steel, surgical titanium, and gold. Many also recommend sterling silver. Other materials could also be used if one is not allergic to them, but surgical steel and surgical titanium are recommended by most piercers, especially for new piercings.

The type of jewelry one could choose for their conch piercing would depend on the type of conch piercing. For the inner conch piercing, a barbell or labret could be used. The labret is like the barbell, but the one end is flat tipped, usually placed behind the ear to avoid irritation. Both barbells and labrets have a variety of designs, sizes, colors, and jewels to choose from.

The outer conch would also be pierced with a barbell or a labret. However, unlike the inner conch, one could replace the original jewelry in an outer conch piercing with curved barbells, circular barbells, hoops, and captive bead rings once the piercing is completely healed. These jewelry options are again available in various designs, sizes, colors, and jewels.

One should also be mindful of the gauge or thickness of the jewelry used for the original piercing. Although it is possible to use thicker, lower gauge jewelry and stretch the conch piercing, the stretching process could be painful and cause inflammation and swelling. Stretching before the piercing is fully healed is a horrible idea, so it is best to use jewelry of the same gauge.

The jewelry a person chooses to wear in their conch piercing will vary from person to person. It would also depend on whether the person wants the piercing to be discrete or to make a bold statement. Once the piercing is healed, a person can also change the jewelry in their conch piercing from time to time to fit their mood, clothing, or occasion.

How Do I Change My Conch Piercing?

One should only change a conch piercing once it has completely healed, usually not before the piercing is nine months old. Even then, it would be better if a reputable piercer replaced the jewelry. They could see whether the piercing has adequately healed and advise on the way forward and which type of jewelry would be most suitable for the piercing.

If one decides to change their piercing jewelry, the first concern is hygiene. Piercers recommend washing your hands properly with anti-bacterial soap before even attempting to touch the pierced area. If you touch the piercing area with unwashed hands, it could transfer dirt or bacteria, which could lead to infection in the piercing, so wash your hands properly.

Experts further recommend that you also clean the new jewelry you would be putting in your conch piercing before you start to remove the old jewelry. While the reason to clean it is to ensure that no dirt or bacteria gets into the piercing, it is better to do so before taking the old jewelry out, as the piercing might start to close quickly in some cases. You do not want to end up re-piercing it.

Once your hands are properly cleaned and the new jewelry ready, you can start removing the jewelry. As the conch piercing is usually done with a barbell or labret, removing it could be quite tricky, as you would likely struggle to see what you are doing in your ear. Due to the limited space, some might struggle to unscrew the ball from the barbell or labret. Remove it carefully.

Once the old jewelry is removed, one should properly clean the piercing with sterile saline. Cleaning with saline removes any dirt or build-up that might have accumulated in the piercing over time and provides some lubrication for inserting the new jewelry. Remember to clean the front and the back of the piercing correctly.

Finally, you can now proceed to insert the new jewelry and fasten it securely. The exact method used to insert the jewelry would depend on the jewelry used. The jewelry should slip through if you use a barbell or labret. A ring could be a little trickier, as the two open points of the ring need to be aligned with the hole before you could slowly rotate the ring into place.

Once you have replaced the jewelry and fastened it securely, it is a good idea to clean the area of the piercing with sterile saline again to ensure that no dirt or bacteria gets into the piercing. After replacing the jewelry, some may experience a bit of redness and even swelling at the piercing site, which is normal and should go away after a few days.


The jewelry in a conch piercing can be changed once the piercing is completely healed. A conch piercing typically takes between three and nine months to heal, so it is recommended to wait at least nine months before the conch piercing jewelry gets changed. Changing the conch piercing jewelry too early could extend the healing time for the piercing considerably.

As the healing time of a conch piercing depends on many factors, including aftercare, some people might find that it could take their piercing as long as 18 months to heal. For this reason, experts recommend that one ask a reputable piercer to change their conch piercing for them, at least the first time, to check the level of healing and give advice on further healing and jewelry.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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