Least to Most Painful Ear Piercings Ranking

You want to get ear piercings. It could be because you think they would look nice, or maybe you just want to try out a placement you saw on Pinterest. Whatever the reason, we can’t deny that ear piercings are great. They are a perfect way to add a bit of style and personality to your look. 

You spend hours looking at ear-piercing inspiration videos, and you can’t help but notice that it always looks painful. You have seen videos of people cursing or wincing in pain during their piercings, and you are wondering how painful the experience would be for you. The truth is pain is always a consideration when we want to get ear piercings, and because everyone has a different level of tolerance towards pain, we can’t tell you how painful it would be. However, we can compare the different types of ear piercings and rank them according to how painful they are. This way, you have a general guideline on what to expect with each type. But first, look at the types of ear piercings you can get.

Types Of Ear Piercings You Can Get

Although there are many forms of ear piercings, they are all broadly grouped into three main types, namely:

  • Outer ear piercings: Snug piercing, tragus piercing, industrial piercing, forward helix piercing, auricle piercing.
  • Lobe piercings: Transverse lobe piercing, standard lobe piercing
  • Inner ear piercings: helix piercing, anti-tragus piercing, daith piercing, rook piercing, orbital piercing, outer conch piercing

These piercings all cause different pain levels, but if you have an expert working with you, they should be able to help you get through the pain. Now, let’s place the different ear piercing on a pain scale and see how high each one ranks.

Lobe, Upper Lobe, Orbital Conch and Helix Outer Ear Piercings

Least Painful

The Standard Lobe Piercing

Pain Level: 3/10

Lobe Ear Piercing and Upper Ear Lobe Piercing

This is the first type of piercing everyone gets. You’ve probably had it since you were a child or got it as soon as you could decide for yourself. This is because it is the least painful of all ear piercings.

Most people who get this piercing describe the pain as a momentarily pinch that occurs when the piercing needle goes through. People tend to complain more about the aching pressure that comes after the piercing is made. Standard lobe piercings heal completely after 1-2 months and are quite approachable for first-time piercers.

Transverse Lobe Piercing

Pain Level: 4/10

The transverse lobe piercing is a horizontal piercing that goes through your ear lobe. It’s a bit more complicated than the standard ear lobes and slightly more painful. The increased pain is because the piercer has to go through more skin before they are done. However, it is considerably less painful than cartilage piercings. Most people who get transverse lobe piercings heal completely after 2 months, but it could take as long as 10 months for some people.

Mildly Painful

Helix Piercing

Pain Level: 4.5/10

Helix Ear Piercing with Two Upper Lobe and Central Lobe Ear Piercings.

A helix piercing is probably the least painful of all cartilage piercings. It is placed on the outer upper rim of your ear where the cartilage is the thinnest.

While helix piercings are not as painful as the other cartilage piercings, the pain level increases if you get more than one piercing. The pain you feel will also depend on the shape of your ear. Helix piercings take 3-6 months to heal.


Tragus Piercing

Pain Level: 4.5/10

A tragus piercing is one of the most stylish piercings and looks great when combined with other jewelry. You have probably noticed them on celebrities. You get this piercing on your tragus, the cartilage located over the ear canal. It has about the same level of pain as the helix piercing. 

The tricky thing about tragus placements is keeping them clean during the healing process. You should avoid irritating the area, so you do not get an infection. Avoid using devices like phones and earbuds during the first few weeks after the piercing.

A tragus piercing takes longer to heal than a helix piercing, but they usually heal completely between 6-12 months.

Orbital Piercing

Pain Level: 5/10

Orbital Ear Piercing

The orbital piercing is similar to the industrial placement (one of the most painful piercings) but has the pain level of a helix piercing. It also has a shorter healing window than both piercings.

The orbital piercing consists of two holes connected by a hoop. You can choose to get the placements on the lower portion of your helix or the ear lobe. It usually heals between 2-3 months.


Forward Helix Piercing

Pain Level: 6/10

The forward helix piercing is placed opposite your hairline and above your tragus. It has a slightly higher pain level than the orbital piercing and takes about 3-9 months to heal.

The beautiful thing about the forward helix piercing is, like the helix placements, you can get multiple piercings of this kind on both ears. Forward helix piercings also require minor care once they heal.


Moderately Painful


Daith Piercing

Pain Level: 6.5/10

The daith piercing derives its name from the Greek word for knowledge. It is a hoop placed around your ear's inner fold of cartilage. Some people believe this piercing helps with chronic migraine because it is placed on an acupressure point. But there is no scientific study supporting the claim.

The daith piercing hurts a little more than the forward helix piercing because the cartilage is thicker at this point. It takes about 6-9 months for the daith piercing to heal completely.


Conch Piercing

Pain Level: 6.5/10

This placement is on the cartilage next to your ear’s curvature. There are two forms of this placement type; the inner conch piercing, which is located on the cartilage inside your ear and consists of a stud, and the outer conch piercing, which is located between the helix and the antihelix. The conch placement offers more variety than other piercings, which is why it is popular.

The pain felt during this piercing is due to the thickness of the cartilage involved. The two forms have roughly the same level of pain and take between 3-9 months to heal.


Anti-Tragus Piercing

Pain Level: 7/10

This placement is on the anti-tragus, small cartilage located between your tragus and ear lobe. It is one of the most attractive piercings but can be painful and sensitive.

It takes about 6-12 months to heal, and because it is sensitive, you are advised not to use earphones or sleep on the ear until it is completely healed.


Flat Piercing

Pain Level: 7/10

This piercing is located in the flat area below your ear’s upper rim. You can get a stud or a flat-back earring for this piercing. It is a cartilage piercing, and because the cartilage in that part of the ear is thicker, the pain level is higher than the previous piercings. They usually heal between 3-10 months.

Because of the pain, you should only get one flat piercing at a time. However, you can get more and create your unique style when the previous piercing heals.


Most Painful


Industrial Piercing

Pain Level: 8/10

An industrial piercing usually looks like a slim barbell or a pretty arrow connecting the two cartilages in your upper ear (through the helix and forward helix). However, it can be any two holes in the ear as long as they are opposite each other and connected by a barbell.

Industrial piercing is very painful. Considering that you have to pierce through two sets of thick cartilage, we can comfortably say that this piercing is not for people with low pain tolerance. They usually take about 4-6 months to heal, but it can take up to 12 months in some people.


Rook Piercing

Pain Level: 8/10

This placement is on the upper ridge of the inner ear. It is stylish but less popular than some piercings we have mentioned. Because it requires a hole passing through very thick cartilage, it is one of the most painful piercings for most people.

However, the pain level varies depending on Anatomy. Some people claim that it was less painful than getting a tragus piercing. The rook piercing usually heals between 6-12 months.


Snug Piercing

Pain Level: 9/10

The snug piercing is the most painful placement on our list. Most people run away from it, and not everyone has the right ear shape for it. It is usually placed on your inner conch and the outer ridge of the ear, running along the ear's antihelix.

The snug piercing usually heals completely between 4-6 months in most people. However, it can take up to a year to heal in others.


How Do I Reduce Ear Piercing Pain?

The first thing to minimize pain during piercing is to find the right piercer. They know how to distract you and minimize the pain you will feel during piercing. Never let someone who is not a knowledgeable piercer carry out an intricate placement on you to avoid infections.

You can also use topical numbing cream only when your piercer approves it. Stay calm during the piercing process, and use something to distract yourself if possible. After the piercing, you can use ice to help soothe the pain.