When New York-based piercer Maria Tash set up residency at Liberty London—in an over 1300-square foot prime position on the store's ground floor, might we add—we knew piercings were trending. That was in 2016, and our affinity for piercings has yet to wane. Of all the cool-girl ear piercings we've come across, from multiple ear-grazing pearls to hoops on hoops, there's one that has stuck out to us for its uniqueness and simplicity: the daith piercing. Beyond how aesthetically pleasing they look, they've even been touted for their ability to cure migraines (more on that later).
Below, we're bringing you the need-to-know on everything from pain and placement to healing time and cost, plus whether this lust-worthy piercing will suit your ear shape. With the help of Maria Tash piercer Peter Monckton, all of your questions surrounding daith piercings will be answered, once and for all. Keep scrolling for the rundown on daith piercings.
Placement: Daith piercings hug the inner cartilage of the ear.
Pricing: $30 to $80, plus the cost of the earring
Pain Level: 5/10
Healing Time: Six to nine months to heal completely
Aftercare: It's essential to keep the area clean and regularly disinfect with sterile saline/wound wash spray or a piercing cleaner. Avoid harsh chemicals and don't sleep directly on the piercing until it's somewhat healed.
What Is a Daith Piercing?
With origins rooted in Jewish culture, a daith piercing is a hoop that hugs the cartilage on the inside of your ear. "I've always pronounced it like 'faith,' but within the last several years, people have been pronouncing it 'doth,' which is apparently how Erik Dakota, the person who originally came up with the idea of piercing the crux of the helix (the anatomical area of the ear), pronounced it," says Monckton, who believes a daith piercing suits most people.
Daith Piercings for Migraines
Anecdotally speaking, daith piercings have helped migraine sufferers, though there's no scientific evidence confirming that it actually does alleviate migraines. "There is no scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of daith piercings," says Heather Phillips, MEd, the director of programs and advocacy at the America Migraine Foundation.
In other words, while there are reports of it helping, it may simply be a placebo effect. However, one study did find anecdotal evidence that daith piercings relieved the symptoms of chronic migraine in at least one individual. This may have something to do with the daith piercing occurring on an acupressure point at the innermost cartilage fold of the ear. Keep in mind, though, that experts say the risks—pain and infection at the piercing site, for instance, or nerve damage if the piercing is done incorrectly—may outweigh the benefits.
Pain and Healing Time
As with any piercing (or anything that involves a needle, really), daith piercing pain is a common worry. When compared to a helix piercing which feels like a sharp nip, Monckton laments that the pain associated with a daith piercing feels more like dull pressure. Of course, everyone has a different pain tolerance, and what's painful for some may not be for others. Still, it's widely agreed upon that a daith piercing is slightly more painful than earlobe piercings, as it's placed on a firmer area (the cartilage) where you'll always experience more resistance. "For the piercer, it can take skill—it's maybe a little more fiddly while actually installing the jewelry—but it's not especially painful," says Monckton.
The healing time varies from person to person. "On average, it takes around six to nine months to heal," notes Monckton. "We don't encourage sleeping on new piercings until they've fully healed, but unlike some of the outer-ear piercings, most people can sleep on a daith piercing within a couple of months." You likely won't feel sore throughout the entire healing time, but it's still important to take care of it and maintain cleanliness.
Cost of a Daith Piercing
"Daith piercings are no more expensive than any other inner-ear cartilage piercing," says Monckton. The cost will depend on the location and what jewelry you choose to bedazzle it with, but between $30 to $80 (plus the jewelry) is usually an accurate range. For example, at Maria Tash NYC, a daith piercing costs $30 without the jewelry, (which starts at $65 and bleeds into the triple digits).
You can speed up the healing process (and keep infections at bay) by taking good care of your daith piercing. "For aftercare, you'll need to do a twice-daily cleanse with a sterile saline wound wash and a good flush in the shower," Monckton recommends. Anne Allen, MD, a dermatologist at First Derm, recommends "cleaning with sterile saline (dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of non-iodized, iodine-free sea salt into 1/2 cup) twice daily." The H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray ($8) contains natural ingredients and is sanitary as it's in spray form. Monckton urges resisting the temptation and avoiding touching, twisting, or playing with a new piercing, especially as it heals.
It's also important to swap your pillowcase every few days to avoid a bacterial infection, to avoid harsh chemicals from beauty and hair products and perfumes, and to be mindful of hair accessories like hats and headbands that can snag on the piercing. Allen recommends using a 5% benzoyl peroxide cleanser in the shower, but be sure to thoroughly rinse, "as it can cause irritation." Finally, don't remove your daith piercing before it's finished healing.
Side Effects of Piercing
- Ear anatomy: Because they're placed on the cartilage (versus earlobes), daith piercings rely more on the uniqueness of the cartilage as well as the size and shape of the ear. "Ear shape—specifically anatomically—will dictate if it's even possible to pierce," Monckton explains.
- Inflammation and infection: "Piercing any cartilage of the ear has increased risk of infection and can even lead to inflammation of the cartilage, called chondritis," Allen says. Taking appropriate care of a new piercing will cut down on the risk.
- Blood infection: On the more severe end of things, there's a risk of blood infection such as hepatitis C with piercing. A trusted professional piercer should always use a fresh needle.
- Keloid: Beware of keloids, which are "permanent, thick, pink scars that extend beyond the area pierced," Allen says. "If you have a personal or family history of keloid formation, consider rethinking your decision to pierce any part of your body," as they can be extremely difficult to treat.
How to Change Out a Daith Piercing
It's important not to mess with your daith piercing until it's fully healed in about six to nine months. At the very least, Allen suggests you "wait 12 weeks to take any cartilage piercing out." For best results, return to the piercing salon and get the earring professionally changed, which will help ensure you're not doing so prematurely—and that you won't cause any damage to the piercing. A piercing professional can also give you tips for changing the jewelry on your own in the future.
When you're ready to do it alone, be sure to disinfect the area before and after, and to only touch the piercing with freshly washed hands.
What Type of Jewelry Is Used for a Daith Piercing?
When it comes to daith jewelry, the options are endless, though Monckton encourages ring-style jewelry like hoops, heart-shaped rings, and captive bead hoops. Here are some of the most common choices.
- Captive bead: A captive bead ring (CBR) is a circular hoop earring with a bead suspended in the center that gives the piercing a simple, yet edgy, look.
- Hoops: Hoops in general are a popular choice for a daith since this style of earring hugs the cartilage and is extremely versatile.
- Barbell: A barbell, particularly a curved barbell, can also work for daith piercings. The barbell is a metal bar with balls on the ends, similar to an actual barbell weight. One ball is removable so that you can slide the bar through the piercing.
- Clicker earring: Similar in style to a regular hoop, these earrings have a clicking mechanism that springs open for easy application and removal. Great for beginners!
What Jewelry Material Is Used for a Daith Piercing?
Implant-grade materials like stainless steel, niobium, and titanium won't degrade over extended periods of time and have significantly less nickel content than surgical steel. They're solid hypoallergenic options for a fresh piercing.
Cascio Rizzo A, Paolucci M, Altavilla R, et al. Daith piercing in a case of chronic migraine: a possible vagal modulation. Front Neurol. 2017;8:624. doi:10.3389/fneur.2017.00624
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis C questions and answers.