Last updated
Positions of earrings.jpg
Types of earring: 1) helix/cartilage 2) industrial 3) rook 4) daith 5) tragus 6) snug 7) conch 8) anti-tragus 9) lobe
Location Ear
Jewelry Captive bead ring, barbell, circular barbell, flesh plug
Healing6–12 men

An earring is a piece of jewelry attached to the ear via a piercing in the earlobe or another external part of the ear (except in the case of clip earrings, which clip onto the lobe). Earrings have been worn by people in different civilizations and historic periods, often with cultural significance.


Locations for piercings other than the earlobe include the rook, tragus, and across the helix (see image at right). The simple term "ear piercing" usually refers to an earlobe piercing, whereas piercings in the upper part of the external ear are often referred to as "cartilage piercings". Cartilage piercings are more complex to perform than earlobe piercings and take longer to heal. [1]

Earring components may be made of any number of materials, including metal, plastic, glass, precious stone, beads, wood, bone, and other materials. Designs range from small hoops and studs to large plates and dangling items. The size is ultimately limited by the physical capacity of the earlobe to hold the earring without tearing. However, heavy earrings worn over extended periods of time may lead to stretching of the earlobe and the piercing.


Earrings Ancient Egypt.jpg
Ancient Egyptian earrings, reign of Thutmose III, 15th century BCE
Earring sphinx NMT KP1344-RMI1478 v2.jpg
Greco-Bactrian sphinx earring, 2nd century BCE.
Andhra Pradesh Royal earrings 1st Century BCE.jpg
Golden Indian earrings (Satavahana, 1st century BCE)
gyeongju bubucong geumgwigeoli.jpg
Silla-period Korean earrings (6th century)
Khalili Collection Islamic Art jly 0752.1.jpg
11th century Iranian earrings with pendant chains. Iranian origins confirmed by the reflexive-spiral terminal. Khalili Collection
Arracada d'arengada catalana.png
Catalan herring earrings made of precious metals and gems, 19th century AD
Coin of Phraatakes (Phraates V), Seleucia mint (cropped).jpg
Coin of Phraates V of Parthia, 2-4 AD
The earring of Iranian King Khosrow I, 5th century AD
A fresco depicting an elegantly dressed woman with hoop earrings from Akrotiri, Thera (Cyclades) Greece, c. 1650-1625 BCE. Santorini girl picks flowers.jpg
A fresco depicting an elegantly dressed woman with hoop earrings from Akrotiri, Thera (Cyclades) Greece, c. 1650-1625 BCE.

Ear piercing is one of the oldest known forms of body modification, with artistic and written references from cultures around the world dating back to early history. Gold earrings, along with other jewelry made of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian were found in the ancient sites in Lothal, India, [3] and Sumerian Royal Cemetery at Ur from the Early Dynastic period. [4] [5] [6] Gold, silver and bronze hoop earrings were prevalent in the Minoan Civilization (2000–1600 BCE) and examples can be seen on frescoes on the Aegean island of Santorini, Greece. During the late Minoan and early Mycenaean periods of Bronze Age Greece hoop earrings with conical pendants were fashionable. [7] Early evidence of earrings worn by men can be seen in archeological evidence from Persepolis in ancient Persia. The carved images of soldiers of the Persian Empire, displayed on some of the surviving walls of the palace, show them wearing an earring.

Howard Carter writes in his description of Tutankhamun's tomb that the Pharaoh's earlobes were perforated, but no earrings were inside the wrappings, although the tomb contained some. The burial mask's ears were perforated as well, but the holes were covered with golden discs. That implies that at the time, earrings were only worn in Egypt by children, much like in Egypt of Carter's times. [8]

King George III of Imereti depicted wearing earring. Teramo Castelli, 1630s Giorgi III of Imereti by Castelli.jpg
King George III of Imereti depicted wearing earring. Teramo Castelli, 1630s

Other early evidence of earring-wearing is evident in the Biblical record. In Exodus 32:1–4, it is written that while Moses was up on Mount Sinai, the Israelites demanded that Aaron make a god for them. It is written that he commanded them to bring their sons' and daughters' earrings (and other pieces of jewelry) to him in order that he might comply with their demand (c.1500 BCE). By the classical period, including in the Middle East, as a general rule, they were considered exclusively female ornaments. During certain periods in Greece and Rome also, earrings were worn mainly by women, though they were popular among men in early periods and had resurfaced later on, as famous figures like Plato were known to have worn them. [9] [10] [11]

The practice of wearing earrings was a tradition for Ainu men and women, [12] but the Government of Meiji Japan forbade Ainu men to wear earrings in the late-19th century. [13] Earrings were also commonplace among nomadic Turkic tribes and Korea. Lavish ear ornaments have remained popular in India from ancient times to the present day. And it was common that men and women wear earrings during Silla, Goryeo to Joseon.

In Western Europe, earrings became fashionable among English courtiers and gentlemen in the 1590s during the English Renaissance. A document published in 1577 by clergyman William Harrison, Description of England, states "Some lusty courtiers and gentlemen of courage do wear either rings of gold, stones or pearls in their ears."[ citation needed ] Among sailors, a pierced earlobe was a symbol that the wearer had sailed around the world or had crossed the equator. [14]

By the late 1950s or early 1960s, the practice re-emerged in the Western world. Teenage girls were known to hold ear piercing parties, where they performed the procedure on one another. By the mid-1960s, some physicians offered ear piercing as a service.[ citation needed ] Simultaneously, Manhattan jewelry stores were some of the earliest commercial, non-medical locations for getting an ear piercing.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1960s, ear piercing began to make inroads among men through the hippie and gay communities, although they had been popular among sailors for decades (or longer). [15]

Bague d'oreilles.JPG
An ear cuff
Industrial ohr.JPG
A lobe and industrial piercing

By the early 1970s, ear piercing was common among women, thus creating a broader market for the procedure. Department stores throughout the country would hold ear piercing events, sponsored by earring manufacturers. At these events, a nurse or other trained person would perform the procedure, either pushing a sharpened and sterilized starter earring through the earlobe by hand, or using an ear-piercing instrument modified from the design used by physicians.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1970s, amateur piercings, sometimes with safety pins or multiple piercings, became popular in the punk rock community. By the 1980s, the trend for male popular music performers to have pierced ears helped establish a fashion trend for men. This was later adopted by many professional athletes. British men started piercing both ears in the 1980s; George Michael of Wham! was a prominent example. As of now, it is widely acceptable for teenage and pre-teen boys to have both ears pierced as well simply as a fashion statement.

Newborn baby girl with triple ear piercings - Costa Rica 2012. Multiple ears pierced baby.jpg
Newborn baby girl with triple ear piercings – Costa Rica 2012.

Multiple piercings in one or both ears first emerged in mainstream America in the 1970s. Initially, the trend was for women to wear a second set of earrings in the earlobes, or for men to double-pierce a single earlobe. Asymmetric styles with more and more piercings became popular, eventually leading to the cartilage piercing trend. Double ear piercing in newborn babies is a phenomenon in Central America, in particular in Costa Rica.

A variety of specialized cartilage piercings have since become popular. These include the tragus piercing, antitragus piercing, rook piercing, industrial piercing, helix piercing, orbital piercing, daith piercing, and conch piercing. In addition, earlobe stretching, while common in indigenous cultures for thousands of years, began to appear in Western society in the 1990s, and is now a fairly common sight. However, these forms of ear piercing are still infrequent compared to standard ear piercing.


According to Hindu dharma tradition, most girls and some boys (especially the "twice-born") get their ears pierced as part of a Dharmic rite known as Karnavedha before they are about five years old. Infants may get their ears pierced as early as several days after their birth.

Similar customs are practiced in other Asian countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Laos, although traditionally most males wait to get their ears pierced until they have reached young adulthood.

Ear piercing is mentioned in the Bible in several contexts. The most familiar refers to a Hebrew slave who was to be freed in the seventh year of servitude but wishes to continue serving his master and refuses to go free: "…his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall then remain his slave for life" (Exodus 21:6).

Types of earrings

Modern standard pierced earrings

Barbell earrings

Barbell earrings get their name from their resemblance to a barbell, generally coming in the form of a metal bar with an orb on either end. One of these orbs is affixed in place, while the other can be detached to allow the barbell to be inserted into a piercing. Several variations on this basic design exist, including barbells with curves or angles in the bar of the earring.

Claw earrings

The claw, talon or pincher is essentially a curved taper which is worn in stretched ear lobe piercings. The thickest end is generally flared and may be decorated, and a rubber o-ring may also be used to prevent the talon from becoming dislodged when worn. Common materials include acrylic and glass. A similar item of jewelry is the crescent, or pincher, which as the name suggests, is shaped like a crescent moon and is tapered at both ends. Talons and claws may also be quite ornamental (e.g.: carved in the form of a serpent or dragon). Consequently, they may prove to be an impractical choice of jewelry as they may snag on hair, clothing, etc.

Statement earrings

Statement earrings can be defined as "earrings which invite attention from others by demonstrating bold, original, and unique designs with innovative construction and material combinations". They include one or more of the following design features: [16]

Pair of starter stud earrings. StarterEarrings2.jpg
Pair of starter stud earrings.
  • Dangles
  • Tassels
  • Sparkles
  • Bold or striking colours
  • Hoops
Drop earring in Full Persian 6-in-1 chainmail weave Drop earring in Full Persian 6 in 1 chain mail arp.jpg
Drop earring in Full Persian 6-in-1 chainmail weave

Stud/minimal earrings

Chandbali Earrings, Asansol, West Bengal, India Chandbali Earrings.jpg
Chandbali Earrings, Asansol, West Bengal, India

The main characteristic of stud earrings is the appearance of floating on the ear or earlobe without a visible (from the front) point of connection. Studs are invariably constructed on the end of a post, which penetrates straight through the ear or earlobe. The post is held in place by a removable friction back or clutch (also known as a butterfly scroll). A stud earring features a gemstone or other ornament mounted on a narrow post that passes through a piercing in the ear or earlobe, and is held in place by a fixture on the other side. [17] Studs commonly come in the form of solitaire diamonds. Some stud earrings are constructed so that the post is threaded, allowing a screw back to hold the earring in place securely, which is useful in preventing the loss of expensive earrings containing precious stones, or made of precious metals.

Hoop earrings

Hoop earrings are circular or semi-circular in design and look very similar to a ring. Hoop earrings generally come in the form of a hoop of metal that can be opened to pass through the ear piercing. They are often constructed of metal tubing, with a thin wire attachment penetrating the ear. The hollow tubing is permanently attached to the wire at the front of the ear, and slips into the tube at the back. The entire device is held together by tension between the wire and the tube. Other hoop designs do not complete the circle, but penetrate through the ear in a post, using the same attachment techniques that apply to stud earrings. A variation is the continuous hoop earring. In this design, the earring is constructed of a continuous piece of solid metal, which penetrates through the ear and can be rotated almost 360°. One of the ends is permanently attached to a small piece of metallic tubing or a hollow metallic bead. The other end is inserted into the tubing or bead, and is held in place by tension. One special type of hoop earring is the sleeper earring, a circular wire normally made of gold, with a diameter of approximately one centimeter. Hinged sleepers, which were common in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, comprise two semi-circular gold wires connected via a tiny hinge at one end, and fastened via a small clasp at the other, to form a continuous hoop whose fastening mechanism is effectively invisible to the naked eye. Because their small size makes them unobtrusive and comfortable, and because they are normally otherwise unadorned, sleepers are so-called because they were intended to be worn at night to keep a pierced ear from closing, and were often the choice for the first set of earrings immediately following the ear piercing in the decades before ear-piercing guns using studs became commonplace, but are often a fashion choice in themselves because of their attractive simplicity and because they subtly call attention to the fact that the ear is pierced.

A drop earring attaches to the earlobe and features a gemstone or ornament that dangles down from a chain, hoop, or similar object. The length of these ornaments vary from the very short to the extravagantly long. Such earrings are occasionally known as droplet earrings, dangle earrings, or pendant earrings. They also include chandelier earrings, which branch out into elaborate, multi-level pendants.

Dangle earrings

Dangle earrings in a fair in India Earrings in a fair in India.jpg
Dangle earrings in a fair in India
A selection of dangle earrings Traditional Earrings.jpg
A selection of dangle earrings

Dangle earrings (also known as drop earrings) are designed to suspend from the bottoms of the earlobes. Their lengths vary from a centimeter or two, all the way to brushing the wearer's shoulders. A pierced dangle earring is generally attached to the ear with a thin wire passing through the earlobe. It may connect to itself with a small hook at the back, or in the French hook design, the wire passes through the earlobe piercing without closure, although small plastic or silicone retainers are sometimes used on ends. Rarely, dangle earrings use the post attachment design. There are also variants that attach without piercing.

Huggy earrings

Huggy earrings are hoops that closely follow the curve of the earlobe, instead of dangling down beneath it as in regular hoop earrings. Commonly, stones are channel set in huggy earrings.

Ear thread

Ear thread, or earthreader, ear string, or threader earrings, are a chain that is thin enough to slip into the ear hole, dangling down at the back. Sometimes, people add beads or other materials onto the chain, so the chain dangles with beads below the ear.

Jhumka earrings

A type of dangling bell-shaped traditional earrings mostly worn by women of Indian subcontinent.[ citation needed ]

Chandelier earrings

Chandelier earrings have an appearance similar to that of chandeliers, with a design that dangles below the ear and is wider at the base than the top.

Body piercing jewelry used as earrings

A navel curve used as an earring with a green gemmed ear stud above it Navel Curve As Earring.jpg
A navel curve used as an earring with a green gemmed ear stud above it

Body piercing jewelry is often used for ear piercings, and is selected for a variety of reasons including the availability of larger gauges, better piercing techniques, and a reduced risk of healing complications.

Gauges and other measuring systems

For an explanation of how earring sizes are denoted, see the article Body jewelry sizes.

Clip-on and other non-pierced earrings

Modern lobe earring screwed onto the lobe. Modern lobe earring (01).jpg
Modern lobe earring screwed onto the lobe.

Several varieties of non-pierced earrings exist.

Permanent earrings

Where most earrings worn in the western world are designed to be removed easily to be changed at will, earrings can also be permanent (non-removable). They were once used as a mark of slavery or ownership. [19] They appear today in the form of larger gauge rings which are difficult or impossible for a person to remove without assistance. Occasionally, hoop earrings are permanently installed by the use of solder, [20] though this poses some risks due to toxicity of metals used in soldering and the risk of burns from the heat involved. Besides permanent installations, locking earrings are occasionally worn due to their personal symbolism or erotic value.

Ear piercing

Pierced ears are earlobes or the cartilage portion of the external ears which have had one or more holes created in them for the wearing of earrings. The holes may be permanent or temporary. The holes become permanent when a fistula is created by scar tissue forming around the initial earring.

Conch piercing

A conch piercing is a perforation of the part of the external human ear called the "concha", for the purpose of inserting and wearing jewelry. Conch piercings have become popular among young women in recent decades as part of a trend for multiple ear piercings. [21]

Helix piercing

The helix piercing is a perforation of the helix or upper ear cartilage for the purpose of inserting and wearing a piece of jewelry. The piercing itself is usually made with a small gauge hollow piercing needle, and typical jewelry would be a small diameter captive bead ring, or a stud. [22]

Sometimes, two helix piercings hold the same piece of jewelry, usually a barbell, which is called an industrial piercing.

The information that helix piercings do not have nerve endings and do not hurt is completely false. They do hurt like any other cartilage piercing and bumping or tugging on them by accident during healing can be extremely painful. However, when they are left alone and not being irritated or touched, they typically do not hurt at all. Being careful of shifting the piercing at all during healing, which can take 6 to 9 months, is essential.

Snug piercing

A snug (or antihelix) piercing is a piercing which passes through the anti-helix of the ear from the medial to lateral surfaces. [23]

Spiral piercing

Ear Spirals made out of glass. Glass Ear Spirals.jpg
Ear Spirals made out of glass.

An ear spiral is a thick spiral that is usually worn through the earlobe. It is worn in ears that have been stretched and normally held in place only by its own downward pressure. Glass ear spirals are shown but many materials are used. Some designs are quite ornate and may include decorative appendages flaring from the underlying concentric pattern.

Piercing techniques

A variety of techniques are used to pierce ears, ranging from "do it yourself" methods using household items to medically sterile methods using specialized equipment.

A long-standing home method involves using ice as a local anesthetic, a sewing needle as a puncture instrument, a burning match and rubbing alcohol for disinfection, and a semi-soft object, such as a potato, cork, bar of soap or rubber eraser, as a push point. Sewing thread may be drawn through the piercing and tied, as a device for keeping the piercing open during the healing process. Alternatively, a gold stud or wire earring may be directly inserted into the fresh piercing as the initial retaining device. Home methods are often unsafe and risky due to issues of improper sterilization or placement.

Another method for piercing ears, first made popular in the 1960s, was the use of sharpened spring-loaded earrings known as self-piercers,trainers, or sleepers, which gradually pushed through the earlobe. However, these could slip from their initial placement position, often resulting in more discomfort, and many times would not go all the way through the earlobe without additional pressure being applied. This method has fallen into disuse due to the popularity of faster and more successful piercing techniques.

An ear being pierced with an ear piercing instrument Earpiercing.jpg
An ear being pierced with an ear piercing instrument
Pierced ear with traditional starter stud GirlWithEarring.jpg
Pierced ear with traditional starter stud

Ear piercing instruments, sometimes called ear-piercing guns, were originally developed for physician use but with modifications became available in retail settings. [24] Today more and more people in the Western world have their ears pierced with an ear piercing instrument in specialty jewellery or accessory stores, or at home using disposable ear piercing instruments. An earlobe piercing performed with an ear piercing instrument is often described as feeling similar to being pinched, or being snapped by a rubber band. Piercing with this method, especially for cartilage piercings, is not recommended by many piercing professionals and physicians, as it can cause blunt force trauma to the skin, and takes far longer to heal than needle piercing. In addition, the vast majority of ear piercing instruments are made of plastic, which means they can never be truly sterilized by use of an Autoclave, increasing chance of infection exponentially. In the case of cartilage piercing, doing it with an ear piercing instrument can shatter the ear cartilage and lead to serious complications.

An alternative which is growing in practice is the use of a hollow piercing needle, as is done in body piercing. The piercer disinfects the earlobe with alcohol and puts a mark on the lobe with a pen. It gives the opportunity to the client to check whether the position is correct or not. Then, the piercer uses a clamp with flat ends and holes at the end to hold the earlobe, with the dot in the middle of the holes. This device will support the skin during the piercing process. A cork can be placed behind the earlobe to stop the movement of the needle after the piercing process, and protect the tip of the needle for the client's comfort. Then, the piercer places the hollow needle perpendicular to the skin's surface and check the position of the needle, to pierce at the desired place and the right angle. The piercing process consists of pushing the needle through the earlobe, until it gets out in the other side. The client has to remain still during all the process. Then, the clamp can be put off. After that, the piercer puts the jewel in the hollow needle and pushes the needle through until the jewel enters into the lobe. Then, the needle is removed and disposed properly. The jewel is attached to the lobe and the piercer disinfects the lobe again.

In tribal cultures and among some neo-primitive body piercing enthusiasts, the piercing is made using other tools, such as animal or plant organics.

Initial healing time for an earlobe piercing performed with an ear piercing instrument is typically six to eight weeks. After that time, earrings can be changed, but if the hole is left unfilled for an extended period of time, there is some risk of the piercing closing. Piercing professionals recommend wearing earrings in the newly pierced ears for at least six months, and sometimes even a full year. Cartilage piercing will usually require more healing time than earlobe piercing, sometimes two to three times as long. After healing, earlobe piercings will shrink to smaller gauges in the prolonged absence of earrings, and in most cases will completely disappear.

Health risks

The health risks with conventional earlobe piercing are common but tend to be minor, particularly if proper technique and hygienic procedures are followed. One study found that up to 35 percent of persons with pierced ears had one or more complications, including minor infection (77 percent of pierced ear sites with complications), allergic reaction (43 percent), keloids (2.5 percent), and traumatic tearing (2.5 percent). [25] Pierced ears are a significant risk factor for contact allergies to the nickel in jewelry. [26] Earlobe tearing during the healing period or after healing is complete can be minimized by not wearing earrings, especially wire-based dangle earrings, during activities in which they are likely to become snagged, such as while playing sports. Also, larger gauge jewelry will lessen the chance of the earring being torn out.[ citation needed ]

With cartilage piercing, the blunt force of an ear piercing instrument will traumatize the cartilage, and therefore make healing more difficult. Also, because there is substantially less blood flow in ear cartilage than in the earlobe, infection is a much more serious issue. There have been several documented cases of severe infections of the upper ear following piercing with an ear piercing instrument, which required courses of antibiotics to clear up. There are many ways that an infection can occur: the most common way is when the person that got pierced decides to take out the piercing too early. According to the A.M.A. [27] [ failed verification ] the proper waiting period to change or take out a piercing with substantially less risk of infection would be three weeks.

For all ear piercings, the use of a sterilized hollow piercing needle tends to minimize the trauma to the tissue and minimize the chances of contracting a bacterial infection during the procedure. As with any invasive procedure, there is always a risk of infection from blood borne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV. However, modern piercing techniques make this risk extremely small (the risk being greater to the piercer than to the pierced due to the potential splash-back of blood). There has never been a documented case of HIV transmission due to ear/body piercing or tattooing, although there have been instances of the Hepatitis B virus being transmitted through these practices. [28]

Negative effects of wearing earrings in light of research

The most frequent complications connected with wearing earrings are: [29]

  • inflammation
  • keloids
  • loss of tissue by tearing
  • mechanical division of earlobes
  • potential skin disorder

Researchers observed a correlation between the piercing of young girls' earlobes and subsequent development of allergies. [30] [31] [32]

In Professor Ewa Czarnobilska's view (the manager of the research team) the main reason of allergy (listed by allergists) is presence of nickel as a component of alloys used in the production of earrings – however the ingredients declared by producer are not significant, because nickel is a standard component of jewellery. [31] [32]

Symptoms of allergy are visible as eczema. This symptom is often justified to be food allergy (e.g. to milk), meanwhile the reason is contact with the earring (precisely nickel ions) with the lymphatic system. [31] [32]

Ceasing of wearing earrings by children does not result in vanishing allergy symptoms. The immune system remembers the presence of nickel ions that existed in someone's blood and lymph. Even though the children ceased wearing earrings, it can appear as an allergic reaction to: [31] [32]

  • metal parts of wardrobe
  • dental braces
  • dental prosthesis
  • orthotics
  • meals cooked in pots with addition of nickel
  • margarine (nickel is a catalyst in hydrogenation of unsaturated fats)
  • coins
  • chocolate
  • nuts
  • leguminous vegetables
  • wine
  • beer

Research studying a sample of 428 pupils, age seven and eight, and sixteen and seventeen noticed that: [31] [32]

  • thirty percent of population were allergic to nickel
  • allergy occurred for many girls who had started wearing earrings in early childhood

Other symptoms of allergy to nickel are: [31] [32]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Navel piercing</span> Type of piercing located in, or around, the navel

A navel piercing is a type of piercing located through the skin of the navel. It is most commonly located on the upper fold of skin, but can also be effected underneath or around the edges of the navel. It may heal quickly and with no irritations, like an ear piercing, or may heal more like a surface piercing with the associated extended healing time. Healing usually takes around 6–12 months, but varies by person due to differences in physiology. Navel piercings reject less frequently than most other surface piercings, but the rejection rate is nonetheless higher than non-surface piercings. A properly effected navel piercing involves piercing the skin surrounding the navel with the initial wound inside of the navel canal. This can be done at any angle where there is a clear flap of skin, but the most prevalent form of navel piercing is through the upper rim of the navel.

A clitoral hood piercing is a genital piercing through the clitoral hood surrounding the clitoris. There are two main types of hood piercing: the vertical clitoral hood piercing and the horizontal clitoral hood piercing. As the name indicates, the difference is in the direction the piercing is oriented in the skin above the clitoris. Neither of these piercings penetrates the clitoris itself.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nose piercing</span> Piercing of the skin or cartilage of the nose for wearing jewelry

Nose piercing is the piercing of the skin or cartilage which forms any part of the nose, normally for the purpose of wearing jewelry, called a nose-jewel. Among the different varieties of nose piercings, the nostril piercing is the most common.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eyebrow piercing</span> Type of body piercing

An eyebrow piercing is a vertical surface piercing, wherein a twelve to eighteen gauge cannula needle is inserted through the bottom of the eyebrow and exits through the top of the eyebrow to permit insertion of jewellery. Those performing the piercing may use a pennington clamp to better guide the needle through the skin. A curved barbell is the most common jewellery inserted post-piercing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tongue piercing</span> Type of body piercing

A tongue piercing is a body piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue. Since its decline in popularity around 2011, it has seen a recent upsurge making it now the second most popular piercing amongst young women aged 18-25 in 2019. It remains unpopular amongst men. Midline tongue piercings, or one hole through the center of the tongue is the most common way to have the tongue pierced.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tragus piercing</span> Cosmetic perforation of part of the ear

A tragus piercing is the perforation of the tragus, which projects immediately in front of the ear canal, for the purpose of inserting and wearing a piece of jewelry. The piercing itself is usually made with a small gauge hollow piercing needle, and typical jewelry would be a small diameter captive bead ring or small gauge post style piercing jewelry. A related piercing is known as the antitragus piercing.

In modern Western body piercing, a wide variety of materials are used. Some cannot be autoclaved, and others may induce allergic reactions, or harbour bacteria. Certain countries, such as those belonging to the EU, have legal regulations specifying which materials can be used in new piercings.

Body piercing jewelry is jewelry manufactured specifically for use in body piercing. The jewelry involved in the art of body piercing comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes in order to best fit the pierced site. Jewelry may be worn for fashion, cultural tradition, religious beliefs, personal symbolism, and many other reasons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ear piercing instrument</span>

An ear piercing instrument is a device designed to pierce earlobes by driving a pointed starter earring through the lobe. Piercing guns may be reusable or disposable. Piercing guns are typically used in mall jewelry shops.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barbell (piercing)</span> Type of piercing

Barbell style piercing jewelry is composed of a straight bar with a bead on each end, one or both beads unscrewable for removal and/or changing of the beads. Often one of the beads is fixed, either via epoxy or welding, so that only one bead is used to install or remove the jewelry. Barbell threads are usually right-handed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Industrial piercing</span> Type of double hole body piercing

An industrial piercing, also known as a scaffold piercing (UK/Ireland) or construction piercing, is any ear piercing that consists of two pierced holes connected with a single piece of jewelry. These piercings typically consist of a double perforation of the upper ear cartilage specifically. Two piercings must be made: one is fairly close to the head, while the second one is further down the helix on the opposite side of the ear. Industrial piercings that are vertical are also known as a suicide industrial.

Stretching, in the context of body piercing, is the deliberate expansion of a healed piercing for the purpose of wearing certain types of jewelry. Ear piercings are the most commonly stretched piercings, with nasal septum piercings, tongue piercings and lip piercings/lip plates following close behind. While all piercings can be stretched to some degree, cartilage piercings are usually more difficult to stretch and more likely to form hypertrophic scars if stretched quickly. Dermal punching is generally the preferred method for accommodating larger jewelry in cartilage piercings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rook (piercing)</span> Type of body piercing

A rook piercing is a perforation of the antihelix of the ear for the purpose of wearing jewelry. It is located just above the tragus on the ridge between the inner and outer conch with the piercing passing from the underside to the top of this ridge, differing from many ear piercings that essentially span between a "front" and "back" surface. Erik Dakota, a well known professional piercer and the individual responsible for originating and popularizing the rook piercing, is said to have named this modification after a shortened version of his first name. The piercing was first named in issue #4 of the magazine Body Play and Modern Primitives Quarterly around 1992 alongside the first printed reference to the industrial piercing, then termed "industrial ear project".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earlobe</span> Part of the ear

The human earlobe, the lower portion of the outer ear, is composed of tough areolar and adipose connective tissues, lacking the firmness and elasticity of the rest of the auricle. In some cases the lower lobe is connected to the side of the face. Since the earlobe does not contain cartilage it has a large blood supply and may help to warm the ears and maintain balance. However, earlobes are not generally considered to have any major biological function. The earlobe contains many nerve endings, and for some people is an erogenous zone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daith piercing</span> Type of ear piercing

A daith piercing is an ear piercing that passes through the ear's innermost cartilage fold, the crus of the helix.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orbital piercing</span> Type of double hole body piercing

An orbital piercing is a combination of two ear piercings connected by one piece of jewelry. Usually located in the helix region of the ear, an Orbital Piercing can be done anywhere on the body including your earlobes. The piercing uses a hoop, and is not to be confused with an industrial piercing, a conch piercing or double cartilage piercing.

A cartilage piercing can refer to any area of cartilage on the body with a perforation created for the purpose of wearing jewelry. The two most common areas with cartilage piercings are the ear and the nose. Many people outside of the body modification community often informally use the term "cartilage piercing" to refer a helix piercing. The cartilage ear piercing is known to be more sore than the lobe as in the cartilage there is less blood so it takes longer to heal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plug (jewellery)</span> Piece of jewelry

A plug, in the context of body modification, is a short, cylindrical piece of jewelry commonly worn in larger-gauge body piercings. Modern western plugs are also called flesh tunnels. Because of their size—which is often substantially thicker than a standard metal earring—plugs can be made out of almost any material. Acrylic glass, metal, wood, bone, stone, horn, glass, silicone or porcelain are all potential plug materials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Body piercing</span> Form of body modification

Body piercing, which is a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn, or where an implant could be inserted. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice. It can also, by metonymy, refer to the resulting decoration, or to the decorative jewelry used. Piercing implants alter body and/or skin profile and appearance. Although the history of body piercing is obscured by popular misinformation and by a lack of scholarly reference, ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms by multiple sexes since ancient times throughout the world. Body piercing can be performed on people of all ages, although most minors are only permitted to have earlobe piercings.

Ear piercing is one of the oldest forms of body modification. It occurs when holes are created on the ear lobes or cartilage to allow the insertion of decorative ornaments, such as earrings. Ear piercing in children has been around for centuries as part of ritualistic and cultural traditions but has continued to become a worldwide mainstream fashion statement. It is extremely common in Nigeria, India, Brazil and Hispanic countries.


  1. Davis, Jeanie. "Piercing? Stick to Earlobe". WebMD. WebMD. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  2. Kleiner, Fred S. (2015). Gardner's Art through the Ages: Backpack Edition, Book A: Antiquity. [ ]: Cengage Learning. pp. 90–91. ISBN   9781305544895. Two elegantly dressed young women bedecked with bracelets and hoop earrings gather crocuses. [...] Crocus gatherers, detail of the east wall of room 3 of building Xeste 3, Akrotiri, Thera (Cyclades) Greece, c. 1650-1625 BCE
  3. Ornament in Indian Architecture. University of Delaware Press. 1991. p. 14. ISBN   9780874133998.
  4. "Earring — ca. 2600–2500 B.C." MetMuseum.org. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  5. "Jewelry from The Royal Tombs of Ur". sumerianshakespeare.com. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  6. "Queen Puabi's Headdress from the Royal Cemetery at Ur - Penn Museum". www.penn.museum. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  7. Pitts-Taylor, Victoria (2008). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body [2 volumes]. [ ]: ABC-CLIO. pp. 94–95. ISBN   9781567206913. The Fayum mummy portraits from Hawara dating from the first to the third centuries CE depict several females with various styles of earrings. In most cases, the portraits are thought to represent Greek colonists living in Egypt. Some early Greeks wore earrings for the purposes of fashion as well as protection against evil. The popularity of earrings is evident in major cultures of the ancient world. In the middle Minoan period (2000–1600 BCE), gold, silver, and bronze hoop earrings with tapered ends were popular. In the late Minoan and early Mycenaean periods, the hoop evolved with a conical pendant.
  8. The Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen: Discovered by the Late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter, Volume 3, pp. 74–75
  9. Chisholm 1911, p. 798.
  10. Notopoulos, James A. (1940). "Porphyry's Life of Plato". Classical Philology. 35 (3): 284–293. doi:10.1086/362396. ISSN   0009-837X. JSTOR   264394. S2CID   161160877.
  11. "Perseus Under Philologic: Diog. Laert. 3.1.43". anastrophe.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2022-12-07.
  12. Sherrow, Victoria (2001). For appearance' sake: the historical encyclopedia of good looks, beauty, and grooming. Greenwood Publishing Group via Google Books. p. 101.
  13. Ito, Masami (May 20, 2008). "Ainu: indigenous in every way but not by official fiat". The Japan Times . Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  14. Demello, Margo (2007). Encyclopedia of body adornment. ISBN   978-0-313-33695-9.
  15. Hall, Trish (1991-05-19). "Piercing Fad Is Turning Convention on Its Ear". The New York Times .
  16. Graves, Treva (2019-05-21). The Style File: A Woman's Guide to Dress for Success. Page Publishing Inc. ISBN   978-1-64462-832-4.
  17. Erlanger, Micaela (2018-04-03). How to Accessorize: A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. ISBN   978-1-5247-6115-8.
  18. The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing, Elayne Angel Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale, 16 Feb 2011, p72
  19. e.g., see Exodus 21:2–6, Deuteronomy 15:16–17
  20. "No earrings give Cordone midas touch". BBC News . 2000-08-27. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  21. Kale, Sirin (3 July 2019). "The curated ear: why delicate, decorative piercings are the new tattoos". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. Edwards, Jess (13 December 2018). "Everything you need to know about helix piercings". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  23. "Snug" Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine on BMEzine Encyclopedia Archived 2011-04-20 at the Wayback Machine
  24. Erica Weir (2001-03-20). "Canadian Medical Association Journal – Navel gazing: a clinical glimpse at body piercing". CMAJ. 164 (6): 864. PMC   80907 . PMID   11276561 . Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  25. Meltzer DI (2005). "Complications of body piercing". Am Fam Physician. 72 (10): 2029–34. PMID   16342832. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  26. Thyssen JP, Linneberg A, Menné T, Johansen JD (2007). "The epidemiology of contact allergy in the general population—prevalence and main findings". Contact Dermatitis. 57 (5): 287–99. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2007.01220.x. PMID   17937743. S2CID   44890665.
  27. "American Medical Association". Ama-assn.org. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  28. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CDC Fact Sheet: HIV and Its Transmission". Cdc.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  29. Watson D. (Feb 2012). "Torn Earlobe Repair". Liver International. 35 (1): 187.
  30. Harmful earrings (pl. Szkodliwe kolczyki) Fizjointormator. Retrieved 2015-04-01
  31. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Polscy naukowcy ostrzegają: kolczyki szkodzą dzieciom" [Polish scientists warn: earrings harm children]. TVN24.pl (in Polish). 2014-08-26. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Czarnobilska E.; Oblutowicz K.; Dyga W.; Wsołek-Wnek K.; Śpiewak R. (May 2009). "Contact hypersensitivity and allergic contact dermatitis among school children and teenagers with eczema". Contact Dermatitis. 60 (5): 264–269. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01537.x . PMID   19397618. S2CID   30920753.

Further reading