Different Ear Piercing Types & Healing Times

Stephen J. Arias

Ear piercings are trending more than ever. Everything from rows of cartilage rings to micro constellation piercings are gaining popularity and inspiring us to find new ways to customize our jewelry vibes.

This article includes a list of 12 ear piercing spots and what to expect when you have them pierced, followed by aftercare basics and additional pointers for cartilage piercings.


·        What to Expect (from 12 Different Ear Piercing Locations)

·        Healing and Your New Piercing

o   -Lobe

o   -Orbital

o   -Transverse Lobe

o   -Conch

o   -Snug

o   -Tragus and Antitragus

o   -Helix

o   -Forward Helix

o   -Rook

o   -Daith

o   -Industrial

·        Normal Post Piercing Symptoms

·        Conclusion

What to Expect (from 12 Different Ear Piercing Locations)

This list includes a variety of ear piercings and what you can expect when getting a piercing in each area. A wide timeframe for healing is offered since everyone heals at different rates. A conversation with your piercer and some insight from previous healing experiences will be helpful in deciding your individual healing time.


A vast majority of women have their earlobes pierced, and many men do as well. It is the most common piercing, and, not surprisingly, can heal relatively quickly and easily. It’s also the piercing that people wish to change the jewelry on most frequently. It’s vital to make sure that the piercing is fully healed before changing out your earrings, and even more so before wearing heavier earrings that can pull on the piercing. Wearing earrings that are too heavy before your piercings are healed is a mistake that can lead to discomfort and damage to the scar tissue that requires a new waiting period and additional care and maintenance. Earlobes are simple piercings to perform and can be indicative of your body’s ability and tendencies toward healing in future piercings.

Healing Time: 6-8 weeks


Orbital piercings are a great choice for someone who’d like to make a statement with a less painful piercing and a shorter healing time. Because it’s located on the actual lobe of the ear and not on the cartilage (although it gives a cartilage impression as it’s quite close) it’s much more comfortable piercing to get.

The most important thing to note about the orbital piercing is that since the holes can be variable width, be sure to get an exact measurement from your piercer so you can always buy jewelry that fits perfectly.

Healing Time: 2-3 months


Transverse lobe piercings go straight through the lobe from side to side rather than front to back. The earring generally features a ball at each side at the bottom of your ear. The piercer will mark the entry and exit point and use a needle appropriate for the shape of your ear. If your lobes are attached the piercer will generally opt for a curved needle whereas a detached lobe will generally be pierced with a straight needle. The needle is hollow and a barbell is threaded at the end of the piercing. You’ll find the transverse lobe piercing to be more painful than a regular lobe piercing (more depth and area) but still not nearly as painful as a cartilage piercing. It will also heal relatively quickly.

Healing time: 2 to 10 months. The piercing may take a bit longer than a standard lobe piercing because the hole tends to be larger.


The conch piercing is placed in the middle area of the ear cartilage. It’s a large area which allows for a wide variety of placements, making it one of most customizable piercings. You’ll be able to choose between the inner and outer conch; the inner conch located in the lower cartilage and generally featuring a stud, and the outer conch sitting in the upper cartilage and most often featuring a larger ring that loops around the edge of the ear called an orbital conch.

Healing Time: 3-12 months


Snug piercings are one of the trickier ear piercings to get. Known as by far the most painful cartilage piercing (going in and out of the same side of the cartilage in an area where the cartilage is extra thick certainly doesn’t help!) the snug piercing is also simply not for everyone – as in the shape of an individual’s ear may not support the piercing.

The location of the snug piercing is right about the inner ridge of the cartilage part of the ear and is unique in that both the entrance and exit points of the piercing are visible from the front of the ear. To achieve this, a curved needle is used followed by the jewelry.

Healing Time: 4-6 months

Belly Piercing - Body Jewelry


This piercing is located on the tragus – the thick piece of cartilage that covers and protects the opening or tubes of the ear. This is the area you’d push back to block your hearing. This cartilage is definitely thicker than some areas further up on the ear, and is therefore more painful and longer to heal. You may need to quit using your earbuds for two months or so until things are feeling more comfortable. Healing time is 3-9 months.

The anti-tragus is named because of its position opposite the ear’s tragus. You’ll find a small wavy bit of cartilage above your earlobe and that’s exactly where the anti-tragus sits.

Healing time is a bit longer with this one, at 4-6 months


The helix piercing is one of the more common cartilage piercings, placed at the upper and outermost edge of the ear cartilage.

Healing time: 6-9 months


The forward helix is located on the cartilage at the front of the ear, against your face. It’s opposite the area used for traditional cartilage or Helix piercings. It has more nerve endings so can be more sensitive but has a similar pain and healing threshold as the helix.

Healing time: 6-9 months


Rook piercings are located in the cartilage at the uppermost part of the inner ear. The location does go through a thick bit of cartilage so it can be more painful and harder to heal than many other spots on the ear. The Rook is more in line with the Snug when it comes to pain and healing. Some people may find that they don’t have a large enough space at that point for a piercing. Chat with your piercer to decide what location will be best for your individual anatomy. A barbell or curved barbell can be paired with this piercing, but a hoop is one of the more popular options for a rook piercing.

Healing: 4-6 months


Daith piercings are located around the cartilage in the center of your ear right above the ear opening. It is one of the piercings that will be possible or not based on the shape of your ear and if there is enough space to pierce. Anecdotally, some people with daith piercings have reported fewer migraines, which could be an interesting side effect of a piercing at this acupressure location. There are a lot of earring options for this spot including a captive bead ring, barbells, clicker earrings, and a more traditional hoop.

Healing time: 6-9 months


The industrial piercing refers to a piercing style where two upper cartilage piercings are connected by one larger piece of jewelry, generally a long barbell. The distance and angle can be adjusted to suit any style making the industrial piercing one of the more customizable piercings. You’ll want to chat with your piercer about the ideal location for your industrial piercing, both aesthetically and anatomically.

Cleaning and aftercare is especially important with this piercing as there are two piercings at once, and because this is an especially challenging piercing to keep from getting caught or bumping into things as it heals due to its size and length.

Healing: 4-6 months


Aftercare! It’s the not-so-fun and sometimes monotonous daily routine you’ll need to establish to care for your piercing while it heals, but it’s oh-so important.

Do your best to avoid touching the piercing except when cleaning and caring for it twice daily. Immediately after the piercing is done, avoid using soaps, shampoo, or disinfectants for one day. Avoid using alcohol-based cleansers as you continue to care for your piercing. Don’t remove the jewelry until the end of the designated healing time, and even at that point be sure to replace it quickly since cartilage can close up surprisingly fast. The first few weeks after piercing avoid submerging the piercing in pools or bathtubs to prevent infection. Showers are fine, but be careful with your new piercing because getting your hair caught on the new earring can be uncomfortable and even downright painful!

From considerations like comfort to changing out jewelry, having a good understanding of your piercing’s healing timeline is very important.

Although everyone’s bodies heal quite differently, there are some basic truths to piercing such as cartilage takes a much longer healing time than thin skin or fleshy (think lobe) areas.

The Timeline

Talk to your piercer about what kind of timeline you should expect. The guide below is not one size fits all; piercing healing time can vary with many factors and chatting about it with your piercer is the best way to get accurate information for your individual situation. If you’ve had a piercing before they can gauge your healing timeline based on that experience, so it’s a great thing to share.

What does it mean for your piercing to be healed?

Well, it means that the skin around the piercing is fully closed and there are no open spots within the skin that could be prone to irritation or infection. A healed piercing can withstand more pressure and friction.

What does that mean for you? Well, you can change out your earrings! Being sure to wait till your piercing is fully healed is extremely important to prevent infection and potentially needing to have an area re-pierced. However, with guidance from your piercer about what styles and metals will be best for early swaps while your piercing is still adjusting, you can begin to happily experiment with various styles and enjoy your new piercing to its fullest.


Piercings do create a small injury and your body will react accordingly, of course. You’ll find discomfort or sensitivity in and around the piercing for the weeks following, as well as redness and warmth in the area. You’ll likely notice light or yellow crust or buildup on a regular basis around your piercing. These are all normal reactions and not worrisome unless they progress beyond these symptoms. You can always contact your piercer if you’re concerned about something and see a doctor if you are experiencing significant pain, bleeding, or more significant infection symptoms.

A Special Note About Cartilage Piercings:

One of the biggest complaints when it comes to cartilage piercings is that they are painful to sleep on. For that reason, many piercers (and pierced people, for that matter!) recommend tackling one side at a time so that you can heal and comfortably sleep on the other side if you are a side sleeper.

Cartilage bumps are a post piercing symptom specific to cartilage areas like many listed in this article. Some of these bumps are filled with liquid (called pustules) and some are thick scars (called keloids.) Both these healing responses can be mostly avoided with intentional aftercare, but it’s worth noting that a poorly placed or sized piercing on certain areas can also cause extra scarring which is why finding a piercer who can give you some good insight into your individual anatomy and what’s appropriate is an important step.


Ear piercings can be extraordinarily fun and a great personalizer for your style. Choosing piercings that suit your anatomy and lifestyle, as well as your style, can take a little research, and the aftercare and healing can take some time. But you’ll fall in love with your new piercing in no time, and it will all feel totally worth it. 

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