Daith Piercing Beaten to Death
In this the sixth installment of my piercing blog series 'Each Piercing Beaten to Death' I will be covering Daith Piercing in depth. The Daith piercing is one of the more rare of the non-traditional ear piercings. However after doing a couple recently I was reminded of how fun they are to do and just how well they fit into the shape and flow of the ear. So for the first new piercing blog in a while I thought it would be interesting to focus on the often over looked piercing. It is located in where the Helix ends on the inside of the ear above the ear canal.
Migraines and Daith Piercings(Update):
During the fall of 2015, there were a number of blogs and social media post stating that daith piercings could reduce the effects and frequency of migraines. I felt that it would be best of add my thoughts on the subject in this blog that I did a number of years ago.
The theory is that the piercing which is through an acupuncture pressure point that traditional has been used for short term relief from head aches. Acupuncture works by stimulating the nerves located just under the skin and increasing endorphins. Whether a piercing that is well healed will cause this same effect is questionable. There has been no clinical study on the effects of piercings on migraines, so there is no way to claim flat out that getting a Daith piercing will reduce the effects of migraines. However many have claimed that it has helped.
I'm always uncomfortable making claims that a piercing will cure, effect or improve a health condition. I would also suggest that you avoid anyone in the piercing industry that is will to make a claim of that type. That said there are a number of after effects of getting the piercing that might be beneficial to those that suffer from this condition:
- Power of the mind over health. The reality is often your mental state can effect your health. It's simple, if you believe it will help, it just may.
- Empowerment - Often medical condition where there is limited relief available through traditional medical treatment it can be frustrating and make one feel hopeless. Piercing can make one feel empowered and feel that they are regaining control over their body.
- Having a new piercing can in fact improve your self image and make you feel good. It's a cool piercing regardless of it's effectiveness in curing migraines.
Unlike the medical industry that when a break throw or possible treatment comes forward, they will invest funding and time into research to prove or disprove the treatments effect. The piercing industry is not going to do that and I doubt the medical industry would find researching piercings as a treatment worth prosing. So, we may never know but if you think it will help, it can't hurt. Well, it might hurt a little when you get it done but....
History and Background:
The Daith piercing is a modern invention and is created to Erik Dakota, who did his first one in 1992. The correct pronunciation changes depending on who you ask. However, the most common is "Day-th" though "Dath" is often used. The meaning is based on the Hebrew word "Daath" from the Kabbalistic Tree of Knowledge. The source of the name was the piercee who was involved in Hebrew studies at the time and the meaning of the word was given as "smart", "intelligence" or "knowledge". As the story goes, the client was also interested in Hinduism and was drawn to the idea that piercings placed at the entrance of an orifice works as the guardian at the gate. So, if you follow the logic of this, a Daith piercing represents knowledge guarding the entrance to your ear. Kind of like a filter.
The piercing was popularized in Fakir's Body Play Magazine. Also it may have been one of the motivating factors for the development of curved needles which was championed by Erik Dakota. This is a needle that is curved like a crescent moon. Which makes getting into tighter areas of the body easier, though I have found that it often effects the angle of the piercing negatively and in most causes bending the needle slightly by hand is more effective. Since the source of the piercing is from two individuals that did a great deal to shape the industry but also tended to shape just about every piercing into a spiritual experience, the history has to be taken with at least a grain of salt.
Anatomy and Location:
In majority of people have the correct anatomy to do this piercing, however if the cartilage is not pronounced and large enough to support the piercing, it should be attempted. The reason is that if there is not room for the piercing and jewelry, it will more than likely reject, tear or migrate. There also needs to be enough room for the jewelry to fit comfortably without twisting or applying pressure on the piercing. When angled and placed correct the jewelry comfortable inside of the folds of the ear.
Placement is at the root of the helix where the tissue joins the head. It should be pierced straight through the tissue and depending on the piercee's anatomy should be in alignment with the notch located above the lobe of the ear.
Though rare a number of Daith piercings can be done and even expanded into a number of helix piercing as the Helix begins it's ascent around the ear. Also it could be combined with a Rook piercing to create Industrial or Orbit piercing, however this would greatly depend on the piercee's anatomy and the skill of the piercer. The pressure caused by combining the two piercing could cause a great deal of stress to a healing piercing which could lead to migration, scaring, prolonged healing or other problems.
It is my experience that rings are the best option for healing a Daith piercing. There is a couple of reasons for this including the security of Captive Bead Rings over threaded and threadless jewelry but also the location has limited space. With a ring it is much easier to hold the jewelry or adjust it if needed. Also it allows additional room for swelling and doesn't block the entrances of the piercing which may impede discharge.
A curved barbell would be the other option and the main advantage is that it has a lower profile during healing than that of a ring. However, since the post will need to be much longer than the tissue being pierced, it maybe more prone to getting snagged on clothing, bedding, combs, etc... I suggest piercing with a ring and then changing out to a properly sized barbell after the healing is completed. I also suggest that the jewelry is professional changed because especially with threaded jewelry specialty tools maybe needed to close the jewelry.
18 or 16 gauge are best for the piercing because they are thin enough to be pierced correctly but are not so thin that it might cause tearing or rejection. Larger gauges are possible if there is enough tissue to allow for the thickness of the jewelry but the added weight may cause additional problems. I've found that 16g works best and allows the client a wider sellection of thread jewelry than 18g would. The width needs to be at least 5/16 to 3/8 of an inch wide. However with most anatomies 3/8 tends to be a better choice, especially with rings because it allows the piercing to form as straight as possible and lays more comfortable and is less likely to want to stand straight out of the body.
After disinfecting the area, comes marking the piercing. If you read my blog on marking, you know that I feel it is important for the piercee to study the marking before hand. With this piercing because of it's location it is often hard to see. What I would suggest is try to use two mirror and angle them so you can see inside the ear. When marking this piercing, I will mark a line around the area. This is to insure that when I do the piercing that it is angled correctly but also the end of the line on each side is the location of the two piercing holes. I use this method with a great deal of piercings where it is impossible to see both exit and entrance holes at the same time. In some cases I will also cross the line with a center point line to insure that the piercing is even.
Since this is anatomy defining piercing the direction that the piercing is done is dictated by the shape of the area. Ideal the piercing should be done top to bottom exiting in the space of the ear canal. The needle should be curved or slightly bent to allow a access to the area. I've found that a slight hand bent needle works best for me. To gain access to the entrance placement, I will set my hand against the top of the ear which will cause the area to open but still not distort the piercing area. I will then rest the needle against the piercing entrance and with my other hand hold a cork against the other side. Then I will do the piercing, remove the cork from the needle tip and then use a needle receiving tube to guide the needle safely through the piercing. Then insert the jewelry, stop any bleeding and clean up.
The piercing can be more an uncomfortable experience then a painful one because of the stress put on the piercing area. Most say on a scale of one to ten that the piercing is around a 3 or 4. With most ear piercings it is common to experience warmth or heat in the area right after the piercing and/or a throbbing pain for a few minutes right after the piercing is done. Also, there might be a small amount of bleeding.
Hassles and Aftercare:
Daith piercings are prone to redness and swelling. In most cases this will fade after a few days and usually looks much worst than it is. If the piercing was done with a ring and the placement is correct with the right size it will lay comfortable against the ear. Often they can be very sensitive to touch and stress to the piercing like sleeping on the piercing or using a telephone with that ear should be avoided. Also Ear Buds, headphones or head gear that comes in contact with the piercing should be avoided until they can be worn without discomfort. Even then they should be disinfected regularly to avoid cross contamination.
Basic aftercare will involve hot soaks or compresses with warm water and sea salt twice a day and cleaning the piercing in the shower twice daily. Healing time ranges between 12 to 45 weeks. Also you will need to take steps to reduce the likelihood of cross contamination. For more details go to Basic Aftercare Instructions. Due to the location of the piercing you need to take precautions to avoid the piercing coming in contact with cosmetic and hair products. Since sweat tends to collect in the area, it is a good idea to clean the piercing after strenuous activity, especially if you use hair products.
It is important to avoid stress and abuse to the piercing during healing and after. Which side you naturally sleep on should be considered before getting the piercing. Sleeping on the piercing especially during the piercing can cause migration and other problems. If you are a stomach sleeper try sleeping with the pillow push to the side that isn't pierced. Also avoid clothing and sport safety equipment like helmets and masks that are tight in the piercing area. If you are required to wearing safety equipment for a job or sport that is tight fitting in the area, you may want to consider a different piercing.
If you or your barber or hair dresser is using spray bottles on your hair, make sure they cover the piercing with a clean paper towel. . There are two concerns. The first is that the chemicals and other items in hair products will get into the open wound and cause a reaction. The second is that you will introduce a foreign pathogen into the piercing. So even if it is just tap water, cover the piercing.
Cosmetic, especially powder based foundations and other foundations should be avoided in the area until the piercing is completely healed. The biggest risks is that the cosmetic will get into the piercing or block the piercing hole and not allow it to discharge properly. The same goes for sun block. Also avoid contact with glasses and keep them clean.
Risks & Concerns:
Since the piercing is on the ear, there is a concern about permanently scarring. If the piercing is healed correctly there will be a small indented scars but if the piercing encounters problems during or becomes infected it can cause additional scarring. With post jewelry with small ends, there is a risk that the end can be pulled into the piercing when the piercing swells. If this happens contact your piercer because the jewelry may need to be changed or adjusted. Taping a small piece of Micropore paper tape can help to keep the jewelry from becoming impacted but you should still see your piercer.