For most people the lobes are the first piercing we have done. This placement is popular with both women and men. The earliest evidence of lobe ear piercing dates back to ancient times with mummified remains sporting earrings. Today it is seen as a form of self expression and adornment. Traditionally done with a piercing gun, there is a movement towards the use of a piercing needle for a cleaner, less painful and quicker recovery. As all ears are different the placement will depend on the individual but as a rule of thumb.
A Lobe piercing is situated in the lower, soft fleshy region of the ear called the Lobule. It is pierced usually in the centre of the space, evenly spaced between the lower edge, the face and the opening of the ear canel. For comfort, safety and aesthetics, the lobe is pierced using a stud for jewellery.
Now while the lobe has a reputation as being a bit basic, this seemingly pedestrian piercing has a interesting history with its own sordid past. Read on to find out more information and the answers to the rest of your questions.
Give Me The Facts
Lobes come in all shapes and sizes and the unfortunate reality is that along with noses, they continue to grow throughout our live times. That is why your grand-parents can look so different to the nostalgic photos of them when they were young. Just another one of those crackers no-one tells you about, sorry to be the bearer of crappy news.
Sorry I digress, back to facts.... The Lobes are the only part of the outer ear not made of cartilage. They contain many nerve endings and a large supply of blood. The main function is to keep the ears warm as the cartilage with its low blood supply is pretty rubbish at doing this. This is why when lobes are pierced, most commonly they will turn a bright red colour as the blood rushed to the area as a reaction to the incision. This can also happen at the most inconvenience times as a involuntary reaction to a heightened emotional state, like anger or embarrassment. No hiding your true feelings when your ears are a flashing neon sign, saying "I like you"!!
Lobes are also genetically determined, whether they are attached or detached (also known as free). This refers to the attachment point of the lobe to the side of the face. Now while this may not affect the functionally of the ear, it can play a part in the aesthetics of lobe piercing placement. Now without checking, which type are you? Did you have to reach up and feel your ear? I hope you were subtle if reading this in a public place! The split is pretty even, with only slightly more of the population having detached lobes.
Attached Ear Lobe
Detached Ear Lobe or Free Ear Lobe
Why Stop at One?
There's plenty of real estate in this part of the ear and many have decided to add to their collection. As you pierce up the ear, the piercings are referred to as seconds and thirds, here are their definitions
Lobes - Placed at even distance up from the lower edge of the lobe, across from the face and down from the opening of the Intertragic notch
Seconds - Placed up the lobe away from the face at the same distance of the lobe from the face.
Thirds - Placed further up the lobe away from the seconds piercing, at the same distance again.
Now while that's where most people stop, there are some in our midst that can rock the multiple earring look. Enter stage right the one and only Queen Bee, Beyonce !!!
Beyonce Rocking Multiple Earrings
Photo Credit : Pinterest
Did You Know.....
I teased you earlier about the lobes interesting past, so draw in a little closer and let me tell you more. The lobe is not as G-Rated as you may think - Due to the large number of nerve endings and position of the lobes, some consider them to be an erogenous zone. From the Greek word "eros" meaning love and the English word "genous"meaning producing. These sensitive areas when stimulated are said to generate a sexual response. Who said ears weren't sexy? Anyone for a bit of ear nibbling? Apart from the obvious, other unusual areas include the armpits, lower back and toes. No Judgies here, what ever works for you! For this association, one thought is that ear piercing originated as a form of sexual pleasure and fertility enhancement. In so many cultures lobe piercing is evident and and throughout the ages earrings have represented many thing; wealth, nobility, status, sacred representation, insurance and have even been mentioned in the bible. The humble lobe piercing has definitely stood the test of time and earning its street cred
Seriously, How Much Does It Hurt?
Let's face it, if you're getting any sort of piercing you're going to feel it. You need to be prepared for an element of pain. But hey, that's half the fun - you're so bad ass !!
There are however, a number of factors can make this more or less. These include placement, area sensitivity and your individual pain threshold.
So let's talk specifically about the Lobe and how these factors affect the pain level - Use our handy tabs below to find out more about each factor.
The lobe tissue is is a very soft and fleshly and contains many nerve endings and also a large supply of blood. This means when getting your ears pierced you can experience a hot flush and burning sensation in the entire ear. This is just the body rushing blood to the area as a reaction to the piercing. . This can also be accompanied by a bright red colour change in your ears too. In some occasions they can swell a little and even slightly bleed. Don't worry, this is all normal, this reaction is only temporary. As the body accepts that your ears have only suffered a slight incision it calls the troops back and your ear will calm down.
When a lobe piercing is done, initially you feel the sharp discomfort of the momentary insertion of the needle. The needle then moves in one motion through the soft, fleshy tissue. I may happen so quickly that you do not recognise the enter and exit of the needle as two individual sensations. Then like all piercings the needle is removed and a small tube is left in the new piecing to hold it open while the piercer prepares to insert your jewellery.
It's a quick jab, but be prepared for your ears to show their disapproval like your Grand-ma's tutting!
TIP from your mother....
The sensitivity of an area is related to its purpose and the frequency of usage. For example, our hands and feet are very resilience to touch due to them being used almost constantly so are low on the Sensitivity Scale. While other areas such as the armpit rank a lot higher as they do not encounter a high frequency of contact and are extremely sensitive to touch.
So how does the Lobe compare for sensitivity. Our ears in general are prone to being knocked and bumped. Think in a day how many times you make contact with your ear – brushing your hair, putting on a hat, changing earrings or rubbing them when you feel someone is talking about you. All this contact generally helps your ear achieve a lower ranking on the Sensitivity Scale. Howerver, working against this area is the large number of nerve endings. So while your ears are considered a low on the sensitivity scale, the specific area of the lobes when viewed separately, are higher at a moderate to high on the scale.
Having said all that about placement and sensitivity, your own tolerance will be the major contributing factor when it comes to pain. Each of us know how we have experienced pain in the past and to what extent we felt it. Be honest, you know yourself whether you are a natural Zen Master, that can control the mind, body and spirit, or you are one of us mere mortals that managed to get a double serving of the pain gene when it was being handed out.
Don’t worry, there are some things you can do to decrease the level of pain you experience. It’s important to note that none of these recommendations will physically take away the feeling of the pain, such as a numbing cream or pain relief tablet. Personally I think the pain is part of the experience and process. If it's a huge concern, maybe a piercing just isn’t for you. If you're still in though, these suggestions can help on the day.
- Breathe - IN and OUT - DEEP and SLOW
- Be Mentally Prepared and Focus. Understand what you have got yourself into.
- Back yourself - YOU GOT THIS - Be your own cheer squad
- Stay Hydrated - this helps with skin elasticity and recovery
- Try essential oils such as Lavender or Chamomile, to promote calmness, on a tissue to smell NOT on the piercing!!!
Oh and one last thing, sort of pain related, make sure you have eaten, low blood sugar can lead to dizziness and fainting. Honesty that would be more embarrassing and painful than the actual piercing.
As this piercing is generally the first one people have done the memory can be quite intense. Add to this that most were a young age the level of pain can be difficult to accurately recall. From my experience I was 13, thanks to an overly cautious mother who thought I would tear my ear in two if i were to get an earring stuck in a playground. Happy to let you know that this did NOT happen.
My memory is quite clear and I say the pain is sharp but very quick. I think that the visual appearance of the ear and physical reaction can be more unsettling than the actual piercing. Unlike a cartilage piercing that has little immediate reaction and looks like its always been there, a lobe piercing can be red, hot and swell a little. The only comfort I can give though is that as quick as it comes, it does return to normal. Give it 10 mins and a bit of ice wrapped in a clear cloth as encouragement and you'll be able to take on the world in no time.
I can't say exactly how much it will hurt for you personally, but I can say, knowledge is power and now with this information you might be able to have a stern talking to your brain and convince it.
Pain is Temporary - Bling is Forever.
Tell Me Straight, How Long Before It's Healed?
Just like we all deal with pain differently the same can be said about healing times. Many factors affect the time it takes for a piercing to properly heal, but on average
Lobe Piercings will take between 6 - 12 weeks to heal completely.
However the exposed position of the Lobe increases the risk of bumps or snags, which may extend the healing time.
You can see compared to other piercing placements, the healing time is relatively quick. This is due to the large blood supply to the area. During the healing process the blood plays an important part in delivering nutrients and defense forces to the area as well as removing harmful matter away.
While your lobes might be healed, leaving jewellery out of your piercing early on is not recommended. Even for a short period of time. As the lobes are soft and fleshy the piercing tube which is formed can be flexible and pliable. Making it difficult to thread jewellery successfully and painlessly through. Also that large blood supply can work against you to very quickly close the hole in a matter of hours. To have a reliable and fully healed lobe piercing can take years.
To ensure that the healing process doesn't take any longer than it has too, check out contributing factors below, click the tabs to see more on each.
Aftercare - 10 Commandments
The hygiene and aftercare of your piercing is the number ONE factor in a quick and painless healing process.
Like most things though, too much of anything is also harmful, so here is our daily aftercare routine for new piercings.
Only clean and touch your new piercing twice a day. More than that will interrupt the healing process and damage the growing new cells. Always, ALWAYS make sure you have freshly washed hands before you start. Your piercing is a direct and open path inside your vulnerable body, you are giving any contaminates on your unwashed hands a FREE PASS to wreak havoc on your wound.
MORNING and EVENING
Carefully clean the area around your piercing. You can choose between a commercial product such as convenient aftercare spray or go old school with a fresh homemade saltwater solution. Our favourite spray is the Protat - Sea Salt + Tea Tree Spray available on our website for $9.95 . Once you have bathed the area and given the solution a chance to clean the piercings, lightly wipe off the excess and any normally forming white to yellow Crusties that have formed (To find out more about the delightful topic of Crusties, please refer to the MINOR COMPLICATIONS tab in the next section – Are there any Risks?
Make sure to do this gently though you don’t want to aggravate or damage the healing that has already happened. If there are any Crusties that are really stuck, give them another day rather than forcing them off, as this may also damage the healing site. Remember to use a low fibrous wipe. Things like cotton balls have a higher chance of fibers getting stuck in the jewellery and remaining behind. These can act like nets for contaminates and infect your piercings even if you haven't touched it.
Now it's time for some Myth Busting!!
Ever heard or thought...
MYTH – I am going to use the strongest solution I can legally get my hands on to "Kill Every Last MF one of Them"(nasties) – Pulp Fiction Style
FACT – Using a harsh chemical not only kills the bacteria but the necessary healing cells as well. It also irritates and damages the healthy skin cells around the piercing site causing dryness, itching and redness. So best to put the Peroxide down and walk away from the Methylated Spirits.
This is a no brainer, the body is basically a sophisticated machine. It needs quality input, to be used only as per the manual, follow the care instructions and keep well maintained. Ignore this and you will have a poor performing machine. So look after you body, do all the things you know you should and support your healing by not making it work more than it has to.
So here's where I start to nag....
Get Plenty of Sleep
Be Nice to Your Mother
Finally, this is where I will give you some information, you can choose to do what you like with it. Lifestyle choices can also make a big difference to your general well-being and the ability for your body to heal.
So here goes the preach...
SMOKING is BAD for YOU - MKAY
It affects and delays the healing process by causing a constriction/tightening of your veins, decreasing the natural flow of your blood and restricts oxygen and nutrients from reaching the site of healing.
ALCOHOL is BAD for YOU - MKAY
Excessive drinking can affect the immune system, leading to an increased chance of complications and infections. Also, on a big night out, you won't feel you knocking your new piercing until the next morning.
DRUGS are BAD for YOU - MKAY
Your body is a temple ... you know the rest....
Ok, this isn't a drug but is a major modern epidemic..
STRESS is BAD for YOU - MKAY
This is probably the hardest one to manage. If possible, try to keep your stress levels under control. The hormone 'CORTISOL" puts the body into alarm mode and suppresses the non-vital systems including the immune system. High levels of Cortisol over a prolonged period can leave you feeling flat and exhausted.
- Thou shall always wash and clean hands before EVEN thinking of going near a new piercing
- Thou shall not play with, fiddle, squeeze or poke new piercings
- Thou shall never use soap / alcohol / peroxide on fresh piercings.
- Thou shall not over clean at an OCD level
- Thou shall avoid contact and application of makeup and moisturisers
- Thou shall Never EVER wear inferior jewellery
- Thou shall avoid immersing in unhygienic water like lakes, streams, hot tubs
- Thous shall avoid clothing and accessories that is tight and applies pressure
- Thou shall continue to uphold your aftercare routine for the recommended healing time.
- Thou shall be patient and not change thy jewellery until the healing process is complete
It's important to let your piercing properly heal before you change the jewellery, otherwise you run the risk of
- The hole closing quickly and you needing to get the piercing done all over again – what a waste of time
- Higher risk of infection as the healing tissue has a diminished defense system
- By rushing to change the jewellery, the area can become aggravated and actually prolong the healing process.
Once your piercing has healed completely, it always a good idea to keep up Always Care. This means regularly cleaning your piercings and jewellery and keeping a quality aftercare spray nearby. For those occasions when you might knock or aggravate your piercings or be exposed to an unhygienic situation like jelly wrestling, mud baths or living in the wilderness (AKA camping). We suggest taking preemptive measures and give a quick aftercare spray before the nasties get a chance to take hold. Our favourite spray is the Protat - Sea Salt + Tea Tree Spray available on our website for $9.95
Ok Sounds Great, BUT Are There Any Risks?
While to most of us the decision to get a piercing is a relatively casual one. It still is an invasive procedure that modifies the body and introduces a foreign object in the form of jewellery.
Our bodies have evolved to be very good at defending itself from external threats and when you get a piercing, it's basically an act of war.
Of course there will be some resistance but you would be worried if there wasn't. With anything there are risks of complications, one study found that it's actually around 35 percent of people with pierced ears had one or more complications.
Use the handy tabs below to find out more information about most common complications
Generally with all piercings, once its been done, it appears to be perfect, like you have always had it. WAIT FOR IT........ Be prepared for the delayed reaction. It takes a moment for the body to realise what the heck just happened. In the first week you might expect some / all of these common experiences.
- Soreness, tenderness, mild discomfort
- Feeling of heat/burning
- Dryness and itching
- Possible light bruising
- Possible light bleeding
- Slight dis-colouration
- Slight swelling
- Light fluid secretion AKA The CRUSTIES
A Quick Note on the Crusties
This is a natural part of the healing process and is actually a good sign. Blood is delivered to the healing site, it contains blood plasma a light yellow fluid. This is the part of the blood that contains the enzymes and nutrients. When it makes it way to the surface, the exposure to air dries it out and Voilà - Your very own Crusties!!!
If your Crusties, look a dark yellow, green or brown in colour, this may be a sign of infection.
Infection is the most common complication in getting a piercing. It is a result of nasties getting into your piercing due to poor hygiene or a depleted immune system. You will know you have an infection when you will literally destroy anything or one that even comes close to your UBER sensitive piercing.
Symptoms of infection include
- increasing swelling,
- heightened tenderness/soreness,
- a feeling of pressure
- hot/burning sensation
Accompanying these in most cases will be the presence of pus. This smelly white secretion is different to the clear-pale yellow Crusties that normally form. Other signs of infection are dark yellow, green or brown fluid/secretions.
At first sign of infection you can try to increase your aftercare by cleaning and using a salt water soak in the morning and evening. However, if there is no improvement in a couple of days it is vital that your see your doctor. Infections of the blood can be extremely serious. When an infection takes hold, more damage is done the longer you leave it. Don't take a blasé approach you might lose part of your ear! Seriously - don't make me show you gross photos of people missing parts who thought it would just get better - I'm warning you.
Anyway getting medical help is good, the pain and swelling will go down and who knows, Dr. Mikhail Varshavski might be working Photo courtesy of PINTEREST
It is important to know the difference between an allergic reaction and an infection. As explained in the previous tab, an infection is the result of a contaminate entering the body and the immune's systems reactive response to heal the body.
When an allergic reaction occurs it is a response of your amazing body's immune system reacting to the foreign object in your body. It is a very individual reaction. While some people will be allergic to every and anything others can put a rusty nail in the piercing with no dramas. (Seriously - don't try that, I'm just using dramatic effect) I'm sure by now you probably know where on the scale your are from previous experience.
Signs of an allergic reactions commonly appear as a rash, itching and or severe redness.
So here are the 2 main types of allergic reaction. If you can work out which one you have, it will help you find a solution.
Reaction to the Jewellery
This usually occurs when the jewellery is of an inferior quality. Most commonly people will have reactions to Nickel which can be found in many alloy mixes used in inexpensive jewellery. The safest materials for body jewellery are
✅Surgical Stainless Steel
✅Gold - 18 of 24 Karats
Your piercer should only ever use these on new piercing.
SOLUTION - Change the Jewellery
If the piercing is fully healed, do yourself and up the after care
If the piercing is new, see your trusted piercing to remove and replace with jewellery of a different material.
Reaction to the Aftercare
This can occur when your body is irritated by solutions you are using for aftercare. If they are too harsh, they will damage the healthy cells around the healing site. Additional signs of aftercare reaction can be skin dryness, flaking, peeling.
Try and keep clear of these bad boys
SOLUTION - Change your aftercare solution
Try to use a simple saline/salt water solution. Note that as the skin is already damaged it may take a week of so for the skin to recover from the initial reaction
REMEMBER - It's important to seek medical assistance if symptoms persist. Sooner rather than later.
As mentioned earlier, our bodies have an amazing defense system to protect and heal. Sometimes this healing process goes into overdrive and does not stop once the initial site has been healed. This excess scar tissue is called a Keloid.
What Do They Look Life?
Keloids can be a number of different colours (pink, red, brown or skin tones) in a number of different shapes and sizes. Basically, though they are all just large scars. You will know it is a Keloid as it will look like the skin is growing a new part, past the point of the piercing. They can be itchy or feel tight.
So What Causes Them?
During the healing process the body produces additional Collagen to strengthen the skin at the piercing point. Sometimes too much collagen is produced and excess scar tissue forms. This scar tissue then spreads beyond the healing site and forms the raised/bump like scar. As it is growing tissue, Keloids unusually are slow-growing and can appear months after the initial healing has passed.
Will I Get One?
While aftercare is vital in the prevention of Keloids forming in the first place, there are some factors that are beyond your control. It has been discovered that some people have a higher likelihood in developing Keloids. According to The Australasian College of Dermatologists website, factors that can indicate a higher risk can include
- Genetics - Other family members have them
- Age - Most common in people under 30 years
- Ancestry - If you are of Asian, Latino or African descent
What Do I Do If I Get a Keloid?
It's important to remember with all complications that early detection and action are key. As Keloids have the potential to continue to grow, an ignorant attitude could result in a much larger Keloid than a diligent attitude. If you get a Keloid, my best advice is to contact your trusted piercer. They will have the most experience to recommend a variety of tested treatments and the expertise to know when it time to seek medical advice.
While Keloids have the potential to grow, they are not signs of a tumor or cancer. The Australasian College of Dermatologists say there are no internal or medical complications associated with this harmless condition, HOWEVER, it's important to consider how excessive scar tissue in a highly visible location may affect your confidence or self-image. Remember there is treatment for Keloids and early action is vital.
For some the piercing journey is well out of their control. Sometimes the body can not play nice and migrate or even reject your piercing. Pushing the jewellery to the surface and eventually completely out.
This is more common in surface piercings such as eyebrows, neck and hip. Navel (belly) piercings are also more prone to rejection.
Migration and rejection is an outcome of the body's immune system trying to expel the foreign jewellery. As a surfacing piercing is through only a small amount of skin, it is easier for the body to push the jewellery out.
Signs this is happening can include
- The piercing taking a long time to heal.
- The piercing hole looks like it's getting bigger
- The jewellery position changes or hangs differently
- The jewellery feels loose
- The jewellery can be seen through the skin
As everyone's immune system is different it is difficult to say whether or not you have a predisposition to this happening or not. Here's three things you can try to reduce the chances of it happening.
FIRST - Makes sure you choose a reputable piercer who will make sure your piercing is in the correct position and depth.
SECONDLY - Try and sneak under the immune radar. Don't wake the sleeping bear! Make sure you are taking care of your piercing with a good aftercare routine
FINALLY - If you do notice changes and suspect your jewellery is migrating, go to your piercer straight away for some expert advice. Don't wait until it's been completely rejected, this will cause unnecessary scaring and heartache.
When it comes to getting a rook, sometimes it's out of your hands. If your Antihelix ridge is not cutting the mustard, you'll have to give this one a pass. If you're not sure, ask you friend to see what they think and when they've finished laughing at you, ask you local piercer for their professional opinion.
The most important thing to remember here is not to ignore any changes in your piercings. Keep an eye on them and if symptoms don't improve make sure to seek medical attention, sooner rather than later.
Remember do not to take the jewellery out of a problem piercing without proper advice. If you have an infected piercing, by taking out the jewellery you effectively close the drainage hole for the pus and an abscess can result from the trapped pus, if not treated
How Much Will This Cost Me?
A pair of Lobe piercings will range from $40 -$65
Also be aware that jewellery is not always included and may need to be additionally purchased.
Aftercare is also a fantastic investment if you don't already have some.
(Prices in Australian dollars - QLD Based locations - 2020)
If you can't afford to go to a reputable piercing establishment * you should really reconsider getting a piercing done or at least save up until you can. While you might save a couple of dollars at the start, more likely than not you'll end up spending so much more on medicine and worse still end up in a lot of avoidable pain. REMEMBER, this is your body and health, you will need to live with your decisions. It is worth so much more than a couple of dollars.
* By reputable we mean
- The piercing room should be clean
- The piercer should be knowledgeable and experienced
- They should also have a hygienic appearance and wear gloves
- All equipment should be sterilized
- YOU should feel comfortable and confident, IF you don't - RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!!
There's not much left to do but let you know all about the gorgeous bling you can decorate your Lobes with. With one of the largest selections of jewellery available, the options and combinations are endless.
Check out our beautiful range from Studs and Pendants to Drop Chains and Hoops, the options are endless. With pieces to suit every style from classic to daring. With so many choices it's hard to pick just one. In that case you can always do my favourite trick and double park your earrings to create a layered look.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I hope you have found it useful. Please leave a comment in the space below if you have any requests or questions.
Looking forward to seeing you
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We are by no means experts and if you have any questions about your health, please speak to a doctor.
However, like all good students we have scoured the internet to research and source technical information. If you would like to see where GOGGLE sent us, here is a list of resource pages we used.