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A Ranking My Piercings From Least to Most Painful

Like so many of you out there, I love to get piercings. It’s one of the most fun ways to express yourself, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to the type of jewelry, where you get the piercing, etc. It’s also not as permanent – and probably as painful – as getting a tattoo, so if you need to get that adrenaline rush, this might be the way to go. But if you’re worried about the potential pain, allow me to rank my piercings from least to most painful.

1. Traditional lobe 

Most people I’ve met had gotten this piercing at, like, eight years old. Your earlobe is pretty much just flesh, so the healing process is much quicker than any piercing through your cartilage. Depending on the size of your ear, you can get two to three piercings on just your lobe, and reap all the benefits of mixing and matching jewelry.

2. Orbital

This is a great piercing for anyone who wants to venture away from the lobes but isn’t ready to pierce any cartilage. The orbital piercing usually will go through the little bit of flesh on the outside edge of your ear, so you get a “fun” piercing without the pain! My orbital piercing also healed weirdly quickly, so if you aren’t great about keeping up with cleaning, take an orbital piercing into consideration!

Silver ear piercing in ear
Kimia Zarifi, via Unsplash

3. Rook 

Getting a rook piercing can be super intimidating, but it’s one of my favorite piercings I’ve gotten. It hurt about as much as you would expect, but the healing process was super easy; I couldn’t sleep on the side with the piercing for a couple of weeks, but that’s to be expected from a piercing that goes through so much cartilage. The jewelry for a rook piercing is also so much fun!

4. Nose 

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made (in terms of piercings) was getting my nose pierced. I think nose piercings look good on anyone; you don’t have to have a specific nose shape or size, and you can rock either a stud or a hoop in a variety of different colors. Again, this one hurt about as much as you would expect, but since the piercing is on the face instead of the ear, you’re a lot more aware of the heat and a little bit of throbbing for a few hours after getting it done.

girl with nose piercing smiling
Anderson Miranda from Pexels

5. Helix

Most people get a helix as their first piercing when venturing away from the lobe, but this one caused me so much grief. It didn’t necessarily hurt too badly when I got it, but the healing process was the biggest pain in the a**. It’s a great piercing because of the aesthetic and all the pretty jewelry you can use, but be super diligent about keeping it clean and not sleeping on the side you get pierced.

6. Tragus

Once you start to pierce your cartilage, there’s not much difference between the levels of pain from the actual piercing process; it’s the pain afterward that becomes the distinguishing factor. I got my tragus done most recently, and it’s not a piercing for the faint of heart. I couldn’t sleep on that side of my head for a good three to four weeks, and I also couldn’t wear any type of earbud during that time either. Even now, there’s a limit to how much time I can spend wearing anything in my ears before my tragus starts to get irritated. Even though it’s super cute, make sure you’re ready to sacrifice a couple of things to make the healing process less painful.

Ultimately, if you’re thinking of getting a piercing and are intimidated by the potential pain, just remember that with a good, reliable piercer and diligent aftercare, any pain will be worth all the amazing jewelry you’ll get to wear.


Kate is a third year Psychological & Brain Sciences major attempting to navigate the pre-health track. She spends too much time on Tik Tok and YouTube, loves hanging out with her friends, and shows horses competitively across the West Coast. She hopes to one day become a Physician's Assistant or work in some other part of the healthcare industry.
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