What to Know About Rook Piercing

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 23, 2022
4 min read

Before you schedule a rook piercing, there are some things you should know about this cartilage piercing. Its increasing popularity may be due to its use in constellation piercing. Constellation piercing, one of the latest trends making the rounds on social media, involves small scattered piercings in the ear designed to mimic star groupings. Rook piercing is often a part of this, but a rook piercing needs special care because of where it's placed. 

Rook piercing placement is done in the cartilage beneath the rim of your ear. Ear cartilage piercings are more prone to infections than earlobe piercings because there isn't as much blood flow in the upper ear. 

A rook piercing is more painful than some other types of ear piercing. The cartilage in your ear is thicker than the soft tissue in your earlobe, so it's much harder to pierce. The rook is a fold of cartilage, so piercing it can be difficult. Additionally, because of the decreased blood flow, rook piercings take longer to heal than soft tissue piercings and are more likely to result in complications. 

A cartilage piercing above the earlobe will generally take between 12 and 16 weeks to heal if there are no complications. During the healing time, you should avoid activities that could irritate the ear and delay healing. Sleep on the opposite side from where you had your rook pierced, or on your back if you had both rooks pierced at the same time. Use earphones or talk on the opposite side of the piercing when you talk on the phone.

It's important to take good care of your rook piercing to prevent infection or other complications. You should know what's normal for a new piercing so you can spot any symptoms that could indicate a problem. A rook piercing is an open wound that will take time to heal. 

What to expect after a rook piercing. Normal symptoms that you may experience after a piercing include:

  • Tenderness
  • Itchiness
  • Skin that is slightly darker or redder than normal
  • Pale, crusty discharge 
  • Small lumps around the piercing 

You can treat the small lumps around the piercing by soaking a pad in warm water and holding it against the area once a day. These lumps are called granulomas and are filled with trapped fluid.

How to clean a rook piercing. Until your rook piercing is healed, you should do the following to care for it and prevent bacteria from entering the area and causing infection:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch the pierced area.
  • Avoid cleaning your piercing with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, since both slow the healing process by killing new, healthy cells.
  • Avoid using any type of ointment on the piercing, since it can interfere with healing.
  • Use a salt soak made with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt or 1 tablespoon of table salt and 1 cup of warm water to clean your piercing and remove crusty material.
  • Alternatively, use a mild liquid antibacterial soap diluted by half with water to clean the piercing, but avoid perfumed products.
  • Clean your piercing twice a day with a cotton swab dipped in the cleaning solution, letting it soak in for a few minutes.
  • Rotate the piercing only when the area is wet.

The chances of developing an infection with a cartilage piercing such as a rook piercing are about 30%, compared to 21% with earlobe piercings. Infections can develop if bacteria gets into your piercing before it's fully healed, which can happen if: 

  • The tools used to pierce your rook are not sterilized
  • You touch your piercing with dirty hands
  • You remove your jewelry before the piercing is healed
  • You don't clean your piercings every day
  • You swim in a pool, hot tub, lake, or river before your piercing is healed

Look out for signs you may be developing an infection, including: 

  • Discharge from the piercing 
  • Fever
  • Warmth, redness, or swelling around the piercing
  • Tenderness around the piercing

What to avoid after a rook piercing. To help prevent complications with a rook piercing:

  • Avoid doing your own piercing.
  • Don't pick at crusty discharge.
  • Don't use a towel to dry your piercing.
  • Don't twist the jewelry in your piercing when the piercing is dry.

In addition to an infection of the piercing site, which is fairly common but usually responds well to treatment, other, more serious complications can occur with a rook piercing. These complications are not as common and include: 

Infection in your bloodstream. Infections of your blood such as tetanus or hepatitis B or C are usually caused by contaminated piercing equipment. Make sure you're up to date on your immunizations before you get a piercing. 

Allergic reactions. If you're allergic to nickel, which is commonly used in piercing jewelry and even some gold jewelry, you may develop a reaction. Poor-quality jewelry can also cause an allergic reaction. Make sure the jewelry you use for piercing is good quality and doesn't contain nickel.

Keloids.Keloids are an overgrowth of scar tissue that can sometimes develop at the site of the piercing. Keloids can cause tenderness and itching and may have to be treated with surgery, injections, laser treatments, or radiation. People who are prone to forming keloids should probably avoid getting piercings.