Cartilage piercings go through any part of the ear except the earlobe, but the most common placement is on the outside edge of the upper ear. If you've had your cartilage pierced with a stud at a mall shop, take the jewelry out immediately, as studs are inappropriate for cartilage piercings and can become embedded in your skin, causing pain and infection. If possible, always go to a professional piercer at a tattoo or piercing shop to have jewelry removed, but if you can't, you'll need to know how to remove a butterfly-back stud.
Wash your hands for two full minutes with antibacterial soap and the hottest water you can stand. Scrub underneath your nails with a nail-scrubbing brush to remove any dirt and bacteria. Dry your hands with a fresh paper towel.
Grasp the front of the stud with your thumb and forefinger. Grasp the back of the stud with your other thumb and forefinger.
Feel the part of the earring back at the point where it attaches to the post. You will feel two tiny prongs inside the curved pieces on either side. Press these prongs toward each other using the fingernails of your thumb and forefinger. This will release the pressure holding the clasp in place.
Pull forward on the front of the earring and backward on the other side to remove the stud. Dispose of the stud; it is unsafe to use it again or allow anyone else to use it, no matter how much you clean it.
Wash your piercing thoroughly with antibacterial soap and hot water.
Mix a pinch of non-iodized sea salt -- approximately one-eighth teaspoon -- into one-half cup of hot water. Dip sterile gauze into the salt-water solution, press the gauze against the piercing and hold it there for 10 minutes.
Repeat steps five and six twice daily until you have no swelling or redness left.
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S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.