What Piercing Takes the Shortest Time to Heal?
When considering a new body piercing one of the first things you’ll want to know is, “how quickly will my piercing heal?”
This guide includes the healing time and some information about the most popular piercings.
- The Importance of the Healing Process
- What to Expect from Different Piercings
- Helix (Ear Cartilage)
- Belly Button
The Importance of the Healing Process
From considerations like comfort to changing out jewelry, having a good understanding of your piercing’s healing timeline is very important, and can be a factor when choosing a new body piercing.
While there is a standard length of time for healing for each piercing area, it’s important to be aware of the impacts of your daily activities and hygienic routines on your piercing’s healing time. Learning to properly care for your new piercing will be the difference between not only healing time, but healing quality and fully healed result.
Although everyone’s bodies heal differently, there are main rules of thumb such as cartilage takes a much longer healing time than thin skin areas. On the other hand, there are a few surprising areas such as the tongue – it only takes an average of six weeks to heal while a nose piercing can take more than six months.
Talk to your piercer about what kind of timeline you should expect. The guide below is not one size fits all; piercing healing time can vary with many factors and chatting about it with your piercer is the best way to get accurate information for your individual situation. If you’ve had a piercing before they can gauge your healing timeline based on that experience.
What does it mean for your piercing to be healed?
Well, it means that the skin around the piercing is fully closed and there are no open spots within the skin that could be prone to irritation or infection. A healed piercing can withstand more pressure and friction.
What does that mean for you? Well, you can change out your body jewelry! Being sure to wait till your piercing is fully healed it extremely important to prevent infection and potentially needing to have an area re-pierced. However, with guidance from your piercer about what styles and metals will be best for early swaps while your piercing is still adjusting, you can begin to happily experiment with various styles and enjoy your new piercing to its fullest.
What to Expect from Different Piercings
This list includes a variety of piercings and what you can expect when getting a piercing in each area.
EARLOBE: A vast majority of women have their earlobes pierced, and many men do as well. It is the most common piercing, and, not surprisingly, can heal relatively quickly and easily. It’s also the piercing that people wish to change the jewelry on most frequently. It’s vital to make sure that the piercing is fully healed before changing out your earrings, and even more so before wearing heavier earrings that can pull on the piercing. Wearing earrings that are too heavy before your piercings are healed is a mistake that can lead to discomfort and damage to the scar tissue that requires a new waiting period and additional care and maintenance.
Standard healing time: 6-8 weeks. Earlobes are a simple piercing to perform and can be indicative of your body’s ability and tendencies toward healing in future piercings.
HELIX (an upper cartilage piercing): There are numerous spots on the upper ear that can be pierced, but across the board they are each cartilage piercings with a similar process and healing time. One of the biggest complaints when it comes to cartilage piercings is that they are painful to sleep on. For that reason, many piercers (and pierced people, for that matter!) recommend tackling one side at a time so that you can heal and comfortably sleep on the other side, if you are a side sleeper.
Standard healing time: 6-9 months. Most outer cartilage piercings can be healed in this time, but it’s important to note that many people do take up to 12 months to fully heal from these types of piercings. This is the kind of piercing for which the outcome can be more easily predicted by other piercing experiences, so if you have them share them with your piercer for a better idea of what to expect.
BELLY BUTTON: For the navel, in particular, choosing jewelry that suits your anatomy can shorten healing time and increase overall comfort drastically. Because navels vary in depth, shape, etc. based on body type and the way the umbilical cord was tied, the traditional belly button ring is not suitable for all navels. A “floating navel” piercing is an excellent alternative to the standard belly button piercing and will likely heal more quickly than a piercing less suited to the shape of your navel. It’s important to note that not every navel is suited for piercing at all. Your piercer will be a great resource to determine this and discuss alternatives.
Standard healing time: 9-12 months. This area is particularly sensitive to clothing due to its location and so being cognizant to wear clean, not too-tight clothing is really vital to supporting proper healing.
NOSTRIL: Most piercers do consider the area healed by 6 months, but it can be good to be conservative in this area as it’s on the face and proper healing is extra important! Studs enable faster healing than rings, as rings move around and can get more irritated by everyday tasks such as getting dressed and washing your face.
Due to the location and proximity to bacteria, proper cleaning and care of your nose ring is incredibly important. For more information, check out our blog post How to Put in a Nose Ring [Guide].
Standard healing time: 6-9 months. Be sure to get a well-fitted ring for this initial healing time so you can care for your nose ring and clean it well. Your piercer will have recommendations for you based on the shape of your nose and the placement of the piercing on your nostril.
SEPTUM: Septum rings are increasingly popular and are surprisingly quick to heal. The piercing is done through an especially thin bit of skin right in front of the cartilage of the septum of your nose and behind the thick area between your nostrils. This area is the sweet spot for these kinds of piercings, so you’ll want to double check with your piercer that yours is adequate for the piercing. If it’s too narrow to comfortably fit a piercing you can move back into cartilage but that’s a different type of piercing with a longer healing time.
Standard healing time: 3-4 months. There are a few options for rings for this area but until you can change your jewelry (when it’s fully healed) you might consider whether you’ll want to have a ring or a horseshoe. The benefit of a horseshoe shape is that it can actually be tucked up into your nose while you’re at work or anywhere you’d rather it didn’t show.
EYEBROW: Eyebrow earrings heal pretty quickly but are prone to migrating or being pushed out so it’s better to be on the longer side when estimating healing time. Because of their placement and the fact, they have an entry and exit point along the skin they are considered surface piercings. They are typically place just past the arch of the eyebrow but can really go anywhere along the eyebrow. While your eyebrow piercing is healing don’t get your eyebrows waxed or use a facial cleanser in that area that is not your aftercare cleanser. The more consistent you keep your skincare around your eyebrow the better it will heal.
Standard healing time: 3-5 months. However, as a tricky piercing and one right on your face, it’s recommended to stick to 5 months to be sure it’s fully healed.
NIPPLE: An especially trendy piercing right now, nipple piercings are some of the densest tissue piercings and therefore do require a lengthy wait time before full healing. Though the immediate pain can be a bit intense, it does fade quickly and after a few days of tenderness, the piercings will feel much better pretty soon. This can actually become an issue according to some piercing professionals, because it means people think the aftercare stage is done when really it needs to continue for the full length of healing regardless of how the area feels.
Another consideration is the type of ring used. Hoops aren’t great for the early stages of healing because they can move around far too much, snag on clothing, and lead to other issues. When shopping for a barbell, look for an internally threaded barbell so that the ring is completely smooth and threads comfortably through the piercing.
Standard healing time: 8-12 months. Because everyday activities such as getting dressed, sleeping, or physical contact can irritate the area, it’s best to wait out a full year before considering the piercing healed. A well-cared-for nipple piercing can be completely healed in as little as 8 months, however.
TONGUE: It may be counterintuitive, but tongue piercings are surprisingly fast areas for healing. However, because this piercing is in your mouth, the foods that you eat in the early days of the healing process should be more thoughtfully considered to make eating more pleasant and prevent bits of food and seasonings from getting stuck in the jewelry and making you uncomfortable. Staying away from hot beverages is also a good idea at the beginning.
Standard healing time: 6-8 weeks. Tongues heal very quickly and can fully heal in as few as four weeks, but it’s best to wait somewhere in the range of six to eight weeks. Salt rinses and soft foods will be the story of the first week of healing, but things should start to return to normal after the first week. Your piercer will give you detailed instructions of what you can and cannot do, as well as a timeline for healing and resuming normal activities.
LIP: Both upper and lower lip piercings heal in about the same amount of time, though it’s worth noting that upper lip piercings can be more sensitive than lower lip piercings. Be aware of the shape of your lips as it compares to the diameter of the ring you’re considering. Finding jewelry with a suitable diameter will go a long way in not only being comfortable and wearing well but also looking well on your face.
Standard healing time: 3-4 months. To aid in the quickest possible healing it is recommended to rinse out the mouth and area against the lips with water after eating and be mindful to get jewelry that fits your lip well.
With so many piercing locations and jewelry options, you should be able to find a piercing that truly feels like you and brings you joy. Your piercer is a wealth of knowledge and experience (or at least they should be, don’t be afraid to ask more about their experience!) and should be able to guide you as well.
Knowing a bit more about what to expect in those first days and months of your piercing journey will only help and create a situation where you’re well equipped to care for your piercing and achieve a beautifully healed piercing that you can enjoy for a long time to come.