Pain Scale 101 For Ear Piercings | World Tattoo Portal

Find out which are the least and most painful ear piercings. From the lobes to the thick cartilage snug we’ve explained what each piercing feels like.

Pain Scale 101: Least To Most Painful Types of Ear Piercings

Having multiple ear piercings used to be something for the more adventurous, rebellious, or alternative crowd. But these days, it’s quite common for someone to have numerous ear piercings, no matter where they fit in. In fact, multiple ear piercings are super trendy, and depending on the jewelry chosen, they can suit any style.

If you’re looking to up your ear piercing game but are a little worried about the pain, let’s ‌look at what you can expect.

What Kind Of Pain Are You Looking At?

Firstly, if you’ve never had a piercing, you’re probably curious about what kind of pain it is. Wherever you get your piercing, the most pain is going to be at the moment of creating the hole. This is when the needle goes through the skin and the stud, bar, or ring gets inserted.

After the piercing, there can be residual pain but that initial sting usually subsides after a few moments.

The pain will last longer depending on whether or not the piercing went through cartilage or not.

In the weeks and months after the piercing, the area around the new hole can be sore and a little raw while the skin heals. You may find that you struggle to sleep on the side of your new piercing, as this puts pressure on it. You also need to look out for keloids forming from the scar tissue. However, if you take care of your piercing properly, it should heal ‌quickly and with no issues.

The Least Painful To The Most

Now let’s ‌look at the different places that you can get piercings in your ear and where they sit on the pain scale.

Lobe Piercing

The standard lobe is the soft skin at the bottom of your ear and this hurts the least compared to all the other options. It’s also the most common type of ear piercing you get. Most people can get up to three holes in each lobe without hitting any cartilage.

If you have never had an ear piercing, a standard lobe placement is the most convenient and approachable. The healing process typically takes 1-2 months. A needle should be used instead of a gun to pierce your ear lobes. In addition to being more hygienic, a needle will cause less trauma to the area.

If you already have a single lobe piercing and would like to ease your way into getting a second piercing, double lobe piercings are a great option. It should take the same amount of time for the second hole on the lower lobe to heal as the first hole.


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Helix Piercing

A helix piercing refers to any hole created in the outer rim of the ear, all the way from the front of the ear and down to the lobe. A forward helix is a piercing in that front section. A double or triple helix is when you have more than one hole stacked on top of each other.

These are definitely a step up in the pain scale from a lobe piercing because you’re now pushing through cartilage. However, the cartilage here is fairly thin and flexible, meaning the piercing is only slightly more painful.


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The daith is the section of cartilage in the ear that carries on from the forward helix. It’s still fairly thin and flexible cartilage, just like the helix. However, a piercing here is more painful than in the helix because of the angle of the daith, and the fact that it is trickier to pierce. This is also quite a common piercing for complications during healing because it can be tricky to keep the hole clean.


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This is another highly popular spot for a piercing, but it does start to reach the top of the pain scale. The tragus is the small piece of cartilage that sticks out in front of the ear canal between the lobe and the front helix.

You also get the anti-tragus, which is the piece of cartilage that sticks up from the lobe and is directly opposite the tragus over the ear canal. A piercing here is considered to be marginally more painful than in the tragus.

Conch Piercing

You can pierce both the inner conch and the outer conch in your ear. These are the dips in your ear next to the ear canal. The inner conch lies below the daith and the outer conch lies below the snug and the anti-tragus. Both of these piercings rank quite high on the pain scale due to the fact that you have to push through thick cartilage, and the areas are tricky to reach to create the piercing.

Orbital Piercing

This piercing is done halfway up the ear, roundabout where the helix cartilage starts on the outer ear. The hole is created in the conch space and comes out at the back of the ear where a helix hole would come out. It’s called an orbital because a hoop or ring is usually worn, which orbits all the way around the outer ear. In terms of pain, it’s on the same level as a conch piercing because you have to push through the same amount of cartilage.


The rook area sits above the daith and below the outer helix. It’s a small shelf of cartilage that canbe quite tricky to pierce. It’s also one of the most painful piercings you can get in your ear because of this.


An industrial piercing tops the pain scale because you actually need to pierce the ear twice. The most common way this is done is either two holes in the outer helix or one in the outer helix and one in the frontal helix. These holes are connected with a barbell-style piece of jewelry.

Since cartilage piercings do not have as much blood flow as other parts of the ear, they take longer to heal for up to a week after the initial piercing. The pain level associated with industrial piercings is approximately 7/10. Normally, these holes should heal within 4-6 months, but it may take up to a year for them to completely heal.


The snug sits inside the outer helix and is a fairly thick piece of cartilage—much thicker than the helix. Due to the fact that you have to push through so much cartilage, this piercing is considered to be the most painful and it often takes a long time to heal properly.

The pain level is about 9/10, which is comparable to other piercings. It’s important to keep in mind that even the most painful piercings will likely hurt less than a paper cut. It usually takes between 4-6 months for snug piercings to fully heal, but it can take up to 12 months.

How much does it cost to get your ears pierced?

Numerous piercings have become a trend that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The most popular request is four to six piercings in one ear. You will have to pay a pretty penny if you are going to the salon for a whole new look.

Most places will charge between $25-40 for ear lobes and $50-90 for cartilage, not including the type of jewelry.

Ear Piercing After-care Practices

  1. Once a day, wash the area with a gentle soap and water or a saline solution. Use paper towels to dry the area to prevent bacteria from infecting it.
  2. Stay away from public pools and water bodies where you can infect healing wounds.
  3. Since ocean water contains a high salt content, swimming in it is the safest option.
  4. Make sure to wash your hands before touching the piercing, and don’t touch it unless you’re cleaning it. The pierced area shouldn’t be touched by your regular towels, and you should keep your bedding clean.
  5. It can also be beneficial to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to speed up the healing process of wounds.
  6. For at least six to eight weeks after your appointment, you should not remove the initial jewelry from the piercing. Listen carefully to your expert’s specific instructions for your particular piercing and follow them carefully.
  7. Maintain a clean, dry and airy environment around the holes.
  8. Don’t let the earrings get caught when you are putting on/removing clothing over your head.
  9. Wear earrings all the time. Going without can cause the holes to shrink and/or close completely.
  10. A pair of earrings with earring backs should not be pressed tightly against the back of the ear.

Pick The Piercing For You

At the end of the day, even the most painful piercing is only temporary pain. Whether you’re piercing your ear cartilage, a sensitive part of your nose, or anywhere else on the body, professional piercers know how to pierce quickly, cleanly, and in a way that ensures the least discomfort.

That said, if you’re not sure that you can handle the pain, talk to your piercer beforehand. They can tell you more about what to expect and what it will feel like.

If you’re still uncertain about having a more painful piercing, you can always start with your lobes and work your way up from there.