Ear Piercings: Everything You Need to Know
When you think “ear piercings,” you probably picture the standard lobe piercing. But, ear piercings actually encapsulate a wide variety of piercing types all over the ear. In fact, even the lobe piercing has a few variations, depending on where you want the piercing placed.Since the ear is made up of both cartilage and fleshier tissue, every ear piercing has unique healing times and pain levels. However, there’s one thing that you can always count on: your new ear piercing will look super cute.
If you can’t decide between a helix, daith, or lobe piercing, we’ve put together a quick guide on ear piercings so that you can discover your perfect new look.
How much do ear piercings hurt?
The answer to this question greatly depends upon the location of your ear piercing. However, generally speaking, you can gauge the pain level based on whether you’re getting your fleshier lobe pierced or piercing the cartilage.
Lobe piercings will feel like a light pinch. They are widely regarded as one of the easiest piercings to get for this reason. This is why it’s often the gateway piercing found on adults and children alike.
Cartilage piercings are considered some of the most painful piercings that you can get. It does vary a bit depending on which cartilage piercing you opt for, but you can expect a substantial pinch. However, the expertise of your piercer will greatly affect your comfort level; an experienced piercer will be able to complete the piercing in one swift movement, and they’ll guide you through your breathing to help keep you calm.
Ear piercing healing process
The healing times for ear piercings vary greatly depending on their location.
Lobe piercings will take around 4 - 8 weeks to heal while cartilage piercings will take 3 - 9 months. The great discrepancy between these healing times has to do with the amount of blood flow in each area.
Cartilage is avascular, meaning that not a lot of blood flows through this area. Blood is essential for healing, so it takes much longer for cartilage to heal. For this reason, cartilage is also more susceptible to infection, which could extend the healing period. The lobe has a higher blood flow, so it doesn’t have the same issues.
Ear piercing aftercare
Whether you get your lobe or cartilage pierced, the aftercare procedures will be the same. However, since cartilage is brittle and takes longer to heal, it’s more susceptible to complications like scarring, piercing bumps, and infection.
Besides conducting a sea salt soak 2 - 3 times a day, here are some tips to healing your ear piercing.
Try not to lie on your piercing. If you get both ears pierced at once, this can be a challenge. Try your best to refrain from sleeping on your side. If you must, make sure that you switch sides every once in a while. You should also be sure to sleep on a clean pillowcase every night. If you don’t feel like washing your pillowcase daily, you can cover your pillow with a clean t-shirt.
Try to avoid snagging. You might be surprised to learn that ear piercings can really get in the way. Your hair, hands, and clothes can all snag on the jewelry. Not only does this hurt, it could lead to complications like piercing rejection or scarring. If you have long hair, it might be a good idea to pull it back during the first weeks of healing. In the beginning as you get used to the jewelry, you should also make sure that you wear clothes that don’t easily snag.
Don’t touch the jewelry. You might be tempted to twist the jewelry in your ear to break away crusties that are natural during healing. This can tear at the skin, causing skin irritation and prolonging healing. Instead, you can soak a clean paper towel in saline solution and gently dab the crusties away, taking care not to move the jewelry. Do your best not to absentmindedly play with the jewelry. This can introduce bacteria to the piercing site as well as damage the healing skin.Watch what you eat and drink. Just like in any sort of healing, you need to take care of your body so that it can properly mend itself. This includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and refraining from drinking heavily or smoking. Pretend you have the world’s longest cold and take care of yourself.
Ear piercing jewelry styles
Since there are so many ear piercing varieties, there are endless jewelry types that you can wear. The type of jewelry that you want could dictate the type of piercing that you get, since some piercing types can’t take certain jewelry styles.
Circular barbells can be worn in almost any ear piercing, including helix, auricle, daith, rook, and snug piercings. They can even be worn in lobe piercings once the lobe has been stretched to a large enough gauge.Curved barbells can be worn in rook and snug piercings. They have been seen in locations like the helix and tragus piercings, but they aren’t as common.
Straight barbells are almost exclusively worn in industrial piercings.Hoops, including seamless rings, captive bead rings, and clicker rings, can also be worn in almost any ear piercing. This includes the lobe, helix, forward helix, daith, rook, auricle, snug, conch, lobe, and upper lobe.
Cartilage studs are also quite versatile. They can be worn in pretty much any cartilage piercing, like the conch, helix, tragus, and anti-tragus. Cartilage studs either come with a flat back or a ball back, depending on your preferred look.Standard earring studs are exclusive to lobe piercings that haven’t been stretched. The difference between earring studs and cartilage studs is the gauge of the jewelry; cartilage piercings have a bigger hole and, therefore, need bigger jewelry.
For piercings along the rim of the ear, you can get fancy with cartilage cuffs and shields. These wrap around the outside of your ear for an alluring look.
Why shouldn’t I get an ear piercing?
There aren’t many reasons why you can’t get an ear piercing. Some ear piercing types, like the rook piercing, will depend upon your anatomy. If you don’t have the correct folds in your cartilage, then you won’t be able to get this piercing type.Cartilage can take some time to heal, and you need to be vigilant in your aftercare practices. If you can’t commit to aftercare for a long period of time, then you shouldn’t get a cartilage piercing.
Ear piercing types
There are a few different types of ear piercings.
The lobe piercing takes place anywhere in the fleshy part of the ear. Standard placement is usually in the middle of the lobe, but you can get it pierced almost anywhere.
The auricle piercing takes place in the cartilage on the rim of the ear right above where the fleshy part of the lobe ends.
The helix piercing takes place in the cartilage along the rim of the ear above the auricle all the way to the very top of your ear.
The forward helix piercing picks up where the helix left off. It can be pierced all the way to where the top of your ear meets with your face.
The conch piercing takes place in the inner part of your ear. The inner conch is located in the lower section of the ear with the outer conch takes place in the upper section.
The snug piercing pierces the thin cartilage flap between the rim of the ear and the inside of the ear. It’s located right along where the auricle is pierced.
The daith piercing is located through the cartilage flap right above your ear canal.
The rook piercing is located through the cartilage flap right above the daith.
The tragus piercing pierces the triangular flap of cartilage in front of your ear canal.
The anti-tragus piercing pierces the small piece of cartilage sticking directly above your earlobe.Each of these types have their variations depending on where you want to be pierced and whether you want multiple piercings.