Ear piercings have been around for thousands of years and popular with almost all people, cutting across barriers of caste, creed and ethnicity.
A 5,000 year old Austrian mummy discovered some 11 years back is said to be one of the earliest known evidences of ear piercing. While it was customary for some tribes and races to do so to prove their allegiance, most people have used ear rings over the centuries as a form of embellishment or as a fashion accessory.
When I was 8-9 years old (now don’t ask me how many years ago that was), ear piercing was synonymous with getting the ear lobe pierced. Now Over the years, different types of ear piercings have caught the fancy of fashion conscious people and they can have their pick from the various styles available.
According to a survey, getting the ear pierced is the most popular form of body modification in the USA.
Different ear piercing types have evolved over the years, as people keep making modifications in the existing styles to suit their needs, anatomy and style.
Suggested reading: How to Avoid Infected Ear Piercing?
Different Types of Ear Piercings
We are sharing with you all about 10 cool ear piercings here: where exactly on the ear you can get them done, what types of jewelery you can use on different ear piercing types and how long each one of them would take to heal.
1. Lobe piercing
This is the most popular area of the ear to get a piercing. Since it is the largest area of the ear and also the softest, it remains a popular option with those wanting to get their ears pierced.
A single hole in the middle of the lobe has been as popular as perhaps ear piercing itself, though we get to see more than one piece of jewellery in the ear lobe itself these days. Probably, because the lobe is large enough to accommodate more than 1 earring.
At present, ear lobe piercing can be done with the help of a gun or a needle. Though a gun piercing hurts lesser, piercing with a sterilized needle is a better alternative.
The best thing about getting the ear pierced at the lobe is that it heals very fast (within 4-6 weeks, or even faster) and is not very likely to get infections.
2. Helix piercing
Of all types of ear piercings, this is the second most popular. Helix piercing refers to a piercing that involves the soft cartilage at the upper side of the ear.
A helix piercing can be embellished with hoops, bead rings, cuffs or studs. Most professionals prefer to do the helix piercing with the gun though a large needle can also be used for the purpose.
A helix piercing takes a very long time to heal. While some people claim to be fully healed within 6-8 months, it is usually known to take as long as 12 months to heal in most people.
A problem with helix piercing is that if the ear does get infected (God forbid!) after enduring all that pain and you have to remove the embellishment to allow the wound to heal, you may lose the aperture completely by the time the wound heals.
3. Rook piercing/ anti helix piercing
Though one of the most painful piercings, rook continues to be extremely popular. The ear in this case is pierced at the antihelix as shown in the picture below.
It is extremely painful for the wearer since the needle in this case passes through several layers of cartilage. Besides, it is very difficult to perform as well because the entrance and exit holes are not always easy to mark.
Curved barbells or small hoops are worn with rook piercings. The healing time with these perforations is long and can last as long as 2-12 months.
Rook piercings are notorious for high rejection rate because of lack of enough space along the cartilage to support an earring or because of poor healing.
4. Daith piercings
Daith piercing is done at the innermost fold of the ear cartilage using a curved needle.
Using a curved needle prevents any damage to the other parts of the ear.
Not everyone CAN have a daith piercing though, because the cartilage must have enough room to support a ring or a bar later. The earring to be worn with a daith piercing is usually a barbell or a ball closure ring.
Again, these piercings take unduly long to heal and while they might stop hurting after 4-6 weeks, they are known to take as long as 2-4 months to heal completely.
5. Conch piercings
Conch piercings can be of two types- inner conch piercings, and outer conch piercings.
The inner conch piercing is towards the center of the ear and is done with the help of a large gauge piercing needle. Barbells or small hoops are worn with inner conch piercings.
The outer conch piercing is along the outer part of the ear cartilage. If it is done at the curved part of the cartilage inside the ear, it will be called a helix piercing rather than an outer conch.
Usually, conch piercings take 2- months to heal completely, though they stop hurting after 10 weeks or so.
6. Snug piercings
A snug piercing perforation is done along the anti-helix. Snug refers to the area of the ear along the inner cartilage, near the base of the outer rim of the ear.
The cartilage along this part of the ear is thin due to which it is not too painful to get it pierced. It is also much easier for the performer to handle it unlike the rook where the person incharge must be a thorough expert.
Adorned after perforation with curved barbells or hoops, this type of ear piercing can take 2-4 months for initial healing though complete healing might take upto 1 year.
7. Tragus piercings
This type of piercing, as indicated by the name, is done on the part of the ear called the tragus (meaning thereby that small oval cartilage flap that is situated just above the ear lobe).
Getting the ear pierced in this area can be extremely painful since the tragus is often thick and fleshy, though the thickness of this small piece of flesh varies from person to person.
A tragus piercing takes anywhere from 2-4 months for initial healing, though complete healing might take almost 1 year.
8. Industrial piercings/ Scaffold piercing
These kinds of ear piercings are fast becoming popular, particularly among the younger generation. This piercing requires two holes in the upper cartilaginous portion of the ear. These holes are then connected by a piece of jewelery (a long curved barbell or a small hoop).
This is just a variation of the helix piercing, the only difference being that the ear in this case is pierced at two places instead of one.
A scaffold piercing or an industrial also takes a very long time to heal. It often takes a year to heal completely though the initial pain starts lessening after 3 months.
9. Cage piercing
Yet another variation of the industrial piercing is the cage piercing. This refers to two or more industrial piercings done in the same ear.
10. Gauging or stretching
Gauging/ stretching refers to a piercing along the ear lobe which is then stretched eventually over a prolonged period of time to almost form a hole along the earlobe.
While the initial piercing is done with a needle, the hole is made bigger by gradually increasing the diameter of the earring that is worn inside the gauge. It can be stretched to make it as large as desired, because the skin in the earlobe is highly elastic.
Given above is a list and description of the most popular of all types of ear piercings. But this list is not comprehensive. Besides the ear piercing types listed above, we have the anti-tragus piercings, dermal punches (more popular with the men) and the cartilage piercings.
It is not uncommon to see one single person have many different ear piercings in one ear at a time.
Instead of going by impulse, the wearer must carefully examine his/her ear before deciding what kind of ear piercings he wants to have, because the chosen portion of the ear must have sufficient room to accommodate an earring.
Other than that, almost any piercing requires good after care to rule out any infections or premature closure of the perforation.
If you are confident that you can handle that, go ahead and get yourself a great piercing that suits your personality and adds to your style quotient!
Suggested reading: How to Avoid Infected Ear Piercing?