There is a level of pain involved in all body piercings, including cartilage. For a cartilage piercing, a needle is inserted into the upper cartilage of the ear, and it is typically more painful than standard skin piercings.
Cartilage piercings require a longer healing period than other skin piercings because there is less blood circulation through cartilage. The average healing time for cartilage piercings is four to 12 months.
The lack of circulation in ear cartilage makes commonly used antibiotics less effective if an infection appears. Washing hands before handling a new piercing and using antibacterial soap to clean the piercing are important steps in avoiding a cartilage infection.