Industrial Piercing Pain and Experience

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I had an industrial piercing done on my right ear a little over 10 years ago. I haven’t really thought much about the piercing in several years, but I have recently been considering letting it heal closed. This got me reflecting on why I made the decision to begin with. I thought my experience would be worth sharing here on the blog because it was so different than what I had in mind when I got it. Maybe other people are considering getting an industrial piercing, and have the same misconceptions that I had going in.

Industrial piercing pain level and healing time

10 years ago, when I w as 15, I decided to get the industrial piercing for a few reasons. One was I wanted a piercing that wasn’t exclusively feminine. I never had any interest in belly piercings and the piercing I had in my ear lobes seemed pretty plain-jane to me. Yet, nose, eyebrow and lip piercings didn’t appeal to me for various reasons. I thought an industrial piercing was unique enough to stand out while not being traditional super-girly jewelry either. At the time being unique was really important to me and I didn’t know anyone else who had one, so I went for it.

Prior to getting the industrial piercing I only had one regular set in my ear lobes, and my tongue pierced. I just assumed on my own that the piercing would be more painful than getting my ear lobes pierced, but wouldn’t be as bad as my tongue was. When I had my tongue pierced everyone told me it would be awful because it’s a muscle.

The industrial pain was worse than having my tongue pierced, in my opinion. However, I’ve talked to people who had both and who thought the tongue piercing was worse. When I had my tongue pierced the place I went had me swish really strong mouthwash for a really long time – I want to say 2 minutes? My whole mouth was burning and tingling, anyway and then they quickly went from that into piercing my tongue so I think the mouthwash may have aided in a loss of sensation to my tongue.

Anyway, even the industrial piercing wasn’t terrible. On a pain scale I would say maybe a six and a half. My eyes got watery but didn’t actually lose a tear, and I found myself holding my breath for a few seconds but it was doable. Though the rough part was it’s done in two portions. They force a needle through the outer edge of your ear, and then pause and re-group before poking a hole on the top portion of your ear, so it’s a two-step process of pain.

The worst part about the industrial piercing experience was the healing process. I was told it would take a few weeks to heal. I tried to keep it clean, and to twist it as I was told to but it still took 2 months to heal. That entire time it was sensitive to the touch. For the first six weeks or so, if I rolled over in my sleep and the weight of my head was resting on that ear, I would wake up from the pain of it. The difficulty sleeping was really annoying. Even that early on, I sort of regretted getting it because it was disrupting my sleep and nobody had commented on it at all. Having that realization made me feel silly even at 15, because I didn’t think I had gotten it to show off or anything. However, the fact that nobody had commented on it made me realize that nobody was really even SEEING it. So I was going through pain for something that I thought looked cool, but nobody else was even seeing it. I’ve always kept hair that is roughly shoulder length, and I don’t put the top half of my hair up very often so the top halves of my ears are usually covered with my hair. Even when my hair is up, it’s not really very visible.  Perhaps it’s a better piercing for men seems how their ears show more often.

industrial piercing

After about 2 months it was mostly healed. Then my dad and I were joking and I was sort of pretend-sassing him. Being goofy he tried to grab my ear, I guess sort of like the mock idea of how parents used to pull their kids by their ear when they had misbehaved? It was goofy, but anyway when he tried to grab my ear he pressed on the piercing and it HURT. That started another few weeks of it being sore and sensitive to the touch, almost like it had to re-heal. Then just a month or so after that, I went to hug a friend at school who was much taller than me. It was sort of a side/shoulder hug and he had on a hoodie with strings that got caught up in my hair and piercing. We didn’t realize this had happened so when we broke the hug it pushed against the piercing really badly and a tiny bit of my ear actually tore. That was extremely painful and the piercing had to re-heal again. When it did heal it didn’t heal as flat or smoothly as it had originally. Now it had a small lump or bump around the top hole of the piercing.

Thankfully, that was the last injury and after that point I didn’t have any pain. However, after a few months I decided to purchase a zig-zag industrial from Hot Topic. I thought it looked cooler than the plain silver bar I had been pierced with. So I bought it, only to be disappointed when I went to put it in and it was too short. I got online and found out that industrial piercings don’t get done in a set length. From what I have read, in part this is because people have different sized ears, but also some industrials are more horizontal or more vertical than others. So the jewelry is just made in estimated lengths. Apparently mine is a bit longer than a lot of people’s because I’ve bought several industrial that were not long enough. None of the curly, zig-zagged or otherwise not-straight jewelry that I tried to buy was long enough to fit. I was really bummed that I was left with just plain barbells.

I’ve basically kept my industrial piercing in because the healing process was so tough. I didn’t want to take it out because I thought it would all be for nothing. However, I have never had a haircut where the lady at the salon didn’t accidentally snag the tip of the barbell when combing my hair. When it’s windy and my hair blows it often gets tangled around the piercing and I have to unwind it. It’s not a big problem, but I don’t really feel like there’s a purpose in having in because nobody sees it. Just int he past year I had a family member who I see VERY regularly notice it for the first time ever!

So, now that i’m 25 I just wonder what the point of keeping it in is. I don’t think I have a very good reason so I think I’m going to let it close.

If you have an industrial and want an affordable one, I recommend this one on Amazon. I had an MRI a couple years ago and had to remove my barbell for the test. After the test I forgot to get it back, so I ordered this one quickly so it wouldn’t close. I’ve been wearing it for 2 years now without any issue which I thought was impressive for the price.

Have you ever had an industrial? Did you like having it or find it kind of useless? 

Comments 51

  • Zeanna

    Wow! I just got mine pierced yesterday and it didnt hurt at all! Im on day two and i can touch it softly and kind of play around with it. Other than the bleeding when I got pierced (which wasnt major) it hasnt been that bad for me.

    • luc

      on a scale of 1-10, how much? i want to get mine pierced but im scared it’ll hurt allot

      • Emmy - Author of Post,

        I’ve never had a baby or a kidney stone so the worst pain I’ve had was a terrible toothache. If that toothache was a 9 I would put the industrial piercing pain at about a 6.5-7 when it was actually done but only for about a minute maybe, then it quickly tapered off (like getting a shot or a bee sting, etc). My eyes watered from the pain for a second. Then the pain while it was healing would be probably a 3-4 when I would forget about it and roll over on that side. If I caught the ring in my brush/comb or if someone knocked into me then it would be up at about a 6 for just a brief second but would fizzle back down quickly.

      • Jamie

        I just got mine pierced about an hour ago and I wasn’t aware that she had pierced the second ear. They just burn a lot right now.

        • Athena

          I have a tongue piercing and my industrial, the industrial hurt sooooo much worse, I’ve had it for like 3 months or more and it still hurts but I saw online that it says it takes like a year to heal

      • Alyssa

        It made me have water eyes but my piercer said 6 months up to 12 months to fully heal with out having pain at all .

  • Courtney

    I got mine pierced two days ago! I am so in love with it and cannot wait until it heals so I can get new jewelry. I have been cleaning it 3-4 times a day and am doing everything I can not to let it get infected like my nose did. The industrial itself wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be. My mother held my hand while I got it done and she squeezed my hand just as hard as I was squeezing hers. She picked me up some Witch Hazel and cotton swabs, because that is what the piercer recommended. I am absolutely in love with my industrial <3 Definitely worth it, so far.

  • Nicole

    really enjoyed all.the info in here. i just got mine done yesterday and it throbbed for the day but now i hardly feel it even when i clean it

  • Ricky

    I think the question you should be asking is, do you like it? If so, that’s all the reason you need to keep it in.

  • Christina Moore

    I had my daith,eyebrow,tongue,cartilidge, and earlobs done..I’m dieing for the industrial! My cartiligdge still bothers me 20 years later but if anyone out there knows, “does the verticle or horizontal hurt less healing” ….just wondering?

    • felix

      i think its the same process because your making a wound to it thats my opinion

    • Elaina

      I haven’t got mine done yet but I have watched videos. A lot of tattoo artist/piercers will pierce it as if it was 2 different piercings. 2 different bar bells (short) Because they say it is easier on the healing process. Don’t know about the horizontal, vertical difference though

      • Emily Medrano

        When you get two separate ones done though the piercings can become misaligned, and when you try to put a straight bar in later and it’s misaligned it’s gonna hurt man. Also you can get an infection.

  • felix

    honestly when i got my piercing it ddnt hurt at all my tongue ddnt hurt either but the healing process is bothering me its so sensitive that the smallest thing can make it hurt i really agree with you about the sleeping part cuz i got the bar in my right ear and i also got the helix on the ither side so no matter what side i sleep in sucks but the industrial bar i had it for 9 days only hopefully itll get better but i enjoyed reading this

  • Kayleigh Hebert

    thank you so much for posting this. i got mine done yesterday and i’m already considering taking it out. i got mine on the left side and the pain when i’m cleaning it has caused nausea and makes my face go pale and my forearms start sweating. i got an hour and a half of sleep last night, the pain was horrible. i need some advice!!!

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      Mine was painful enough that I couldn’t sleep with that side of my head against the bed but you saying you go pale and sweat from the pain seems concerning to me. I don’t remember it being nearly that intense while cleaning it. I wonder if it could be infected or if something else could be wrong? Is it red, swollen, etc? Maybe see about having it looked at by a doctor or maybe the piercing place would even double check it?

  • Felicia

    I got mine done about a month and half ago. My piercer told me I could change the bar after 4-6 weeks. So I did. When I got it done it didn’t hurt at all, sleeping was difficult since I couldn’t lay on it. I have changed the bar 3 times since then and my ear hurts like hell after the third change unlike the other times. I have kept up with the cleaning but I probably have an infection.

  • You’re suppose to get your industrial piercing on the opposite side of where you hold your phone/sleep. So most people would pierce their left side. That way it won’t pick up any infection or pain.

  • Michelle

    Mine is almost a year old. It’s been hard to find jewelry for it because mine is a very short span, so most of the cool bars are too long. For a change, I like to put in little open rings or short curved barbells. I think if I got tired if the bar I would still keep the holes open for hoops.

  • McKenzie

    I’m still debating on if I want to get it or not. I am a total baby when it comes to any pain but I LOVE the way they look (especially the arrows). I just want to know if anyone recommends for it or against it for me?

    • Caroline

      I’m getting mine soon and am also a HUGE baby when it comes to pain. Try rubbing some Orajel on the area before you get it pierced. But yes you should def still get the piercing!

    • Becca

      I’m in the same boat. I want to get an industrial piercing but am scared of the pain. But I also know that I really want it and it’ll be totally worth it afterward. I just have to pluck up the courage to get it done

    • If you can’t do pain, I wouldn’t recommend it because the piercing isn’t the only pain with it.

  • Linn

    When you got it pierced, did you get to chose between getting two small piercings or the long one? I’ve heard it heals quicker if it is to small ones… just wondering since I really want one!:)

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      I wasn’t offered the option. I haven’t heard of having two separate piercings? I am just guessing here so I could certainly be wrong, but I think if you just got two separate earrings it wouldn’t fit an industrial barbell through the holes. My lower ear lobe piercings have a really tiny hole just for an earring post, where an industrial barbell is much thicker. I think if you want two separate upper-ear piercings for small earrings it wouldn’t be called an industrial piercing but i’m not certain.

      • Elaina

        He would pierce it with the same needle he would pierce it if he was piercing it for the long bar so the short bars would be the same width as the long bar.

  • AJ

    I have my nipples pierced, it can’t hurt more than that, right?

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      I haven’t had that done so I can’t speak from experience, but it’s certainly hard to imagine an industrial hurting worse than that!

  • does it hurt more than piercing your nose? and how much did it cost??

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      I had my industrial done about 11 years ago but back then it was $40. I haven’t had my nose pierced so I can’t compare the pain to that, sorry.

    • Becca

      It absolutely hurts more than your nose, and the healing process is literally hell. I bought a neck pillow and that’s how I sleep with my ear though the hole so it doesn’t touch anything. I’ve had it for a week and I’m so scared that it’ll get infected. I love the look of it but it still hurts.

  • Natasha

    I’ve had my industrial pierced 3days ago. Currently suffering with some slight swelling and redness. Sensitive when cleaning but I am managing to twist it.
    Sleeping is very difficult as I can’t lay on this side so a very broken nights sleep 🙁
    I’ve had my tongue, septum, Monroe, basic ear piercing, daith & belly…. for me the industrial bloody hurt. Wasn’t a pain that made me jump but was uncomfortable for the short period.
    Not as bad as child birth though lol.
    I am currently cleaning it 3 times a day with a antimicrobial solution (was my daughter’s from when she got her ears pierced at Claire’s accessories 3 weeks ago). Trying to keep my hair up and out of the way but still getting a few strands caught. It is painful like a burning throbbing sensation but I don’t have an discharge from it (only a small amount of blood occasionally when cleaning it) :/ 🙁

    • Megan

      Whoever told you to turn it was wrong. It takes it longer to heal if you turn it. You are just breaking the skin so it has to restart the healing process all over again. Do not turn it until it is fully healed.

      • Emily Medrano

        You have to turn it when cleaning so that the solution thoroughly goes through the openings… this causes less of a chance of an infection, which would take the longest to heal.

  • Abby

    I just got mine done 4 days ago and it is still a little swollen and red and hurts when i touch it or when my hair gets caught on it. What can i do to make it less painful? i clean it 3 to 4 times a day and i take ibuprofen for the pain and put a damp wash cloth on it for a little bit.

  • Victoria

    Tried to get an industrial for my daughter today but they wouldn’t do it. They said her ear lobe was not a good shape for the industrial bar. The inner part of the ear they the bar crosses is to high and her ear sits close to her head creating and more pulling sinsation and the bar would then rub against her ear or cause as indention. At any rate. She got two helix studs in the hope of healing and changing them to mini hoops. She is 13 and tolerated the process without a problem. She was more bothered by the insert of the earring more than the piercing part.

  • Natasha

    I got mine done a month ago and the first week or so was hell. Always wanted to get one so at 22 I did hurts way more than a tattoo on a fleshy piece of skin but after a week of no sleep, I got desperate and I was broke. I took a separate pillow and wrapped it about three quarters down with a bandage so it became an odd hourglass and kept it that way on half my pillow side where my piercing goes and a normal cushion/pillow on my normal eat side and it’s been a dream as there’s a hole where my ear goes but I can still sleep on that side. I hope this advice helps someone else 🙂

  • EJMR

    Omg me too!! I got mine two days ago, when i first got it pierced the pain was bearable but it’s only getting worse now. Yesterday night was horrible i couldn’t sleep because of the pain! It’s hurting me so so so much it keeps on stinging non stop!!!
    I’m cleaning it 3 times per day i have no idea why it’s hurting me that much.
    Does anyone know what i should do?

  • Not a wimp but I'm 66.

    Okay, part of living is pain. If you decide to get any piercing, some pain will be involved. Anyone who says piercings and tatts don’t hurt is just plain LYING. I have 14 tatts that are probably older than some of you who have commented here. I just got my second industrial a few days ago. My first one had to be removed for an MRI. When my piercer put it back in the fucker hurt more than the original. I have to be careful cleaning because I have long dreads and I wear glasses. The most important part is to clean your hands before cleaning the piercing. Taking care of your piercing, painful or not, is top priority.

  • Hannah Martin

    I had mine done yesterday. I actually found it quite painful and a day later it’s sore on and off and still a bit bloody and hurts to clean. But early days. I already have my Tragus and rook done on the opposite ear and didn’t find either painful. My rook healed really quickly and easily but my Tragus took ages to fully heal. I’m cleaning my industrial with tea tree and saline solution and hoping it will stop being sore soon!!

  • Nakiah

    I just did mine a few days ago for the second time, and it is very tender. I can barely twist it and it hurts to clean it. However if I turn over onto the side it is on it doesn’t hurt.

  • Shawn Dillingham

    Honestly I got my Industrial Barbell pierces last Week and I’m always SUPER nervous when I go in for a piercing or a tattoo and that day was no different it was something knew and I didn’t know what to expect anyways I went in and sat down and asked him as he prepped my ear how painful it would be between 1-10 and he said about a 7-8 so I braved myself breathed in 1-2-3 first hole was done and it stung about like a bee sting and was about a 3-4 on pain level and then again I breathed 1-2-3 the second and last hole was done and that one surprised me because it didn’t hurt at all when he did it I was surprised because he said he was done he screwed my balls on and I paid him and left now about 30 minutes later it did sting a bit because it was brand new and for the past week rolling over at night on it in the bed hurts like crazy but only for a second same goes for just bumping it throughout the day so overall the last week has been alright nothing to bad just keep it clean using anti bacterial soap and Would Wash it should heal nice in the next 2-12 months

  • Alyssa Odom

    I got mine done about 6 years ago and I love it. I remember it being pretty painful, maybe about a 5 out of 10. But I was also able to sleep on it that night without any pain and I remember the bar being put in being much more painful than the actual piercing.

  • Joey Lev

    hi, might be a silly question, but how do you guys wash you hair? surely the shower / water would touch the wound and hurt right…?

    im not worry about sleeping. im just worry about the cleaning and after care =/

    planning to get it done in a few months time. booked my piercer yesterday. and been googling about it since lol

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      It’s been several years since I had mine done but I don’t recall having any pain while showering in particular? I would sometimes get hair wrapped/tangled around the bar and it would sometimes hurt if I didn’t detangle it very carefully because it would snag/tug the barbell. So maybe turn your head sideways, so that the bulk of your hair falls to the opposite side of your piercing while you are lathering your hair so that the loose ends of your hair don’t tangle around the barbell while you are touseling your hair around?

  • Alexandra

    Pierced my industrial about a month ago. It is still very sore to touch. I do have some bumps. So not sure if my ear just doesn’t like it or just part of the healing process.

  • I am a little late :). I find a flat end on the top of an industrial piercing reduces “interference” significantly. It is also more comfortable in general. You should check it out.

  • Jenna Leigh

    I got my industrial piercing 7 days ago. I have 5 cartilage piercings, both Tragus, tongue, nose, navel and had my eyebrow done many moons ago. I have 8 tattoos including a half sleeve I sat 7 hours for, so I personally feel my pain tolerance is pretty high.
    My industrial piercing hit the middle of my pain scale 5/10. It’s easily bearable if you breathe through it, but it does pinch. As others mentioned it is a 2-part piercing. You will feel your ear burning afterward.
    I think the post-piercing pain is a 6.5/10. I sleep fine in any position, but waking up to a thumping , swollen ear blows. I soak mine 3-4x daily in sea salts and wash it with clean water afterward. It always feels so much better after a 5-8 min soak. I am not aggravating it by twisting or turning, and I am not constantly wiping it with cotton or Qtips. The best thing I’ve found that I can do is keep my hair up away from it day/night, stick to my cleaning regiment and keep my hands off it otherwise. My piercings have all been relatively easy to care for- this one requires a lot of patience. I’m still happy I got it even though it’s a lot of work. It is a piercing I have wanted for about 5 or 6 years, so I have no regrets thus far.

  • Maria

    I just got my industrial less than 24 hours ago. It didn’t hurt too bad during the piercing part, like maybe a 5 or 6 out of 10. I was however rushing with adrenaline because it was my first piercing ever. I normally have a pretty high pain tolerance, but this thing has me almost passing out from the pain when I clean it or it bumps on something! I think I can even almost hear the blood rushing through my ear. I do love it though. Hopefully it heals faster than what my piercer told me (like a year…). Only other experience with a needle outside of vaccines and the usual is my first and only tattoo, which covers my entire right thigh and was done when my thigh was covered in yellow bruises. That didn’t hurt at all compared to the pain I am feeling right now in my ear. But totally worth it.

  • Tylesha

    I got my tongue pierced at 18 and my barbell in my late 20’s. I’m in my late 30’s and still have both. They were both pretty painful. My tongue didn’t hurt until after the numbing agent wore off the next morning. When I drank some orange juice for breakfast, I realized my tongue was swollen and I couldn’t eat or drink because everything hurt. I never thought to take pain meds. It took about a 3-4 days for the swelling to subside, and eating was always a challenge. My food would go cold before I got halfway through. After having the regular cartilage piercing on both ears, my right side twice; it was too painful at 18 so I let it close because I couldn’t sleep at all, then right before I went to the Navy at 19, I did both ears & while I was sleep my piercing saver fell out so I just let it close again. That led to my decision to get a barbell. My barbell hurt but after a while it slowly subsided, however, laying on that side didn’t happen. I used Bactine spray several times a day, with Neosporin, and it still took about 2-3 years before it healed. I’m multi racial too, which I think played a role in my developing a small keloid at the top part of my piercing. And, after about 7 years, when I lay on that side, I do have flare ups of irritation. My curly hair still gets tangled with certain hairstyles, but mine mostly shows so I have no plan to retire it. Showing or not, I live the way my piercings look still. My verdict is, do what makes you happy. If it’s no bother either way, it doesn’t matter. As stated before, I see mine a lot, as do others, so it’s still relevant. My tongue ring, I considered that, but without it after all these years, it make my mouth feel weird, so I’m keeping that too.

  • Stephanie bauer

    thank you for this!!! Im 26 now and got mine done when I was like 13 or 14. I had my hair done recently and he kept dragging it so now its all irritated and hurts. So in laying here like is this pain really even worth it anymore? It was copl back in high-school but my hairs usually down and its more of a hassle I’ve been going backhand forth for like an hour now and said screw it… it feels so much better rn. Maybe in the morning ill put it back in but I’m not too worried about it! Glad I’m not the only one!

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