Ear Piercing, From Tradition to Fashion

For centuries, ear piercing has been the most widely used method of body modification. For wearing jewellery in ears, puncturing the earlobe and other parts of the ear is essential. People get their ears pierced for the traditional and cultural significance it holds. Both men and women tend to get their ears pierced. It is important to gather some basic information about it before taking the big step.

What is an ear piercing

Ear piercing is often done for decorative and cultural purposes. It is a procedure of making a small hole in the external parts of the ears. The most common among all is piercing of the earlobe. There are various tools for getting the piercing done. The oldest of all is using a needle. Some advanced tools such as piercing guns are also used for this purpose. It is generally advised to get your ears pierced at a young age. The procedure is simple. It needs to be performed by a trained professional with sterilised equipment.

History of ear piercing

Archeologists have found traces of piercing from Egypt dating back to 5300 years. Which proves it to be one of the oldest forms of body modification. Along with Egypt, various other countries performed ear piercing for social ranking displays. In India, ear piercing is a religious tradition that has been followed for centuries. People get their ears pierced to carry the jewellery with them for the safety of their jewellery. Today, ear piercing is a common form of self-expression, display of fashion accessories. Many people choose to get multiple piercings in one or both ears. For its cultural significance, it is likely to be practised for many years to come.

Purpose of ear piercing

Depending on the context, the purpose of ear piercing varies for each individual. Some common reasons of getting one's ears pierced could be:

Cultural and religious significance

Like India, ear piercing has a cultural and religious importance in other parts of the world as well. People from various tribes still get their ears pierced for religious matters. Countries like Africa, China still have tribes following the tradition of ear piercing. Along with earlobes, they get various parts of their ears pierced to honour the tradition.

Fashion and Self expression

Ear piercing is used to wear in jewelleries. Earrings are a staple to our jewellery boxes thanks to ear piercing. People like to get their ears pierced for being able to wear various earrings. They also do it to enhance their appearance. It is a way of expressing their individuality, personality and fashion sense.

Medical Reasons

Many medical practitioners often recommend ear piercing for acupuncture facilities. It is also suggested for keloid formation.

Types of ear piercing

The reason could vary but ear piercing is a largely celebrated procedure. Apart from piercing earlobes, there are various ways of getting one's ears pierced. Some of them are listed below:

Helix piercing

Helix piercing is one of the most popular types of ear piercings after piercing earlobes. It involves puncturing the upper cartilage of the ear. Piercing is typically done on the outer rim of the upper ear - above the earlobe. It can be done in various places giving plenty of ear piercing ideas to style jewelleries. From studs, hoops to cuffs, anything can look stylish and chic on your helix piercing. However, helix ear piercing may require some extra attention and time to heal. As it can take longer than other types of piercing, it is important to go for small hoops when you get it done. 

Tragus piercing

Tragus piercing is gaining popularity for its uniqueness. It is one of the quirkiest ear piercing ideas. Youngsters love these types of ear piercings. This upper ear piercing is done on the flap extended right in front of the ear canal. As the tragus is the thickest part of the ear, performing ear piercing on it can be difficult and can take long to heal. The thickness of the tragus alo allows it to accommodate a wide range of jewelleries. From hoops to chains, it allows us to express our style in various ways.

Daith piercing

Like many ear piercing ideas, we are grateful to our ancestors for these types of ear piercings. One of the oldest types of upper ear piercing, daith piercing is a traditional way of ear piercing. It involves piercing the innermost cartilage just above the ear canal. For its inner position, it is done with the help of a needle. Hoops are ideal to wear while getting it done. Hoops are also ideal for daith piercing post healing as they make it appear more fashionable. It looks chic and beautiful. However, It has gained popularity in recent times for its potential benefits in relieving migraines and anxiety. 

Rook Piercing

Rook ear piercing involves piercing the fold of cartilage above the tragus and just below the outer ridge of the ear. It looks fashionable but it can be quite painful. These types of ear piercings take months to heal. It is recommended to avoid sleeping on the pierced ear as well as to clean the area twice a day. Rook ear piercing leaves us with many ideas to style it. This upper ear piercing is ideal for many types of jewelleries such as beads, barbells, hoops. It is important to choose high-quality jewellery made of materials such as surgical steel or titanium. This ensures reduced risk of allergies or reactions.

These are the most common ways of ear piercing. Going for any type of ear piercing, it is important to choose the right professional. As the right usage of tools and jewellery can ensure speedy healing and lesser risk. There is a proper procedure of ear piercing that needs to be followed no matter what type. Read along to know more about it.

Procedure of ear piercing

The procedure of ear piercing requires thorough knowledge and expertise. It is a 4 step process which can take up to 10-20 minutes to get the piercing done.


Preparation comes as a first step of ear piercing. Deciding on which part of the ear you want to get pierced. Along with that, decide on the professional and the jewellery you would wear in it. To avoid any irritation and infection, refrain from wearing any imitation jewellery. It is important to select precious metal jewellery such as gold, silver, platinum. 


Whether you get it pierced with the help of a needle or piercing gun, it inserts steel in your skin. Sterilisation of the tool being used is important to avoid any complications. This falls under the professionals responsibilities. You need to make sure the tool os sterlized before the procedure of ear piercing begins. Needle has a sharp tip which minimises the pain and tissue damage.


To check and mark a proper spot is important in ear piercing. Marking is done to avoid any piercing in the vein which might lead to severe discomfort. Once the tool is sterlized, the professional will make a dot on your ear where it is to be pierced. The procedure involves the piercer cleaning the spot with an antiseptic solution followed by marking the spot. 


After marking the spot, the professional holds the ear in place with a clamp. Piercing the ear with a needle or any other tool makes a small hole in the desired outer part of the ear. He will then insert the earring or a wire of a precious metal in some cases.

The piercer will ensure that the jewellery is properly inserted and securely fastened. Though the procedure is followed with all the precautions, one needs to take care of the piercing for some time after it's done. Here are a few tips that can be helpful to you:

Some helpful post treatment suggestions

Skin tissues of the ears are delicate and can react to the metal. It needs to be handled with care. To avoid infection and promote healing take these basic steps at home post piercing:


Try to avoid any contact with soap and water for at least 3 days after the procedure of ear piercing is performed. Harsh water or strong chemicals can cause irritation. Use saline solution twice or thrice a day to gently clean the pierced area.

Avoid irritation

Touching the area where ear piercing is done can lead to irritation. Try not to touch the are till it is healed. Also choosing a jewellery with a tight backing can also lead to irritation. Go for a thin and small hoop earring to avoid any irritation caused by jewellery.

The piercing hole tends to hurt for a week or so after the procedure of piercing is performed. Taking a few steps post treatment can help it heal fast. Along with external care, you need to be cautious of what you eat. Avoid eating spicy and tangy food for a week post piercing. Don't eat or apply anything your skin is allergic to. And last but not the least, don't forget to follow all the instructions your piercer has given to you.

Risk and complications in ear piercing

The simple and easy looking procedure of ear piercing has its own risk and complications. It's advisable to know the risks associated with it. Listed below are a few complications you can face:

Infection - This is the most common and easy reaction of ear piercing. Unsterilized equipment can cause irritation and infection. Redness, swelling, pain, fever, headache are the signs of infection in piercing. It can also be caused because of nickel or brass or any other metal that gold jewellery has. Hence, using a gold jewellery above 14 carat is advisable for piercing.

Bleeding - Ear piercings can cause bleeding, especially if the cartilage is pierced. Jewellery getting tangled in hair or clothes or cushions can also lead to bleeding, tearing or stretching the piercing hole. Medical attention is advised if the bleeding is heavy.

Keloids - Keloids are overgrown scar tissues. Keloids can be raised from piercing. It leads to thickening scars around the pierced area. It can lead to damaging nerves in the ear - loss of sensation.

Seeking medical help is advised in case any discomfort is felt with piercing. To minimise the risks, it is important to get your ears pierced by a trained professional and taking proper after care.

All in all, getting your ears pierced is a simple tradition. Generally, ear piercing is done at a very early age for the skin is thin and gentle. However, many individuals like to get one or more parts of their ears pierced later on. To get a professional individual perform the procedure and take proper steps to care for the area till it heals is inevitable. This is a fun modification of your look, take this step after considering all the factors!

You can also learn more about earring trends in our in-depth guide about the latest trends