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Since the middle of the 1890s, nipple piercing has been worn to enhance sexual arousal and provide constant stimulation, thus enlarging the size and attractiveness of the nipples. While pierced nipples have fallen in and out of fashion since the Victorian era, they've never gone away. Today, nipple piercings are considered one of the most erotic and sexy forms of body piercings. It's a relatively quick and easy piercing procedure. Several different jewelry styles can be worn to change the piercing type and appearance once it is fully healed, thus increasing the versatility and attractiveness of this body modification.
Thinking about getting your nipple pierced? Below, you'll find helpful tips for getting your piercing and how to care for it afterward. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about nipple piercings.
Placement: The flesh of one or both nipples
Pricing: $30-$50 for the piercing only, plus jewelry
Pain Level: 7/10
Healing Time: 6-8 weeks
Aftercare: Wash once or twice per day with saline solution or soap and water, avoid touching or wearing fabric that can easily snag
What is a Nipple Piercing?
A nipple piercing is a piercing that goes through the skin of the nipple. Like all forms of body piercing, it is pertinent that you go to a professional body piercer for your nipple piercing, especially if you have special conditions such as flat or inverted nipples. These conditions may make a nipple piercing unfit for your anatomy. If for any reason, a nipple piercing cannot be performed, a professional and experienced piercer will be able to suggest a solution or alternative body placement before you experience a botched or misplaced piercing.
Pain and Healing Time
"All pain is relative to the person," says Brian Keith Thompson, owner, CEO, and Chief Piercing
Officer at Body Electric Tattoo in Los Angeles, CA. "Some people think a nipple piercing is the worst thing they've ever experienced, and that's a very small demographic. Most the times what I hear right afterward [...] is, 'wow, that's it?'"
Once your nipples are pierced, you can expect a six- to eight-week healing period at a minimum. "It will take approximately 12 months for your piercing to heal completely," notes board-certified dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose MD, FAAD, Clinical Assistant Professor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center. Depending on how active you are, your nipples may take longer to heal from accidental touching or rubbing during daily activity. Larger breasts may experience a longer healing period since they're more likely to bump or experience friction during normal activity. Likewise, those with smaller breasts may find they have a much faster healing time. As always, you should seek professional medical treatment if you run into any serious issues with your piercing.
Cost of Nipple Piercing
As with other types of piercings, the procedure itself will likely cost less than the jewelry you select. Nipple piercings are typically in the $30-$70 range, depending on where you go. The jewelry will have a broader spectrum, but it's important not to skimp on quality. Choosing the right style and material is instrumental in healing your new piercing properly, so don't shoot for a bargain. "Do your research, call a few studios, ask what they're using. Look at their Instagrams. Look at their websites. If a piercer doesn't have their work showcased online, that's a red flag," says Thompson.
"Piercings are easy to get but are very difficult to heal sometimes, and they can take a long time," says Thompson. To successfully heal a nipple piercing, you must commit to caring for it long after you leave the salon chair. "New piercings should be washed at least twice daily with a saline solution. Soaking the area in a lukewarm sea salt solution (approximately ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt in eight ounces of distilled water) helps to prevent infection and promotes healing," says Murphy-Rose. She suggests you fill a small container with the mixture and soak the piercing for five to 10 minutes.
You'll want to avoid creating excessive friction on the pierced area by keeping the site free of bandages, not touching the jewelry too often, and wearing loose-fitting clothing. "Avoid potential irritants including fragrant body washes and lotions. Avoid soaking in pools, bathtubs, or other bodies of water until the piercing has healed completely," says Murphy-Rose. And do not touch the piercing too much. "Every time you pull that new piercing, every time you accidentally snag it, your healing progress is regressing," says Thompson.
"Be careful not to wear fabrics that could catch your jewelry and to keep the piercing covered when sleeping to avoid a snag," says Murphy-Rose.
Side Effects of Piercing
- Infection: This is possible with any style of piercing. Following proper aftercare instructions and avoiding touching your piercing unnecessarily should minimize the chances of infection. "Remember that at any given time, your hands have about 50 different strains of bacteria on them. So touching your piercings can cause an infection," says Thompson.
- Bleeding: Another fairly common side effect is bleeding. While it's not an immediate cause for concern, see a medical professional if it persists or gets worse.
- Scarring and keloid formation: "Scarring is inevitable, but it is important to look out for signs of hypertrophic scars or keloid scars," says Murphy-Rose. "To avoid the risk of bad scar formation, keep an eye out for thickening or bulging of the tissue around your piercing."
- Possible interference with breastfeeding: According to one study, breastfeeding complications due to nipple piercings are relatively rare, though mastitis (i.e. breast inflammation), leakage, and decreased lactation are possible side effects. Minimize potential difficulties by visiting an accomplished professional piercer to ensure proper placement, and remove your nipple piercings until after you are completely finished breastfeeding.
How to Change Out Nipple Piercing
Once your nipples are fully healed, you can have fun changing your body jewelry styles. Remember, a piercing can close quickly, within 24 hours, so reinsert your jewelry quickly or be prepared to re-pierce, this time through scar tissue, which may provide a bit more of a challenge. "The longer you let that jewelry stay, the better off you're going to be, so definitely wear it for at least 10 weeks," says Thompson.
Getting professional help from your piercer is always a good idea, especially the first time.
What Type of Jewelry Is Used for Nipple Piercing?
- Barbell: A barbell is a straight earring with a ball on either side, one of which is removable. These are relatively easy to take in and out and are a good choice for new body piercings. According to Thompson, barbells heal faster than other styles because they have limited movement. "The more the piercing is rotated, the more it's moving back and forth, the longer it's going to take for it to heal."
- Captive bead ring: These circular hoops with a ball in the center are also popular. "You can heal a ring in a piercing if you're careful," says Thompson.
What Jewelry Material Is Used for Nipple Piercing?
- Titanium: A popular choice for those with metal sensitivities, titanium tends to be a safe option because it lacks nickel, though it's also on the pricier side. "Most people are allergic to or have some allergy or sensitivity to nickel," cautions Thompson. He prefers "hypoallergenic metals" like titanium, gold, and platinum.
- Stainless steel: Not overly sensitive to nickel? Stainless steel could be a good pick, as it contains only trace amounts. This is not Thompson's top choice, however. "In my studio, I don't carry any steel," he says. "Some people are just hyper-sensitive to it. They can't even touch it."
- Gold: Another Thompson-approved metal that is not likely to cause an allergic reaction is gold. Can't afford it? Thompson suggests anodized titanium, which "can kind of mimic gold a little bit."