Ear piercing is one of the oldest kinds of body modification in the world, dating back to around 2500 BCE. Having your ears pierced is a very quick, albeit painful, process.
Why Get Your Ears Pierced?
People have been getting their ears pierced for millennia, and there is a myriad of reasons that people decide to get them. While hundreds of years ago, there was cultural or tribal significance to getting piercings; these days, most people get piercings for the aesthetic.
In this day and age, single ear piercings are rarer. A lot more people are getting multiple different ear piercings to better their individuality.
Whether you’re looking to get your first ear piercing or your fifth—piercing your ears is a great way to add a unique flair to your look, and to express identity.
Who Are Ear Piercings For?
Ear piercings are for both men and women but are more common with women.
Many parents will get the ears of their female baby pierced as early as a couple of months old so that they’ll avoid the pain of getting their ears pierced later in life. However, men who get ear piercings will typically get them done later in life, and mostly only in one ear.
How Are Your Ears Pierced?
If you’re looking to get your ears pierced, you’ll know that it’s going to be painful, but you might not know exactly how it’s going to happen.
There are two kinds of tools that are used to pierce your ears: piercing needles and piercing guns. A needle can be used for all kinds of piercings, but piercing guns can only be used to pierce your earlobe, which is the most common type of piercing.
Piercing Gun Vs. Piercing Needles
Getting a piercing will be painful, but you can greatly reduce that pain by going to a proper piercing studio. Most piercing studios will use needles, which is much better than a piercing gun.
Piercing needles are incredibly sharp and sterilised, allowing for a very quick, clean pierce. After your ear has been pierced, the piercer will then insert your chosen piece of jewellery into the piercing. Piercing needles can be used for any kind of piercing and are individually packaged and sterilised, minimising the risk of an infected ear piercing.
On the other hand, many places that sell cheap earrings, such as mall kiosks or jewellery stores that offer free or cheap piercings will use a piercing gun. These are pretty convenient, but only if you’re getting a lobe piercing.
When using the piercing gun, the earring or stud is loaded into the gun and then it launches the stud into your earlobe, piercing it and inserting the earring in at the same time. This may be convenient, but because a stud is not as sharp as a needle, it is much more painful.
If you have a choice, it’s better to get your ears pierced at a proper piercing studio. While it may seem more convenient and cheaper to get your lobes pierced by a piercing gun, these tools are nearly impossible to sterilise, making it more likely for you to catch an infection.
Can You Pierce Your Own Ears?
Yes, you can pierce your own ears. However, it is not recommended to pierce your own—or someone else’s—ear unless you have sufficient experience in ear piercing.
Piercing your own ears without the proper equipment significantly increases the risk that your piercing will end up infected. Using anything except a sterilised needle will introduce unnecessary bacteria into your piercing, and anything that’s not as sharp as a piercing needle can be a painful experience.
Types Of Piercings
You might be surprised to learn that there are more than a few types of piercings that can be done to your ear. Virtually any part of your ear can be pierced. You may not be familiar with all the different ear piercing names, so here’s a list of the main types of piercings you can get, and some things you need to know about each one.
Pain Rating: 6/10
Without a doubt one of the most common types of ear piercings in the world, the lobe piercing is what most people get for their first—or only—piercing.
This kind of piercing will only pierce your earlobe and generally is the least painful of any ear piercing, especially if you have it done at a good piercing studio. It’s also the quickest piercing; the pierce itself will only last a couple seconds, and then your chosen piece of jewellery will then be inserted into your new piercing.
This is by far the most flexible kind of piercing, as you can wear all sorts of earrings, from simple studs to hoops to elaborate dangling ones.
A lobe piercing is the best piercing to get as your first, especially if you haven’t decided to commit to another one yet. However, this piercing may have the most risk for infection if your piercer uses a piercing gun.
Typically, this kind of piercing is the cheapest, as it is the most simple to do, with many places offering it at $15-$25. Lots of places will also offer a discount if you decide to get both of your earlobes done at the same time.
Pain Rating: 8/10
Helix piercings were—and still are—incredibly popular with teenage rebels, especially in the 2000s era of punk and metal.
A piercing is considered a helix if it pierces the cartilage around your ear, as long as it’s not your earlobe. Helix piercings are significantly more painful than the humble lobe piercing, as the part of your ears with cartilage in them have many more nerve endings than the fleshy skin of your earlobe.
Once upon a time, piercing guns were used for helix piercings, but most piercing studios have learned the error of that way, and only use needles. Nonetheless, if you’re not used to piercings, you may find it quite painful. The piercing itself can last a little bit longer than is comfortable, depending on the thickness of your ear cartilage.
Overall, this is a great-looking piercing that is unique and shows your personality while not looking too out of the ordinary. You can wear quite a few pieces of jewellery in a helix piercing, but the most popular ones are studs and rings. Kylie Jenner is a huge fan of helix piercings, with her entire left ear’s cartilage done with helix piercings.
Since this kind of piercing is a bit more involved, it does cost a little bit more than a standard lobe piercing, depending on where you get it. The prices usually hover around $15-$35, or $50-$60 with an included piece of jewellery.
Pain Rating: 6-8/10
An orbital piercing is not its own kind of piercing per se, but is two or more piercings that a piece of jewellery goes through. This is mostly done on your earlobes, but can also be done with the cartilage of your ears.
Orbital piercings look great and are especially effective at showing off any special jewellery you might have. There are a bunch of pieces available for this kind of piercing, and they add a little bit more flair than your simple single lobe or helix piercing.
Of course, with this kind of piercing, you’ll need to get your ear pierced two or more times in different locations depending on the kind of jewellery you want to use. This isn’t much of a problem if you’ve gotten a piercing before, as you can just get a second or third one in the right spot.
Orbital piercings are also pretty flexible since you can switch between a nice piece that uses both of the holes or have two single pieces if you feel like it. The pricing for this follows the same kind of pricing for either a lobe or a helix piercing, since it’s technically the same piercing, just done two or more times.
Pain Rating: 9.5/10
An auricle piercing is when you get a piercing in the middle of the outer rim of your ear. This kind of piercing has a lot of possibilities, as there are quite a few cute options for what to put in it.
Now, this kind of piercing is possibly the most painful piercing on this list. The specific part of your ear where you get an auricle piercing is chock full of nerve endings and cartilage, so getting this done will definitely have you grimacing, if not crying in pain.
Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame sports a couple of auricle piercings.
However, the auricle is one of the places where you can put anything from simple rings to an elaborate ear cuff and it will look really nice. Auricle piercings typically cost as much as a regular helix piercing, as it’s technically still cartilage that it goes through.
Pain Rating: 9/10
An industrial piercing is one of the coolest piercings you can get, bar none. This kind of piercing is a double piercing toward the top of the cartilage on opposite sides of your ear, which is usually connected by a horizontal piece of wire that is visible in your ear.
Of course, getting an industrial piece will involve getting two piercings, so be ready to endure two piercings in one session. However, they’re not much more painful than a regular helix piercing, just done twice. Kylie Jenner got an industrial piercing back in 2013 and absolutely rocks that look.
An industrial piercing looks amazing, and there are a ton of possibilities for different looks. You could get an arrow going through it, two studs on each end, or even a wire that looks like a heart rate monitor line.
Industrial piercings are technically two piercings, but some piercing studios will have a special price for an industrial piercing, ranging from as low as $20 to $60 for the procedure alone.
Pain Rating: 9/10
A tragus piercing goes through the thick cartilage that sits in front of your ear canal. This is one of the harder piercings to properly care for, since it has a much higher infection rate than most other kinds of piercings.
Tragus piercings are a little bit uncommon, as they’re one of the more painful piercings to get, thanks to the thickness of the cartilage that you have to get pierced. You’ll also have a rough time using earphones after getting a tragus piercing, as it’ll be painful to put anything in your ear for a while.
A tragus piercing is usually used to complement other piercings, as a simple stud with a nice gem in it usually sits in that place. However, some people will put more elaborate pieces inside a tragus piercing, which is a great way to highlight that piercing.
Most piercing studios will have the same pricing for a tragus piercing as a standard cartilage piercing, hovering from $15 to $35.
Pain Rating: 8/10
A daith piercing is one of the most unique piercings you can have. This piercing goes through the cartilage on the inner ridge of your ear, and is very uncommon.
A daith piercing can go through both sides of that cartilage, and since that cartilage is very thick, can be very painful if you haven’t had a piercing yet. Usually, a ring goes through this piercing, and it can range from looking very pretty or classy to totally badass.
A couple of major downsides of getting a daith piercing are the fact that you won’t be able to use earphones while you have your jewellery on, and it’s one of the harder piercings to maintain, and therefore can get infected pretty easily.
Daith piercings still fall under the standard cartilage price chart, and cost about $15-$35 depending on where you get it.
Pain Rating: 8.5/10
A flat piercing is a piercing on the flat part on the upper end of your ear. The needle just goes through that part and our the back, making for a very simple but elegant looking piercing.
Putting a piece of jewellery in a flat piercing makes it look like it’s nestled in your ear, so many people opt for studs with nice gems on them, or more elaborate pieces, like flowers or words. Because this piercing is on a relatively clear part of your ear, it looks very clean, especially if your piece is a nice contrast to the rest of your jewellery.
This piercing is another one that is a little bit difficult to properly care for, so you should be ready to commit to the aftercare if you want to avoid an infection.
Once again, most studios will charge the same amount for a flat piercing as a standard cartilage piercing, ranging from $15-$35.
Caring For Your New Piercing
Much like tattoos, new piercings will require some significant aftercare if you want to keep them in good shape. You can’t just forget about your piercing after you get it and expect everything to be fine.
How To Properly Heal A Piercing
For all piercings, there is a significant healing time where you need to really take care of your piercing before it becomes permanent. For lobe piercings, this can be as short as four to six weeks, but for anything that goes through cartilage, this healing process can last from six to ten months.
For starters, you’ll need to keep a piece of jewellery in the piercing basically at all times while it heals. This keeps the piercing from shutting, and lowers the risk that you’ll need to get a re-piercing. You should also avoid scratching if you feel that your ear piercing is itchy.
How To Clean A New Piercing
Whenever you get a new piercing, you’ll need to keep it clean to avoid infection. Commonly, this means that you need to soak it saline solution for at least five minutes every day until it’s completely healed. Sometimes, you’ll have to spray some saline mist on it, but not often.
Of course, you’ll need to avoid exposing your new piercing to anything that can cause infection, such as dirt and public pools to name a couple. Having soap or shampoo wash over it in the shower is perfectly fine, though.
What To Do If Your Piercing Is Infected
If you don’t take good care of your piercing, you may notice some pus-like liquid oozing out of your piercing meaning that it has gotten infected. Other symptoms are if your piercing is swollen, red, itchy or burning, and painful.
If your piercing gets infected, don’t panic. You just need to step up the cleaning and maintenance of your piercing until the infection goes away.
Before touching any part of the infected piercing, you must wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You’ll need to clean the pierced area three or more times a day with a sterile saline solution—¼ tablespoon of salt in 8 oz. of distilled water works as well. You should also clean the piece of jewellery you have in the piercing.
Do not use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or ointments to treat the area, as this may slow down the healing of your piercing. Do not remove the piercing for a long period of time as this could cause the piercing to close up and trap the infection inside your ear.
However, if the infection gets worse and spreads around the area, you may find that your earring is stuck. If the infection is really bad, you may even develop a fever. If any of these happen, it’s time to see a doctor and get professional help.
Where To Get An Ear Piercing?
If you’re googling “where to get an ear piercing near me,” you’ll come across some great locations. Just like any other establishment, you need to read the reviews of each piercing studio, and use your better judgement when deciding where to get a piercing.
A good studio will pride themselves on being clean and professional. A lot of them will help you decide what piercing to get with a helpful diagram if you’re undecided.
If you’re looking to get an ear piercing in Melbourne, Off Ya Tree has some competitive prices, and is one of the more popular studios in the area.
If you’re in Perth, there are a few Essential Beauty stores around the area who pride themselves on being “the body piercing specialists.”