Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
How bad is the Pain of a Tragus Piercing?
Whenever you decide to have a piercing made, it is only natural that you are concerned about the potential level of pain. It is important to understand that each person has a different threshold to pain, so you cannot base your own experience on others. It is also worth mentioning that the level of the pain depends on the type of piercing and its location. So, you cannot expect for similar levels of pain, for example when you are having your tragus and your belly button pierced.
As you are probably aware with, the tragus is the pointy part of the ear, being quite a cool location for a new piercing. The reason why many people prefer to have a piercing made in this area has to do with the reduced number of nerve endings (this means a lot less pain, especially in comparison with other commonly-pierced areas, such as the belly button or the nose). Apart from that, the area is more poorly vascularized, which means that there will not be too much hemorrhage and the recovery will be fast. The tragus can be easily pierced and it is most likely that you will experience only a slight discomfort or a reduced amount of pain, lasting under one minute.
What to expect in terms of Pain intensity
From what has been said above, you have probably understood that the tragus is a good place for a piercing, due to the fact that there are fewer nerve endings. However, if you want to be certain of the pain intensity, try to imagine a pain scale that goes from 1 (least painful) to 10 (most painful). According to the experts in the field, the pain caused by the tragus piercing is mild, being appreciated at 3 or 4. The intensity of the pain can be dictated by the thickness of the ear cartilage – in general, the thicker the cartilage, the more pain you will experience. Nevertheless, the majority of the people have felt only a mild discomfort, describing that their tragus piercing was more like a fast pinch.
Can the tragus piercing pain be influenced?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. There are a number of factors that can have a definite influence on the level of pain that you are going to experience and it is for the best that you are aware of them.
For example, the person performing the piercing is the number one factor influencing the intensity of the pain. The more experienced that person is, the less pain you are guaranteed to experience. So, if you want a pain-free tragus piercing, do not hesitate to visit a professional piercing saloon. Apart from the guarantee of reduced pain, having a professionally-made piercing will promise a better and a faster recovery (with no risk of infection).
Another factor that has an influence over the tragus piercing pain is your own pain threshold. As it was already mentioned above, we all experience pain at different levels. This is known as the pain threshold and it determines how much pain we are able to handle, before it becomes unbearable. It is said that the higher the pain threshold is, the better you will handle the tragus piercing pain. On the other hand, if the pain threshold is low, most likely you will experience the tragus piercing pain as being more intense.
The choice of jewelry can also influence the level of pain you are going to experience. It is known that some types of jewelry, such as the beaded rings, are capable of causing more pain when being introduced into the recently pierced area. On the other hand, choosing a barbell might guarantee a less-painful experience. Professional piercers recommend switching the jewelry, with one that is more complex, only after the pierced tragus has healed completely.
The material from which the jewelry is made can also be a factor of risk, causing a lot of pain if allergic reactions occur. This is the reason why you need to avoid materials such as nickel or copper, choosing jewelry that is either made from gold or titanium. By choosing the latter specifies materials, you will reduce not only the risk of allergic reactions but also the one of secondary bacterial infections.
Method of piercing
There are two methods of performing a piercing, meaning with a sterilized needle or with the help of a needle gun. Which of the two is more painful? Well, according to the specialists in the field, it is most likely that you will experience the same amount of pain, regardless of the chosen method. The recommendation is made for the sterilized needle, as this method is considered to be more appropriate for the tragus. The needle gun is considered to be quite powerful and it can destroy the sensitive tissue.
Type of piercing
If you have had piercings before, you probably know that there are three main types of piercings, meaning the normal, the vertical and the surface tragus piercing. The vertical tragus piercing is performed, as the name clearly points out, in a vertical direction. Basically, the piercing comes in at one point, reaches the inner part of the tragus and comes out at the inferior point. Many people prefer this type of piercing, as they consider it looks cool. In regard to the pain level, you should know that this type of piercing is definitely more painful, due to the fact that there are two points to be pierced. The second type of piercing, meaning the surface, is more superficial (does not go through the tragus cartilage completely). Unfortunately, this is painful as well, especially when compared to the normal tragus piercing.
Comparison to other piercing locations
The tragus is a good place for a piercing, due to the reduced vascularization and innervation. This is the main reason why the intensity of pain is lower, especially in comparison to the other areas that are more vascularized (such as the piercing of the nose or the belly button). In comparison to the earlobes, it is possible that it is a little bit more painful, due to the position of the tragus and the fact that the ear cartilage here is a little bit more rigid.
As the bone behind the tragus serves as a point of insertion for the jaw muscles, it is possible that the pain from the piercing extends to the jaw (traveling on the nerve trajectories). The pain can be accompanied by inflammation, persisting for a few days after the piercing has been made. In the situation that the piercing persists for more than a couple of days, it might a good idea to visit a specialist doctor (can be a sign of infection, requiring antibiotic treatment).
In the majority of the situations, the pain disappears immediately. However, depending on your threshold of pain, you might experience slight pain or discomfort for a couple of days after the piercing. If the pain becomes more intense, with associated inflammation and purulent discharge, you might be dealing with an infection. Do not attempt to handle the infection by yourself and be sure to visit a specialist. The doctor will recommend treatment with antibiotics and decide whether the tragus piercing should be removed or not. You will also be given after-care instructions, so as to avoid the aggravation of the infection. If you want for the tragus piercing to properly heal and you to escape the intense pain, you will have to follow these after-care instructions by heart.