Over the years, I’ve collected a decent bit of piercings. I still have a relatively decent-sized list of piercings to get, but as it is, I have 9 piercings. These include my first & second holes, a third hole on one of my ears, my cartilage, tragus, my nose, and my belly button (top). For each piercing listed, I’ll be ranking them from most painful to least painful, giving my personal rating, the healing process, and some other background information. Everyone perceives pain differently, so this may not be the case for your piercings, but I’m sharing my own experiences in the case that this article can help someone else gain some perspective.
Pain Rating: 6/10 (the pain only lasted for a few seconds)
Healing Process: Can take up to a year to heal fully. This area is prone to hypertrophic scarring and keloids as it has low blood flow. Two months in, the piercing is no longer sensitive to the touch but is still slightly swollen.
The tragus piercing was hands down, by far my worst experience to date. I got it back in July— I was 20— and honestly this is a piercing that hurt a LOT. Going into it, I knew it would hurt a decent bit. I had gotten my helix piercing the year before and that one hurt more than I expected as well, so I was able to compare the pain to something. The area where a tragus piercing is done is in part of your ear canal and the cartilage is a bit thicker there than it is with a regular cartilage piercing. When I got it done, the needle went through in three sections— if that makes sense to people who haven’t gotten a cartilage piercing— and there was a MASSIVE amount of pressure. I read somewhere online that if your blood sugar is low and you’re not well-rested, it can contribute to pain experienced during a piercing, and that would make a lot of sense, but I don’t know if that’s true so don’t quote me on that.
- Helix (Cartilage)
Pain Rating: About a 4 or 5/10.
Healing Process: Took around a year because I slept on it, not to mention my H2Ocean Spray nozzle broke and I couldn’t use it. Rather than buying a new one, I just let it be. Once again, don’t do that to yourself. It caused my piercing to keloid. In cases as such, tea tree oil is a lifesaver.
After the initial pain of the piercing, I felt discomfort for the first few days and after that point, I only felt pain if I tried to sleep on my right side— don’t do this while your piercing still hurts as it will delay healing time and cause more problems in the long run— or if I moved the piercing.
I got my cartilage piercing done back in April of 2018, so I was 19 at the time. Like all other cartilage piercings, these are typically ranked among mid-high pain piercings. I had nothing to compare this one to so I went into it thinking that because I have a high pain tolerance, it would be a piece of cake.. I was wrong. I completely underestimated the pain. My nose piercing was pain free, and I thought “well, if the cartilage in my nose is thicker and it didn’t hurt at all, I’ll be okay”. Yeah, that is exactly what you don’t do to yourself because blood flow to the area, flexibility of the cartilage, and bodily health also contributes to pain levels.
**In the case of keloids,be careful using tea tree oil if you have pets as it is dangerous for them. ALWAYS wash your hands after dealing with tea tree oil if you have pets, and keep them away from the area you applied it to. Also beware of spilling any or leaving any items such as tea tree oil covered q-tips in easily accessible areas!
- Naval (Belly Button)
Pain Rating: 4/10
Healing Process: There wasn’t so much pain as there was soreness and it only really hurt to touch or if it tugged on my clothing. I was able to lay on my stomach about three days after I had gotten it pierced. Any pain and discomfort went away within 2-3 months.
I got my belly button piercing when I was 14, so that was back in 2013. I got this done on the same day as my nose piercing. In comparison to my nose piercing, this definitely hurt more. I got the top pierced, which is the more popular choice. This was my first piercing done so I babied the hell out of it and it was pain and discomfort free about two-three months after I got it done. Even with that being, I waited until the suggested time to change the jewelry (which is exactly what you should be doing anyways to avoid any complications).
Pain Rating: 1 or 2/10
Healing Process: 6 months to a year with minimal complications.
My nose piercing took all of two seconds. It hurt to sneeze a few days after the fact or to wiggle my nose, but the pain was minimal. I got the cork screw stud, so when I changed the piercing for the first time, I had some difficulty with putting the cork screw stud back in. I had a bit of difficulty with this piercing as I always had to take it out because I went to a Catholic High School, where even cultural piercings were not allowed (yikes!!) and often had to “repierce” it at home **I do not literally mean repierce, so don’t take that as me saying that this is a good idea to do at home**.
At one point, it closed permanently and I had to get it repierced. Getting it pierced through scar tissue was absolute hell. I would rate that at probably about a 6/10. Since then, I haven’t had any complications with my nose piercing and changing it has been a breeze.
- Lobes (5)
Pain Rating: 0.5/10, if that
Healing Process: It doesn take very long for these piercings to heal, just make sure you follow your piercer’s instructions and don’t remove the jewelry until they say!!
Lobe piercings, if you don’t already know, are done on the soft part of the bottom of your ear.
My first holes were done at an early age, so I can’t remember what it felt like to get them done, but lobes are some of the least painful piercings to get done, generally speaking.
My second holes, I did on my own— once again, do not use me as an example of good decision-making skills. I did them right after I got my nose and belly button pierced because I thought it was strange that I had gotten those piercings done while my mom wouldn’t allow me to pierce any other place on my ears except for my first holes. I got the piercings for cultural reasons, so looking back, it makes a lot more sense than my 14-year old self could understand.
My singular third hole, I did on my own during either my junior or senior year of high school. I only pierced one so that I could get my anti-tragus done on the opposite ear, eventually.
It’s now my senior year of college, and the angst in me is tempting me to bang out the rest of my piercing list during this last stretch of undergraduate college. I still plan on getting 13-19 more piercings (some are tentative, some are definites)so there is potential for a part two to this article if I decide to get more piercings during this year. So stick around if this is the kind of content you enjoy and maybe I’ll potentially do a tattoo article soon??? Who knows?
Until next time, thanks for reading!
xoxo, alliah ❧