Should You Get an Inner Ear Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 03, 2022
    Last Updated: March 12, 2022

Are you thinking about adorning your ear with ink? The inner ear isn’t the most popular place to get a tattoo, but it can look amazing. If you want a tattoo but can’t bear sitting through hours of pain, a small tat on your ear may be the answer.

We discuss the risks of getting an inner ear tattoo and how to look after it if you decide to go ahead.

Why Get an Inner Ear Tattoo?

Ear tattoos are an excellent alternative for someone who doesn’t want a piercing but loves the thought of adorning their ears. 

Whether you want an intricate floral design or something more abstract, ear tattoos can make a big statement in a small space.

Are Inner Ear Tattoos Painful?

Getting a tattoo in or around the ear can cause a lot of pain for some people. There are many nerve endings in the area, so it can be more painful than getting a tattoo somewhere like your upper arm. There’s also a lack of fat around the ear, meaning there’s not much protection against the tattoo needle.

Ear tattoos can also cause temporary headaches, lockjaw, and migraines. This may be because many people clench their teeth to deal with the pain which results in these symptoms.

Risks of Getting an Inner Ear Tattoo

Several risks are involved when proceeding with a tattoo on your inner ear.

Allergic Reactions

Many tattoo inks contain metals that can cause irritation or allergic reactions. You might try a patch test on your skin with your tattooist before getting inked. However, allergies can develop at any time. Just because you’re not allergic to the dye now doesn’t mean your skin won’t react to it in the future.


There’s always a chance of cross-contamination when using needles. If the needle isn’t sterile, it puts you at risk of blood-borne diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and C, Tuberculosis, and Tetanus. Always check the cleanliness of the tattoo shop before committing to an artist.


Tattooing ear cartilage carries an increased risk of infection because the blood supply is less around that area. Blood carries oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies needed to fight off infection. So when blood supply is low, an infection can take longer to heal.


A keloid is a raised scar that can form after having a tattoo. Keloids can be itchy, but they’re benign. However, the damage they cause aesthetically can be upsetting.

Swelling or Burning

Some tattoos can become swollen or burn during MRI scans due to the metal used to create the ink. 

Do Inner Ear Tattoos Fade Easily?

Ear tattoos tend to fade much easier than tats elsewhere on the body. The reason ear tattoos fade easier than others is often due to sunlight exposure. 

Covering your tattoo with your hair or wearing a hat that shades your ears will help preserve the color of your tat. Once your tat has healed, you can take extra precautions in the sun by using adequate sunblock.

Are Inner Ear Tattoos Unprofessional?

Every workplace is different, and some employers will embrace your choices, whereas others perceive tattoos as unprofessional in the workplace. 

However, it’s rare for an employer to reject an application based on a tattoo. But, keep in mind that your boss may ask you to cover your art. Covering is an easy fix if you have long hair over your ears, not so easy when you have a short hairstyle. 


When your tattooist completes your tattoo, they’ll apply a layer of ointment and cover it with a bandage or plastic wrap. The artist will tell you how long to leave the bandage on for, and although it may be tempting, avoid removing it prematurely.

After removing the cover, gently wash the area with a mild fragrance-free antibacterial soap. Then, pat it dry with a clean paper towel. 

Once dry, apply a thin layer of moisturizer or pure coconut oil. 

Repeat the cleaning process daily. You can also try these tips to speed up the healing process: 

  • Your tattoo needs air to heal. Don’t re-dress it after you remove the first dressing
  • Don’t apply sunscreen to a tattoo that hasn’t fully healed up. Shield your tattoo from sunlight using your hair or a hat
  • Avoid itching the area
  • Although you’ll be cleaning your tattoo daily, avoid getting it wet at other times
  • Avoid getting scented products such as shampoo and conditioner on your fresh tattoo

How Long Does An Ear Tattoo Take to Heal?

An ear tattoo will take approximately three to four weeks to heal. The healing process relies on good aftercare. So if you decide to go ahead with your ear tat, follow your tattooist’s advice on caring for your ink.

Tattoo Healing Stages

Week one: Skin may feel warm to the touch and appear red. It’ll usually calm down by the end of the first week. Scabs can form on the tattoo in the first few days. 

The color of a tattoo can look overly vibrant in week one, but this will settle during the healing process.

Week two: Any scabs will begin to become flakey. Avoid itching them and peeling them off because this can damage your tattoo. Be gentle with your washing routine when the skin is in this state.

To relieve any itching, you can try taking an antihistamine. If the itching gets worse, make an appointment with your doctor.

Week three: During week three, the risk of infection significantly reduces as the outer layer of skin heals. Keep the area moisturized, and once the skin has healed, you can start applying sunblock when you go outside.  


Getting a tattoo is a huge decision, and there are a lot of things to think about before inking any part of your body. Make sure you’re fully committed to the idea of a tattoo and the design. 

If you decide to go ahead with your ear tat, be sure to follow the aftercare instructions of your tattooist carefully.