Two years ago, I found myself in a piercer’s chair, desperate for relief from the hell migraines were causing. The agonizing pain was a daily threat, and my quality of life had deteriorated to a level so low I would have chopped off a finger if I thought it would help alleviate the symptoms.
When I heard about daith piercings potentially curing, or at least decreasing migraine symptoms, I had my sister take me to the tattoo parlor. You can read the details of that day in this article about how I tried the Daith Piercing for Migraines.
Since documenting my journey, I’ve received hundreds of questions and comments regarding my ear piercing for migraines–the questions below are the most commonly asked. If you have a question not covered here, please don’t hesitate to ask in a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
Daith Piercings for Migraines – FAQs that I’ve Received
Does the daith piercing hurt?
This will, of course, be different for everyone. However, I can tell you the initial piercing didn’t hurt me. I felt a lot of pressure and some discomfort when the jewelry went in, but I was more focused on the immediate relief of migraine pain.
In the days following, I experienced mild pain at the piercing site. Sleeping on the pierced side was irritating and, if swelling occurs in this area, it can be quite painful. However, a dose of ibuprofen and an ice pack provides excellent relief. To avoid swelling, I suggest that you keep the site very clean, avoid sleeping on the pierced side, and wait to change the jewelry until it’s fully healed.
While we’re on the topic of pain, it’s important to point out that my pain threshold was pushed to the limit due to my migraine symptoms. Chronic pain had worn me down mentally, physically, and spiritually. Relative to the pain I was in, this piercing was barely a blip on the radar.
Daith piercing healing time: Just how long are we talking?
My daith piercing took a full year to heal. This may seem like forever, but it shouldn’t discourage any of you from trying this migraine treatment method. After discussing the physiology behind why this piercing helps relieve symptoms associated with migraines with Dr. Blatchley, this prolonged healing time might actually be a blessing. (More on that below.)
Which ear should get the daith piercing for migraines?
This is probably the most commonly asked question, and the answer is simple: The same side as the pain. If you have migraine symptoms on both sides of your head, you may want to start with one side, then try the other. As a side sleeper, I think getting both sides pierced at the same time would have been miserable. But, if you’re a back sleeper, this may not be so bothersome. If you decide to pierce both sides, sleeping on a donut-type pillow helps tremendously.
These pillows are specifically made for fresh ear piercings!
Do daith piercings bleed a lot?
My piercing produced no more than one drop of blood. When it got infected several months later, it bled considerably more, but relative to other areas of the body, cartilage rarely bleeds heavily. This lack of blood flow is the reason it takes so long to heal. So, if you’re a bleeder, that may mean your healing time will be shorter.
What to use and how to clean the daith piercing?
I’ve read dozens of different recommendations and found that a cotton ball soaked in warm salt water is the most soothing and effective for cleaning during the first couple of weeks. When traveling, I used a convenient saline spray (Wound Wash) that’s sold over the counter. It’s not as soothing as the warm water, but is very effective for cleaning purposes.
To make the salt water solution:
Dissolve 1/4 tsp sea salt in one cup of water. I doubled the amounts and stored it in a clean water bottle on my counter. When ready to clean your ear, pour about a 1/4 cup of the salt water solution into a microwavable dish. Keep in mind that salt water heats VERY quickly. Heat for 5-10 seconds, being careful not to overheat and burn yourself.
Soak a cotton ball with the warm water and press into your ear. Repeat until it comes away clean. The warmth and salt draw out the gross stuff, and it feels amazing. You can also dip cotton swabs in the water and wipe away crusties, if needed.
Others swear tea tree oil is the best for cleaning and preventing infections. I recommend trying both and seeing what works best for you. Avoid using harsh soaps, as these tend to cause more harm than good. Just wash normally in the shower, being careful not to snag anything on your piercing (especially if you have long hair).
At one point I put antibiotic ointment on the piercing area, and it became incredibly irritated. I think this is an option where less is more. Keep it clean and dry, then let your body do the rest.
Ear piercing bump: Is this a daith piercing infection?
It’s super common to develop a bump on either or both sides of the piercing. Cleaning the area three times a day for a week or two should take care of it. If you run a fever or have any other concerns, contact your doctor.
Is there any medical proof that daith piercings are effective for treating migraine symptoms?
More studies are desperately needed to prove the effectiveness of this piercing. However, the medical science behind the theory is sound. There is a branch of the vagus nerve that runs through the ear, and piercing this specific spot stimulates that nerve. Doctors are not clear why this helps migraine symptoms, but they are aware it’s effective in many patients. Vagus nerve stimulators are available in many forms.
Dr. Chris Blatchely is a medical doctor in London that specializes in migraine treatment, and he’s the first to offer the piercing as part of a medically controlled treatment plan.
He’s collected data from migraine sufferers that tried daith piercings and is seeking the help of neurologists to continue his study.
You can read his full report here. After speaking with him via phone and asking about the anatomy and physiology of this small area in the ear, he theorized that many patients experience relief initially and throughout the healing process because of nerve stimulation. His study showed a decrease in the effectiveness of the piercing in some patients after about two years. He believes that it may be due to the area being fully healed, which suggests the nerve is no longer stimulated as aggressively. However, it’s been over two years for me, and I am still migraine free.
In short, more attention is still needed on this topic. Dr. Blatchley is requesting support from neurologists to perform further research. If anyone knows a neurologist that would be interested, please direct them to his attention. Also, if you’ve tried the daith piercing for migraines, take his survey. Together, we can make a difference in helping fellow migraine sufferers around the globe.
Read my story: Two Years After this Piercing for Headache Relief