Piercing Glossary | Painful Pleasures Community

Piercing Glossary

Whether you're an experienced piercer or someone just beginning to explore the world of body piercings and other body mods, you're sure to learn something new in this piercing glossary. It's filled with common piercing terms and definitions ranging from explanations of what different piercing tools are used for to piercing safety terms to types of body piercings and beyond. We've also included a few definitions related to extreme body mods that some piercers perform, like scarification, branding and human suspension. View definitions sorted alphabetically.

by PainfulPleasures Last Updated: May 14, 2021

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Woman With Nostril Piercings, Earlobe Piercings and a Dermal Piercing Performed by Arseniy Andersson Whether you’re an experienced piercer or someone just beginning to explore the world of body piercings and other body modifications, you’re sure to learn something new by reading this piercing glossary. It’s filled with common piercing terminology and definitions ranging from explanations of what different piercing tools are used for to piercing safety terms to types of body piercings, where they’re placed and what types of body jewelry work best in them, and beyond. We’ve also included a few definitions related to extreme body modifications that some piercers perform, like scarification, branding and human suspension.

If you ever read a word in one of our Information Center articles or piercing blog posts that’s unfamiliar to you, pop on over to this piercing glossary to expand your piercing knowledge by looking up a specific piercing phrase and its definition. Just click a piercing term below to see its definition or read straight through the Basic Piercing Terminology and Types of Piercings sections in this glossary for a fairly thorough education on piercing terminology. Definitions are sorted alphabetically to make it easy to find a specific term when you want to look up just one piercing definition. When definitions include other terms from this piercing glossary, you can click an unfamiliar phrase to jump to its definition, too. Other links within this glossary will take you to actual products so you can see the body jewelry, piercing tools and other piercing supplies being referenced and shop for those items, as desired.

Note: Some definitions have “learn more” links following them. These links will take you to related Shop Safety and Piercing Information Center articles as well as piercing blog posts that will further enhance your piercing education.

Links to Definitions of Piercing Terms

Aftercare Dermal Piercing Lymph Septum Piercing
Anesthetic Dermal Punch Medusa Piercing Shark Bites Piercing
Angel Bites Piercing Dermis Microbiology Sharps Container
Anodization Disinfectant Migration Single-Point Piercing
Antiseptic Dolphin Bites Piercing Monroe Piercing Smiley Piercing
Anti-Eyebrow Piercing Ear Piercing Nape Piercing Snake Bites Piercing
Anti-Tragus Piercing Emu Oil Niobium Jewelry Snug Piercing
Atrophic Scar Epidermis Nipple Piercing Spider Bites Piercing
Autoclave External Threading Nose Piercing Stainless Steel Jewelry
Ball Grabber Tool Extreme Body Modification Nose Ring Sterile Field
Barbell Eyebrow Piercing Oral Piercing Sterilization
Basic Piercing Jewelry Facial Piercing Orbital Piercing Sterilization Pouches
Belly Button Piercing Fake Body Jewelry Organic Jewelry Stretching
Bent Barbell Fistula O-Ring Stretching Tape
BioPlastic Frenulum Piercing Artist/Piercer Straight Barbell
Body Jewelry Frowny Piercing Piercing Caliper Subdermal Implant
Body Modification Gauge Piercing Forceps Surface Anchor Holder Tool
Body Piercing Genital Piercing Piercing Gloves Surface Piercing
Body Piercing Wheel Gauge Glass Jewelry Piercing Hemostat Surface Piercing Barbell
Branding Helix Piercing Piercing Needle Surgical Skin Marker
Bridge Piercing Hypergranulation Piercing Pliers Surgical Skin Prep
Canine Bites Piercing Hypertrophic Scar Piercing Retainer Tea Tree Oil
Captive Bead Ring Human Suspension Piercing Scar Threadless Jewelry
Cartilage Piercing Industrial Piercing Piercing Taper Titanium Jewelry
Cheek Piercing Infection Pincher Tongue Piercing
Christina Piercing Internal Threading Play Piercing Needle Tongue Splitting/Bifurcation
Circular Barbell Jewelry Options Plugs & Tunnels Tragus Piercing
Clean Room Jojoba Oil Prince Albert Wand Transverse Lobe Piercing
Conch Piercing Joker Bites Piercing Push Pop Jewelry Ultrasonic Cleaner
Cyber Bites Piercing Keloid Scar Receiving Tube Uvula Piercing
Dahlia Bites Piercing Labret Piercing Rejection Viper Bites Piercing
Daith Piercing Labret Stud Rook Piercing Web Piercing
Dermal Anchor Assistant Tool Lip Piercing Scarification  
Dermal Jewelry Lowbret Piercing Sea Salt Solution  


Basic Piercing TerminologyPhoto of bottle of Recovery Saline Solution

  • Aftercare – The process of caring for a healing body piercing to ensure that the fistula reinforces without piercing problems occurring, such as infection, hypergranulation and scarring. Piercing aftercare typically involves misting the piercing with a quality saline rinse like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray 3-6 times a day and soaking it for 5 minutes twice a day with sea salt solution during the healing process. Adding tea tree oil to your full soaks will give your healing piercing the benefit of its antiseptic and moisturizing properties. Sometimes an antiseptic piercing cleanser like X-Pressions Antiseptic Piercing Aftercare Spray or antiseptic swabs may also be needed once or twice a day for problematic piercings. (Learn more about piercing aftercare.)
  • Anesthetic – An over-the-counter numbing agent that typically includes 5% of lidocaine or less, which is the active ingredient that numbs the tissue being pierced. Some anesthetic products contain other numbing agents, but lidocaine is the most common one. Clients with low pain thresholds benefit greatly from a topical anesthetic being applied to the area to be pierced at least 15-20 minutes prior to being pierced.
  • Anodization – The process of coloring titanium body jewelry via an electrolytic process. To anodize body jewelry, you need a collection of anodizing equipment that includes an anodizing machine, a mesh strainer, tweezers, and other accessories like you’ll find in our Anodizing Supply Replacement Kit. Titanium Body Jewelry Anodizer | Anodizing Equipment for Coloring Titanium Jewelry You can achieve different colors and color combinations using different settings on your anodizing machine, with or without a paint brush to aid in the process, as described in our Titanium Anodizing Color Chart.
  • Antiseptic – A product like rubbing alcohol or iodine that’s typically used after an antibacterial cleanser has been applied to a person’s skin and immediately before they’re pierced to rid the skin of any microorganisms that could cause sepsis, which is an invasion of the body by harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. (“Antiseptic” = anti-sepsis.) See the “Surgical Skin Prep” definition below for more information about the role of antiseptics in the piercing process.
  • Atrophic Scar – A common type of body piercing scar that most often forms where a retired piercing once was. Atrophic scars are recessed scars that result from bundles of collagen partially filling in the void of tissue where a piercing or other wound was. Once fully settled, atrophic scars tend to be fairly skin tone rather than a dark red or purplish color like keloid scars. (Learn more about body piercing scars.)Autoclave Steam Sterilizers
  • Autoclave – A machine that uses pressurized steam to sterilize body jewelry and piercing instruments, such as piercing forceps. (Learn more about how autoclaves sterilize piercing instruments using steam.)
  • Ball Grabber Tool – A tool that holds a captive bead securely while you manipulate its coordinating captive bead ring with ring opening or closing pliers. Ball grabbing tools can come in very handy when you’re working to insert or remove a captive bead ring from a piercing, and they can be used with other body jewelry balls.
  • Barbell – A type of body jewelry with either internally or externally threaded ends that screw onto either side of a shaft in one of several shapes. The primary styles available include: bent barbells, which have a curved shape; eyebrow rings that are just micro bent barbells with matching or different ends; belly button rings that are most commonly bent barbells with two different sized and shaped ends; straight barbells; tongue barbells (a.k.a. tongue rings) which are straight barbells with different sized and/or shaped ends; nipple barbells, which are either straight or bent with or without dangling charms; circular barbells that are horseshoe shaped; industrial barbells that are extra long straight barbells for industrial piercings; and surface barbells, which are inserted by a piercer under the skin, have visible removable dermal tops that appear to sit atop the surface of the skin, and that include both standard surface barbells and Christina barbells, which are used exclusively for the female genital piercing known as a Venus or Christina piercing.
  • Basic Piercing Jewelry – Also known as starter jewelry, basic piercing jewelry is any surgical stainless steel, titanium or BioPlast jewelry used in a new piercing. Basic piercing jewelry is usually very simple; it’s often just a plain metal barbell with metal balls or a plain metal captive ring, although some basic piercing jewelry is adorned with a single gem or other more decorative ends. (Shop for basic piercing jewelry.)
  • Bent Barbell – A slightly curved barbell, also known as a banana barbell. Traditional belly button rings are the most exaggerated forms of bent barbells. Most have a gentler curve to them. (See our selection of bent barbells.)Photo of anodized bent barbell basic body jewelry
  • BioPlastic – A hypoallergenic, autoclavable material also known as BioPlast that serves as the material composition for some types of body jewelry. BioPlastic jewelry is a flexible alternative to metal body jewelry that’s better for people with sensitive skin and that’s ideal for oral piercings and facial piercings with an oral side, because it’s softer and gentler on the teeth and gums than metal body jewelry.
  • Body Jewelry – Any type of jewelry worn in a body piercing. Body jewelry may be threadless, as with captive rings, or threaded, as with straight barbells and bent barbells ranging from micro bent barbell eyebrow rings to curved belly button rings. Threaded body jewelry comes in two styles: internal threading and external threading. Internally threaded body jewelry has threaded posts attached to its decorative ends that screw into matching threads inside the ends of a coordinating barbell shaft. With externally threaded body jewelry, the exposed threaded posts are on the ends of the jewelry shafts, and they screw into recessed threading on the coordinating balls or other decorative ends. Threadless jewelry encompasses any body jewelry that doesn’t have parts that screw together to complete the jewelry, like pop fit labrets, BioPlast labret studs, standard post earrings, French hook earrings, captive bead rings, seamless rings, segment rings, plugs for stretched piercings, large gauge earrings (a.k.a. hangers), glass jewelry, piercing retainers held in place with O-rings, nose bones, nostril screws, and more. Body jewelry comes in different gauges (thicknesses) and lengths or diameters, which can be measured using body jewelry wheel gauges or piercing calipers.Body Jewelry Wheel Gauge for Measuring Body Jewelry
  • Body Modification – The process of altering one’s appearance. Although any physical change from hair dying to plastic surgery may be considered a form of body modification, the phrase is most often used in relation to piercings, tattoos and more extreme body modifications.
  • Body Piercing – The process of placing holes in the body using piercing needles, scalpels, dermal punches, or other piercing tools for the purpose of inserting decorative body jewelry such as captive bead rings or various forms of barbells. Typically the phrase “body piercing” relates to all piercings other than earlobe piercings, but earlobe piercings are technically body piercings, too.
  • Body Piercing Wheel Gauge – A tool that helps you measure body jewelry. Painful Pleasures has developed a proprietary wheel gauge that allows piercers to ditch their old wire gauge measuring tools in favor of a simple wheel gauge that measures body jewelry ranging from 18g to 1″ in size.
  • Branding – The process of burning a permanent design into the skin using an electrocautery pen. A scratch pad is a helpful tool for piercers who practice branding and dedicated branding artists, because you can attach it to your work surface via an adhesive back and use it to wipe burnt matter from the tip of the electrocautery pen as you work without having to constantly step away.Photo of standard titanium captive bead ring
  • Captive Bead Ring – A ring-shaped style of body jewelry with a gap that holds a bead or other decorative object that can be removed to insert and remove the ring from a body piercing. Captive rings also encompass seamless rings, which have a nearly invisible gap that can be widened or tightened to insert or remove the ring, segment rings, which have removable segments that make the rings look seamless when worn, and other ring styles as shown in our Captive Bead Rings section.
  • Circular Barbell – A horseshoe-shaped ring with a ball or other decorative end on one or both ends. Circular barbells with just one end are called screw-on ball rings. Circular barbells make great jewelry for earlobe piercings, cartilage piercings, eyebrow piercings, nipple piercings, and more. (See our full selection of circular barbells.)
  • Clean Room – This is typically a closed-off area within a tattoo and piercing shop where employees can clean and sterilize piercing instruments and other tools using products like bristled brushes to hand wash piercing tools and an autoclave to sterilize instruments and body jewelry with pressurized steam.
  • Dermal Anchor Assistant Tool – Dermal Anchor Assistant Tool for Inserting Dermal Piercings, Created by Jason Coale of Painful Pleasures A unique tool designed by Painful Pleasures’ sponsored piercer Jason Coale that looks a bit like an over-sized sewing needle with an eye that makes inserting dermal anchors easier than ever before. Check out the Dermal Anchor Assistant Tool designed by Jason Coale to see the product and a demonstration video that will show you why every professional piercer needs one of these dermal tools in their piercing toolbox.
  • Dermal Jewelry – A type of body jewelry used for single point piercings that includes a dermal top attached to a dermal anchor that’s placed semi-permanently into the dermis. Dermal jewelry includes skin anchors/skin divers, which have permanently connected tops and bases, and standard dermal jewelry with dermal tops in a variety of shapes and styles that screw into dermal anchors. (Learn more about your dermal jewelry options.)Dermal Punch for Creating Dermal Piercings and Large Gauge Piercings
  • Dermal Punch – A tool that creates a round hole in the body by removing a circle of flesh permanently, making them quite different from piercing needles, which simply part the flesh to allow jewelry to pass through it. Dermal punches come in a range of sizes and may be used to create large gauge earlobe piercings instantly as an alternative to slowly stretching a smaller piercing to a larger gauge over time. They’re also used for dermal piercings, conch piercings, and more. Clients should give cautious consideration to being pierced with a dermal punch instead of a piercing needle, because the flesh will be permanently removed and is likely to leave an ugly scar if the piercing is later retired. Punched cartilage may leave a permanent hole if something like a conch piercing is retired. (Learn more about how dermal punches are used.)
  • Dermis – The secondary layer of tissue beneath the surface of the skin, which is known as the epidermis. Dermal anchors and surface barbells are placed in the dermis, and all body piercings puncture dermal tissue. Photo of bottle of Cavicide disinfectant
  • Disinfectant – A chemical agent typically used on inanimate objects, like counter tops and piercing tables, that either destroys or inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Examples of disinfectant products that piercers use include CaviCide1 and Madacide, both of which come in liquid and wipe forms to make it easier to keep piercing work spaces clean.
  • Emu Oil – A type of oil that increases the skin’s natural elasticity. If you plan to stretch a piercing, it’s a good idea to massage a small amount of emu oil into the skin around your piercing every day for the week leading up to a stretch. Doing so will minimize the chances of causing microscopic tears in the tissue that could make you more susceptible to developing a piercing infection. (Buy emu oil.)
  • Epidermis – The top layer of skin that covers the dermis. All body piercings must pierce the epidermis at least once, and most piercings, like lip and earlobe piercings, actually pierce the epidermis twice–once upon entering the tissue and once as the piercing exits the tissue on the other side. Only single-point piercings puncture the epidermis once.
  • External Threading – Body jewelry with this type of threading has removable ends with recessed threading that screw onto a shaft with exposed threads on either end. Externally-threaded body jewelry has the opposite setup of internally threaded jewelry. Externally Threaded Straight Barbell The exposed threads on externally-threaded body jewelry isn’t as ideal as internal threading for new piercings and piercings in sensitive places, like nipple piercings, because the exposed threads may scrape the fistula when the jewelry is inserted. You can avoid this issue by using a piercing taper to insert externally-threaded jewelry. (See all of our externally-threaded ends for external body jewelry.)
  • Extreme Body Modification – The process of altering one’s appearance in more extreme ways than just with tattoos and piercings. Some examples of extreme body modifications include scarification, branding, sub-dermal implants, tongue splitting, and tooth filing. Some of the most extreme modifiers alter their appearances to look like animals or elfin creatures with pointed ears, like the notorious Stalking Cat who had facial implants and tattoos that made him look like a tiger. (Learn more about extreme body mods.
  • Faux Body Jewelry – Any jewelry that can be worn without a piercing being performed. Examples of faux body jewelry includes accessories like magnetic plugs, faux nose rings, and ear cuffs that clip onto the upper ear cartilage, clip-on earrings, and fake nipple shields held in place by tightening two prongs together.
  • Fistula – The piercing hole created by a piercing needle, dermal punch, scalpel, or other piercing instrument and held open with body jewelry until it heals enough to be a semi-permanent hole that will stay open even when body jewelry is removed for brief periods. Over time, fistulas (plural for “fistula”) reinforce and thicken, which makes it easier for piercing clients to change their jewelry themselves.
  • Frenulum – A piece of connective tissue that spans the gap between any two body parts, also referred to as “webs”. The webs that connect your fingers and toes can be pierced, as can the tongue frenulum that connects the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth, the upper lip frenulum that connects your inner upper lip and gums, and the lower lip frenulum that connects your inner lower lip and gums. The latter two piercings are oral piercings known as smiley piercings and frowney piercings, respectively. (Learn more about  web piercings.)
  • Gauge – Refers to the diameter, or thickness, of both piercing needles and body jewelry. The lower the number, the heavier the gauge. Fine play piercing needles may be as thin as 27g (g=gauge) or as thick as 20g. Traditional earlobe piercings are typically performed with 20g-18g needles, Septum Rings in Varying Gauges | Septum Piercing Jewelry since those are the sizes of standard ear piercing jewelry like French hook earrings. A tongue piercing requires a slightly heavier gauge, so 14g-12g is the most common size range for tongue rings. When it comes to surface piercings like eyebrow and frenum piercings, the heavier the gauge, the less likely the inserted body jewelry is to migrate out from its original placement or be entirely rejected by the body, so some surface piercings are performed with 12g-8g needles. Gauge sizes go all the way up to 00g; beyond that, body jewelry for large stretched or punched piercings are measured in millimeters. (Learn about common sizes for different types of piercings.)
  • Glass Jewelry – Any body jewelry made from forms of glass, such as soda glass and goldstone glass. Most glass jewelry is large gauge jewelry for stretched piercings, such as glass plugs and glass ear hangers. (See our full selection of glass jewelry.)
  • Hypergranulation – Close-up Photo of a Piercing Hypergranulation Issue A piercing issue typically caused by a combination of pressure and excess moisture. If your new body jewelry is too tight due to severe swelling and/or in an area where you sweat a lot, you may develop a hypergranulation. It will present in one of two ways: either as the notorious red “piercing bump” alongside your fistula or as a ring of puffy red tissue around one or both ends of your fistula. Due to the way that hypergranulations are taut to the point of appearing fluid-filled and dark reddish-brown in color, many people make the mistake of thinking they’re developing a keloid scar when they really have a hypergranulation issue. It’s fairly easy to tell the difference, because hypergranulations will form closely around/by a fistula whereas keloids will continue to grow out of control well beyond a fistula. If you develop a hypergranulation, have your piercer change your jewelry to remove the pressure and ramp up your aftercare regime. Do three full sea salt solution soaks per day, add an antiseptic rinse to your routine once or twice a day, and continue misting your piercing with piercing aftercare spray 3-6 times per day. (Learn more about dealing with piercing problems like hypergranulation issues in our piercing aftercare articles.)
  • Hypertrophic Scar – Hypertrophic Scar Over a Torn Earlobe Piercing A raised scar that forms around a healed body piercing or over top of a retired fistula. Hypertrophic scars are the result of the body over-producing collagen when healing a piercing or other wound, resulting in fairly skin-tone scar tissue that tends to have a flat, roughly-textured surface. These scars usually form closely around a wound rather than growing well beyond a piercing or other wound the way keloid scars do. (Learn more about body piercing scars.)
  • Human Suspension – The act of suspending a person from large gauge hooks carefully placed through temporary body piercings created immediately before the act of suspension. It’s an ancient practice that’s growing in popularity among piercing artists, piercing enthusiasts, and those looking for spiritual enlightenment through body modification. To suspend a person requires a group of professional suspension artists working together with the right mix of suspension supplies, like piercing needles, skin prep cleansers and antiseptics, Gilson hooks, traditional suspension hooks, suspension rigs, and more. (Learn more about human suspension.)Human Suspension Pictures From the Painful Pleasures Photo Gallery
  • Infection – When bacteria gets into a piercing fistula and wreaks havoc, it can quickly turn into a full-blown infection. Symptoms of a piercing infection include discharge of thick, yellowish pus instead of just clear lymph, red streaks radiating from the piercing site, skin that’s hot to the touch, and/or fever. If you suspect you have a piercing infection, you should ramp up your piercing aftercare regime. If your symptoms persist or get worse, you should see your family physician and ask if you need an antibiotic.
  • Internal Threading – Body jewelry with this type of threading includes a shaft with recessed threading on either side; the matching ends have threaded posts attached to them that screw into the recessed threading on either end of the coordinating jewelry shaft. Internally-threaded body jewelry has the opposite setup of externally-threaded jewelry. This type of jewelry is ideal for new and sensitive piercings, because the recessed threading is less likely to scrape and irritate a delicate fistula than jewelry with external threading. (See all of our internally-threaded ends for external body jewelry.)
  • Jewelry Options – You have many options when it comes to choosing body jewelry for a piercing. You can choose the gauge (thickness) of the jewelry, its length (for barbells) or diameter (for captive rings, circular barbells, plugs and tunnels), the style ends (for threaded barbells) or beads (for captive rings) that you like best, the size of the ends or captive beads, the color of the metal when you choose jewelry that can be anodized, and the core material, which may be stainless steel, titanium, niobium, sterling silver, gold, an organic material like bone or wood, acrylic, BioPlast, glass, or something else. When you purchase plugs and tunnels, Recovery Aftercare Jojoba Oil for Piercing Scars and Maintaining Organic Jewelry you can sometimes even choose your preferred wearable area, which is the width of the rim that sits inside your stretched piercing. (See all of your body jewelry options.)
  • Jojoba Oil – A type of oil used to treat piercing scars naturally that can also be used to nourish organic horn and wood body jewelry. (Buy jojoba oil.)
  • Keloid Scar – A type of scar that very few people are prone to developing. Keloid scars are raised scars with a taut, almost fluid-filled appearance that tend to be a dark red to purplish color. Hypergranulations are often mistaken for keloids due to their appearance, but keloids usually grow out of control well beyond a piercing site or other wound rather than forming closely by or around it like hypergranulations do. Keloid scarring tends to be a hereditary issue, so if one of your parents or siblings has developed keloids before, you may be prone to them, too. (Learn more about body piercing scars.)
  • Labret Stud – A style of body jewelry with flat or slightly rounded backs, straight posts, and removable ends that are used for a variety of lip piercings and that can also be used in nostril piercings and different ear piercings. Labret studs come in several styles that include externally threaded posts and ends, internally threaded posts and ends, pop fit/push pin style labret jewelry with ends that pop into the shaft and stay in place after being bent slightly, PTFE labret studs with screw-on ends made of a more flexible hypoallergenic material, and BioPlast labret studs that are considered threadless jewelry, but both the posts and ends have ridges that help them stay together when the ends are snapped into place.
  • Lymph – A clear fluid that’s discharged from most healing piercings. It often dries to a whitish crust on external piercings, which is why some people call the discharge “crusties”. With oral piercings, lymph may appear as a wet, whitish strand of mucous oozing from a fistula. To soften dried lymph on an external piercing, wet it with saline rinse, and then gently wipe it away with a clean tissue. Never twist, turn or slide your jewelry to break up crusties.
  • Microbiology – The study of microscopically small organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and molds. Microbiology is relevant to piercers because many microorganisms can harm piercing clients by causing infections and other piercing issues if proper skin prep isn’t performed prior to a piercing or other body modification. (Learn more about microbiology for piercers.
  • Migration – The process of body jewelry moving slowly away from a piercing’s original placement. Surface piercings are most prone to migration, which is also sometimes referred to as the “cheese cutter effect” in relation to surface piercings because of the way layers of tissue are sloughed off, bringing jewelry closer to the surface of the skin over time.
  • Necrosis – This is the process of tissue dying, often because of a combination of excessively tight jewelry and/or swelling. Necrosis can lead to a piercing infection, which is why it’s important to have your piercer replace overly-tight jewelry as soon as possible.Photo of custom-made Eris niobium ear hangers
  • Niobium Jewelry – Body jewelry crafted from a flexible, autoclavable type of metal known as niobium. Niobium is an ideal material for seamless rings and other types of captive rings, because it can easily be bent to insert the jewelry in a piercing and then re-bent to bring the ends back together without damaging the jewelry. Additionally, it’s a hypoallergenic material to which very few people with sensitive skin will react negatively. Many of the pieces in our Unbreakable handmade jewelry collection are made from niobium.
  • Nose Ring – A type of body jewelry worn in nostril piercings that may be ring-shaped but that more commonly comes in one of three primary styles: nose bones (straight with a bulbous end that holds the jewelry in place), nostril screws (straight with a curved end that holds the nose ring in place), or fishtail nose rings (straight jewelry with a decorative end that can be turned into a custom nostril screw by a piercer). Captive rings and labret studs can also be worn as nose rings in nostril piercings. Nose rings are most commonly between the sizes of 18g and 16g, although larger gauges of jewelry can also be worn in nostril piercings, as desired.
  • Organic Jewelry – Body jewelry crafted from natural materials such as bone, horn, mother of pearl, abalone, wood, or natural metals like gold or silver. Organic jewelry is often hand-crafted, like every piece in our Elementals Organics collection of organic body jewelry. Organic jewelry may include plugs, tunnels, pendants, septum tusks, pinchers, and other styles of threadless body jewelry.
  • O-Ring – An elastic rubber ring used to hold body jewelry in placeProfessional Piercer in Action . O-rings are often used with septum pinchers and single-flare plugs.
  • Piercing Artist – Someone who specializes in the art of body piercing, also known simply as a piercer. To become a professional piercer, you have to do a year-long piercing apprenticeship with an experienced piercing master who can provide you with a hands-on piercing education. All professional piercers should also be educated in OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Depending on the state in which you operate, you may have to obtain a piercing license, too. (Learn more by reading our Piercing Safely article.)
  • Piercing Caliper – A tool used for accurately measuring the thickness, or gauge, of body jewelry, as well as the diameter of piercing rings. Piercing calipers come in digital and manual models.
  • Piercing Forceps – An instrument for seizing hold of body jewelry that comes in many different shapes, styles and sizes. It’s helpful to have a variety of piercing forceps on hand for inserting different types of jewelry and changing body jewelry, like mosquito forceps, dermal forceps, and so on.Photo of gloved hand on top of box of Umbra nitrile gloves
  • Piercing Gloves – Protective coverings for the hands that are typically made either of latex or nitrile. Piercing gloves protect clients from any microorganisms remaining on a piercer’s hands after performing proper hand hygiene, and they protect piercers from their clients’ bodily fluids and other contaminants they may be exposed to during the piercing process. (Learn more about why it’s important to wear gloves when modifying.)
  • Piercing Hemostat – A type of forceps used to insert or remove body jewelry with a more secure grasp than you could achieve with your bare hands, because hemostats lock in place once they’re holding a piece of jewelry. There are many different types of hemostats, like those made specifically for working with dermal tops, mosquito forceps, and septum forceps used to guide a needle easily through the sweet spot in the septum.Photo of straight piercing needle by Precision
  • Piercing Needle – An instrument with a sharp, pointed/tapered tip used to create a piercing hole (fistula) that will hold whatever style of body jewelry is most appropriate for the piercing being performed. Piercing needles come in a variety of gauges, lengths, shapes, and styles to give piercing artists the options they need to perform any body piercing, regardless of its location on the body. Unlike sewing needles, piercing needles are typically hollow so that jewelry can be placed in one end and threaded through a new piercing immediately behind the piercing needle, so that the jewelry is already in place by the time the piercing needle has passed through the skin being pierced. There are also threaded piercing needles available that allow piercers to screw a piece of threaded jewelry onto one end of the needle and pull it through the piercing behind the needle.
  • Piercing Pliers – One of several different types of pliers used specifically to insert or remove jewelry from a body piercing or to alter jewelry. The different types of piercing pliers include nose pliers for creating custom nose rings out of fishtail nose rings, ring opening pliers for widening the gap on captive bead rings, and ring closing pliers for closing larger gauge captive bead rings that can’t be easily tightened by hand after being inserted in a piercing.
  • Piercing Retainer – A type of body jewelry used to keep a fistula open while minimizing the appearance of a piercing. People with facial piercings in particular often need to use piercing retainers while working in more conservative professional environments. They may also be used in lieu of metal jewelry to hold a piercing open during a medical procedure such as surgery, an MRI or a CAT scan. (Learn more about piercing retainers.)
  • Piercing Scar – An unsightly malformation of tissue around an existing piercing or over top of a healed fistula. There are three primary types of piercing scars: atrophic scars, hypertrophic scars and keloid scars. Atrophic scars are recessed scars that are typically flesh tone; they create a divot in the skin where a retired piercing once was due to new tissue failing to completely fill the closed fistula. Hypertrophic scars also tend to be skin colored, but they’re raised scars that form immediately around an existing piercing or over top Atrophic Body Piercing Scar | Types of Piercing Scars of the space where a retired piercing was. Keloid scars are taut, reddish-brown scars that appear almost fluid-filled and that grow well beyond a piercing site. Very few people are prone to keloids, which tend to be a hereditary issue. If you know you’re prone to keloids or anyone in your immediate family is, you should avoid getting pierced at all. (Learn more about body piercing scars.)
  • Piercing Taper – A straight tool that tapers down from a desired gauge to a finer point that allows a piercer or piercee to insert new body jewelry into a piercing more easily, particularly when inserting jewelry one size larger than the current jewelry, OR a stretching tool that can be pushed forward slightly at periodic intervals to enlarge a fistula. When using a piercing taper to change jewelry, sometimes it helps to add a tiny drop of a water-based lubricant like Astroglide to the piercing site before inserting the taper, sliding it through your piercing, and pulling through your new jewelry.
  • Pincher – A style of body jewelry often worn in septum piercings, but that can also be used in earlobe piercings. Pinchers have a more horseshoe-like shape, like circular barbells, but they typically do not have detachable ends. Instead, the jewelry stays in place by itself or with the help of O-rings.
  • Play Piercing Needle – This is a fine gauge hypodermic needle with a plastic hub on the end that’s used for needle play. Since each size play piercing needle has a different colored hub to indicate the needle’s gauge, people who engage in needle play often use these needles to create colorful patterns and creative designs. Play piercing needles are also used for sexual stimulation. (Learn more about needle play.)Photo of sono wood plugs with crushed turquoise and gold-plated inlay
  • Plugs & Tunnels – Larger gauge body jewelry comprised of either a solid, typically circular plug or a version of a plug with a hollow center, known as a tunnel. Plugs and tunnels are most often worn in stretched earlobe piercings, but they may also be worn in other stretched or punched piercings such as enlarged labret piercings, conch piercings, and even the female genital piercings known as outer labia piercings. Plugs come in alternative shapes, too, such as tear drop shaped plugs and heart shaped plugs. (Learn more about stretching ear piercings; these tips can be applied to other piercings as well.)
  • Prince Albert Wand – A type of body jewelry worn exclusively in healed male genital piercings known as Prince Albert or PA piercings. PA wands come in a variety of different styles with and without rings attached. Although some men wear Prince Albert wands on an ongoing basis, most men find they’re better suited during intercourse and sexual play, and that captive rings or barbell-style jewelry like circular or bent barbells are more comfortable to wear regularly.
  • Push Pop Labret Stud – A threadless type of labret stud that includes a shaft with a fixed disc on one end and a hole on the opposite end that holds a detachable decorative end. Instead of screwing into the shaft, the decorative end pops into the hole; you then have to bend the end slightly to lock it into the labret stud’s shaft. This type of jewelry is also known as push pin labret jewelry or pop fit labret studs. (Learn more about push pop labret jewelry.)
  • Receiving Tube – This is a tool used in sensitive areas, to protect the tissue behind a body piercing from being damaged. For instance, receiving tubes are often used with vertical clitoral hood piercings (VCH piercings) to prevent the clitoris from being damaged during the piercing process. Piercing corks serve the same purpose and are sometimes a better fit depending on the type of piercing being performed, like when a piercer is doing an ear cartilage piercing and wants to protect the side of their client’s head from getting poked. In that situation, a cork may fit the space between the back of the ear and the side of the head better than a receiving tube.
  • Rejection – Scarification in Process, From the Painful Pleasures Photo Gallery The process of the body rejecting, or forcing out, a body piercing over time, much the same way that it would push out a splinter embedded beneath the surface of the skin. Although any piercing can fail to heal properly and eventually have to be removed, true rejection is most common with surface piercings, and it’s the end result of a slower migration of body jewelry towards the surface of the skin.
  • Scarification – The practice of etching permanent designs into the skin by tracing a pattern with a scalpel or by creating a free hand design with a scalpel blade. Sometimes liquid skin adhesive is used to fill the cuts and hold the skin open, creating more significant scarring that results in a more noticeable design once healed. Some piercers perform scarification in addition to traditional body piercings, but there are also dedicated scarification artists who practice this form of extreme body modification. (Learn more about scarification.Photo of Dead Sea Salt and Tea Tree Oil for mixing sea salt solutions
  • Sea Salt Solution (SSS) – Homemade sea salt solution is comprised of 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt stirred into 1 cup of sterile water. (You can sterilize tap water at home by boiling it hard for five minutes.) Use sea salt solution to keep healing piercings clean and treat irritated piercings. Enhance it by adding 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to each cup of homemade SSS you prepare. Alternatively, you can add a single drop of tea tree oil to each aftercare spray-soaked cotton ball you apply to a healing or irritated piercing. (Buy a Recovery Aftercare Tea Tree Oil & Sea Salt From the Dead Sea Combo Pack to save money on both ingredients.Photo of sharps container
  • Sharps Container – A red plastic container into which used piercing needles, scalpel blades and other sharp objects are placed to prevent piercers and their clients from inadvertently getting stabbed by objects contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids that may transmit disease. The Sharps Disposal by Mail System® allows tattoo and piercing shops to ship full Sharps containers to a facility where their contents can be properly and safely destroyed. (Learn more about Sharps containers and the Sharps recovery system.)
  • Single-Point Piercing – This is a dermal piercing that has an entry point but no exit point. To create a single-point piercing, a piercer will either use a needle or dermal punch to create a hole in the epidermis, and then s/he will insert a dermal anchor into the dermis below. Over time, the sub-dermal tissue will grow around and/or up through the base of the dermal anchor, securing it in place. The depth at which the anchor is placed will determine the rise (height) of the post that extends to the surface of the skin. Once a dermal anchor is placed, a dermal top is then attached to the post so that the dermal jewelry appears to be laying immediately atop the surface of the skin. As an alternative to an anchor and removable top, a skin anchor (a.k.a. skin diver) with a base and permanently connected top may be inserted into a single-point piercing. (Learn more about dermal piercings.)
  • Stainless Steel Jewelry – Jewelry comprised of quality stainless steel, like 316L ASTM F-138 implant-grade surgical steel. Stainless steel jewelry makes ideal starter jewelry in new piercings for most people, but those with very sensitive skin may be better off wearing titanium or BioPlast jewelry instead. (Shop for stainless steel jewelry.)
  • Sterile Field – A small area designated for holding sterile piercing tools, needles, body jewelry, and skin prep supplies prior to and during the piercing process. Piercers will often use easily accessible metal trays covered with clean dental bibs or drape cloths as the bases of their sterile fields. Clients should not touch anything within a piercer’s sterile field, because they could contaminate the tools within that area. (Learn more about setting up a sterile field.)
  • Sterilization – In regard to piercing, this is a process that destroys microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, usually utilizing a high temperature sterilization method involving steam, dry heat or boiling liquid. Most piercers use autoclaves to sterilize body jewelry and piercing instruments, although cold sterilization methods involving products like Cavicide are sometimes used instead. (Learn more about sterilization methods.Photo of autoclave sterilization pouches by Precision
  • Sterilization Pouches – Special bags or lengths of nylon tubing into which tattoo and piercing instruments are placed before being put in an autoclave steam sterilizer. Each bag or length of nylon tubing is sealed before being placed in an autoclave, but the composition of the pouches allows the objects inside to be fully sterilized despite being encased in bags. Autoclave bags allow batches of piercing instruments to be sterilized simultaneously, stored and kept sterile until they’re needed for a piercing procedure.
  • Stretching – The process of increasing the size of a piercing either by replacing your current jewelry with jewelry one gauge larger or by using stretching tape to increase to the next size more gradually. Regularly massaging emu oil into the tissue around your piercing throughout the stretching process will increase your skin’s elasticity and make it easier to stretch up to progressively larger gauges. (Learn more about stretching your earlobe piercings.Photo of black stretching tape by Precision
  • Stretching Tape – A product that sticks to itself that you can use to add a single layer to your body jewelry every week or two to slowly stretch your piercing to a larger gauge. Using stretching tape tends to be much less traumatizing to a fistula than going up a full gauge at a time when stretching a piercing.
  • Straight Barbell – A barbell that has a straight shaft of any length and a ball or other decorative end on either end of the barbell. Straight barbells may be internally threaded or externally threaded. (See our full selection of straight barbells.)
  • Sub-dermal Implant – An object placed in the dermis under the surface of the skin for one of three purposes: to augment a body part/change the appearance of the surface of the skin as breast implants would enhance a woman’s breasts, to insert a magnetic element, or to insert an anchor for body jewelry, as is done with dermal piercings, which are also known as single-point piercings.
  • Surface Anchor Holder Tool – A tool that holds dermal anchors and surface barbells securely in place while you change dermal tops. The surface anchor holder tool is a must-have for anyone with a dermal piercing or surface piercing who wants to be able to change their dermal tops without dislodging the hardware beneath their skin, and it’s a handy tool for piercers that serves as a great alternative to dermal forcepsPhoto of anodized purple surface barbell jewelry
  • Surface Piercing Barbell – A straight barbell with internally threaded posts on either end that are angled up to 90⁰ (shown to the right). Surface piercing barbells (a.k.a. surface barbells or just surface bars) are inserted under the skin for surface piercings, which are double-ended piercings that typically go through a pinched up portion of flesh with no natural entry or exit points. Surface piercings can be created by pushing a hollow needle followed by a surface bar through pinched flesh nearly anywhere on the body, or they may be made with a scalpel by cutting a line the length of the surface bar being inserted, placing the bar in the cut, and letting the tissue fuse back together over top of the surface barbell. The end result has a similar appearance to two single-point piercings. Some examples of surface piercings include eyebrow piercings, nape piercings, frenum piercings (a type of male genital piercing), and Christina piercings (a type of female genital piercing). (Learn more about surface piercings.)
  • Surgical Skin Marker – A sterile marker that a piercer uses to create temporary marks on a client’s body to indicate where a piercing will be placed. They’re also called piercing markers, surgical skin pens, and tattoo pens, among other things. Surgical skin markers allow clients to confirm that they like the placement for a piercing they’re getting, and they serve as a guide for the piercer performing the piercing.
  • Surgical Skin Prep – The process of cleaning a piercing client’s skin with an antibacterial cleanser followed by an antiseptic product to remove harmful microorganisms that may otherwise be pushed beneath the surface of the skin during the piercing process. Lack of proper skin prep may contribute to higher risk of a client developing an infection or other piercing problem. (Learn more about body modification skin prep.Photo of bottle of Tea Tree Oil for piercing care
  • Tea Tree Oil – A natural antiseptic and moisturizer that can be diluted in sea salt solution or added to cotton balls soaked with saline piercing aftercare spray to treat irritated skin around piercings and minimize the risk of developing a piercing infection. Tea tree oil can also be used to moisturize organic jewelry comprised of wood to keep it looking lustrous and prevent it from cracking. (Buy Recovery Aftercare Tea Tree Oil.)
  • Threadless Jewelry – Body jewelry that does not contain a threaded shaft with ends that screw on and off. BioPlast labret studs and push pop labret studs are the most common types of threadless jewelry, but technically speaking, French hook earrings, stud earrings, most plugs and tunnels, nose rings (including nose bones, nostril screws and fishtail nose rings), captive bead rings, pinchers, septum tusks, and a wide range of other types of body jewelry are also threadless.
  • Titanium Jewelry – Split Tongue by Arseniy Andersson | Tongue Splitting Pictures in the Painful Pleasures Gallery Jewelry comprised of implant-grade titanium, like 6Al-4V-Eli ASTM F-136 titanium. Titanium is one of the most inert types of metal, making it hypoallergenic, or safe for those with sensitive skin. In the UK, titanium jewelry is the required type of starter jewelry for new piercings, and in the US, most piercers recommend wearing either titanium or stainless steel jewelry during the piercing healing process. (Shop for titanium body jewelry.)
  • Tongue Splitting – The process of bifurcating the tongue (dividing it in half) as far back as where the underside of the tongue connects to the floor of the mouth so that the two muscles on either side of the tongue can work independently of each other. Tongue splitting may be done slowly by threading fishing line through an existing tongue piercing, tying it off around the tip of the tongue, and progressively tightening the line as it cuts through the tongue over time. Alternatively, the process can be done with a scalpel or electrocautery pen, either all in one sitting or in small increments over time. Since this process is not a medical procedure, only an over-the-counter anesthetic can be used to numb the tongue slightly, so the less aggressive tie-off method is likely to be less painful. (Learn more about tongue splitting.)Ultrasonic Cleaners for Piercing Shops
  • Ultrasonic Cleaner – A machine that removes contaminants from tattoo and piercing tools and other objects in a tank filled with liquid that’s rapidly moved by inaudible, high frequency sound waves that act like brushes on the tank’s contents. Ultrasonic cleaners loosen any debris clinging to piercing instruments and clean them thoroughly, making it safe to then run the instruments through an autoclave sterilization cycle. (Learn more about ultrasonic cleaners.)


Types of Piercings

The types of body piercings listed below are the most basic names for various types of body piercings. For instance, “lip piercing” may refer to one of multiple different body piercing placements that go through the skin immediately above the upper lip or below the lower lip. This list is intended just as a starting point for exploring the many different types of body piercings from which you can choose and to give you basic guidance about the best styles of body jewelry worn in each type of piercing. To learn more about specific piercings within one of the general categories below, click the “learn more” links that follow each type of piercing listed.

  • Angel Bites Piercing – Bite Piercings: Where Angel Bites, Spider Bites, and Other Lip Piercing Bites Are Placed A pair of lip piercings placed on either side of the philtrum, on the upper lip. The two piercings are actually just horizontal upper lip piercings that are typically called Monroe, Madonna or Crawford piercings when performed independently instead of in a pair. Labret studs are the most common type of body jewelry worn in angel bites piercings. (Learn more in our Lip Piercing FAQs article.)
  • Anti-Eyebrow Piercing – A piercing placed below the eye, sometimes at an angle on the top of the cheek bone. Anti-eyebrow piercings are typically done using surface piercing barbells, but two dermal piercings may also be placed side-by-side to give the appearance of an anti-eyebrow surface piercing.
  • Anti-Tragus Piercing – A piercing of the ear cartilage directly above the earlobe, across from the tragus. Micro bent barbells, micro straight barbells or small captive rings may be inserted in anti-tragus piercings. (Learn more in our FAQs About Ear Piercings article.)
  • Belly Button Piercing – A piercing placed through one edge of the rim of the navel, also known as navel piercings or simply as belly piercings. Belly button piercings are most commonly placed through the tissue above the navel so that the belly button ring inserted hangs over top of the belly button itself. Belly Button Rings | Navel Rings for Belly Piercings Alternate placements may be done from the left and right sides of the navel, beneath the navel, or from any other point around the rim of the navel cavity. Typically, standard belly button rings are comprised of a bent barbell and two different sized and/or shaped ends, but captive rings and other styles of belly rings are also available. (Learn more about belly button piercings.)
  • Bridge Piercing – A horizontal surface piercing of the tissue at the bridge of the nose. The most common types of jewelry used in bridge piercings are straight barbells and bent barbells. (Learn more about nose piercings.)
  • Canine Bites Piercing (a.k.a. Shark Bites) – Two pairs of lip piercings, placed on the left and right sides of both the upper and lower lips equidistance apart from each other, are known as canine bites or shark bites. Placed independently of each other, the upper lip piercings would be considered Monroe piercings, and the lower lip piercings would be side horizontal lip piercings. Typically, a set of four labret studs will be used for this set of lip piercings, but captive rings or circular barbells could be worn in the two lower lip piercings instead. (Learn more about lip piercings.)Types of Ear Piercings
  • Cartilage Piercing – A piercing placed through any part of the cartilage of the ear. Cartilage piercings include helix piercings, industrial piercings, rook piercings, daith piercings, tragus piercings, and other types of cartilage piercings. These piercings accommodate a variety of different styles of body jewelry, but labret studs tend to make the best starter jewelry for any cartilage piercing. Other styles of cartilage piercing jewelry include industrial barbells, captive rings, single- or multi-loop helix rings, short straight barbells with decorative cuffs attached, ear cuffs that don’t require any piercing at all to be worn, and more. (Learn more about cartilage piercings.)
  • Cheek Piercing – Facial piercings with an oral side typically placed in opposing pairs through the cheeks to either highlight existing dimples or create the appearance of one having dimples, which is why cheek piercings are also known as dimple piercings. The most common type of jewelry for dimple piercings are labret-style cheek piercing barbells with extra long posts. Cheek piercings are a higher risk type of piercing that should only be performed by experienced professional piercers. When done improperly, one or both parotid ducts may be permanently damaged, possibly causing saliva to constantly flow down the outside of the cheek(s) or leading to recurring infections. This is just a warning and shouldn’t deter you from getting cheek piercings if you really want them; just make sure you find a reputable piercing artist who has successfully performed dimple piercings before to pierce your cheeks. (Learn more about cheek piercings.)
  • Christina Piercing – A vertical surface piercing placed through the pubic mound, above the female clitoris. Christina Barbells | Christina Piercing Barbells This is one of the hardest types of female genital piercings to get to heal properly, due to the fact that it’s a surface piercing and that it’s constantly irritated by underwear and other clothing. A special type of surface barbell known as a Christina piercing barbell is the exclusive type of jewelry used for Christina piercings. (Learn more about female piercing options.)
  • Conch Piercing – A piercing of the ear conch, which is the lower inner ear cartilage, in between the earlobe and the upper rim of the ear. Conch piercings may be performed with a piercing needle followed by a labret stud or micro straight barbell, or they can be made larger using a dermal punch to accommodate a conch pin or other small plug or tunnel. (Learn more about ear cartilage piercings.)
  • Cyber Bites Piercing – A Medusa piercing placed through the philtrum centrally above the upper lip combined with a standard labret piercing placed centrally below the lower lip are known as cyber bites when performed simultaneously. Labret studs are the most common type of cyber bites jewelry. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Dahlia Bites Piercing (a.k.a. Joker Bites) – A pair of piercings placed to the left and right sides of either corner of the mouth. This piercing gets its name from the grisly Black Dahlia murder, Unbreakable Niobium Daith Ring With Endless Customization Options in which the victim’s mouth was cut at the corners. Dahlia bites are also known as joker bites, because of the way they tend to elongate a person’s grin, mimicking the over-exaggerated smile of the Joker from the Batman comics. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Daith Piercing – A piercing placed through the cartilage immediately below the point where the helix connects to the head and the cartilage continues to curve in (directly above the tragus in the ear diagram in our FAQs About Ear Piercings article). There are a wide variety of captive rings available for daith piercings; you’ll find some of the most beautiful options in our Unbreakable jewelry collection.
  • Dermal Piercing A single-point piercing that goes through the epidermis and embeds a dermal anchor into the dermis beneath. A decorative dermal top is then screwed into the dermal anchor so that the jewelry appears to be sitting atop the surface of the skin. As an alternate to the more typical two part type of dermal jewelry, skin anchors (a.k.a. skin divers) may be inserted. These are single pieces of dermal jewelry that have permanently connected bases and tops. Dermal Piercings by Arseniy Andersson | Dermal Piercing Pictures from the Painful Pleasures Gallery Over time, tissue grows up around and/or through a dermal anchor (depending on if it has a solid base or one with holes in it) to secure the anchor in place and make it possible to change the decorative dermal tops without dislodging the anchor beneath the surface of the skin. A dermal anchor holder tool is helpful to those who choose two piece dermal jewelry and want to change their decorative tops periodically. (Learn more about dermal piercings.)
  • Dolphin Bites Piercing – A pair of lower lip piercings placed side by side through the center of the tissue beneath the lower lip, with just a little space in between the two piercings. Labret studs or captive rings may be worn in dolphin bites. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Ear Piercing – A piercing placed through the earlobe or any part of the ear cartilage. Earlobe piercings are the most common types of ear piercings, but there are many other options available, most of which are cartilage piercings. Some people stretch their earlobes to larger gauges so they can wear plugs, hangers (a.k.a. large gauge earrings) and other styles of heavier gauge body jewelry, but standard earlobe piercings accommodate post or French hook style earrings in the 20g-18g size range (g=gauge). (Learn more about ear piercings and the many types from which you can choose.)Large Gauge Earrings for Stretched Lobes
  • Eyebrow Piercing – A surface piercing placed through the tissue around the eyebrow. Miniature/micro bent barbells are typically worn as eyebrow rings, but actual rings (typically captive rings) may also be used as eyebrow piercing jewelry. (Learn more about eyebrow piercings.)
  • Facial Piercing – Any piercing on the face, including eyebrow piercings, anti-eyebrow piercings, cheek piercings, bridge piercings, nostril piercings, septum piercings, and all lip piercings.
  • Frowny Piercing – A piercing of the lower lip frenulum, or web of tissue that connects the lower gums to the inner lower lip. Captive rings, micro bent barbells and circular barbells are all good styles of jewelry for frowny piercings. (Learn more about oral web piercings.)
  • Genital Piercing – Any body piercing placed in the male or female genital region, either through the pubic area, the actual genitalia, the anus, or the tissue in between the anus and genitals (known as the perineum on men). There are many different types of male and female genital piercings from which you can choose. The type of body jewelry you wear in a genital piercing is largely determined by the type of genital piercing you get. For instance, micro bent barbells are the ideal choice for body jewelry worn in the popular female genital piercing known as a VCH piercing (short for vertical clitoral hood piercing), and straight barbells are one of the most common styles of jewelry worn in the male genital piercing known as a frenum piercing. Some male and female genital piercings can be stretched to accommodate tunnels in addition to more standard styles of genital piercing jewelry like captive rings. (Learn more about male genital piercings. | Learn more about female genital piercings.)
  • Helix Piercing – Spiral Earrings for Cartilage Piercings | Cartilage Earrings A piercing of the upper ear cartilage, along the upper rim of the ear. Helix piercings can be placed individually, in pairs, in triplets, or more. There are helix screws available that will thread through multiple helix piercings, or you can wear labret studs, captive rings, or circular barbells in helix piercings. (Shop our full selection of cartilage jewelry, or learn more by reading our FAQs About Ear Piercings article.)
  • Industrial Piercing – A piercing that spans the top of the ear, entering through the back of the helix and exiting towards the top-front of the helix. The area it overlays is called the scaffold of the ear, which is why this type of piercing is sometimes known as a scaffold piercing. Industrial barbells are the most common type of industrial piercing jewelry, but individual captive rings may also be worn in a pair of industrial piercing fistulas. (Learn more about ear piercings.)
  • Joker Bites Piercing – See the “Dahlia Bites Piercing” definition above.
  • Labret Piercing – A type of lip piercing that’s centered below the lower lip. Traditional labret piercings are played horizontally to the ground through the skin immediately below the lower lip, whereas vertical labret piercings go straight through the lower lip vertically, Labret Jewelry for Lip Piercings | Lip Rings so that the top ball sits centrally on the actual lower lip. Labret studs are the most common type of body jewelry used in labret piercings, but you can also wear a captive ring, circular barbell or labret lip loop in a standard labret piercing. Short straight barbells are the only appropriate body jewelry for vertical labret piercings. (Learn more about labret piercings and other lip piercings.)
  • Lip Piercing – A piercing placed horizontally through the tissue above the upper lip or below the lower lip, or vertically through the actual lower lip. There are many different placement options for lip piercings, such as labret piercings, which are placed through the skin below the center of the lower lip, and Monroe piercings, which are placed through the left or right side of the skin above the upper lip to mimic a mole (hence the name, since Marilyn Monroe had an upper lip mole, as do Madonna and Cindy Crawford, whose names are used as alternate names for this type of lip piercing). Lip piercings performed in pairs or sets of four are known as “bites”, and there are several pairings of bite piercings from which you can choose. The most common style of jewelry worn in lip piercings is labret jewelry, but captive rings and straight barbells are also used for select types of lip piercings. In particular, BioPlast labret studs tend to make the best lip rings, BioPlast Labret Studs | Labret Jewelry because they’re made of soft, flexible BioPlastic that’s less likely to cause gum recession or to chip a tooth. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Lowbret Piercing – A low labret piercing, placed as closely as possible to the point where the lower gums meet the inner cheek. Labret studs are the best type of jewelry for lowbret piercings. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Medusa Piercing – A piercing of the central upper lip, placed through the area known as the philtrum. When someone gets both a Medusa piercing and a standard labret piercing, the pair of piercings is known as “cyber bites”. Labret studs tend to be the most appropriate type of jewelry for Medusa piercings. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Monroe Piercing – A piercing placed through the left or right side of the upper lip, mimicking an upper lip mole. Cindy Crawford, Madonna and Marilyn Monroe are all known for their upper lip moles, which is why this type of piercing is known as either a Monroe piercing, Madonna piercing or Crawford piercing. A pair of Monroe piercings is referred to as “angel bites”. Labret studs are the most appropriate type of jewelry for Monroe piercings. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Nape Piercing – A surface piercing placed through the nape of the neck using a surface barbell to support the visible dermal tops screwed into the surface bar’s two posts. (Learn more about surface piercings.)Glass Captive Bead Rings | Captive Rings for Ear Piercings and Other Body Piercings
  • Nipple Piercing – A piercing of the nipple which may be placed vertically or horizontally through the nipple, or at any other angle desired, although horizontal nipple piercings are most common. A person may have one or both nipples pierced, as desired, but more people have them done in pairs rather than as one-off piercings. The best styles of starter jewelry for nipple piercings include straight and bent barbells, because they put the least amount of downward pressure on healing fistulas. Captive rings and other styles of nipple piercing jewelry may be worn once your nipple piercings are fully healed. (Learn more about nipple piercings. | Learn about breast feeding with nipple piercings specifically.)
  • Nose Piercing – Any piercing placed through part of the nose, including nostril piercings, high nostril piercings, septum piercings, bridge piercings, rhino piercings, and nasallang piercings. Nostril piercings are the most popular type of nose piercing, with septum piercings coming in at a close second. The two types of piercings require fairly different styles of jewelryNose Piercing Pictures from the Painful Pleasures Photo Gallery . Nose rings typically refer to nostril rings in the nose bone, nostril screw or fishtail styles. Labret studs and captive rings may also be worn in nostril piercings. Bent or circular barbells or captive rings are best suited for septum piercings, although septum tusks and other styles of large gauge septum jewelry may be worn in stretched septum piercings. Straight barbells are most common for both rhino and nasallang piercings. (Learn more about nose piercings.)
  • Oral Piercing – Any piercing of the oral cavity, including tongue piercings that go straight through the center of the tongue (usually more towards the back-center of the tongue), and web piercings, including tongue web piercings (piercing of the frenulum that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth), smiley piercings (piercing of the frenulum that connects the upper lip to the gums), and frowney piercings (piercing of the frenulum that connects the lower lip to the lower gums). Tongue rings are the most common type of body jewelry worn in tongue piercings; they’re just straight barbells that typically have two different sized and/or shaped ends. Micro bent barbells make the best starter jewelry for oral web piercings, but fine gauge captive rings may also be worn in them. (Learn more about tongue piercings. | Learn more about oral web piercings.)
  • Orbital Piercing – A pair of ear piercings placed close to each other through the upper earlobe or upper ear cartilage, directly below where the lower part of an industrial piercing would sit, with the purpose of threading a ring through the two holes and connecting them. Seamless Rings for Orbital Piercings and Other Ear Piercings The ring will look like it’s orbiting the edge of the ear, which is why this is called an orbital piercing. Captive rings are the most popular style of jewelry worn in orbital piercings. (Learn more about orbital piercings and other ear piercings.)
  • Rook Piercing – An ear piercing placed through the upper-inner rim of ear cartilage that runs over top where a daith piercing would be placed, above the conch. Micro bent barbells and captive rings tend to be the best type of rook piercing jewelry. (Learn more about rook piercings and other types of ear piercings.)
  • Shark Bites Piercings – See the “Canine Bites Piercing” definition above.
  • Septum Piercing – A piercing of the soft tissue in between the nose cartilage and the underside of the nose, which is often referred to as the “sweet spot”. Captive rings, circular barbells, pinchers, bent barbells, and septum tusks may be worn in septum piercings. (Learn more about nose piercings.)
  • Smiley Piercing – A type of web piercing placed through the upper lip frenulum, which connects the upper gums to the inner upper lip. Captive rings, circular barbells and micro bent barbells all make good smiley piercing jewelry, Smiley Piercing and Snake Bites Piercings Picture From the Painful Pleasures Gallery but bent barbells tend to work best during the healing process, because they put the least amount of downward pressure on the healing fistula. (Learn more about oral web piercings.)
  • Snake Bites Piercing – A pair of horizontal lower lip piercings placed through the left and right sides of the tissue beneath the lower lip are known as snake bites piercings when performed simultaneously. Labret studs or captive rings can be worn in snake bites piercings. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Snug Piercing – A piercing of the antihelix, which is the rim of cartilage that runs along the outer edge of the conch. Micro bent barbells and captive rings tend to make the best types of snug piercing jewelry. (Learn more about ear piercings.)
  • Spider Bites Piercing (a.k.a. Viper Bites) – A pair of lower lip piercings placed closely together on either the far left or right side of the lower lip are known as spider bites piercings or viper bites piercings. Labret studs are the most popular type of jewelry for spider bites piercings, but a pair of captive rings can also be worn in them. (Learn more about lip piercings.)
  • Surface Piercing – A type of piercing that goes beneath the surface of the skin, through the dermis, and that has no natural entry or exit points the way that lip and ear piercings do. (Surface Barbells and Surface Piercing Jewelry See the alternate definition of surface piercings under “Surface Piercing Barbell” to read about how they compare to single point piercings.) Without natural entry and exit points, surface piercings are more prone to migration and rejection than other body piercings. Many different types of piercings are technically surface piercings by nature, including eyebrow piercings and even belly button piercings to a degree. However, classically speaking, surface piercings refer to double-ended piercings placed below the surface of the skin at points such as the nape of the neck, the hips, or in the case of Christina piercings, through the female pubis vertically above the clitoris. For standard surface piercings, a special type of jewelry known as a surface barbell is used. A surface barbell has two posts connected by a flat or round bar that runs beneath the surface of the skin, so that the only part of the jewelry that’s visible are the two dermal tops screwed into the posts on either end. This gives surface piercings the appearance of sitting atop the surface of the skin when in reality the main part of the jewelry is beneath the skin, embedded in the dermis. (Learn more about surface piercings.)
  • Tongue Piercing – Traditional Tongue Piercing and Tongue Tip Piercing Picture from the Painful Pleasures Gallery A piercing of the tongue, typically placed roughly 1/3 of the way back from the tip of the tongue, so that the bottom ball of the tongue ring inserted sits in front of the tongue frenulum. A tongue “ring” is actually a straight barbell with a smaller bottom ball and a larger top ball or other decorative top that’s sufficiently large enough to prevent the jewelry from sliding through the fistula. There are other much less common tongue piercing placement options, including forward tongue piercings and horizontal piercings through the tip of the tongue. You can also get multiple traditional tongue piercings, which are known as venom piercings when placed as a pair of piercings side-by-side through the right and left halves of the tongue. The only time anything other than a straight barbell can be used for a tongue piercing is with tongue tip/forward tongue piercings, which can accommodate a captive ring or circular barbell that’s horseshoe shaped. (Learn more about tongue piercings.)
  • Tragus Piercing – A piercing of the tragus, which is the flap of cartilage that protrudes from the side of the head where the center of the ear connects to the head. Micro bent barbells, labret studs, captive rings, and circular barbells all make ideal tragus piercing jewelry. (Learn more about ear piercings.)
  • Transverse Lobe Piercing – A surface piercing placed through the earlobe vertically rather than horizontally, as standard earlobe piercings are placed. Transverse lobe piercings are more likely to migrate out or be rejected entirely than other types of ear piercings, which can cause significant damage to the earlobe. (Learn more about ear piercings.)
  • Uvula Piercing – Hand Web Piercings | Web Piercing Pictures on Painfulpleasures.com A piercing of the epiglottis, or uvula, which is the stretchy flap of tissue that dangles down from the center back of the throat at the entrance to the larynx. If you have a strong gag reflex, a uvula piercing may not be the best oral piercing for you.
  • Viper Bites Piercing – See the “Spider Bites Piercing” definition above.
  • Web Piercing – A piercing of any frenulum, including the webbing between the fingers and toes, the tongue frenulum, and the upper and lower lip webs that connect the inner lips to the gums. Web piercings are technically surface piercings in nature, which means that they tend to be more prone to migration and rejection than other body piercings. When it comes to web piercings placed on the hands and feet, labret studs make ideal body jewelry. The flatter bottom side of the jewelry is less likely to get in the way when using your hands or feel uncomfortable when wearing shoes than something like a straight barbell with balls on both ends. As for oral web piercings, micro bent barbells are ideal starter jewelry, and captive rings may be worn in well-healed oral web piercings. (Learn more about web piercings.)
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