Of all the ways to pierce your ears, an industrial piercing is one of the most eye-catching. It’s also more complicated than many other ear piercings, so if you’ve been thinking about one but still aren’t sure, you’re in the right place. Here we’ll try to answer some of the most common questions about industrial piercings.
What is an industrial piercing?
Unlike other ear piercings, an industrial is actually two (or even more) piercings of the ear cartilage joined by a single piece of jewelry. The most common location for an industrial piercing is through the helix, the thick ridge of cartilage along the top of the ear. One piercing goes through the forward helix, near where the ear meets the skull, and the other goes through the rear helix, near the back of the ear. There are also other options for industrial piercing combinations. For example, an industrial piercing could join helix and daith piercings, or rook and conch piercings. To get a better sense of the possible combinations, take a look at our ear piercing FAQ.
Do industrial piercings hurt?
As with any piercing, you should expect some sharp pain as the needle pierces your skin, but how much it hurts will depend on your own particular pain tolerance as well as what industrial configuration you choose. In general, however, industrial piercings are more painful than earlobe piercings because they are through cartilage, which is firmer and harder to pierce, and because industrials require two piercings at once.
Do your ears need to be a certain shape or size to get an industrial piercing?
The size of your ear doesn’t matter — your piercer will use a shorter or longer barbell to fit your ear. However, the helix is not large and defined enough to accommodate an industrial piercing for some people. It’s possible that for those with a smaller helix ridge, the piercer could use 16-gauge jewelry instead of the standard 14-gauge. If you’re considering an industrial piercing, you should set up a consultation with a trusted piercer to see what they recommend.
Where should I get my industrial piercing done?
As with any body piercing, make sure you find a reputable and trusted piercer. Online tools like Google and Yelp make it easier than ever, though you can also ask friends for recommendations. Once you find a piercer you like, set up a consultation to discuss what you’re looking for. For more information on selecting a piercer, check out our tips from the Association of Professional Piercers and article on Choosing a Piercer.
How much does an industrial piercing cost?
Although total costs will vary depending on where you are and the style of jewelry you select, you should expect to pay about $50 for the piercing itself. In a bigger city, it may be more expensive.
What types of jewelry can I wear in my industrial piercing?
The beauty of an industrial piercing is that it can accommodate many different styles of jewelry, making it highly personal and customizable. By far the most common jewelry for an industrial piercing is an industrial barbell, which can be plain and simple or decorated with charms, jewels, opals, or other internally threaded or externally threaded ends. There are also curved, looped, and zig-zag barbells, or you can switch up the look entirely and wear separate pieces of jewelry, expanding your options to include labret studs, bent barbells, seamless rings, or captive bead rings.
How long does it take for an industrial piercing to heal?
The average healing time for an industrial piercing is about six months, though that timeline could be reduced or extended by a number of factors. Immediately after you get your industrial piercing, you can expect it to be somewhat swollen, tender, and red. This is normal and should subside after about a month. During the initial healing period, some people choose to wear smaller, simpler jewelry like labrets, seamless rings, or captive bead rings, which are less likely to catch on hair and put less pressure on healing piercings.
In order to keep healing time as short as possible, make sure you do the following:
- Keep long hair tied back, as it could get tangled in your jewelry and pull on the piercing.
- Sleep on the opposite side of your piercing. If you’re normally a side sleeper, you may want to pierce the ear opposite your normal sleeping side.
- Take care of yourself. Get a full night’s sleep and eat well. A healthy, rested body will heal faster.
- Practice good piercing aftercare.
What is the aftercare regimen for an industrial piercing?
The aftercare routine for an industrial piercing is similar to any other piercing, but since an industrial is actually two cartilage piercings, good aftercare is critical to avoid prolonged healing. First, pick up these piercing aftercare essentials from our online store or at your local piercing shop. You can also make your own SSS according to our simple recipe.
Industrial Piercing Aftercare Cleaning Routine
Wash your hands: A new piercing is essentially an open wound, so touching it with dirty hands will increase the chances that it gets infected.
Soak with sea salt solution (SSS): Twice a day, soak a clean cotton ball with SSS and gently hold it against your piercings for a minute or two. Repeat this process for five minutes, soaking both the inside and outside of each of the two industrial piercings. You could also fill a glass with SSS and tilt your head sideways to submerge your piercing for the same amount of time.
Dry the area: After soaking your piercing, pat it dry with a clean, dry cotton ball or facial tissue. Be careful not to snag your jewelry!
Rinse between cleanings: Carry a bottle of piercing aftercare spray to flush away debris and provide cooling relief 3-4 times per day between cleanings. If you’re experiencing persistent redness or irritation, you may want to apply a small amount of tea tree oil or jojoba oil, all-natural moisturizers and antiseptics, around the piercing.
Keep it consistent: Incorporate these aftercare steps into your morning and evening routine — while washing your face or brushing your teeth, you should clean your piercing, too. Cleaning a new piercing more or less than twice a day can increase the risk of infection, but if you occasionally miss a cleaning, it’s alright — just pick up again the next morning or evening.
Be sure to follow these steps for the duration of the healing process, and be sure to avoid the following:
- Unnecessarily handling your piercing or jewelry
- Moving your jewelry to break up dried lymph fluids, or “crusties.” Instead, use SSS or aftercare spray to soften the crusties and gently wipe them away with a cotton ball or facial tissue
- Applying balms, creams, cosmetics, or ointments to your piercing while it is healing
- Completely submerging your new piercing in water
See your piercer immediately if swelling presses your ear uncomfortably against your jewelry, or if you develop a rash or other signs of allergic reaction. In these instances, you may need a different size of jewelry or a different material.
If the skin around your piercing becomes hot to the touch, streaked with redness, discharges thick, yellowish pus, or if you develop a fever, see your doctor. These are all symptoms of infection, which you may need antibiotics to address. If you do get an infection, you don’t necessarily have to give up on your industrial piercing — just follow your doctor’s instructions and keep up with your aftercare routine.