Can Tragus Piercings Help With Migraines?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 21, 2019
    Last Updated: January 10, 2021

If you suffer from chronic migraines and are tired of painkillers, a tragus piercing may seem like a great solution. Tragus piercings are wildly popular for aesthetic reasons alone. Recently, however, people have started getting them solely to alleviate migraines. It works similarly to acupuncture, focusing on modifying pressure points in the body.

The tragus is located near the pressure point on the ear that acupuncturists target to treat migraines, which is why this type of piercing has gained backing as a migraine remedy. However, the evidence for a tragus piercing to relieve migraine pain is primarily anecdotal.

Tragus piercings are popular for migraines due to these factors:

  • Stimulate the vagus nerve and provide pain relief
  • Work in the same way as acupuncture
  • Many people in the migraine community swear by them

Is There Scientific Evidence to Support This?

Tragus piercings are an attractive therapeutic option for migraine treatment, but how do they work? Scientists and migraine specialists have a minimal understanding of how effective they are.

A case study conducted in 2017 on the daith piercing concluded that there was an improvement of migraine attacks in subjects. This supports the hypothesis that piercing through this area may relieve migraines.

They would not, however, recommend it for migraine treatment, due to the lack of scientific evidence and the other risks associated with it. Piercing through the tragus is risky because an open wound in the cartilage is prone to infection and other complications. The principal cause of this is due to the low blood supply in that area.

How It Works

The idea behind piercing one’s cartilage for migraine pain relief is the same one behind acupuncture. Acupuncturists base their practices on the belief that pressure points and nerve endings can be modified and stimulated to treat discomfort or pain. 

Acupuncture is better researched than piercing treatments, due to the practice being around longer. It’s, therefore, easier to apply the benefits of acupuncture to how a tragus piercing can benefit you.

It’s believed that the tragus piercing stimulates the auricular branch of the vagus nerve. Stimulating this nerve is thought to prevent or minimize pain signals sent from the brain. This is how it would mitigate chronic or non-chronic migraines. Whether this is true or not isn’t clear because of the shortage of scientific evidence on this topic.

Other health conditions, like depression, have already been clinically proven to respond positively to the stimulation of the vagus nerve. This has encouraged more research into the topic of piercing as a treatment, but the evidence still isn’t conclusive. It’s believed that those who respond positively to tragus piercings are only experiencing a placebo effect. The point is that more research is needed.

Which Side Should I Pierce?

If you really want to go forward with the tragus piercing, it’s important to note that it matters which side you pierce. This is only based on anecdotal evidence, but it’s believed that you should get the piercing on the side where you experience the most pain.

Migraine pain tends to cluster or focus on one side of the head. If you experience chronic migraines, you probably already know which side is the most affected. To give the piercing the best chance to work, be sure to pierce on that side.

Does a Tragus Piercing Hurt?

Tragus piercings are less painful than other ear or body piercings. This is because there are few nerve endings there, and it’s all cartilage. You may feel a slight sting, but the discomfort is mostly from the pressure. The cartilage is hard, so more pressure needs to be applied to get the needle through.

Associated Risks of a Tragus Piercing

If you want to give the tragus piercing a shot, you should be aware of the possible side effects and risks.

Risk of Infection

When piercing the tragus, you’re piercing through the cartilage of the ear. This area has a very low blood supply and can easily become infected — even if you take care of it properly.

Infected Tragus Piercing

Piercings through the cartilage are more likely to get infected than other piercings that are through flesh or muscle. The healing process can take between four months and a year. This is longer than even a tongue piercing, which takes between six to eight weeks to heal. Longer healing time means more chances for the piercing to become infected, so keep that in mind.

No Guarantee of Combating Migraines

Another risk to consider is that, even if all goes well and you avoid infection, it may not work for you. Remember that the only evidence we have that suggest tragus piercings could relieve migraines is anecdotal. The research is growing, however, and more scientists and specialists are looking into the possibility of it providing relief.

If all other treatments don’t work for you and you’re tired of having to take painkillers, give it a shot. There’s no sure way to know if it works except for you to try it yourself. Consider getting acupuncture done first, as there’s more research to support pain relief there.


Taking painkillers every day if you’re suffering from chronic migraines isn’t ideal. You should give acupuncture a shot first before getting a tragus piercing. It’s much less abrasive, and there’s more scientific research to support that it works. Even so, there’s no denying the passion of individuals who have a positive experience from a tragus piercing and a reduction in migraine symptoms.

If you want to go ahead with a tragus piercing, the good news is that the associated pain is minimal. The healing process, however, is long and grueling. You have a pretty high risk of infection due to its location in the cartilage and its proximity to your hair. In addition, bacteria can be transferred to the site and cause a load of trouble.

If you want to ensure your piercing heals as best as it possibly can, it’s imperative that you follow your piercer’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality aftercare solution to aid recovery.

The best piercing aftercare product I’ve ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application.

When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​ Click here to buy from Amazon

Related Ear Piercing Articles