Ear piercings vs headphones
April 26, 2019 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking about getting a helix piercing, but I wear either over-ear or on-ear headphones a lot of the time, and I'm worried that this will irritate the piercing. I have standard lobe piercings already, and can't wear studs because I find that the pointy back of the stud is pressed uncomfortably into my skin by the headphones. Would I regret a helix piercing?

I am much more attached to my headphone choices than I am to my piercing choices! If a helix piercing would be a bad idea, are there any of the other types of ear piercing that play better with on/over ear headphones?
posted by Vortisaur to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A tragus piercing might work for OTE headphones, although it could make earbuds problematic. (I don't have one, but I have weird ears and have spent a lot of time thinking about the discontents of headphones!)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:26 PM on April 26, 2019

The helix piercing might be okay eventually, but you’re definitely not going to wear headphones while it heals. And they take FOREVER to heal. They say usually 3-6 months, but it can take over a year. I had mine done and gave up after a year or so because it never stopped being tender.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I also gave up on mine because it didn't heal within a year, and I was in pain constantly. There is no way I could've worn headphones that came anywhere near the piercing during that alleged 'healing' period.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:46 PM on April 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have an ear piercing where this woman has a star and I use over the ear headphones. I do not have any problems with it, and only had some sensitivity on it re the headphones for about a month after the piercing (which is only a couple years old).

I think it's called a flat? I don't know. I like it for my ear.

Also to solve the stud problem, I just shift my over the ear headphones a bit so that my whole ear is actually encased in the can, and there is no direct pressure on my earlobe. I have small ears and big headphones. Your personal ear/can configuration may vary.
posted by phunniemee at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2019

I have one in each ear. The first I got way before I used over-ear headphones. But I got another in my left ear over Christmas and I use over-ear headphones every day for work (and Bose QC35s for when I’m traveling) and I haven’t had any issues. For the first couple months it’ll definitely HURT if you nudge or touch it, but as long as you’re careful putting your headphones on, I imagine it’ll probably be fine. It’s a bit of a gamble but the worst part for me is not sleeping on the same side as the piercing for a while, headphones have been all normal though!
posted by caitcadieux at 1:15 PM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Following up to add the type of jewelry you get can matter too. I have a little sword in my left ear and the bar is pretty long, so it does poke into my head when I lay on it now. When I got my right helix pierced I got a very small hoop and it was more comfortable.
posted by caitcadieux at 1:17 PM on April 26, 2019

If you're thinking tragus as was suggested upthread, I have a tragus ring and have no issue with in-ear buds or on-ear headphones. My helix piercing, which is a horseshoe ring right now, isn't bothered by either type of headphones either. However, both took awhile to heal and headphones would have been rough during that time.
posted by sockermom at 1:20 PM on April 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

As somebody who doesn't like piercings but does sometimes like jewelry, if you want to try out the aesthetic of having jewelry there without the risk of it going awry and causing pain when you're wearing headphones, have you thought about ear cuffs, some of which go in that area?
posted by foxfirefey at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2019

Thirding that mine were hell to heal. I had two next to each other on the same ear. One of them keloided over and was always a problem. The other healed but they were both usually sore. Headphones would have been a no-go during healing (6+ months) and still caused some pain after healing.

If you're a really good piercing tolerator, maybe your experience will be different? But it's a notoriously finicky and slow-healing area.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:07 PM on April 26, 2019

I have two helix piercings in each ear and also prefer over-ear headphones. I do have problems with my Sennheisers but others don't seem to be an issue. I think it depends a lot on the headphones and what you have in your ears - like you, I can't wear studs even in my lobes without it being an issue with pretty much any over-ear headphones. My Sennheisers are also really grippy because they are collapsible. A more relaxed tension is not a problem.

Sleeping was pretty painful for a while since I sleep on my sides. Month or so later not too bad though took a while longer to fully heal. I recommend plain sleepers/rings without captive beads, there is less to go bump in the night or otherwise.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2019

my cartilage piercing didn't heal for 6+ months -- until I began using H2Ocean Aftercare Piercing Spray, and it healed in a week. YMMV
posted by changeling at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2019

If lobe piercings irritate you with headphones, yeah, a helix might be uncomfortable in a similar way. A plain ring (not even captive bead) would probably have the best chance, but you'd still need to give it a break while healing.

As for other piercings... I gave up trying to heal a daith because headphones were bugging it, and it really should have been largely out of the way. But the angle of the piercing was a little weird, and I found it hard to sleep on, too. I usually heal easily, and cartilage piercings were never a problem for me, but I got very annoyed with the daith after a couple of weeks and just took it out.

Tragus piercings worked for me, though. I've had tragus rings for over twenty years, and they've been fine with on-ear headphones. I find earbuds uncomfortable and don't wear them, but that may be as much due to my ear shape as to the piercings.
posted by kite at 5:46 PM on April 26, 2019

I have two forward helixes, a rook, a daith, a tragus, and a faux snug piercing all in my right ear. I also had an industrial late last year (now removed) but it just didn’t want to heal. The industrial was the worst for over the ear headphones. I’ve gotten used to the tragus and daith with the Apple wired ear buds without any pain, but do be careful that you don’t rip the headphones quickly out of your ears or you may regret it.

The only headphones I still have a problem with are the Aftershockz bone conduction headphones. They sit uncomfortably over the forward helix and the tragus.

If you are going to go with over the ear headphones, I’d suggest a rook or a daith over the forward helix or tragus since those piercings have less points of contact with anything that sits on the rim of the ear.
posted by msladygrey at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've got an orbital helix, with the second hole done many years after the original. I've had both holes in this piercing for over a decade now and they're super cooperative with anything I want to wear or do with them, so I think eventually you would be able to wear over the ear headphones again (and neither hole was all that hard to heal for me, especially compared to my snug) - but you'd probably need to wait until they were healed. Like msladygrey, I think that if you want a piercing where you can wear headphones right away I'd go with the rook or daith instead - my daith was hands-down the easiest-healing cartilage piercing I've had. It's so tucked away!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:21 PM on April 26, 2019

I have various ear cartilage piercings and have had others, including a helix I gave up on. The only one that has ever given me headphone problems was the snug, which was horrible to heal. I gave up on that one after a few years of on and off irritation and pain.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:34 PM on April 26, 2019

I have two helix piercings in one ear, with a spiral earring in them. (Plus 5 other piercings in each ear.) I definitely find that all over-the-ear headphones aggravate them. I also find that holding my phone to that ear aggravates them. I have a headphone at work for my desk phone that only covers one ear, and I vastly prefer that for non-ear-aggravating purposes. Essentially everything bothers them and they are frequently irritated/infected. I love how it looks, but, oof, would I do it again? I mean, I am definitely not going to do it on my other ear.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:44 PM on April 27, 2019

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