Anyone who suffers from migraines knows the unique agony it can bring to your day or week. Migraines can range in severity and duration, and those who suffer from them often try a mixture of remedies to ease the pain and decrease the frequency. One such treatment is a migraine ear piercing called the daith piercing.
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Migraines are persistent and severe headaches that can cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are a relatively common condition, impacting an estimated 21% of women and 10% of men¹ in the US.
There are numerous treatments available for migraines, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as avoiding triggers when possible. Some people also undergo acupuncture treatment. It involves inserting small, hollow needles around the body to help balance what is referred to as Qi, or energy that flows through the body.
Although there is some evidence to show that acupuncture can cause changes in the brain that produce certain neurological effects, there haven’t been enough studies to recommend it as a primary treatment for any conditions.
The way that ear-piercing relates to migraines is that some non-medical people claim that the conchal cartilage of the ear is considered a pressure point associated with migraines. Having an ear piercing in that area is thought to put constant pressure on the point, relieving migraines.
Unfortunately, there is no concrete evidence that shows ear piercings of any kind can help with migraines. There are numerous people who claim their migraines have gotten milder or less frequent after an ear piercing, but this is often attributed to placebo effects.
Given what is currently known about migraines, it also seems unlikely that a piercing in the ear can do much to relieve migraine attacks, especially when compared to the other treatment options available.
If you want to get a daith piercing for style, you can certainly do so. Just don’t expect it to solve your migraine problems.
There are no clinical trials to study how daith piercings may or may not help with migraines. There are some small case studies² that explore the association between migraines³ and daith piercings, but none of them can provide enough evidence to establish a clear link.
Migraines are still largely a mystery in the medical field, though there does seem to be a genetic component. It also used to be thought that migraines were caused by changes in blood vessel diameter within the brain, but researchers now believe that migraines are more associated with inherited abnormalities in the brain.
Getting an ear piercing is a relatively straightforward process these days, especially when you go to a piercing shop that prioritizes sanitation and proper techniques. Still, getting a daith piercing isn’t risk-free. The main concern for piercings of any kind, but especially with more complicated ones like daith piercings, is infection.
Infections from a daith piercing can be mild and go away on their own, or they may lead to sepsis and other more severe infections. Before going to get your daith piercing, do research on piercing shops in your area, and look for those that are committed to sanitation and safety.
It may be helpful to ask about which procedures the company uses to prevent infection, and what sort of training the piercing professional has undergone.
Besides infections, piercings can also result in skin problems such as allergic reactions⁴ or dermatitis.
If you decide to get a daith piercing, be aware of the piercing procedure and the steps you will need to take to prevent infections and reactions. You must also understand that it can take six months to a year for a daith piercing to fully heal. You should also take some time to decide which type of material you want for your piercings, especially if you have had adverse reactions in the past.
Currently, it is recommended to pick titanium, niobium, surgical steel, gold, platinum, or glass for an initial piercing, as they can all withstand heat and pressure from sterilization and are unlikely to produce allergic reactions or infections.
After you have selected a reputable piercing shop and gotten your piercing, you will need to clean the area frequently to prevent infections. You should use a sterile saline solution for wounds instead of mixing your own saltwater solution, and you should wash your hands before beginning the cleaning process. Rinse the saline solution over the area, either by dripping the saline on the wound or with sterilized gauze.
Finally, dry the area with a clean, disposable paper towel. It is possible to clean the area too much, which can slow the healing process. While your piercing is healing, it’s important to avoid submerging yourself in lakes, hot tubs, pools, or other bodies of water without a waterproof wound sealant bandage.
If you are struggling with migraines, and you haven’t had success with other treatments, it’s easy to be tempted to try a daith piercing. Many articles online tout daith piercings as a permanent cure for migraines, but they're just isn’t enough evidence to support that claim.
If you still want to try getting a daith piercing for your migraines, you certainly can. However, we recommend following the safety and cleaning procedures following its initial insertion. You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if your piercing begins to show signs of infection or isn’t healing as it should.
From the journal: The prevalence of migraine and severe headache | American Headache Society
Acupuncture: In depth | NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Daith piercings & migraine | American Migraine Foundation
Tattoos and body piercings | Sepsis Alliance
Jewelry for initial piercing | Association of Professional Piercers