Ear Piercings: Your Definitive Guide
The Debrief: From all the different types of ear piercings (we’re talking tragus, helix and daith), your need to know on aftercare, prices and infections and even some of ideas of what to get, we’ve done all the hard work for you.
Ear piercings are totally having a moment right now and as someone who currently has seven ear piercings (and definitely wants more), I'm basically proof.. But there’s a lot to know about them like which one to get, whether it hurts, what that dodgy smell is… So here we go, here is a definitive guide to everything you want to know about ear piercings, from the least painful to the most painful ear piercings, to what all the different types of ear piercings are called.
Ear piercing chart/Ear piercing diagram:
Does ear piercing hurt?
This is a difficult to answer because it’s so subjective – everyone has different pain thresholds, so something that hurts your mate, might not even make you flinch. Generally, any ear piercing will hurt because you’re essentially putting a hole through your skin (it would be weird if it didn’t) so at the very least you should expect some kind of discomfort no matter what.
Different parts of the ear are bound to hurt more than others because the flesh varies, but here are the most painful ear piercings in order: The ear lobe is generally considered the least painful piercing whereas cartilage piercings – like the helix, forward helix, tragus, conch and so on – will usually be more painful because it’s tougher.
When did ear piercing start?
Piercings in general go back thousands of years. Ötzi the Iceman is widely cited as the oldest mummy to have ever been found – he's thought to be around 5,300 years old – and he had his ears pierced and they'd actually been stretched to around 7-11mm.
The role of ear piercings has varied over history. In the Western world they're mainly worn for fashion but religion and superstition has also played a role: some thought that bad spirits entered through the ears and metal was thought to repel them. In ancient Rome they were worn by slaves, in ancient Greece it was a sign of being a prostitute, sailors wore them so they could pay for their funeral should they be lost at sea and washed up, and they're even mentioned in the bible.
Where to get ear piercings?
This really depends where you live! Claire’s do piercings and is national and tattoo studios and beauticians often have piercing facilities too. Your best bet is to Google it and see what’s in your area. It’s worth looking at reviews as well to make sure you're getting pierced at a reputable place.
How much do ear piercings cost?
This depends on where you go also the part of the ear you’re having pierced. As a general rule, cartilage piercings will cost more (around £20-£30) whilst ear lobes tend to be £15-£20 but it does vary and the type of jewellery you choose will also effect the price.
Why do my ear piercings smell?
Getting a waft of cheese? This smell is usually a result of skin cells and natural oils clogging them up. Cleaning them with an antibacterial or saline solution will help to get rid of it. However, if it’s weeping, red or sore, the piercing could be infected..
Are ear piercing guns safe? or are piercing needles the way to go?
There’s is some debate around the use of ear piercing guns. In the British Body Piercing Association's code of practice and ethics it states 'To only use the Gun method, for piercing ear lobes' so be sure to stick with a piercing needle for any other body part (including any other part of the ear) because a gun can be detrimental.
Can ear piercing help migraines?
It’s been reported that a daith piercing can help reduce migraines because it hits a particular pressure point, meaning it's sort of like long-term acupuncture. It’s by no means scientifically proven although many people have reported the positive side effects.
Can ear piercing infections spread?
Getting a piercing will of course increase your chances of getting an infection because you’re creating a ‘wound’ of sorts. This is why it’s important to get it done professionally and in a sterile environment.
The aftercare is also an important part of making sure the piercing doesn’t get infected. Clean the piercing twice a day using a clean cotton bud and a sterile saline or anitbacterial solution, and remove any dried blood or discharge. Don’t twist it though because this can irritate the piercing.
If your piercing is swollen, bleeding or painful and cleaning it regularly is not improving it, it could be infected, so consult a health professional or return to the piercer for advice. It’s rare for an ear piercing infection to spread to the rest of the body but, again, if you’re at all concerned about your piercing, consult a health professional.
Do ear piercings close?
Ear piercings are not permanent; if piercings are left out long enough, they will usually close up.
Do ear piercings leave scars?
Given enough time, an ear piercing will usually heal/close without leaving a scar although this will differ for everyone and it's possible that a mark of where the hole used to be will never go. If you wear heavy earrings or stretch the holes in anyway, it will make it more difficult for the hole to heal and is more likely to leave a scar.
How long do ear piercings take to heal?
Healing time really depends on the type of piercing. The ear lobe healing time is around four to six weeks. Cartilage piercings like the helix, daith or tragus will be more like 12 weeks but could be up to six months and everyone is different. It's best not to rush changing the jewellery and ensuring it is properly healed before you do, because it can agitate the piercing.
The piercer will be able to advise on the approximate healing time for your particular piercing.
What ear piercing should I get?
Well, that’s entirely up to you. There are loads of options, so it depends what kind of look you want. If you don’t have any, your earlobes are a good place to start but if you've already got that, you might want to opt for another part of the ear. Here's a list of lots of all the different ear piercings to help inspire you...
Ear piercing names
1. Ear lobe
2. Second lobe
4. Double Helix
11. Outer Conch
12. Inner Conch
17. Transverse Lobe Piercing
18. Industrial piercing
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