Upper Ear Piercings: Guide & Images

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 28, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Ear piercings have long been a way for men and women alike to separate themselves from the norm and really express what they’re all about. Upper ear piercings take it all to the next level, allowing you to try out new jewelry designs that just aren’t possible with traditional lobe piercings.

You’ll have a ton of upper ear piercing options if you decide to take the plunge, and it can all be a bit overwhelming at first.

This guide will give you the information you need to figure out what upper ear piercing is right for you and take the next step toward a great new piercing.

What Is An Upper Ear Piercing?

An upper ear piercing is when you pierce the helix or other cartilage in the upper part of your ear so that you can wear jewelry. Helix piercings are definitely the most popular of upper ear piercings and second only to lobe piercings when it comes to overall ear piercings.

Helix piercings are placed at the top of the ear cartilage, where there is plenty of room for even double and triple piercings. Forward helix piercings are also popular and sit on the inner upper half of the ear cartilage. Again, there can be multiple piercings placed here, too.

Upper ear piercing

However, there are other types of piercings that also sit on the upper half of the ear. Industrial piercings are very popular and combine two different piercing holes to form one long piercing. If you have a little bit of creativity or imagination, you can do a lot with upper ear piercings.

What Happens During An Upper Ear Piercing Procedure?

Any piercing procedure begins basically the same way: you arrive at the shop and acquaint yourself with your body piercer, who helps you to be at ease as you get ready for the piercing itself.

Upper ear piercings are no different. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have right away.

After that, you’ll move to the room or area of the shop where piercings are done and have yourself a seat. Your piercer will let you see the exact placement of your piercing so that you can confirm that you’re happy with it.

Your piercer will also talk to you about the needle being used and how the process will work. This will not only let you know what to expect, but also help ease your nerves a bit. If you haven’t picked your starter jewelry already, you’ll get to do so at your appointment.

Using a special needle, your body piercer will do the procedure once you’re ready. There aren’t a lot of nerves in your upper ear, so you won’t experience extreme sharp pain at the time of the piercing like you might with other areas of your body.

Once your piercer is done with the procedure, he or she will explain the ear piercing aftercare instructions, and if you don’t have any additional questions, you’ll be free to go!

Upper Ear Piercing Pain – How Much Does It Hurt?

All ear piercings hurt, which is to be expected. It’s hard to imagine not experiencing a little pain when a needle is forced through your skin, after all. However, you don’t have a lot to worry about with upper ear piercing pain, at least when compared to other piercing types.

Helix piercings and upper cartilage piercings are usually considered to be less painful than snug, anti-tragus, or inner ear piercings. Industrial piercings can be painful, but are a walk in the park compared to genital or nipple piercings.

Still, no one can tell you exactly how much a piercing will hurt. If your pain tolerance is pretty good and your piercer is experienced, you probably won’t be bothered by the pain much at all.

Following aftercare instructions will help you avoid infections after the piercing is done, which will also reduce pain.

How Much Does An Upper Ear Piercing Cost?

Piercing costs are generally based on a few factors. The shop’s level of expertise and the area you live in can influence parts of the cost. Also involved is the jewelry that you select, which can often change the price considerably.

Finally, the piercing itself is a big part of the cost, because some piercings are more difficult to perform than others.

A helix orbital piercing requires more precision and expertise than a standard helix piercing, which is why the former varies between $60 to $80 in many areas while the latter may be just $20 to $50.

Other piercings, such as industrial piercings, can also be a bit costly. You might expect $45 to $85, though this will still be highly subject to where you live and what jewelry you choose.

What To Do Before Getting An Upper Ear Piercing?

You don’t have to do anything special to prepare for your piercing. Your body piercer will sanitize the area of the piercing for you and handle everything that needs to be done. You do need to show up on time, of course.

You’ll also want to conduct any research that you need to do before you book an appointment.

Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from friends or acquaintances. You can also read reviews to see which shops might be a good fit for your piercing needs.

Upper Ear Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide

Aftercare for upper ear piercings isn’t really that complicated, but it’s very important to follow all instructions. You’ll usually be provided with a cleaning solution that’s safe for your piercings.

Avoid antibiotic ointments, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, which will do more harm than good.

Clean your piercing according to instructions, which generally call for one or two cleanings per day. Don’t forget to clean your piercings, but also avoid overcleaning them, which can lead to irritation in the area of your piercings.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, 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.

How Long Does An Upper Ear Piercing Take To Heal?

Piercings can be very addictive, and most people don’t choose upper ear piercings as their first foray into body modification. It’s likely that your first piercing was a lobe piercing, but you shouldn’t expect upper ear piercings to have the same quick healing time that lobe piercings do.

Because of the nature of your upper ear cartilage, healing times can vary from as little as four months to as long as 12 months, which is on the longer side for body piercings.

Typically, it won’t take a full year for an upper ear piercing to heal, but for something like a helix piercing, it’s possible.

Upper Ear Piercing Infections

Infections are a potential outcome of any piercing, but the odds highly increase if you don’t follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions.

If you constantly touch your piercing, let shampoo or soap get into them, or skip cleaning times, you’re more likely to develop a painful, annoying infection.

Some have speculated that upper ear piercings are particularly subject to the risk of infection, especially when compared to lobe piercings.

This is because the upper ear area lacks the white blood cells that your lobes have to fight infections. However, daily care will help you minimize these risks considerably.

Upper Ear Piercing Risks

All of the typical risks associated with piercings are also present with upper ear piercings.

This means that you have not only the chance of developing an infection, but could also suffer from poorly performed piercings that don’t heal right or are uncomfortable.

Abscesses can develop if you aren’t careful to clean your upper ear piercing regularly. An abscess is where pus wants to escape the area but is blocked and can’t do so.

If you’re cleaning your piercing twice per day, you are also looking at it regularly, therefore are more likely to notice a problem before it gets out of control.

Upper Ear Piercing Jewelry

Your jewelry options for upper ear piercings are nearly unlimited. First of all, take different materials – you can choose from sterling silver, stainless steel, titanium, gold, or other materials.

If you decide to go with a stud, you can get diamond studs, birthstones, or just about anything else you can think of.

Hoops or captive bead rings provide other options. Upper ear piercings are great for these designs, and you can really change things up with different shapes, such as hearts.

Of course, if you choose something like an industrial piercing, you’ll obviously want a barbell for your jewelry of choice. Still, even there you’ll have a lot of different options that can help you complete your overall look.

It’s all about expressing yourself and doing what makes you feel good and project what you’re all about to the world.

Your starter jewelry may be a bit more limited, but you’ll still have different options to choose from.

When you go to a shop to enquire about getting your upper ear piercing, ask to see their starter jewelry and pick something that you can be excited about while your piercing heals.

Remember to watch out for very cheap metals, as these can sometimes actually be quite dangerous.


Upper ear piercings are popular for a reason. Once healed, they are generally very low maintenance, but they can really help you customize your personal style.

Whether you want an edgy industrial piercing, an intricate orbital piercing or a simple helix piercing with a stud earring, you have a world of options in front of you with a new upper ear piercing.