Exactly How Long These 10 Common Piercings Take to Heal
With a million other things going on right now, taking care of a healing piercing is the last thing you want to worry about. As most people with piercings know, different piercings cause different struggles, including trouble sleeping, general discomfort, eating difficulty, and the inability to take a shower without snagging your loofah on all your latest adornments (pro tip: just throw that thing away!).
That being said, sometimes the sweet call of rose gold studs and gem-encrusted hoops is just too much to resist. Of course, it's important to remember that, while all piercings take some extra TLC, every person will heal at their own rate, and environmental factors like location and elevation also affect average healing times, according to Tom Gottschalk, a piercer at Dorje Adornments in Rochester, NY. Generally, however, it can be helpful to know which piercings heal the fastest before you make your decision.
If you still just want to switch it up, check out the healing times of these piercings before adding to your collection.
Lobe: 3-4 Months
The good news is that basic lobe piercings are some of the easiest piercings to heal, with a rate of three to four months for adults and four to six months for kids, Gottschalk said. Since this is a popular option for first-time piercings, it could tell you a lot about how your body heals and what kinds of jewelry work best for you.
Helix (and Most Outer Cartilage): 6-12 Months
A helix piercing refers to the upper part of cartilage on your ear, which is typically more difficult to pierce than the fleshy lobe. As a result, these piercings tend to take longer to heal, and Gottschalk estimated about 12 months of healing time for most outer-cartilage piercings to fully heal, helix included. However, for some people, these kinds of cartilage piercings can heal within six months; it just depends on your body.
Navel: 9-12 Months
This piercing's healing really depends on the type of jewelry you choose. In general, navel piercings heal within nine to 12 months, but choosing jewelry that doesn't work with your anatomy can increase healing time. As Gottschalk said, "A lot of people aren't really suited for a traditional navel piercing, and there are ways to work around that." Alternatives to the traditional navel include a "floating navel" piercing, which is done using jewelry with a flat disk on the bottom and a gem on top, but ask your piercer for advice before making your final decision.
Nostril: 6-9 months
Admittedly, Gottschalk said his studio is more conservative than most when it comes to nostril piercings, but he recommended waiting a full nine months before considering the piercing healed. This is also how long Gottschalk prefers most clients to wait before trading their stud out for a ring, since piercing with rings can lead to an increase in initial irritation and a more difficult healing process.
Septum: 3-4 months
"When we pierce the septum, it goes through an area called the 'sweet spot,'" Gottschalk said. "It's this really thin part of your septum way up towards the front for most people, and it's superthin tissue. It's like a little thicker than a t-shirt," he added. This makes the septum a much easier piercing than many people think, and most are healed within three to four months.
Eyebrow: 3-5 months
Gottschalk said most eyebrow piercings heal fairly quickly, but they're prone to migrating, which occurs when your body starts to push the piercing out and away from its original location, sometimes resulting in rejection. Anna Beall, a body piercer at CowPök in Buffalo, NY, gave a slightly longer estimate of about four to five months.
Cheek: 12-18 months
Both piercers warned that cheek piercings are not the easiest piercings to heal. In fact, although there are piercers out there who do them safely and correctly, Beall and Gottschalk said these aren't piercings they typically do. "They sometimes don't ever heal," said Gottschalk, adding that if you're looking to get your cheeks pierced, they may be prone to abscesses and swelling. That being said, he estimated that a healthy cheek piercing could fully heal within 12 to 18 months.
Nipples: 8-12 months
Because nipple piercings deal with really dense tissue, Beall said to expect an average healing time of about a year. Nipple piercings tend to take longer to heal because they're so sensitive and easily irritated by daily activities, like getting dressed, sleeping, or any kind of rough physical contact. If they're well taken care of, however, they can heal as quickly as eight months.
Tongue: 6-8 weeks
Although it may sound like a scarier piercing to get, tongue piercings actually have some of the fastest healing times. Healthline gives an estimate of about six to eight weeks for the piercing to heal completely, but depending on your body, tongues can heal as quickly as four weeks with proper care.
Paired Lip Piercings: 3-4 months
Generally, Gottschalk gave lip piercings an estimated healing time of three to four months, and said that lower-lip piercings tend to be less sensitive than upper-lip piercings. To help ensure that the piercings heal as quickly as possible, he recommended rinsing the piercings out with water after eating, and choosing jewelry that fits your lips well.