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The ear-lobe was probably man's first attempt at body piercing due to the ease with which it can be pierced. The oldest mummified body in the world was found frozen in an Austrian Glacier in 1991, tests showed the body to be over 5,000 years old. The body had pierced ears and the holes had been enlarged to 7-11mm diameter.

Ears were probably first pierced for magical purposes, very many primitive tribes believe that demons can enter the body through the ear, because demons and spirits are supposed to be repelled by metal, ear-piercing prevents them entering the body. Sailors used to have an ear pierced to improve eyesight, and if the bodies washed up somewhere it would pay for a christian burial. In many societies ear piercing is done as a puberty ritual, in Borneo the Mother and Father each pierce one ear as a symbol of the child's dependance on their parents.

Ear piercing is an almost universal practice for men and women, it's only in western society that it's deemed effeminate. At various times in history men wore elaborate earrings; during the Elizabethan era many famous men such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raliegh and Francis Drake wore gold rings in their ears.

"As the Roman Republic grew more effeminate with wealth and luxury, earrings were more popular among men than women; no less a he-man than Julius Caesar brought back to repute and fashion the use of rings in the ears of men."

"Jewels & Women; The Romance, Magic and Art of Feminine Adornment" Marianne Ostier, Horizon Press, New York, 1958


The ear-lobe and the Helix are some of the fastest parts of the body to heal, it usually takes 6-10 weeks to heal and problems are very rare. Cartilage piercings however, are more prone to problems, this is because it doesn't heal in the same way as flesh. The most common problem is small lumps which form around the piercing, these are called granulomas and usually occur because the piercing has been knocked or the jewellery has been taken out and re-inserted damaging the wound.

The best course of action to heal Granulomas is to apply hot compresses to the wound once or twice a day. Put a clean paper towel under hot tap water, make sure that it's not hot enough to burn the skin, but hot enough to penetrate the wound. Leave on till the heat dissipates, do this twice a day. If that doesn't work the best course of action is to remove the jewellery for a short period of time to allow the wound to heal. when the lump goes down (usually 4-5 days) the jewellery may be reinserted, however, if the lump starts to come back it's best to leave it heal and have it re-pierced at a later date.

Another problem are "Keloids" these are lumps which come from excessive scar tissue formation, this problem is genetic and people with black or dark skin are especially prone to it. If a Keloid develops it's best to remove the jewellery as they can be very hard to treat, the best treatment is the application of "Cortisone" cream which you must get on prescription from a physician. It has been noted that keloids tend to form more often around the exit hole, due to the action of the needle, which slices a crescent-shaped opening.

If you develop any problems come and see me, I will help you free of charge that is the service that you pay for when you get the piercing, don't be embarrassed to see me it's my job to help you!


Antitragus: A piercing is made through the extrusive ridge of cartilage opposite the tragus. In most cases, a straight or curved barbell is advisable over a ring.

Bridge, Industrial, Ladder: A barbell pierced through the two sides of the upper pinna so that it looks like a bridge. Conch: Piercings made straight through the shell of the ear cartilage. The Conch piercings are sometimes described as either "lower" and "upper", the dividing line being the Crus helix. The piercing is usually done initially with a barbell, but once it's healed a large ball-closure ring may be inserted, spiked labret studs are sometimes worn as well.

"Daith": A piercing made through the Crus helix, the inner-most ridge of cartilage above the Tragus. Of the interior ear cartilage piercings the Daith is usually the most successful as it is not subject to pressure from sleeping and irritation from daily activities.

Helix: Piercings made through or around the upper, curled edge of the ear, including the curled edge towards the face. If the curl is extreme or wide, a piercing made parallel to the plane of the head through the apex of the curl will be more comfortable. In this instance, a piercing made perpendicular to the plane of the head would require a large diameter ring to allow for proper healing which would be too large to comfortably fit between the ear and head.

Lobe: The most common piercing of the ear, can be pierced several times depending on it's size. One of the fastest of all piercings to heal.

Orbital: A ring through the upper conch so that the ring comes out either side.

"Rook": A piercing made through the antihelix, the ridge above the "Daith" ridge. More prone to rejection/migration.

"Snug": A horizontal piercing of the antihelix, across from the tragus. This piercing isn't suitable for all people.

Top-Ear "Pinna": The outer rim of the ear extending from the top of the Helix to the Daith. The second most common piercing, it has become quite popular because it's novel without being to extreme. Usually takes 12 months to heal and is more prone to Granulomas because of hair pulling on it and lying on it during sleep.

Tragus: The prominence of cartilage in front of the opening of the ear canal. This piercing is a little bit more painful than other cartilage piercings because it's very thick, usually takes at least 12 months to heal.

Tranverse: A horizontal piercing through the lobe with a barbell.


Ear piercing studs aren't really suitable for initial piercing because they can't be cleaned properly which can lead to infections. Sleepers are also unsuitable because they have tiny sharp hinges which tear the inside of the piercing causing inflammation and delaying healing. I use ball closure rings (a ring with a ball on it) because they don't come out and have no sharp edges. The only metals which should be used for the healing period are 18ct Gold, Niobium, Titanium or Surgical Stainless Steel.


©Cheyenne Morrison, The Piercing Temple, Australia 98.

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