Are Ear Piercings Painful?

Ear Piercings PainfulEar piercings are generally considered to be the least painful of them all. Everybody knows about earlobe piercing. This is such a popular type of a piercing and fully socially accepted that it’s often not even considered a “real” piercing. It is also considered to be relatively pain-free. Even people who otherwise dislike piercings often have pierced earlobes.

The fact that earlobe piercing is done relatively easily and pain-free makes people believe that ear piercings are not painful in general. The truth is, there is a huge difference between a simple earlobe piercing and other ear piercing types. Some of ear piercings are actually more complex and painful. Cartilage piercings are known to be very sensitive. This is why it’s important to get informed about a particular piercing type you wish to get, to learn about the pain levels and other facts about this piercing.

Cartilage Piercings

As stated above, cartilage piercings tend to be more painful than the others. While each person is an individual and while there are no hard and fast rules on this, cartilage piercings do tend to be more painful than one might expect. They are certainly more painful than earlobe piercings, so one should not assume these piercing types are similar at all. They are both done on the ear, true, but they are very different types of piercings.

Also, cartilage piercings are sometimes known to be painful than other body piercings. For example, tongue piercing may look very painful but in reality, the pain level is lover than with many other piercings. Similarly, ear cartilage piercings tend to be more painful than people think.

That not to say that ear cartilage piercings are excruciating. The procedure is done relatively quickly and the pain is short. It is definitely possible to go through this procedure without trauma, and it’s definitely true that ear cartilage piercings are not the most painful of them all. That being said, it’s also vital to know that they tend to be a bit more painful than they look. As such, they might not be recommended to people who are very scared of pain or who wish to get their first piercing. It’s better to get more experience and then try ear cartilage piercings.

Also, it’s vital to get informed. Read as much as you can about this type of piercing to learn about the procedure and other aspects of these piercings. Also, consult your chosen piercer. A good piercer will be able to walk you through all the steps of the piercing process and explain everything you need to know. With this information at hand, getting an ear cartilage piercing is easy.

Stretched Ear Piercings

Another type of ear piercing you may wonder about are stretched piercings. Most commonly, this involves stretched earlobes, but some other piercing types can be stretched as well. With cartilage piercings, however, it gets tricky – these are very difficult to stretch.

What about stretched earlobes, then? Are they painful? The good news is that they start out as any other earlobe piercing. The hole is then gradually stretched to a larger gauge. This process has to be gradual in order to allow the ear time to heal and become stronger before the next stretching stage. It means that you need to go slowly and gradually. This process should not be painful. It may cause minor discomfort but it should never tear or damage the tissue, and it should not cause pain.

Rare Ear Piercings: Ragnar

ragnarThe Ragnar piercing is a special version of the snug piercing. It’s also known as “deep snug” and it’s considered a special placement and a modification of the more popular snug piercing type. As such, it’s not as popular as its more common counterpart.

However, this is a very interesting piercing variation so it’s definitely something to try if you’re looking for a reliable but unique ear piercing.

What Makes Ragnar Piercing Different?

Ragnar is a special, rare piercing performed on the ear cartilage. For a piercing to be called “Ragnar”, it has to be performed on a specific place, on the point where the earlobe blends into the helix. However, unlike the regular snug piercing this one is made to extend and go all the way through the outer rim of the ear. This way, the cartilage is deeply pierced and the jewelry exits on the other side of the ear.

This is a very effective piercing type, and while it’s considered a variation of a snug piercing, it’s vital to keep in mind that it should be treated as a unique piercing, especially when it comes to procedure and aftercare. Ragnar passes through so much tissue, which make it more complex than many other ear piercings. While this is not a fully complex piercing, it’s undoubtedly more sensitive and complicated to perform than a regular snug. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital to choose a piercer who is experienced with Ragnar piercings and who knows how to perform them right. You do not wish to end up with a scar tissue, infection or another problem. While this piercing type is not problematic on its own, the fact it’s rare makes it necessary to be careful.

Ragnar is a type of a horizontal piercing, which is always unique to see on an ear. Horizontal ear piercings are very effective and they add a special visual effect, so they are made to attract attention. What makes Ragnar special is that it creates a very unique look, since it’s made to look like the jewelry has one ball inside the ear rim while the other one is on the outside edge of the ear.

Pay Special Attention

If you wish to have a Ragnar piercing, there are some things you need to think about. Like it’s said above, it’s absolutely crucial to find a piercer who is experienced with this piercing type. In addition to this, pay close attention to:

  • Ragnar passes through a large amount of tissue, which makes aftercare more complex. Cartilage is sensitive so it has to be touched with care. Since this piercing goes through major points in the ear cartilage it makes the piercing not only sensitive but fragile. The piercing takes months to heal (often close to a year to fully heal), so it’s important to be careful with the aftercare. In addition to regular aftercare measures (cleaning your piercing with saline solution), you need to make sure not to hurt your ear in any way. Avoid any harsh chemicals near your ear, including shampoos and skin products. Do not sleep on your ear for at least several weeks (perhaps even more). Keep your hair away from your ear. Be very careful when dressing up or taking your clothes off. It’s absolutely vital not to touch or hurt your piercing. It goes without saying: you should not twist or turn jewelry in any way. It’s important to let your new Ragnar piercing heal.
  • The most common jewelry type for a Ragnar piercing is a simple straight barbell. While this piercing is a relatively long for an ear cartilage piercing, it’s still shorter than Industrial piercings, so no special barbells are needed. In other words, a regular barbell will do – you don’t need one that’s super-long. Keep in mind: Industrial piercings are actually two piercings at one and while the jewelry is long the actual pierced area is smaller than that of Ragnar. Ragnar pierces more tissue. For this reason, some people opt for barbells made of flexible material rather than metal barbells. Flexible barbells but less strain on the tissue, which minimizes risk of migration, rejection and other problems. Also, flexible jewelry is more likely to adjust to the ear’s natural curves. On the other hand, metal jewelry is generally more reliable, so you may consider it for your Ragnar piercing once it’s fully healed. Some people use metal barbells as initial jewelry and they don’t have any problems, so it depends on the case.
  • Knowledgeable piercer? Finding a good piercer for a Ragnar piercing might not be easy. Even some highly experienced piercers are unfamiliar with this piercing type. Of course, the more experienced a piercer is, the more chances they will know how to handle a Ragnar. That being said, always try to go for someone who’s actually performed this piercing in the past. Ask for photos and credentials before you decide on a piercer.
  • Since Ragnar passes through a lot of cartilage tissue, it is bound to be painful. As you probably know, all ear cartilage piercings are painful to some degree. Since this one is particularly long, you can expect some degree of pain. However, there are certainly piercings that are more painful than Ragnar. People with Ragnar tend to agree that it’s worth a pain, so this should not prevent you from getting a Ragnar piercing if you want. That being said, this is definitely not a piercing for beginners or those who hate pain.

Rook Piercing

Rook PiercingRook piercing is one of the most popular ear piercing types. It is a form of cartilage piercing. A Rook piercing is made on the antihelix of the ear and it looks very stylish and attractive. Both men and women enjoy this type of piercing and elegant jewelry they can wear with it.

Rook piercing got its name after the man who popularized it, Erik Dakota. He named this piercing after a shortened version of his first name. This piercing became popular in the 1990s. Many people today choose this piercing as one of their favorite ear cartilage piercings.

The Placement

Rook piercing has a precise placement on the ear cartilage. The hole is made on the antihelix of the ear, just above the tragus. It is done on the fold of the cartilage between the inner and outer conch. The piercing thus lies on the ridge between the inner and outer conch of the ear.

With this placement, Rook jewelry is made to go from the underside all the way to the top of this ridge. It makes Rook special and unique compared to many other ear cartilage piercings. Many cartilage piercings are made to go from a front surface of the ear to the back surface. Rook piercing, on the other hand, goes from bottom to the top.

Procedure and Aftercare

The procedure is not complicated and it’s similar to other ear cartilage piercings. Just like any cartilage piercing, the procedure itself is not complicated but it has to be done carefully. Ear cartilage is sensitive so it’s important that your piercer is experienced with this type of piercing.

Before the procedure, it’s important to agree on the chosen placement. Keep in mind that the nature of the piercing makes it difficult to see the entrance and exit holes. You should trust your piercer on the best location. This is why you should choose the best piercer who is experienced and knowledgeable. It’s the only way to ensure satisfaction.

After marking the spots, the piercer will push a hollow needle through the cartilage. Sometimes, clamps are used for the procedure, but this is not common. The procedure itself is typically done quickly.

Typically, a 16 gauge or 14 gauge needle is used, but you may request to be pierced with a large gauge needle.

After the hole is made, the piercer will insert the jewelry into your new piercing and instruct you on the aftercare.

The aftercare is similar to general aftercare for ear cartilage piercings. You should clean your new Rook piercing with a saline solution two times a day. You should perform this cleaning for at least two months after getting your Rook piercing done.

When performing aftercare, make sure not to over-wash the area. Also, never use any cleaners or other harsh chemicals that are not recommended for piercings. Use either a saline solution or special cleaning products made for piercing aftercare.

During aftercare, make sure not to touch your piercing often. Never turn or twist your jewelry! Do not manipulate or touch your piercing at all, except when you clean it.


Rook piercings can accommodate many different jewelry types. However, since this area is relatively small, typical jewelry will be small in size.

The most common jewelry type for Rook piercings is Captive Bead Ring. This is what most people wear with their healed piercings. However, piercers recommend that initial jewelry should be a curved barbell. Many people decide to wear curved barbells even in their healed piercings, so this jewelry type is another popular choice for Rook piercings.

Why curved barbells as initial jewelry and not Captive Bead Rings? Curved barbells have less curvature, which means a reduced strain on the healing fistula. With a curved barbell, healing is quicker and goes with fewer problems.

Keep in mind that Rook piercing is not really suitable for changing jewelry too often. This is why it’s important to be satisfied with the jewelry you buy for it because chances are that you will wear it for a long time.

Additional Info and Tips

  • A Rook piercing is also known as a piercing of the anti-helix of the ear.
  • Rook piercing takes about 12 to 18 months to fully heal, with primary healing lasting for about 6 months.
  • As with any other piercing, the pain is subjective. Some people describe Rook piercing as very painful, while others say it didn’t hurt more compared to other ear cartilage piercings. It’s important to note that ear cartilage on this spot is sensitive so keep this in mind if you wish to get a Rook piercing.
  • When cleaning your piercing, make sure to use warm (but not hot) water. Warm water will encourage the blood flow to the area and aid in the healing process. On the other hand, you don’t want water to be too hot.
  • Since the area is more tucked into the ear than with other cartilage piercings, Rook piercing is less susceptible to damage due to bumping or pressing against it. It makes it a bit less susceptible to problems and infections due to external damage.
  • Make sure not to hurt your piercing during initial stages of healing. Keep hair away from your ear and don’t sleep on the newly pierced ear. Same goes for using a telephone: don’t press your phone on the newly pierced ear. When changing clothes, pay close attention not to tug the jewelry with your clothes.
  • Do not change your jewelry for at least 8 weeks after the procedure. This is the time of initial healing and your piercing should be left alone.
  • Since the area is very small and difficult to reach, you might need assistance to insert and remove jewelry from your Rook piercing.
  • Not everyone’s anatomy allows for a Rook piercing. In case you have a poorly defined ridge in this area, it’s best not to have a Rook piercing. If you’re in doubt, consult your piercer to know if you are suited for this type of piercing.
  • Rook piercings tend to cause soreness, and may be prone to migration and rejection. However, most of these problems come from improper placement and poorly done procedure. Another cause may be the fact that you are not anatomically fit to have this piercing. These are the reasons why choosing a good piercer is so important. Problems with a Rook piercing may be caused by inadequate aftercare, so make sure to follow all of the aftercare instructions carefully.
  • Rook piercings are generally not suitable for stretching. In case you wish to stretch your Rook piercing, you need to consult your piercer for proper advice. Keep in mind that cartilage piercings typically cannot be stretched to really large gauges.

Gauges vs Jewelry

Large Gauge JewelryIt’s not uncommon to hear people talk about “ear gauges” or requesting “ear gauge jewelry”. The word “gauge” is often used instead of a correct term for certain jewelry pieces, typically those made for stretched piercings, such as plugs or flesh tunnels. While everybody will understand what you mean when you say “gauge”, it’s important to know what this term truly means and what are common terms used for jewelry pieces made for stretched piercings.

Are Gauges Large Jewelry?

No, “gauges” are not large jewelry. They are not even stretched piercings. Using this word to talk about jewelry or stretched piercings is not correct. This isn’t what the word “gauge” is about. The word itself is not related to stretched piercings or large jewelry pieces alone. In fact, any piercing and any jewelry has their gauge.

A “gauge” is a measurement. It is the size of the piercing hole and also the size of the jewelry. You are pierced with a needle of a particular gauge, and such a needle produces a hole of the same gauge. In order for your jewelry to fit, you need to wear jewelry of the same gauge as your piercing. This is why it’s important to know the gauge you are pierced with, because this is the only way to order jewelry that will fit you perfectly.

There are many different gauges available, because there are different needles. Thin needles produce small holes and in this case you need to wear small gauge (as in: thin) jewelry. Even these small holes and thin jewelry pieces have their own gauge. “Gauge” is not reserved for big piercings alone.

It’s also important to know that “large” and “small” is somewhat counter-intuitive when it comes to gauges. The smallest, thinnest gauges are labeled with the largest number. Bigger, thicker and larger gauges are labeled with a smaller number. For example, gauge 18 and gauge 16 are considered small gauges. Large gauges are labeled as gauge 4, gauge 2 or gauge 0. There are even some very large gauges labeled as gauge 00 or even 000. The smaller the number, the larger the jewelry and gauge in question is.

There are special Gauge Wheels that can help you choose your jewelry or check which gauge your jewelry is. Typically, Gauge Wheels are made for larger gauges only (usually gauge 8 and up), but it’s always important to know the gauge of your piercing because it’s the only way to choose appropriate jewelry.

Stretched Piercings and Their Gauges

What about stretched piercings, then? These piercings have their gauge, just like any other piercing. Typically, piercings are done at a smaller gauge and you stretch them to a larger one once the piercing is fully healed.

Many people decide to stretch their piercings to a larger gauge. If you perform stretching carefully, you can successfully change the gauge of your piercing. After a few weeks, you can try again and stretch to an even larger gauge. Over time, it’s possible to stretch your piercings to very large gauges.

When you stretch your piercings to a larger gauge, it’s important to use jewelry made in that gauge, too. It’s always vital to wear appropriately sized jewelry. Whenever you stretch your piercing hole to a larger gauge, you will also need to wear jewelry of the larger gauge.

There are many jewelry types made in the larger gauges, so chances are that you will find some nice jewelry for your piercing. There are many elegant Captive Bead Rings, Segment and Seamless Rings and Screwball Rings made in all gauges, including the large ones.

Also, there are certain jewelry pieces made for large gauges only. Ear plugs, flesh tunnels, earlets, spirals and other similar jewelry types are made in large gauges only. These jewelry types are specially designed for stretched piercings. When people say “gauges” and think of jewelry, these are the jewelry types they have in mind.

However, referring to jewelry as “gauge” is not correct. Remember: “gauge” is a measurement. Plugs, tunnels and earlets are jewelry. Those are two different concepts altogether and you should not confuse them.

Helix Shields

5 Gem Shield

5 Gem Shield

Helix shields are among the most beautiful jewelry types. They come in many different designs and varieties, so it’s possible to find just the one that suits your needs. Helix shields are unique and truly draw attention to your piercing. They look very attractive so it’s not surprising so many people choose them as their favorite jewelry types.

Choosing the Best Jewelry

While helix piercing is not rare in any way, it’s not the most popular type of piercing either. It means that sometimes, you don’t use jewelry created specially for this kind of piercing. It’s important to remember that the piercing itself is often made with a small gauge needle, so it usually requires small jewelry. For example, small gauge Captive Bead Rings tend to be a common helix jewelry.

However, keep in mind that a helix piercing is done on the helix of the upper ear, which gives certain options when it comes to jewelry. You can go with a simple jewelry type if you like, or you may use something more attractive. This is where helix cuffs and shields come into play.

Using Helix Shields

Helix shields are great because they are specially designed for helix piercings. They will sure make your piercing more attractive and noticeable. These are also made to rest comfortably against the ear to provide the best experience.

Helix jewelry comes in many different types. There are fancy rings you can use, elaborate cuffs or richly detailed shields. Most of these jewelry pieces have additional decoration, such as gems or charms. These fancy jewelry pieces make a great addition to your ear jewelry collection so you can use them in almost any situation.

Plugs and Flesh Tunnels

Straight Amber Plugs

Straight Amber Plugs

Plugs and tunnels are among the most striking pieces of body jewelry. They are usually simple but very effective. These are among the best and most beautiful jewelry styles specially made for stretched piercings. Most often used for ear piercing, these beautiful items can be used for most types of stretched piercings, regardless of body part.

One advantage to plugs and flesh tunnels is that they look very simple and presentable, which makes it easy to wear them in all kinds of situations, including work. As you probably know, professional situations often require special attire and limited types of jewelry. Many times, body piercing and body jewelry are completely forbidden. Yet, plugs and tunnels are often allowed, which makes them very practical and functional. It doesn’t mean they are boring or overly simple: on the contrary, plugs and flesh tunnels are among the most stunning types of body jewelry you can find on the market.

Plugs and Tunnels

A plug is specially designed piece of jewelry made for stretched piercings. Plugs are most often worn in ears, but it’s possible to use them on other body parts. Plugs create a very interesting effect, especially at larger gauges.

One great thing about plugs is that they are made of many different materials not usually used for body piercing. There are many organic materials used, such as wood, glass, precious stone, amber, bone, horn, bamboo, silicone, stone, and other highly effective materials.

A flesh tunnel is a tube shaped, hollow piercing jewelry. The most common flesh tunnels are those used in stretched earlobes but they can be worn in piercings located on other body parts, as long as the piercing itself is stretched to a correct gauge. Other common names for flesh tunnels are earlets, eyelets, spools, fleshy and expanders.

Flesh tunnels are great because they allow you to see through the piercing, which produces unique effects. Another advantage to flesh tunnels is that they are relatively light and they weigh less than plugs, which may be significant at larger gauges. You can wear flesh tunnels with a captive bead ring or another object passed through them.

Choosing the Right Size

Glitter Halo Flesh Tunnel

Glitter Halo Flesh Tunnel

The most important thing when buying plugs and flesh tunnels is to choose the right size. Body jewelry is available in many different diameters, and this is particularly true for plugs, flesh tunnels and other types of jewelry specially made for stretched piercings. It means they are available in many different sizes (gauges), depending on the size of your piercing.

Before making a purchase, it’s vital that you know your size and to order a correct gauge for your piercing. Using only the correct gauge is essential for the best comfort and pain-free experience.

There are many different gauges to choose. Piercings range in size from 20 gauge to 00 and more. Initial piercings are usually done in gauges ranging from 20 to 14 gauge, and it depends on many factors, such as location of the piercing. These initial piercings can be stretched to larger gauges (such as 8 or 0 gauge) using tapers or another stretching method. When choosing plugs or ear tunnels it’s crucial to know your current piercing size and how much stretched your piercing actually is so you can pick the right size.

In case you are not 100% sure about the size, you can order and try a few different sizes to see which one feels the best. The correct gauge will feel the most comfortable and will “sit” well in your piercing. When you find the size that suits you, make sure to remember the gauge so you will know what’s the size of your piercing the next time you decide to purchase plugs or flesh tunnels.

Last Ones – Beaded Arrow Nipple Ring(s)

This is an excellent piece. Is best used for nipple and ear piercings. Off the captive bead is a unique ball formation, decreasing in size, divided by a small bar bell.

Parquet Wood Ear Plugs

Parquet Wood Ear Plugs

This particular exotic wood plug has an amazing pattern of multiple varieties of wood. This plug is tapered in which eliminates the need for o-rings. It is simply a beautiful body jewelry ear plug as well as all organic.

Stretching Nail

Stretching Nail

The Stretching Nail is made using only 316LVM Surgical Grade Steel. This piece will give you a sharp look and can also be used to stretch you’re piercing to a larger gauge. There are tons of places that you can use this piece.

Glass Magma Plug(s)

Glass Magma Plug(s)

The Glass Magma Plug is a very cool piece made from Soda Lime Glass. Soda Lime Glass is a nonporous glass that is easy to clean. So it makes it the perfect material for Body Jewelry.