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Your Complete Guide to the Different Types of Ear Piercings

...and the pain level, cost and healing time of each.

Last Updated on September 13, 2023

Curious to know the different types of ear piercings and how much it’s going to hurt? I’m breaking it down for you, sharing everything you need to know about the 10 most common ear piercings in the UK, how much they cost, healing time and how painful they really are. Hopefully after reading this, you can make an informed decision about which ear piercing is for you or whether to bother at all.

Unlike tattoos, what drew me to getting additional ear piercings is that they’re not as permanent as ink on our skin. You can change the earrings whenever you fancy (after six weeks) or remove them altogether. Despite being relatively hidden, ear piercings can make an impact. I’m obsessed with Adwoa Aboah’s many ear piercings and I recently decided I wanted to copy her look, so I did my research.

It’s not a huge deal getting your ear pierced, but it’s important to be careful. Always look for a respected and recommended piercing studio to ensure a safe and hygienic experience, and it’s on you to follow proper aftercare. I’ve been victim to an infected ear piercing and it’s not nice, let me tell you.

Before making any decisions, make sure you know exactly what you want and how much it’s going to hurt, so keep scrolling for all the details. Next, are you ready for the autumn season? Take a look at the best autumn jackets for AW23 and these classic camel coats that will never go out of style.

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How painful is ear piercing?

Everyone has a different pain sensitivity level. What might be extremely painful to me might be bearable to you, and vice versa. So to answer this question, it depends on the person and where the piercing will be. Generally speaking ear piercing shouldn’t be too painful, not unless it’s along the cartilage or the strong, flexible connective tissue found in our ear. It should feel like a sudden hot sensation or as if someone pinched you.

Of course, different areas of the ear are more sensitive. The industrial piercing, which is a bar that goes from one side of the ear to the other, is argued to be the most painful, while the transverse lobe piercing is also said to be painful.

How do I know if my ear piercing is healed?

It takes around 4 to 6 months before your earlobe piercing is totally healed, while cartilage piercings take around 6-12 months to fully heal. You’ll know when it’s fully healed, as you can change your earrings without any discomfort, discharge, swelling or flaking happening. To ensure it heals swiftly, make sure to undergo a strict cleanliness regimen to avoid infections. 

What are the different types of ear piercings? 

There are 3 main types of ear piercings, categorised as lobe, outer, and inner ear piercings.

Lobe piercings

Lobe piercings, the most common kind, are piercings made in the lower section of the ear on the ear lobe. There are two kinds of lobe piercings: one is the standard lobe piercing, most commonly referred to as the ‘first piercing.’ Since the lower part of the lobe has soft tissues, the standard lobe piercing sits at the lowest on the pain level scale. You can get a few piercings here depending on the size of your ear lobes. You can also get a transverse lobe piercing, which is pierced with a barbell threaded through the earlobe from side to side instead of front to back. 

The healing process for the lobe piercings takes about 4 to 6 months. Make sure to have clean hands before touching your newly pierced ear.

Outer ear piercings

There are five types of outer ear piercings, each done at the exterior part of the cartilage. The most popular and least painful of all the cartilage piercings is the helix. It is at the outer part, or the rim, of the cartilage and takes roughly 6 months to a year to heal.

Another type is the forward helix piercing, which sits right above the tragus and opposite the hairline. Speaking of tragus, this is also one of the types of outer ear piercings. It can be found on the small flap of the cartilage. Since it is located at the sensitive part, this should be done with a needle instead of a piercing gun.

Adding to the list of outer ear piercings is the snug piercing. It is located above the anti-tragus, which makes it the most painful cartilage piercing. The healing process of this is similar to other outer ear piercings, but make sure to do the proper aftercare to speed up the healing process.

Another interesting type of outer ear lobe piercing is industrial. It is a diagonal barbell that goes across the ear and is made up of two piercings, the upper and lower parts, particularly the helix and forward helix. Unlike some piercings, you should be very careful with this one, and it’s best not to sleep on it as this might cause a lot of swelling.

Last on the list is the auricle piercing, or the small space between your helix and earlobe.

Inner ear piercings

These are located at the innermost fold of the ear and are believed to alleviate recurring migraines and headaches because of their acupuncture benefits. The most common is the daith piercing, which is done at the innermost part of the cartilage.

Next is the anti-tragus, which goes through the small, curved area above the earlobe, adjacent to the tragus, or right above the upper lobe. Next, conch piercing is done at the middle of the ear, particularly the cartilage. This part of the ear is called conch or concha, hence the name of the piercing.

Ear piercing types diagram

You can find more details about each ear piercing below.

1. Lobe Piercing

Placement: Located on the soft, fleshy part of the earlobe.

Pain Level: Minimal – A quick, nearly painless pinch.

Cost: £15-£40 (for both ears)

Healing Time: 4-6 weeks

Lobe piercings are the perfect entry point into the world of ear adornments. They’re positioned on the lower, soft part of your earlobe and are known for being easy on the pain scale.

2. Helix Piercing

Placement: Positioned on the outer rim of the ear.

Pain Level: Mild – A slightly sharper sensation.

Cost: £20-£50 (per ear)

Healing Time: 2-4 months

The helix piercing adds a touch of flair to your upper ear. This one is slightly more uncomfortable but well worth it for the stylish look it provides.

3. Tragus Piercing

Placement: Found on the small, pointed cartilage in front of the ear canal.

Pain Level: Moderate – A noticeable pinch.

Cost: £30-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 3-6 months

For a chic and unique look, opt for the tragus piercing. While it’s a bit more intense, it looks so good!

4. Daith Piercing

Placement: Nestled in the innermost fold of cartilage in the ear.

Pain Level: Moderate – A sharp pinch.

Cost: £30-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 3-6 months

The daith piercing is located within the inner curve of your ear. It may sting initially, but this shouldn’t last too long.

5. Industrial Piercing

Placement: Consists of two piercings connected by a single barbell, typically diagonally across the upper ear.

Pain Level: High – A noticeable throbbing sensation.

Cost: £40-£80 (per ear)

Healing Time: 6-12 months

The industrial piercing is one of the boldest ear piercings you can get. It’s relatively painful and takes the longest to heal, but it’s undeniably cool.

6. Snug Piercing

Placement: Goes through the cartilage along the inner curve of the ear, nestled between the helix and the antihelix.

Pain Level: Moderate – A moderate pinch.

Cost: £30-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 3-6 months

For a subtle yet stylish choice, consider the snug piercing. Expect some discomfort in the short-term, but good aftercare will help it heal quicker.

7. Anti-Tragus Piercing

Placement: Positioned on the small raised area opposite the tragus, on the lower part of the ear.

Pain Level: Moderate – A noticeable pinch.

Cost: £30-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 3-6 months

Explore the anti-tragus for a unique look. It might sting a bit, but it looks adorable when healed.

8. Conch Piercing

Placement: Can be either inner or outer conch, located in the central part of the ear.

Pain Level: Moderate – A noticeable pinch.

Cost: £30-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 3-6 months

The conch piercing offers versatility, with inner and outer options. It’s a stylish choice with a moderate pain level.

9. Earlobe Stretches (Gauging)

Placement: On the earlobe but involves stretching the pierced hole.

Pain Level: Varies based on stretching level.

Cost: Initial piercing plus cost of gauges.

Healing Time: Varies based on stretching level.

Earlobe stretching or gauging offers a distinct look. Beware but the pain and healing time can vary depending on how far you stretch your earlobe piercings.

10. Triple Forward Helix Piercing

Placement: Three helix piercings in a row on the front part of the ear.

Pain Level: Mild to moderate – Multiple piercings close together.

Cost: £20-£60 (per ear)

Healing Time: 2-4 months

The triple forward helix is a chic choice with multiple piercings close together. Expect a slightly higher pain level.

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