Ear Piercings Your Definitive Guide: Pain, Placement And Healing Time

All the different types of piercings, aftercare, prices and ideas of what to get.

ear piercings definitive guide

by Charlotte Pavitt |
Updated on

Ear piercings never go out of style, but there’s a lot to consider and research before you go under the needle - which one to get, whether it hurts, which is the most painful piercing on the menu, what that dodgy smell is…

So, we've done the hard work for you: here is a definitive guide to everything you want to know about ear piercings, from the least painful to the most painful (we've even found a chart that rates the pain factor for each different area of the ear!), to what all the different types of piercings are called.

Maria Tash Ear Piercing Diagram
Maria Tash ©Maria Tash

Do Ear Piercings Hurt?

First and foremost, the question we all want to know is - is this going to hurt me? This can be difficult to answer because it’s so subjective. Everyone has different pain thresholds, so something that hurts your friend might not even make you flinch. Generally, performing the 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.

Different parts of the ear are bound to hurt more than others because the flesh varies - the ear lobe is generally considered the least painful piercing whereas cartilage piercings, like the helix, tragus, conch and so on – will usually be more painful because it’s tougher.

How Much Do Different Piercings Hurt? The Ear Piercing Chart

There is a chart that rates the pain factor for each different ear piercing. Well, an annotated photograph anyway. Check out it out below if you're wary of the pain factor and to find out which one most categorise as the most painful ear piercing to opt for:

Where Can I Get Ear Piercings?

This really depends where you live, your budget and the piercing you're looking to get.

Claire’s and Accessorize both do earlobe piercings (first and second holes) on the high street and are super affordable. For something a little more 'Instagrammable' - try Astrid & Miyu, who have four piercing studios in London, as well as locations in Selfridges stores in London and Manchester. Their specially trained Ear Bar stylists will be able to help you create your own perfectly personalised ear, using your new and existing piercings and the brands dreamy gold hoop earring selection.

If you're looking for a bespoke, fine jewellery experience, head down to Maria Tash in Liberty and Harrods departments stores. Tash’s expert piercing services, styling advice and beautiful gem-set, gold plated jewellery has earned her status as a world-renowned piercer, loved by celebs and influencers alike.

Your best bet is to start by seeing what’s in your area - and don't forget to look at reviews to make sure you're getting pierced at a reputable place.

maria tash ear piercing
©Maria Tash

READ MORE: Maria Tash Has Invented Two New Piercing Placements

How Much Do Ear Piercings Cost?

This depends on where you go, and also the part of the ear you’re having pierced. As a general rule, cartilage piercings will cost more (around £20-£30) while ear lobes tend to be £15-£20 but it does vary and the type of jewellery you choose will also effect the price.

Are Ear Piercing Guns Safe? Or Are Piercing Needles The Way To Go?

There is some debate around the use of ear piercing stud 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.

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?

Ear Piercings Guide
Maria Tash ©Maria Tash

Getting a piercing will of course increase your risk of an infection because you’re creating a ‘wound’ of sorts. This is why it’s important to get it done professionally and in a pre-sterilised 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 antibacterial solution, and remove any dried blood or discharge with warm water. 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.

How Long Do Ear Piercings Take To Heal?

The healing process really depends on the type of piercing.

The ear lobe healing time is around four to six weeks. Outer cartilage piercings like the helix, daith or tragus piercing will be more like 12 weeks but can last up to six months - remember, everyone is different. It's best not to rush changing the jewellery and ensuring it is fully healed before you do, because it can agitate the piercing.

Ear piercings are not permanent; if piercings are left out long enough, they will usually close up. The piercer will be able to advise on the approximate healing time for your particular piercing.

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.

Types Of Ear Piercings

There are lots of options, so it depends what kind of look you want.

If you don’t have any, then of course 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 all the different types of ear piercings to help inspire you...

1. Ear lobes

The standard lobe piercing refers to the soft lower section of the ear. Many combinations of lobe piercings are possible for a unique look. This tends to be the least painful out of all ear piercings.

Pain level: 1/5

Healing time: 6-8 weeks


A dainty addition to the lobes, made from recycled 14kt yellow gold.

2. Helix

This type of piercing is located along the inside ridge of the upper ear. On either side of the helix sits the forward helix and the lobe.

Pain level: 3/5

Healing time: 6-9 months


Named after the literary Brontë sisters, this 14kt gold earring is complete with 12 round-cut

READ MORE: Helix Piercing: Everything You Need To Know Before Getting One Done

3. Forward Helix

The forward helix is the frontal part of the ear that follows the helix. This is the flap of skin that helps connect the ear to the head and this piercing is rated a four out of

Pain level: 4/5

Healing time: 3-9 months


A perfect stud for a healed forward helix.

4. Tragus

The tragus is the flap of skin that sits in front of the ear canal. Due to this location jewellery in the tragus can be seen when viewing the face straight-on.

Pain level: 3/5

Healing time: 6-9 months


Perfectly suited for any healed piercing. Made in sterling silver and gold plated with a screw

READ MORE: Everything You Want To Know About Tragus Piercing

5. Anti-Tragus

The antitragus is the triangular flap of ear that sits above the lobe, opposite of the tragus.

Pain level: 4/5

Healing time: 9 months to 1 year


This diamond hooped ring features white diamonds and would work perfectly in any earring stack.

READ MORE: 9 Cuuute Earrings For Under 9 Quid For Your Cartilage Piercing

6. Daith

Between the tragus and rook, this subtle piercing is the perfect place to showcase a ring.

Pain level: 4/5

Healing time: 6-9 months


This huggie earring is made from a thicker gauge suitable for upper-earrings. It's alsso

READ MORE: A Daith Piercing Could Be The Answer To Your Migraine Prayers

7. Conch

The conch sits on the middle part of the inside ear. Rings extends across both the inner and outer ear. Alternatively, studs can be framed by the plane of the conch.

Pain level: 2/5

Healing time: 3-9 months


A triangle diamond stud earring, made to sit comfortably on the skin.

8. Rook

The rook piercing is a vertical piercing through the ridge in the inner ear closest to the head. Rings and curved barbells are ideal for this area.

Pain level: 5/5

Healing time: 3-10 moonths


Once your rook has healed try switching out your stud for a 18-karat yellow gold hoop.

10. Industrial Piercing

These are any two piercings connected by a single barbell, and are also known as bar or scaffolding piercings. They enter the ear cartilage at two different points, typically around an inch and a half apart, and are always done s done with a needle, and never a gun. Stainless steel and titanium tend to be best for this piercing as they don't corrode, but aren't the right choice for those with a nickel allergy.

Pain level: 5/5

Healing time: 9 months to 1 year

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