Play piercing is the BDSM practice of making temporary piercings.
Play piercing produces a strong endorphin high. Scene people
who work in medical professions seem to be particularly likely
to give or receive play piercings. All of the people I have
seen pierced had strong positive reactions.
I have watched a lot of play piercings, assisted in some,
practiced on myself, and pierced a sub under the supervision
of an experienced play piercer. I have also witnessed
a fleshhook suspension.
Some people have overcome their needle phobias through play
Piercings, temporary or permanent, can be a form of body modification.
Needles should be sterile and only used on one person. Accupuncture
needles can be used or hypodermic needles. Needles are
designated with their diameter (gauge) and length. The gauge
is roughly the number of needles which would need to be laid
side by side to make one inch wide. I have typically used
20 gauge needles. Lancets (used for diabetic blood suger
testing) can also be used.
You should use latex or other surgical gloves on the hands.
A fluid control pad or drop cloth should be used under the
person being pierced to contain any dripping blood.
Clean the skin with alchohol prep pads. Use a spiral motion
from the center out; this pushes contaminents away. Next
clean with Betadine or other provodone alchohol using the
same spiral motion. You may want to clean again with alchohol
to remove the yellow stain.
Many people are seriosly squicked by seeing other people
being pierced or people with needles in place. You may
want to conduct piercing in an area not directly visable
from the main play area at play parties.
If needles are inserted perpendicular to the skins surface, be
careful about the depth of penetration. Typically, needles
half an inch long are used this way.
If hypodermic needles are inserted perpendicularly, you need
to orient them with the bevel up or down but not sideways.
Good light is needed to see the orientation. Operating room
lights are frequently used for this purpose.
Common areas to pierce are the chest/breasts, back, thighs, and labia.
When piercing, be careful to avoid needle stick injuries.
You can use the sheath of the needle or a sterile thimble to back up
a fold of skin being pierced rather than your fingers. If you
back up the fold with your fingers, be sure they are positioned
so the needle will not stick your fingers. Pinch a fold of
skin and slide the needle in one side through the fold. If you
can't pinch a fold, drive the needle in almost parallel to
the surface of the skin and then angle back up so the tip
Controlled breathing can help manage the pain. Have the bottom
inhale when you are ready to pierce and then tell them to
exhale just before piercing.
The portion of nerves which detect sensations are normally
close to the surface of the skin. Shallow piercings
(parallel to the skin surface) will hurt more than deeper ones.
The needle will hurt more during entry and exit than
while traveling parallel to the surface of the skin.
You may wish to arrange the needles in decorative
patterns. Use a surgical marker if you want to
mark the areas to be pierced.
You can fiddle with needles which are already in place
for more stimulation. It is preferable to use
the blunt end.
You will likely find that it is easier to pierce in one
direction only based on whether you are right handed
or left handed. I have seen a pair of piercers, on
right handed and the other left handed, work on
opposite sides of someones back (not at the same time);
one did the needles in one direction and the other
handled those in the opposite direction. This
allows for better control and reduced risk of needle
sticks for symetric patterns.
If you do multiple piercings from top to bottom, this
probably reduces the risk of needle sticks from protruding
points since your had will usually tend to rest naturally
below the area being pierced. For more complicated
patterns, the direction you proceed should still be
If you want blood and/or bruising. you can deliberately
withdraw the needle at a slight angle so it scrapes
on its way back through. Alcohol can cause more
blood to flow from piercings which have recently
had the needle removed.
You may want to hold an alchohol prep pad oor a piece of
sterile gauze over a recently vacated piercing until the blood clots.
Slapping pierced areas after the needles have been removed
can be pleasurable for those into pain; I have seen one
woman achieve orgasm this way. See safety note about
microbial blood spray below. Slapping increases the
likelyhood of bruising.
Cold/Ice may reduce bruising immediately afterwards. Heat
increases the chances of bruising. After
a day or so, heat may reudce the longevity of bruising
by encoraging the reuptake of blood. Wetted aspirin
tablets or crushed aspirin and visine used toghether
reportly reduce bruising.
Some people like to inject sterile injectable saline solution
into the breasts for temporary bresst enlargement. I don't
know too much about this practice.
I once was accidently pierced by a 16 pin DIP integrated circuit.
Ouch. Autoclaved IC's, or alluminum socket collet carriers,
could be used for an intersting piercing effect. There is
some concern about the metals, however, particularly if
you are sensitive to certain metals.
Sterile surgical scalpals can be used for shallow cuttings.
Surgical markers can be used to mark the area to be cut.
Needles can be cut out from the skin. Some people have
thick skin, others thin skin; this should be taken into account.
There are probably lots of precautions I am not aware of for
cuttings. I know for brands, fully enclosed areas of a pattern
can cut off blood circulation to the enclosed area; similar
precautions might be appropriate to cuttings. Sometimes
tattoo pigments or even ciggarette ash are rubbed into
cutting to leave a more permanent mark. Exacto knife
blades are sometimes used; these are considerably duller,
hurt more, are not sterile unless autoclaved, and their
use is discouraged.
Play piercing is actually safer than having a cat. Cat scratches
are distinctly unsteril. Still, there is a significant risk
of blood born disease transmission.
Be careful about penetrating into internal organs. There
have been many cases of accupuncturists accidently piercing
the lungs. Also avoid bones.
Don't reuse needles except on the same person. Do not
reuse them on the same person in a later session unless
they have been autoclaved in the interim. The points
of hypodermic needles will quickly get dull; you can reuse
them maybe five times.
The Hepatitis B and C visuses (HBV and HCV) can be transmitted
by extremely small amounts of blood, too small to be perceptible.
The chance of Hepatitis transmission due to a needlestick
injury is about 20%. Hepatitis is not killed by chemical
sterilizers - autoclaving is necessary. There is a vacine
for HBV; it is recomended that people doing play piercing
(as well as other BDSM actvities) be vacinated. The
vacine does not work on 20% of people and takes six
months to be effective. There is no vacine for HCV so
don't get cocky just because you have been vacinated.
HIV can also be transmitted by blood but it is much
more easily killed. It apparently takes about two
drops of blood to transmit HIV. The chance of HIV
transmission due to a needlestick injury is about 1 in 200.
Chemical sterilizers such as alchohol, providone iodine,
and maybe hydrogen peroxide will neutralize HIV in
about 20 minutes of expose. Even exposure to air
can kill HIV but body fluids may protect the virus.
If you use floggers or other toys on an area of skin that has
been exposed to blood, you can contaminate your toys.
You can not adequately sterilize leather floggers.
I only use floggers which can be autoclaved for this
purpose (see construction section for info on autoclavable
Large piercings (such as large fleshhooks) can cause
Almost any disease can be transmitted by blood, including
may you might not think about because they are not normally
considered STDs. Some of these diseases can be fatal,
incurable, and/or seriously debilitating.
It is a good idea for both the piercer and the piercee
to be tested for HBV, HCV, and HIV.
If the top accidently sticks themselves with a needle
that is inserted in the bottom, precautions should be
taken against blood born disease transmission. Cutting
the base off the needle with a pair of wire cutters or
possibly EMT shears and then pulling the needle out
using hemostatic forceps so that the potentially infected
point is not drawn back through the bottoms body.
If you are going to withdraw the needle the same
way it was inserted, at least partially disinfect
the tip with lots of alcohol and providone-iodine
and let it stay wet at least ten minutes.
If the top was pierced to the point of drawing blood,
it might help to deliberately induce bleeding to wash
out the wound and apply alchohol and/or betadine.
The top should take care not to bleed on the bottom.
Change gloves before proceeding.
Slapping areas of the skin which have been covered
with blood can result in microbial blood spray. Cover
these areas with anti-bacterial wet wipes before slapping.
Asparin and other analgesics/pain killers can thin the
blood and/or interfere with blood clotting. If these
medications have been taken with the last few days,
uncontrolled bleading may result. People with
hemophilia or other conditions which affect blood
clotting are at risk of uncontrolled bleading.
It is probably a good idea to avoid major arteries and
viens and major nerve bundles. Generally, no such
precautions have been taken in play I have witnessed.
I have seen piercings which hit a nerve; these were
more intense than other piercings but did not have
any permanent ill effects; if a piercing severed
a bundle of nerves, permanent neurological problems
Used needles should be disposed of in a "sharps container"
(availible at most drug stores). You can dispose of
a sharps container at many drug stores, needle exchanges,
or hospitals; these places should have a no questions
asked policy. Gauze, prep pads, wipes, glvoves, and
other contaiminated materials should be disposed of
properly. If no sharps containers are availible
a plastic soda bottle (mark it well, please), may
If you leave the needles in for a pierod of time
after the piercing (particularly if the bottom
is going to move around other people in the general
play area), you should at least cover the protruding
tips of the needles with bandage tape.
Avoid the area over the spine, particularly for
Have a supply of absorbant material handy to soak up
blood. Do not use non-sterile material directly
over areas which have been or will be pierced.
Clean the pierced area and any area of skin which
has come in contact with blood thoroughly with
alchohol and betadine afterwards. Cleaning with
lots of water may also help dilute pathogens.
It is not at all uncommon for people to have an
emotional crash the day after the piercing. This
is the low that follows the high. The bottom may
need additional aftercare at this point and might
not be able to function normally (such as at work)
during the crash. The bottom should be warned about
this in advance.
If you use lancets with a lancet launching device,
remember that the launchers are intended for use only on
a single person. The launvher can be contaminated by
Regular lancets used their full length (without a launcher)
make a fairly large hole and can cause significant bleeding so
be prepared for this. Ultrafine lancets will probably
cause less bleeding.
If you are into licking blood (vampirism), there is
a significant risk of the person licking catching
a blood borne disease. There is also some risk of
infecting the bottom. I don't know a lot about
these practices and the safety precautions
appropriate. Even with the most stringent safety
precautions, this is high risk behavior. Some
precautions do come to mind. Brushing your teeth
(or even worse, flossing)
within four hours before play or shortly after play
increases the risk of open cuts in the mouth.
Any other sores, leasions, or cuts in the mouth
Swishing strong alcohol around in the mouth before and
after exposure may reduce the possibilty of
transmission of diseases. Chloraseptic sore
throat spary could also help. The combination
of alcohol and phenol (the active ingrediant
in chlorseptic) is more effective than either
alone. Swishing water around in your mouth and
spitting it out could also reduce the risk.
Having the blood "doner" tested for HBV, HCV, and
HIV prior to play would reduce risk. Being
immunized against HBV before hand is a good idea.
Engaging in this kind of play only with poeople
whose sexual, drug use, and medical history are
known and with whom you are fluid bonded is
a good precaution. Blood could be autoclaved
before drinking. Again, even with all of
these precautions, this is high risk behavior.
The hollow center of hypodermic needles can harbor
blood and pathogens.
I have been told that latex gloves start to break down
when exposed to blood. Gloves which have been exposed
to blood should be changed after 4 minutes of exposure.
Many play parties have rules prohibiting or governing
play piercign. Ask before you proeed to avoid trouble.
Many people have latex allergies (or allergies to
chemicals or donning powders used on latex). If
this is the case, nyplex or vinyl gloves may be used.
Many people are allergic to metals such as nickel.
Although gold is inert, it is normally alloyed with other
metals for strength and/or to reduce cost; these other
metals can cause problems. Surgical grade stainless
steel tends to cause less problems than other grades
of stainless steel and other metals. Sewing needles
are sometimes used for temporary or permanent
piercings; this is not a very good idea, even if they
are sterilized because of the possibility of adverse
reactions to the metals involved.
On a related note, if you do knife play that involves
cutting or scratching, you should be concerned about
blood borne diseases. Use a knife which can
be autoclaved. I use a Gerber Chameleon II one hand
opening knife made frmm stainless steel and nylon.
This knife has been autoclaved many times. I recommend
placing two stacks of two quarters each in the channel where
the blade is normally stored because the handle can
deform slightly causing the blade to bind when opening
Wartenburg wheels and vampire gloves are likely to
pierce the skin and precautions similar to those
used for play piercing can be appropriate.
If you do not have an autoclave, you can have things
autoclaved at a professional piercing or tattoo
parlor. You can use a pressure cooker to autoclave
things, there is some more info on this elsewhere
on this web site. Autoclaves (or pressure cookers
used as autoclaves) should be properly
maintained, operated, and spore tested. Spore
testing is availible from
for about $10/month or $5/week. If the material
will survive the heat, you could do dry heat sterilization
in an oven at 350 degrees F for at least an hour.
For temporary or permanent piercings of the nipples,
it may be a good idea to try to avoid the milk ducts
as much as possible. Fortunately, there are many
milk ducts so even if you damage or clog some,
breast feeding should still be possible.
Special piercing needles are used for permanent piercings.
These needles then guide the point of the jewelery through.
Lo grade jewelry often causes problems. Piercing
jewelry may be at risk of snagging during flogging
and may need to be covered with tape, bandages, or
pasties. Proper cleaning and sanitation is important
for weeks or months after a permanent piercing.
In many cases, nipple piercings will migrate until
the hole is forced off the end of the nipple.
Piercing guns are sometimes used to pierce ears
or for other permanent piercing. This practice
is no longer considered even remotely acceptable
and you should avoid any piercing salon that
Sharps may rust or corrode if autoclaved, exposed to
water, moisture, or bodily fluids, or if chemical
sterilizers such as bleach or alcohol are used.
Blood poisening could be an issue.
sells single use 20 gauge/half inch long sterile accupuncture needles
for about $1.50 per package of ten.
Hypodermic needles are difficult to procure in many areas due
to rediculous laws. These laws are largely responsible for
the transmission of HIV among IV drug users; it is quite possible
that the HIV epidemic would have died out of its own accord
if these stupid laws did not occur. Without these laws,
the incidence of HIV transmission might have been low enough
to not reach critical mass. These laws jeopardize the
health of everyone, not just IV drug users.
In Virginia it is legal for adults to posses hypodermic
needles if they is no evidence of illegal drug use. It
is also legal, I believe, to sell or purchase needles.
Pharmacies in virginia and other states often have more
restrictive rules regarding the sale of needles and syringes.
In Virginia, you can purchase needles at pharmacies
but you are required to sign a control log; purchasing
significant numbers of needles might attract attention
from law enforcement. You do not need a prescription.
Many mail order medical suppliers are reluctant to sell needles,
particularly if either the seller or the purchaser is
in one of the states with regressive laws.
In Virginia, you can purchase hypodermic needles without hassle from
farm or veterinary suppliers (such as Southern States) with
out a prescription, having to sign a log, or other hassles.
These sources are likely to be less problematic in other
states as well.
If you store or carry blood glucose meter, test strips, lancets,
lancet launcher, and possibly insulin vials in the
same place as your needles and syringes, you are likely
to have less problems if you are searched by law enforcement
or border police. First aid supplies stored/carried in
the same place will probably also reduce suspicion.
Surgical Scalpals are availible from eperimental animal laboratory
suppliers, such as
with minimal hassle. I understand they have expired so
they may not be completely sterile although they are probably
sterile enough if cleaned with alcohol/providone-iodine before
use. Almost everything else they sell is absurdly overpriced.
American Science and Surplus
has some non-sterile scalpals for sale at the time of this
writing if you have an autoclave availible.
Some snake bite kits, such as those sold at Walmart, have several
suction cups (for cupping play), a sterile scalpal blade,
and an ampule of providone-iodine solution.
Use this information at your own risk. I do not guarantee its
accuracy or completeness.
Return to my
main BDSM page.
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