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What piercing takes the longest to heal?

3 Stages of a Healing Body Piercing

In a previous post, we took you through the three stages of tattoo healing, which we hope proved to be helpful for all of our inked readers out there. Today, we’re turning the spotlight onto those interested in piercings or, more specifically, those thinking about getting their first body piercing.

Just like with tattoos, body piercings also go through a three-step healing process. If you’re considering a new piercing, or you’re just interested in the process, read on to find out how body piercings heal.

The Healing Process

A piercing, no matter where it is on the body, is considered a puncture wound, and should be treated like one. It is important to try and leave the freshly-done piercing alone as much as possible, allowing the site to heal naturally to avoid drying out the healing skin.

It’s also important to leave your jewellery in for the period of time specified by your piercing professional. Avoid swapping the piercing out for another kind of jewellery, as this can lead to infections or allergic reactions. Changing the piercing could also interrupt the natural healing process of the site, making it last even longer. All piercings have different healing times, with some taking over six months to a year to be fully healed.


Stage 1: The Inflammatory Phase

The inflammatory phase will occur for the first few days after you have gotten your new piercing. In this phase, playing with or changing the jewellery can cause bleeding from the site, as can accidentally knocking the piercing. For many people, a fresh piercing can cause pain, swelling and tenderness in and around the piercing area.

You should already be following your aftercare procedure as outlined by your piercer. This will help reduce the symptoms and help your piercing begin the second stage of healing.

Stage 2: Proliferative Phase

Stage two is the main healing stage, known as the proliferative phase, where the edge of your piercing will begin to heal. This stage is the defensive stage, your body will begin producing proteins to try to help heal the area, to destroy bacteria and remove any debris left in the wound.

It’s extremely important that you try not to knock or move your jewellery during this phase to allow the site to heal more quickly. Fibroblasts will make their way to the wound and begin contracting, pulling the outside edges of the wound towards the centre. This is the reason you should not change your jewellery out during this step, as taking it out and reinserting jewellery can damage the delicate tissue forming, effectively restarting the healing process over again.

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The proliferative phase is the longest phase of healing your piercing, lasting up to many months, so hang in there!

Stage 3: Maturation Phase

During the third and final stage, your body will strengthen the skin which lines the site of the piercing. The wound is changing and maturing, the cells that were helping heal it are no longer needed.

You may notice a discharge hardening on your jewellery more in this phase, and as long as it is clear and not painful, it is normal to experience this. This occurs as the sebaceous glands in the skin produce the substance, known as lymph, to moisturise the piercing site. It can be gently cleaned from the jewellery using lukewarm water and a cotton ball.

As we mentioned before, every piercing will heal at different rates, so it’s important to discuss how long a piercing should take to heal with your piercer before the procedure. Genital piercings typically heal the fastest – healing within four weeks – whereas a navel piercing takes a very long time to heal – up to a year. Wherever your piercing, keeping the piercing site clean and free from any irritants will greatly aid your healing experience.


For all you tattoo artists and piercing professionals out there, Body Shock has you covered for all of your tattoo and piercing needs. From high quality tattoo ink, to piercing needles and body piercing jewellery, we have everything a professional body artist could need. For more information on the products that we provide, contact us today, and one of our team members will be happy to help you.

14 types of ear piercings, and everything else you need to know about them

Wanting to take the plunge and get your ears pierced, but not sure where to start? We’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know, with a little help from the experts at SARAH & SEBASTIAN.
By Dani Maher

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Zoe Kravitz on red carpet looking back towards camera with multiple earrings in her ear

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER of earrings to transform an outfit. You need only look at the most chic of celebrities — Zoë Kravitz, Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss — to see the edge they can give to an ensemble, stepping things up and allowing an extra opportunity for bling.

More and more, multiple piercings are becoming something of a style statement — again, just look to the previously mentioned celebs for inspiration. If you’re interested in the idea of a constellation of studs, hoops, huggies and more peppered across your ear from cartilage to lobe, you’re going to need to know a little more detail about the various placements — as well as their healing times and suitability for your ear shape.

BAZAAR turned to Sarah Munro, creative director and co-founder of Australian jewellery label SARAH & SEBASTIAN, to shed a little light on the topic for your convenience. In addition to offering fine earrings to adorn yourself with, they offer piercing services at their Paddington and Melbourne City boutiques, as well as at the MECCA Flagship in Sydney.

“SARAH & SEBASTIAN piercing appointments are tailored uniquely to you, and our expert piercers provide advice throughout the service on every aspect from styling, to lifestyle considerations and aftercare,” explains Munro. “The most stylish piercings are piercings conducted safely and precisely, embellished with 18-karat gold fine internally threaded jewellery and precious stones.”

What is an ear piercing chart?

A chart depicting different types of ear piercings

An ear piercing chart simply depicts all the different types of piercings you can get — where they’re located, and what they’re called. The most common piercings are lobe and cartilage piercings, but not every piercing studio will accommodate every type of piercing.

“At SARAH & SEBASTIAN, we can conduct most ear piercings including lobes, helix (outer ear cartilage), flat or conch (inner ear placements) and tragus (the small area of cartilage that partially covers your ear canal). Our piercers love to experiment with these piercings and create, constellations or snakebites where piercings are stacked closely together,” explains Munro. “We now also offer nose piercings and are looking to introduce daith piercings (a hoop that hugs the cartilage on the inside of your ear), rook piercings (the ridge of cartilage in your upper ear) and navel piercings towards the end of the year. We are perfectionists when it comes to our piercing jewellery and are currently working on specific jewellery for these placements.”

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Some studios offer a service where they can map out a design or constellation of piercings for your ear. In the world of SARAH & SEBASTIAN, this is “Ear Alchemy”, which Munro describes as “the magical process of transformation through the combination of anatomy specific piercings and our 18-karat gold fine jewellery”.

“We use the phrase to refer to the styling aspect of our luxury piercing service which involves experimenting with your personal style and discovering your unique ear anatomy,” she adds.

What ear piercing should I get?

It’s all about personal preference, as well as the unique shape of your own ear — not every piercing or piercing arrangement will be suitable to your anatomy. If you’re after something simple, a lobe piercing is always a great place to start: they’re generally the least painful and have the quickest healing time.

If you’re happy to deal with the longer healing times that come with earrings around the cartilage areas of your ears — they do offer a beautiful pay-off — consider helix, conch, auricle and other such piercings. And if you’re after that stunning Zoë Kravitz effect with multiple planned out piercings, it’s best to go to the experts and curate your design together.

“In ‘Ear Alchemy’ appointments, our expert piercers will begin by examining your ears and detailing your unique anatomy,” says Munro. “They will then recommend ideal placements to complement the contours of your ears. This placement discussion considers the jewellery you might have your eye on, or pieces that will accentuate your new piercing. If you’re unsure of what piercing to get, that’s ok, our talented team of professional piercers will guide you and ensure you love your ‘Ear Alchemy’ project.”

What are the different types of ear piercings?

Close up on an ear with a lobe piercing


Lobe piercing

Healing time: 3—6 months

Lobe piercings are the most common ear piercing — they are situated in the soft and fleshy region of the ear called the lobule. Depending on the size and shape of your lobes — everyone’s are different! — you can get one or multiple piercings in this zone.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, two mini hoops on the helix are circled


Helix piercing

Healing time: 6—12 months

You might have heard these colloquially referred to as “cartilage piercings” — but a helix piercing is one occurring on the upper outer cartilage of the ear, from the side as pictured to further along the top edge of the ear.

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Close up on an ear partially covered by dark hair with multiple piercings, the conch one is circled


Conch piercing

Healing time: 6—12 months

The conch is the inner cup of your ear — that bit of cartilage that somewhat resembles a conch shell (that’s how it gets its name). It’s quite a versatile area for piercings, as you can get multiple studs, or a cuff like this that hugs around the ear.

Close up on ear with multiple piercings, the tragus one is circled


Tragus piercing

Healing time: 12—18 months

The tragus piercing is located on the small bit of cartilage that partially covers your ear canal. It’s an ideal spot for mini studs or hoops.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the rook one is circled


Rook piercing

The rook piercing goes through the inner edge of the highest ridge on your ear. It’s a good spot for a hoop, or a bar during the healing process.

Close up on an ear with daith piercing


Daith piercing

Healing time: 6—18 months

The daith piercing occurs on the ridge below the rook, and hugs the cartilage on the inside of your ear.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the high lobe ones are circled


High lobe piercing

Healing time: 3—6 months

Just as the name states, a high lobe piercing is located higher up than your standard lobe (but lower than the auricle, more on that below).

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the industrial one is circled


Industrial piercing

Healing time: 9—12 months

Industrial piercings are a striking look — they’re basically a straight barbell that connects one cartilage piercing to another on the upper part of the ear. Since they’re two piercings in one, they can be harder to heal.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the snug one is circled


Snug piercing

Healing time: 4—6 months

A snug piercing is located in that next ridge of cartilage inwards of the helix, between the helix and the inner conch.

Close up on an ear with antitragus piercing


Anti-tragus piercing

Healing time: 6—12 months

Located opposite the ear canal in the small curved area above your earlobe, and adjacent to the tragus, is the anti-tragus piercing. It’s a great spot for micro studs and hoops.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the forward helix one is circled


Forward helix piercing

Healing time: 4—6 months

The forward helix piercing is above the tragus, on the bit of your helix at the front of your ear. As a large-ish area, it’s suitable for multiple piercings.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, the flat one is circled


Flat piercing

Healing time: 6—12 months

Not quite a rook and not quite a helix, the flat piercing — as the name implies — is located in the flat area of cartilage below the upper rim of the ear.

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Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, a stud on the auricle is circled


Auricle piercing

Healing time: 3—9 months

You can think of an auricle piercing as somewhere between a helix and a high lobe, and a step outwards from a snug. Auricles are placed in the fold between your helix (outer fold) and earlobe.

Close up on an ear with multiple piercings, a mini hoop going through two holes on the lobe is circled


Orbital piercing

Healing time: 3—12 months (depending on location)

There’s a lot of incorrectly named orbital piercings out there — no, it’s not just a hoop going through your conch. An orbital piercing is a combination of two piercings connected by one hoop. They’re common on the lobe and auricle area, but can be placed just about anywhere on the ear with room for two piercings side-by-side.

Which ear piercings hurt the most?

While it depends on the amount of pain you can personally withstand, generally, lobe piercings hurt the least, and cartilage can be considered a little more painful.

“As everyone’s threshold for pain is different and can vary anatomically from ear to ear, it’s difficult to comment on what piercing is more painful than another,” says Munro.

“However generally, piercings conducted using needles are less painful and traumatic than those with a piercing gun and most people find that lobe piercings are more manageable to receive and look after.”

How long does it take for a pierced ear to heal?

It depends on the location of the piercing, as well as your own body’s healing processes. Depending on the location, you can expect a piercing to take anywhere between three to 18 months to fully heal, with lobe piercings being the quickest and cartilage taking the longest.

“Some piercings can take up to a year to heal, so the best way to achieve your desired look is to build it up over time,” Munro says.

How many piercings can I have in a single session?

Generally, it’s not recommended to get more than four piercings in a single sitting though — while a single piercing can be bearable, getting a lot in one go can be a bit of a strain on your pain tolerance and can cause a lot of swelling that would make the recovery process somewhat uncomfortable.

“Our piercers can perform up to three piercings per appointment, which is our limit to ensure your body isn’t overwhelmed and can support the healing process,” Munro says.

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