A new piercing can be a great way to instantly upgrade your look, but it also requires commitment. Since you're creating a new hole in your body, you'll have to clean it and be careful around the area while it heals, which can take several months but varies depending on the site and person. Whether you're deciding how to build upon your earscape or considering options on your face and body, healing time can play an important role in your decision. Ahead, we spoke to three piercing experts and a dermatologist to learn about nine of the fastest-healing piercings, complete with timelines and further information on the sensitivity of each area.
Meet the Expert
- Lisa Bubbers is the co-founder and chief brand officer of Studs, an ear piercing studio with locations around the US.
- Perry Doig is a professional piercer at Fiat Lux in San Francisco and a member of the Association of Professional Piercers.
- Mona Kim is a professional piercer and ear specialist at Atelier Eva in Brooklyn, New York.
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Estimated Piercing Healing Times
According to Perry Doig, a professional piercer at Fiat Lux in San Francisco and member of the Association of Professional Piercers, most piercings can be grouped into a few different healing times. For example, when it comes to ears, his rule of thumb is that piercings on the lobe take around three months, and other parts of the ear usually take around six. “The same goes for facial piercings, with some exceptions,” he says, “Septum piercings are the quickest to heal at around eight to ten weeks. Most lip piercings heal in around three months, and nostrils (cartilage) take roughly six months.”
Lisa Bubbers, the co-founder and chief brand officer at Studs, points out that while benchmark healing times are important, they don't always go as planned. “Healing times can vary for everyone,” she says, “It’s dependent on factors such as your ear anatomy, your piercing placement, and your aftercare regimen.” If you're getting a new piercing, be prepared for the healing period to vary, and continue the necessary aftercare until it looks and feels fully healed—cleaning it and being gentle around the area for a little bit longer can only help you.
Another factor that can complicate healing time is if you develop a piercing bump, keloid, or infection. Irritation bumps often happen in the first few months, when the piercing is still sensitive. If you experience one of these, you'll want to be gentle, patient, and keep the area clean to get back on track. Keloids are raised scars that occur after a wound has healed—and far less common than you think—and if you get one, you'll want to consult with your piercer or a medical professional, as there are several different at-home and in-office remedies you can try. If you get an infected piercing, you'll want to redouble your cleaning efforts and consider if any factors (like jewelry material or lifestyle) may have caused it, plus consult a professional if it seems particularly bad or won't go away. All of these are likely to extend your healing time, but the right aftercare can help with both preventing and resolving these—more on that later.
The Fastest-Healing Piercings
The septum piercing (a.k.a. a piercing through the soft tissue in between your nostrils) is one of the fastest-healing and lowest-irritation piercing zones. Unlike the nostril, the septum is exposed to fewer bacteria and is known to be a quick healer. Doig recommends giving this area eight to ten weeks to heal.
Your earlobes are perhaps the most common spot for a piercing thanks to their quick healing time and the virtually painless experience. “Piercings that go through soft tissue tend to heal quickly and without complications,” says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Piercings that are placed in areas where there is friction or sweating also are more likely to become infected.” Given the lobe’s location, this aids the process.
Professional piercer and Atelier Eva ear specialist Mona Kim categorizes earlobe healing time as six to eight weeks, though depending on where you get it done, it can take longer. “When seeking an earlobe piercing, be sure to steer clear from the mall and visit a professional piercer instead,” Kim says, “If the earlobe becomes traumatized from incorrect techniques, it will take longer to heal.” For a more advanced look without the prolonged healing time, Bubbers suggests trying a stacked lobe.
Despite its bold location, the eyebrow piercing is relatively quick to heal. “With the eyebrows, there is less skin involved, as it is a surface piercing,” Kim says. “These piercings usually take two to three months to heal.” The thinner tissue is a double-edged sword: If fiddled with too much, the piercing can move, and in some cases, the skin can even reject the piercing. Make sure to regularly disinfect the area, especially during the healing process.
Surprisingly enough, the tongue is one of the quicker places for piercings to heal. “The tongue is made up of two muscles and wrapped in mucus membranes,” Kim explains. “When a tongue piercing heals correctly, the body treats the wound like a scar.” Additionally, the mucus membranes in your tongue and cheeks are different from typical skin cells because they have a more simple structure that gives them easier access to the blood supply.
Believe it or not, the oral bacteria present in the mouth help with reducing inflammation of the wound, Kim tells us. As a result, the healing time is predicted to be two to four months when cared for correctly.
Like the earlobe, the conch tends to heal quickly, but it's not quite as painless. Pain is different for everyone, but the conch piercing goes through the center of the ear, which is much thicker tissue than the lobe. Doig labels the healing time as around six months, but it can take a little longer depending on your behaviors.
To keep the healing of your conch piercing on track, Doig recommends avoiding earbuds, mask ear loops, and in some cases, glasses. “During healing, we want to limit certain behaviors; however, once the piercing is fully healed, none of these should pose any risk,” he says, “As for maintenance, light irrigation with sterile saline a few times a day mitigates any discharge from the piercing site.”
The nostril piercing takes longer to heal than the septum, but it still made the list. The nose is covered in soft cartilage, and this piercing can be placed just about anywhere. Our pros agree the healing time takes roughly six months on average, but that time can be easily disrupted as the area can get infected or irritated if you touch it too much.
Before getting a piercing, have your piercer use a marker to place a dot on the area you want to pierce, so you can be sure where it will be.
The daith falls into the “advanced cartilage” category. Located on the ear's inner cartilage, a piercing in this area pinches a little more than the lobe. Most piercings above the lobe have similar healing times, and this one is no exception. Plan on at least six months (or up to nine, depending on the person) for this area to heal.
Located right above your tragus, the forward helix is a trendy spot for a stud or a small hoop. The cartilage in this area is a little bit thicker than other parts of your ear, so expect a little more pain post-piercing. Like the other piercings on this list, you can expect this one to heal in about six to nine months, but it could be longer depending on sensitivity and how well you take care of it.
This spot is colloquially known as piercing your cartilage. However, since your ear (and your body quite frankly) is full of cartilage, “the flat” is the way to differentiate. A flat helix piercing typically describes the large section of relatively flat cartilage located between your outer and forward helixes, and this space can really allow you to get creative—if you're ready to deal with the healing time.
Even though the cartilage here is a little thinner than the nose, some report that this area is even more sensitive than the nostril or the forward helix. The experience is different for everyone, but if you're worried about pain, try bringing a stress ball to your appointment to squeeze when necessary. Like other piercings above the lobe, you can expect six to nine months of healing time for this one.
Don't Touch Your Healing Piercing
All of our pros agreed the best way to facilitate healing is to avoid touching and twisting the jewelry at the piercing site. “Our bodies are incredibly good at healing themselves, so we want to stay out of its way as best we can,” Doig says. For ear piercings, Kim suggests avoiding sleeping on the affected side.
Choose High-Quality Jewelry
First and foremost, Doig recommends starting with a stud and avoiding butterfly backings (go for a flat back if you can). “These will give you ample room to swell and a much more comfortable backing shape for long term wear,” he says. “It will also allow the area to swell in its natural direction (front and back) without jewelry pulling against the piercing.”
However, not all studs are created equal. “Piercing jewelry should be constructed with implant-grade metals for safety and healing,” Bubbers says. Her aptly named brand, Studs, offers that along with flat backs for limited irritation. Kim loves the Maison Miru Titanium Little Sphere Nap Earrings ($80) for their ultra-comfy wear.
Clean Your Piercing Regularly
“The key to fast and proper healing is to keep the area clean,” Kim says. For an easy-to-follow cleaning regimen, Doig suggests light irrigation with sterile saline a few times a day—there's no need to follow things up with a cleanser or disinfectant. “If the saline doesn't remove everything, you can let your shower head run over the piercing for a few minutes to loosen things up in a low-impact, no-contact way,” he says. Bubbers recommends drying the piercing site with disposable paper towels. “Cloth can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, which can cause injury,” she says.