Piercing the Pain Away: Daith Piercing for Migraine Relief

Headaches have been one of my worst enemies since I was 15 years old. I'm pretty certain I get every possible type of headache... sinus, allergy, tension and migraines. For the past 18 years I have been attempting to find ways to rid myself of the pain. Unfortunately, so far, I have not been able to find a magical cure that makes it so I can live head pain free. 

A while back on Facebook I saw a post about a "daith" (pronounced doth) piercing that was promising amazing results when it came to migraine relief. Since I am an ear piercing junkie, (I've had a rook, tragus, conch and orbital), I thought... hey, why not! 

The piercing goes through the inner cartilage of the ear. The "science" behind the effectiveness is that it is in the same area as one of the pressure points used in acupuncture to treat migraine pain. It is suggested to get the piercing done on the side your head pain is worst. 

Whenever I get one of these cartilage piercings done, I always do a bit of research to find a reputable shop and someone who has done several piercings. 

I decided to go to Artifact, in Canyon County, California. 

We walked in to the shop and were greeted right away. Unfortunately, we got there when she was going to lunch, so we had to come back an hour later. Even though drop in's are welcome most of the time, I would suggest calling ahead so you don't have to worry about not being able to do it when you want. 

When we went back, it was go time. I told her I wanted the "daith" to see if it helped with migraine pain. She knew exactly what I was talking about, and that put me at ease! 

Next, she looked at the anatomy of my ear, to make sure the piercing would work. Apparently, I have teeny tiny little ears (too bad they stick out). Next, we talked jewelry. I was happy to find out she would be using a titanium CBR (captive bead ring), as I seem to have reactions to non hypoallergenic metals. There were several choices, but since I am pretty plain, I decided on a diamond jewel. 

Then she gave me a paper to fill out to make sure I understood all the risks and some instructions for home care. Once we talked it over, I paid for the procedure and jewelry, it was $90.00. She went to the back to get everything ready. I will admit, even though I've done this before, the waiting makes me nervous and I almost backed out... at least 4 times. 

We went back to the piercing room. I was pleased to see my jewelry and the tools had just been taken out of an autoclave, the room smelled clean and she was putting on gloves. I'm really a stickler for cleanliness during these procedures. 

Once we got back to the room we got going. 

First she cleaned my ear and marked where the piercing would go. 

Next, we talked a little more and she had me lay down. She got everything ready and in position. She instructed me to take 3 deep breaths, and on the third blow out as long as possible and it would help it not hurt as much.

During that breath... bam... the "big poke" occurred...
Ok, I'm not gonna lie... it hurt like HELL!!! As an aside, my rook and tragus didn't hurt at all, so I was not expecting this one to hurt either... ha, ha! How wrong was I...
See my face, and my red, red ear!

Now it was time for the "jewelry transfer". In all honesty, for me... this part ALWAYS hurts, and this was no exception!
The last step is to put the bead on and snap it closed. Again, this part hurt. Because the tools are right next to your ear, every sound made seems 100 times louder and scarier than it would otherwise.

Ok, ok, admit it... that looks pretty darn cool! Even my brother, who isn't really in to this sort of thing said, "you know, that really works... it looks way cooler than I had imagined!"

She then took a q tip and cleaned around the area, you know to seep up the gushing blood. Ha, ha, it wasn't that bad...

We went over home care again (she did a great job making sure I knew how to take care of this). 

It is easiest to clean in the shower and baby soap works well for washing the piercing. 

Make sure your hands are clean, and rinse the ear to "blast out" any crusting that has built up. Next, take a little baby soap and lather it up in between two fingers. Rub it on the area and wash the piercing. Next, rinse really well to make sure the soap is out of the piercing channel. 

In the past, warm sea salt soaks have been suggested to help with healing. The idea is the saline (created by the salt water) helps keep the cells well hydrated while helping flush out cellular material that can get stuck in the piercing channel. 

If you use a sea salt soak, it is important to buy non iodized, fine grain sea salt. You need to use 1/4 teaspoon sea salt with 8 oz of water. A shallow bowl is suggested so you can just tip your head and put your ear in it. That never works for me, so I  soak a cotton ball and place it on the piercing and repeat (with a clean cotton ball) until I am out of water. It is really important to follow with a clean water rinse after. 

The Piercing Bible contains amazing information, and you can read all about saline soaks here

She also suggested icing the area if needed. She had a great tip, get a paper towel wet, place it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, and then drape it over your ear for 20 minutes. 

At this point, it was throbbing. I kinda felt like my inner ear was about to explode. I'll admit, I was worried something was terribly wrong. But, I didn't feel light headed or sick to my stomach, just had a throbbing ear! 

We were going to stop to get some dinner. After a while, I asked my Mom what time it was, and I realized I had only had the piercing done about an hour and a half ago, and it wasn't even throbbing anymore. In fact, it wasn't even bothering me. 

Once we got back, I made sure to change my pillow case. Honestly though, the rest of the night I didn't even really notice it. In fact, I ended up sleeping on it at some points during the night. 

The next day, it was a tad itchy. I did use a q tip with some water to clean around it, and wiped some dried blood, but nothing more than that. 


At this point, I have had the piercing for 4 weeks. I clean it every time I shower and that is the only time I "touch" it. I have not even done any sea salt soaks because it has not been sore, itchy, weepy or anything. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I have many types of head pain. One thing I have is an all day long sort of "fuzzy aching" feeling. I describe it as my head just always "kinda aches", even when I am not experiencing a full blown "migraine". This pain radiates over both temples, though it is usually worse on my left side and that is the side that "most" of my headaches affect. I had my piercing done on my left ear. 

I usually have at least one migraine a week, sometimes more. As far as "migraine relief" goes, I have still had my regular migraine a week. However, what I have noticed is the every day fuzzy aching feeling has been greatly reduced. I can say that the left side of my head has felt significantly better on a day to day basis. It has helped enough that as soon as this is healed pretty well (approximately 6 months) I plan to have my right side done. 

So, as far as a "cure my head so I have NO MORE Migraines" I have been searching for... no, this is not that, but, it has helped my day to day pain. 

For now, I would say it is worth it for sure and I would do it again... infact, I plan to!   



Ok, so at this point, I am fighting a really bad case of granulation tissue on my piercing. I am pretty convinced this is my body and not anything with how the piercing was done or how I have taken care of it. (I have had issues with this on other piercings too). 

So, I am working hard to get it under control. 



So, after a couple of weeks of battling major granulation tissue on both ends of the piercing, I finally decided to take it out.  I think my body just doesn't want me to look "cool" as I have had this issue with all my other cartilage piercings.  I also have a baby who likes to pull my hair and ears and I think that may have contributed, but who knows? 

Here is what I will say, the "every day fuzzy aching feeling" has returned since I took the piercing out. So... I may try it again in the future when my little person is no longer touching my hair and ears all day! 

Thank you to my brother Bradford Rex for helping me photograph the piercing procedure for this post! 

Labels: , ,