If you are visiting a piercing shop and ask the staff if piercings hurt, they may say: ’no’. It might be true, but you won’t believe them anyway. The reason is simple, they are working there, and you are the one who is paying them to perform service.
Realistically, the short answer is yes, piercing can hurt, and you know it. But for most people, the pain is minor, and it passes very quickly, don’t worry, it’s nothing you can’t handle.
If piercings do hurt, is there a way to minimise the pain? We can provide a general guidance of the ear piercings pain level for different types of piercings and the good news is, there are ways to make it less painful.
Ear Piercings Pain LevelLet’s Imagine when you head to a piercing shop and ask the staff: does nose piercing hurt? The staff may answer, no it doesn’t hurt at all; then a customer who just received a nose piercing may give you a completely different answer. Why, this is because everyone is different, and they can only tell you how they feel.
When you ask a person, no matter a stranger or your sibling, whether a particular piercing hurts or not, the answers can be quite diverse. Their feelings, during the procedure, can be very different to yours resulting in the different answers given. This can happen even if the piercings are done at the same place, by the same piercer with the same piercing technique.
Therefore, if you really want to get a piercing there is only one way you can find out about the pain level, just go ahead with the procedure and then you will get the answer, everyone is different. So, if you have concerns, talk with the Piercer, they fully trained, and will put your mind at ease.
Do Piercing Hurt?
For most people, piercings feel like a quick pinch. While it depends on pain tolerance and piercing locations, like ear lobe piercings, they are not that painful because they’re on the skin tissue.
Areas with dense and tougher cartilage or on a sensitive location of the body, like nipple and navel piercings are a little more painful, like a sting. However, it’s over in seconds.
If you have a low pain tolerance, there isn’t much you can do to change that. But you can choose a piercing location with lower pain. This is also a good idea for your first piercing as you won’t know what your pain tolerance is like yet. Ear lobe piercing is a good idea to start with.
Piercing Pain Level Guidance
Ear Piercing (Rate: From Level 1-Level5)
● Ear lobe (Gun Piercing): Level 1
● Earlobe (Needle): Level 1.5
● Large Gauge Earlobe (Needle): Level 2
● Helix (Cartilage): Level 2
● Forward Helix (Cartilage): Level 2
● Rook (Cartilage): Level 2.5
● Tragus (Cartilage): Level 2
● Anti-Tragus (Cartilage): Level 3
● Daith: Level 2.5
● Conch (Cartilage): Level 2
● Snug (Cartilage): Level 3
● Industrial (Cartilage): Level 3
Facial Piercing (From Level 1-Level5)
● Nostril (Gun): Level 1
● Nostril (Needle): Level 2
● Septum: Level 2
● Bridge: Level 1.5
● Eyebrow: Level 1
● Side Eye: Level 1.5
● Vertical Lip (Surface): Level 2.5
● Third Eye (Surface): Level 1.5
● Surface/Vertical Tragus: Level 1.5
● Horizontal Lip (Surface): Level 2.5
● Facial Dermal (G23 Titanium Anchor): Level 1.5
Oral Piercing (From Level 1-Level 5)
● Lip: Level 2
● Tongue: Level 1
● Snake Eyes: Level 2
● Tongue Web: Level 1.5
● Smiley: Level 1
● Frowney: Level 1
● Cheek (Dimple): Level 1
● Dahlia: Level 2
Body Needle Piercing (From Level 1-Level 5)
● Navel: Level 1.5
● Lower Navel: Level 1.5
● Nipple: Level 4
● Inverted Nipple: Level 4.5
● Surface: Level 2
● Microdermal/Dermal Anchor: Level 1.5
Please Note: This is just a General Guide; the actual feelings vary based on different individuals pain tolerance.
Tips to make the piercing experience less painful
We cannot avoid piercing pain, but we can minimise it. Here are some tips for you to have an easier piercing experience.
1. Go to see a professional body piercer
A professional body piercer knows how to make the customers feel easier and they can do a piercing quickly and correctly.
Remember having a piercing done is not only the one-off piercing process, but the whole healing time as well. It’s not just a “hole “, it’s not that simple. If you are hooked by the low price and get a piercing by someone who is not supposed to do it, you may end up having a very painful piercing experience, not only the actual piercing pain, but also a very tender healing time.
In the past, we did witness some rough times, customers come and recently have had a helix piercing, which has become very sore and with a lot of swelling. The reason was the customer had had the helix pierced with a wrong-sized piece of jewellery.
A fresh cartilage piercing normally swells a lot and the peak is on the third day. If a piercing is done with a wrong-sized jewellery, the jewellery will be sunken into the skin and very hard to be removed.
Getting the wrong-sized jewellery removed, healing it up and piercing it again will be the best option which can be more painful than having it done correctly the first time.
Additionally, an experienced piercer knows how to make the piercing process easier for the customers by explaining how it works, answering what the customers are concerned about and finishing the piercing process reasonably fast.
Most importantly, having a piercer that you trust and confident will make the piercing process less painful, as you know it will be done in seconds and have a great look. If it’s your first time seeing a piercer, you can ask them questions and they should be able to explain to you. If they cannot answer your question, don’t worry, it probably doesn’t mean they are not good piercers.
Instead of telling something they don’t know and misleading people, they should be honest and willing to do some research to find out the answer and then get back to you.
Going to see a professional piercer can really lower the chance of getting a troublesome piercing that can cause on going pain
2. Prepare yourself well before getting a new piercing.
Try to be healthy when you intend to get piercings, especially multiple piercings at one day.
Incidents and accidents do happen during or after the piercing process. Just make sure you are not sick, hungry, or tired, stay hydrated and wear comfortable clothes before you go to your piercing appointment. No one wants to pass out in the middle of the piercing process, fall over from the chair and bump the head or vomit on the floor after the piercing is done.
Being at your best can minimise the chance of having unpleasant incidents in your piercing journey.
Nobody knows you better than yourself. Have a good sleep at night, have an actual meal (not a cup of coffee, an ice cream, or a piece of chocolate), do not drink alcohol or take drugs before getting the piercing.
If you are in a medical condition, have a talk with the doctor and make sure if it’s ok for you to get a body piercing, it can be disappointing when you just have a beautiful piercing done and then have to remove it a week after.
Distracting yourself can help you not focus on the piercing, if you stay focused on the piercing action, it will enlarge the actual pain, as you may have a kind of feeling that time passes very slowly. Same as when you are busy doing something, you may feel time passes fast.
Therefore, you can make yourself busy while getting a piercing, by imagining how wonderful this new piercing would be, talking to someone, listening to the music, or just holding someone’s hand (not the piercer) or squeezing something (toy or clothes, not the piercer’s arm or leg).
You can Bring someone you trust, like your friend or family, as your support team. You don’t need to bring a big group of people, like a football team with you, and it’s not possible for them to fit in the piercing room, as the piercing room is normal only enough for up to 3 people and the piercer needs enough space to move around freely to operate the piercing. A big group of people in the room can disturb the piercer to stay focused.
Keep this in mind, you should be wise choosing your support team member(s). You don’t want to bring people who faint at the sight of blood or needles, have blood phobia or are more nervous than you.
Having people mentioned above represented in the piercing room with you, can make the piercing process more complicated. The piercer can’t take care of other people while holding the needle.
If someone passes out in the piercing room, the piercer won’t be able to hold them. If you’d like to bring a support person, just bring someone who can look after themselves and make you feel better.
We talked about distraction and didn't focus on the piercing process previously. Actually, before the piercer pushes the needle through the piercing spot, taking a big breath in and breathing out while the needle is going in can make the whole process a lot easier.
Normally, the piercer will always tell you to have a breath in right before they push the needle in, when they notice you are breathing out, it’s the right time for them to push the needle through. This breath procedure can easily distract you from focusing on the needle going through and supply enough oxygen for you to feel better.
Taking a few slow deep breaths before you go into the piercing room, can help you stay calm. However, when you get a belly button (navel) or nipple piercings, you should avoid breathing intensely. This is because intense breath can cause a lot of movement on the piercing area, which can affect the piercing procedure.
5. Choose the Right Jewellery
Does the jewellery affect the pain level? The short answer is yes!
People may feel more pain having a new piercing done with the wrong piece of jewellery. As some jewellery may look sharp but it’s complicated to insert and may take a little while to be inserted.
Inserting jewellery can cause movement around the piercing wound, it may tear the new piercing and cause more tissue damage, if the wrong jewellery gets inserted. Some jewellery is designed for healed piercings instead of fresh piercings. It is a good idea to not get new piercings with this jewellery initially, put a piece of jewellery that is easy to install and change it once the piercing is fully healed.
Technically, the quicker the piercing process is, the less painful it will be. It makes sense that people expect the piercing finish in seconds. Ask the piercer what kind of jewellery is easy to put in during the consultation before you make the decision on jewellery.
There are some piercing locations that are less painful, like earlobe, smiley, etc. If you just want to get a new piercing on your ear, you can just go with a second or third ear lobe piercing rather than a cartilage piercing. Also, if you’d like to add some colour on your body, you can choose a dermal or naval instead of a nipple piercing.
7. Numbing Cream
Applying numbing cream is a simple way to reduce the piercing pain, especially for children. It also relieves stress mentally. You can find numbing cream products in a pharmacy.
The numbing cream takes up to 1 hour to start working after each application. Normally, you need to apply a thick layer of it onto the potential piercing area and leave it on for 1 hour.
Just make sure you schedule your time well and follow the instructions in the package for a good numbing result. Some piercing shops may provide numbing cream with an additional charge. It works pretty well for some people.