What is a daith piercing and do they actually help with migraines?

Curious about what is a daith piercing? Here's what you need to know about the trendy cartilage piercing

Piercing professional pushing the cannula through the skin while he is gripping the ear, what is a daith piercing
(Image credit: Juan Aunion / Alamy Stock Photo)

You've likely seen trending on Instagram, but actually what is a daith piercing? And, more surprisingly, does it really have health benefits? 

Many women wear earrings as part of their fashion choices, varying the style to fit their mood. From the best huggie earrings to simple diamond studs, earrings can say a lot about a person. They help frame the face and can complement your outfit of choice. 

But in the case of daith piercings, they could also benefit your health. Some people swear that the specific ear puncture can help with things like migraines and anxiety.  Interested in the trendy piercing? Here's everything you need to know about daiths. 

What is a daith piercing?

If you've ever found yourself searching the #daithpiercing hashtag on Instagram, you might have read about its possible effects on mitigating migraines. But first, what is a daith piercing? Daith piercings occur in the small fold of cartilage just above the ear canal where your ear's outer ridge connects to your inner ear. This piercing is not easy to do because of how small, tough, and curvy this cartilage area is. It is also difficult to change, so most people keep the same earring they use from the initial piercing.

There are many earrings you can choose for your daith piercing, but huggie earrings work especially well. The best huggie earrings for daith piercings lay flat inside the ear, so they do not catch onto clothes or snag while you sleep. (The best silver huggies earrings should give you some shiny inspiration.) 

Do daith piercings hurt? What is the healing time?

In short, yes. Because of the cartilage thickness and how hard it is to reach the daith, it can be a challenging area to pierce. That means it can also hurt a bit more than other piercings and even take longer to heal. (Our "how long do ear piercings take to heal?" guide will help you plan out your ear candy, from cartilage to lobe piercings.) 

Most professionals say to expect redness, some throbbing, and sensitivity for at least a few days. If it continues to feel sore well past your initial piercing, consider visiting a professional or your piercer. These piercings can take several months to heal, and they can become infected easily without proper aftercare. To keep it clean, touch it as little as possible, rinse it with saline solution and warm water often, and try to avoid sleeping on that side for as long as you can. 

Do daith piercings help with migraines? 

If you're looking for western medicine to validate daith piercings as a form of migraine treatment, it hasn't happened yet. There are no official research studies to confirm that daith piercings help reduce migraine pain, and any suggestions that it does are considered anecdotal. 

While scientists are beginning to take it more seriously, and some data is starting to come in, there is simply not enough yet to offer concrete proof. Depending on who you ask and how they see migraine treatment, daith piercings don't work at all, and any indications that they do are simply due to the placebo effect. 

But for those seeking alternative healing methods aside from Botox or over-the-counter medicine, trying a daith piercing is a viable option. Despite minimal medical proof, the anecdotal evidence is quite compelling. 

Using daith piercings to treat migraines became popular in the mid-2010s and stems from the same type of relief that acupuncture and acupressure brings for headache sufferers. (Think ear seeds.) Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicinal approach, works by triggering specific points on the body using needles. It is popular as an alternative headache treatment, and because the ear has pressure points related to head pain, the theory suddenly seems a lot less far-fetched.

When people who have gotten daith piercings for migraine management are asked whether it has helped or not, the answers are mixed. It often depends on how experienced the person doing the piercing was, which side they received it on, and how long it has been since they got their piercing. Many people reported that it reduced their pain during migraine attacks or lessened the frequency of their attacks. This sentiment alone was enough to encourage others suffering from migraines to seek daith piercings as a treatment.

One unofficial survey-based study from 2019 showed promising results. In it, surveyors found that after one year with a daith piercing, respondents still saw improvements. The study showed that 64% of participants saw a reduction in frequency, and 67% saw a decrease in severity of migraines. 

Even more surprising, around 19% of participants saw a complete elimination of their migraines. While it did worsen migraine frequency or severity for about 8% of respondents, these numbers are a good indicator of why daith piercings have become so popular.

Other health benefits of daith piercings

Because daith piercings are related to acupuncture and pressure points, the science behind it applies to other things as well. The vagus nerve is the main pressure point in the ear that is thought to be targeted. Since conditions such as depression and epilepsy have been proven to respond to vagus nerve stimulation, the relationship is considered possible. 

What to do if you want a daith piercing 

If you are considering a daith piercing to treat your migraine pain, the most important thing to consider is booking an appointment with someone knowledgeable in this type of piercing therapy. They will understand how to pierce your ear safely while understanding pressure points and acupuncture to pinpoint the exact piercing spot to help alleviate your migraine symptoms. 

Finding the best huggie earrings and taking good care of your piercing are also key to a successful daith piercing. With no scientific proof, a daith piercing is not a sure-fire way to reduce migraine pain, but for those who have tried everything else without success, it may be a worthwhile shot!

The My Imperfect Life team is all about helping you navigate your world. We bring you the latest on fashion, beauty, travel and wellness so you can live life on your terms.