My knowledge is based on my experiences, both good and bad, over the span of my life: 9 attempts, and 18 piercings.
The Piercing and The Pain:Every time someone sees my ear, the first thing they do is wince, and then they ask me if they hurt. Long story short: yes, and no. Paradoxical statement? Yeah, but here's the explanation. The way I get my piercings done now does NOT hurt when the ear (or otherwise) is actually being pierced. I repeat, the metal thingy that poked a hole through my skin did not hurt while it was actually poking said hole. *Cue the shocked faces and disbelief*
I know, I know, it sounds like it SHOULD hurt, considering the fact that a metal thingy is creating a hole in your skin, but my friends, welcome to the 21st century. Gone are the days when the human race had to live, pierce and get pierced, without a magic potion that serves to numb. Yep, the secret to no pain is a numbing spray that the guy piercing me already had. Which is part of why I went to that guy in the first place, more on that later.
Eventually though, the numbing agent does wear off, typically after an hour or so. For me, personally, it didn't hurt at all after the numbness wore off when I got my second piercing done, but the ones after that did sting a little and I think that's because they got closer to the cartilage, and that area is a lot more sensitive since it is harder flesh.
And all this being said, AFTER the piercing process is done and dealt with, the piercing is now a "wound". This is where the 'Yes, it hurts' part comes in. There are so many activities and motions that we subconsciously and consciously go through that affect the level of pain that is felt.
There's things that you can do to minimize the pain, and things that could make it worse. Here's my list of Do's and Dont's that worked for me, my mother, my aunts, my cousins and my friends, and if you are planning on getting a piercing in the near future, I hope they help you out just as much!
1. Talk to the person who will be piercing you BEFORE you ask them to pierce you.I cannot stress this enough. Ask them to walk you through the process verbally if you can't remember the last time you were pierced, or if you've never actually been pierced before. You might not like how they plan to pierce and knowing that, you can decide to go to someone else.
For example, when I wanted to get my third piercing done I went to the nearest mall (Dolmen City). Once there, I talked to a lady who owned a jewellery shop. I did not have prior experience with the lady, so I asked her to walk me through her process. She planned to use a piercing gun with a numbing gel. That was not how I wanted to get my piercing done, so I thanked the woman and went on to some other shop. The next shop had my preferred method of piercing; a sterling silver ring that is sharpened to a point and then used directly to pierce. BUT the guy DIDN'T have a numbing agent. Again, talking to the guy BEFOREHAND saved me A LOT of pain.
2. Take someone with you.As Justin Beiber said "you don't have to be fighting on your own". Ask someone close to you to come and keep you company when you're getting a piercing. Not only will they tell you how good your new piercing looks, they will also crack jokes, keep your anxiety at bay and ensure you are calm (BECAUSE IT REALLY DOESN'T HURT). Bonus points if they hold your hand if you're really scared.
When I got my second piercing done (more than 10 years after my first lobe piercing) I was so scared. I actually look back on that day and laugh at my 13 year old self. I dragged my grandmother, mother, two aunts and my best friend with me to the piercing place. I KNOW. I was that scared. But, not only did my squad alleviate my tension, my aunt actually volunteered to go first and get her ears pierced the third time. I was much calmer knowing I wasn't alone.
And if you do have to go alone....
3. Watch someone get piercedRight before you get yours done. You will have visual proof that there is nothing to fear.
It worked for me when I was scared, and a newbie. It also worked for my baby cousins
4. Know what you wantDo you want to be pierced the traditional, hygienic, and safer way with a silver ring that's sharpened off of one end to pierce or would you prefer a stud be pierced into you with a hand held machine designed to pierce, AKA the newer way?
Its so important to know what you want before you get something like this done. Do your research, ask your fellows what worked for them and what they would recommend. (I've been pierced with both methods and prefer the silver ring, hands down.)
Also. its important to know what you want in terms of the actual piercing. There's so many different kinds for the ears. Here's an ear diagram I found that's a good reference from here.
Just please keep in mind, the cartilage starts from point number 6 in the above reference diagram and all the piercings from that point onward take longer to heal and hurt once the effects of the numbing agent wear off and the wound is relatively fresh.
5. Go to someone you trust
Remember how I said I went to the mall because it was the closest place I knew to get piercings done? Yeah well, I actually got zero piercings from that mall. In fact, I've had all my piercings done by the same guy, except one, which I later had to close off. I could have gotten my newest piercing done from anywhere, but I just couldn't bring myself to trust anyone other than Ali; my piercing guy.
The reason I trust Ali so much is because aside from the fact that's he's now pierced me 8 different times, he's been professionally piercing people for about thirty years, maybe even more. So I have the confidence that he knows what he's doing. He operates from a small shop on Tariq Road, and that's where I have been going as long as I can remember getting pierced.
You may need to ask around and do a bit of research but its so worth it for the peace of mind that you get in return.
6. Take a pain killer if you think you need it
Like I said before, a piercing is actually a wound, and if you feel like it hurts, take an over-the-counter pain killer that works for you. Brufen is what I took when I had my second piercing done and I only took it about two times after I got my piercing. The first time was immediately after my piercing process and the second was before I went to bed that night. I didn't really need to take it, but it was a precaution. I didn't feel like I needed to have any pain killers when I got my other piercings so it really depends on your tolerance for pain and the pain that you actually feel
*please consult a doctor before you take any medicines, and never eat medicine on an empty stomach.
Going through these six simple Do's ensures that you get a piercing that you're satisfied with, and that the piercing process goes as smoothly as possible. In simpler words: you're chill + the piercing guy is legit = you like the piercing + no complications with the piercing. SAFE + MINIMAL PAIN
1. Touch the wound for the first couple days
Don't do it. Your finger may have bacteria on it that will transfer to the wound. It may get ugly. You WILL NEED TO constantly put some form of ointment on your piercing, I recommend applying straight from the tube. NO FINGERS. You could use a cotton swab but I feel that I can't control the pressure with a cotton swab, and wiping the swab against the wound is painful so I don't recommend that. Straight from the tube works best for me.
AFTER THE FIRST COUPLE DAYS, its fine if you touch the wound to see how its coming along. Check for swelling, rotate the silver ring around so that you minimize the likelihood of an infection.
2. Switch out the silver ring or piercing jewellery until at least three weeks
Whatever you choose to get pierced with, just keep that very piece in until the wound completely heals. It should take around about three weeks for piercings along the lobe (numbers 1-5 on the reference diagram) and about 5-6 weeks for anything higher along the cartilage. Also, some people heal quicker than others so your healing time may vary accordingly.
3. Eat spicy food for the first week
THIS. This is something SO important. Resist the urge to eat anything even remotely spicy because it will irritate the wound, causing it to itch. Itchy wound= not good, also not safe. You might accidentally actually scratch your wound and that can lead to an infection, and you may have to close the new piercing that you dragged half your family to get.
4. Sleep on your side or on your stomach.
For obvious reasons, if you sleep on your side, your piercing will rub against your pillow and it will hurt. You will also get ointment all over your cute pillowcase. Same case for the stomach-sleepers, only twice as bad.
BUT if you are a side sleeper (high five! I am too!) what you need to do is contort your pillow so that it ends before it reaches your ear, its not easy, but its doable if you absolutely cannot sleep on your back!
5. Mindlessly brush your hair.
One word. Pain. You need to be really careful with brushing your hair, you don't want the hair brush to snag your piercing! Also, who wants ointment all up in their hair?
In addition to the hair brush, please also be mindful of brushing your hair behind your ears with your fingers ESPECIALLY if you have long nails!
6. Go near children/elder people that may touch/hit/irritate your wound in any way
I recently just discovered that elder people are just as dangerous as little children when it comes to new piercings. The day after I got mine, I went to visit my dad's aunt. A very elderly lady, who grabbed my head in both her hands. I couldn't breathe for those ten painful seconds. You have been warned.
Also, remember that baby cousin I talked about? She has a younger brother. He threw a stuffed toy at her head. Painful. Again, you have been warned.
And that concludes my piercing Do's and Dont's and if you plan to get a new piercing I hope this post helps and it all goes well for you!