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Ear Piercing: Types, Pain and Aftercare

Posted by Ann V. On 2017 Nov 24th

Ear Piercing: Types, Pain and Aftercare

From types, aftercare, pain, concerns to equipment, here we have listed everything you want to know about ear piercing.

Ear piercing has been the part of styling and rituals for ages. Even the world’s oldest mummy, Ötzi the Iceman, had his ears pierced and they would’ve been stretched to around 7-11mm. In ancient Rome piercings were worn by a slave while it was a sign of being a prostitute in ancient Greek.

After this interesting detail about ear piercing, let’s explore the ear piercing deeply with types, aftercare, process and everything you want to know about.

Types of Ear Piercing


Needless to say that earlobe piercing is the most common type. It is done by making a hole in the center of each earlobe using a needle or piercing gun. Some people do it at home. It may take 4-6 weeks for the earlobe to heal.


Stretching or gauging has been in constant rage for past some years. It is done with a 20- or 18- gauge needle. Gauge earring is as big as a hole. The piercing would be healed in a month.


Cartilage piercing involves the perforation of the upper part of the ear rim. Generally, the puncture is made with a piercing gun. It will take up to 12 weeks for the pierced area to achieve complete healing, given the low blood circulation to that area.

Industrial Piercing:

Industrial piercing, also known as bar piercing or scaffold piercing, involves two parallel holes linked with single straight piece of jewelry or bar. One piercing spot is done on the upper side of the ear which is close to the head while other remains just below. It will take 12 weeks to one year for your industrial piercing to achieve complete healing.

Tragus Piercing:

Tragus piercing, as the name suggests, is done on the tragus area, the flap of the external ear located parallel to the ear canal. It is great for those looking for an adventurous ear piercing. Your tragus piercing will be healed within four to six months.

Anti-Tragus Piercing:

Anti-tragus piercing involves the penetration of the raised fold of cartilage falling parallel to the tragus. It takes anywhere from 4 months to one year for a compete healing.

Rook Piercing:

Counted among offbeat ear piercing styles, rook piercing is done on the part above the tragus. A healing time for rook piercing is up to 6 months.

Pain Factor in Ear Piercing:

Pain level in ear piercing is determined by the factors like pain threshold and skin surface. For example, a piercing that hurts your friend may be a breeze for you. Then, a fleshy part like earlobe is less painful than the hard surface like tragus and helix. If pain is still your concern, there are many ways to manage a piercing pain. For example, you can use Dr.Numb® numbing cream to dull your skin so that you don’t feel pain or discomfort.

How to Tell If Your Ear Piercing is Infected?

  • Swelling, redness, and feeling heat around the piercing area
  • Discharging of yellow pus or bleeding
  • Fever
  • Marks and streaks on the eye piercing area.

Safe Jewelry for Piercing:

Not all jewelries are safe for freshly pierced ears. Some metals react with bodily fluids, thereby causing allergic reactions.


Titanium is a safer metal as it is resistant to the body fluids. It is lightweight yet stronger than stainless steel, ensuring you comfort and quality.

Surgical Stainless Steel

Surgical stainless steel is safer for fresh piercing and is less expensive than titanium. It is also used in making surgical tools. But don’t go for high grade stainless steel as the nickel it contains can react with the wound. Many nations have imposed ban on the use of stainless steel for initial piercing. Make sure to use a mid-grade of stainless steel like 316L or 316LVM.


Despite being the most popular jewelry, gold is not that safe for fresh piercing like titanium. It is relatively soft metal and can trigger irritation and allergy. Wear gold jewelry only when your piercing is completely healed.

Avoid Wearing Sterling Silver, Costume or Plastic Metal Jewelry:

Such jewelry types can cause complications as they react with body fluids which in turn trigger bacterial growth.

Know Which Ear Piercing Equipment is Used:

  • Hollow needles or cannulas take out a core of flesh to pierce the ear.
  • Spring loaded piercing guns do the job by shooting the earring through the earlobe.

Precautions for a Freshly Pierced Ear:

  • Don’t handle your piercing with contaminated hands as it passes on the germs and bacteria to the pierced spot.
  • Don’t apply alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to your pierced area as these substances cause burning sensation affecting your healing rate. They are only good for clean your jewelries.
  • Use a saline solution to clean your piercing area. Mix ¼ tbsp. of iodine free salt into a cup of warm water. Dip a cotton ball into the solution and apply over your piercing gently. Or you can purchase a saline spray for piercing available at drug stores easily.
  • Avoid applying heavy ointments on or around the piercing spot as it can cut off the essential air supply to the spot. However, you can use the cream recommended by your piercing artist.
  • Wear your jewelry for at least 6 weeks as the faster healing rate can close the hole. However, you can remove the jewelry for frequent cleaning. One more thing—avoid taking off jewelry even in case of infection. Just clean it with a solution two to three times a day.
  • See your physician if pain and swelling last for more than 24 hours.
  • Avoid sleeping on the side of piercing as it may hurt you badly. Even worse, jewelry can be snuggled with your sheets. Try to sleep on the back if both ears have been pierced.
  • Clean your jewelry using antibacterial solution like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Wipe and put them back in the place.
  • Follow the precautions of your piercing artist. Don’t swim in lakes or pools as the chemicals and bacteria present in the water can affect your piercing.