The check of a man with a nipple piercing on each of his nipples.
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Nipple Piercing: All The Details You Can’t Live Without

Nipple Piercing Article Quick Reference:
History | Myths | Complications | Pain | Cost | Procedure | Healing | Aftercare | Jewelry | Celebrities

A nipple piercing is a form of body modification with deep cultural and historical roots and has become increasingly popular for both aesthetic and personal expression. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricate details of nipple piercings.

We will explore the history of nipple piercings across various cultures. Additionally, we will provide practical advice on the healing process, discussing timeframes, potential complications, and how to care for your new piercing effectively. Also, discover the kinds of jewelry to wear in nipple piercings. Whether you’re considering a nipple piercing or simply curious about the process, this article offers valuable insights and expert guidance to navigate this unique form of body adornment.

A diagram of a male torso and chest with the nipple piercing location pointed out.


The history of nipple piercings is as fascinating as it is varied, tracing back through different cultures and periods. In ancient Rome, nipple piercings were seen as a mark of strength and virility. Roman centurions reportedly wore nipple rings as a symbol of their courage and to attach their capes.

Meanwhile, in the Victorian era, nipple piercings were a fashion statement among aristocratic women, a stark contrast to the modesty otherwise prevalent in society at the time.

In some cultures, nipple piercings have carried spiritual or ritualistic significance. For example, in certain indigenous tribes, piercing the nipples (and other body parts) was part of spiritual or rite-of-passage ceremonies.

In the modern era, the resurgence of nipple piercings as a form of body modification gained momentum in the 20th century, particularly in the 1970s with the rise of the contemporary body piercing movement. This era saw a significant shift in body piercing perceptions, transitioning from cultural and ritualistic practices to more personal expressions of individuality and identity.

Today, nipple piercings are a popular form of body art, embraced by a wide array of individuals seeking to express themselves through this unique and personal form of body modification.


Several myths surround nipple piercings, some of which can cause misconceptions and apprehension. Here are a few common ones:

  • Breastfeeding Is Impossible After Piercing: One prevalent myth is that nipple piercings prevent breastfeeding. In reality, piercings typically do not affect milk ducts or breastfeeding ability, although jewelry should be removed during nursing for safety.
  • Extreme Pain: While pain tolerance varies, many report that nipple piercings are not as painful as expected. The sensation is often described as a sharp pinch followed by temporary sensitivity.
  • Piercings Always Lead To Loss Of Sensation: Another common myth is that nipple piercings result in a permanent loss of sensation. While there can be changes in sensitivity, these are usually temporary. Some even report increased sensitivity.
  • High Infection Rate: Nipple piercings do not have a higher infection rate than other piercings. Following proper aftercare guidelines significantly reduces the risk of infection.
  • Constantly Visible Through Clothing: Many believe that nipple piercings are always visible through clothing. However, visibility depends on the type of jewelry, clothing material, and personal anatomy.

Understanding these myths can help provide a more realistic expectation for those considering getting a nipple piercing. It’s always advisable to consult with a professional piercer for accurate information tailored to individual circumstances.


Nipple piercings are chosen by a diverse range of individuals, transcending gender and age boundaries. Traditionally, many may associate such piercings with younger adults, particularly those in their late teens to thirties, as this age group often explores body modification as a form of self-expression. However, it’s important to note that people of various ages, including older adults, also opt for nipple piercings.

In terms of gender, nipple piercings are not confined to any specific group. Both men and women get nipple piercings for various reasons, be it for aesthetic, personal, or cultural reasons. The choice to get a nipple piercing is a personal one and does not adhere to a strict demographic pattern, reflecting the diverse nature of body modification enthusiasts.

A male with large gauge captive bead rings in his piercings.


Getting a nipple piercing involves certain risks, similar to other types of piercings. Some of these risks include:

  • Infection: The risk of infection is significant if the piercing is not properly cared for. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain, and discharge.
  • Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions can occur, especially if the jewelry is made from materials like nickel.
  • Rejection And Migration: The body might reject the piercing, leading to migration (movement of the piercing) or even pushing it out.
  • Scarring: Piercings can lead to scarring, including keloid formation, especially in individuals prone to them.
  • Bleeding And Bruising: Initial piercing can cause bleeding and bruising, which usually subsides after a short period.
  • Delayed Healing: Nipple piercings can take a long time to heal fully, often several months to over a year.
  • Difficulties In Medical Procedures: Piercings may need to be removed for certain medical procedures, like MRI scans.

It’s crucial to have nipple piercings done by a professional in a clean, reputable establishment and to follow all aftercare instructions to minimize these risks.


Before getting a nipple piercing, there are also several medical conditions that should be taken into consideration, as they can affect the healing process and overall safety of the piercing:

  • Blood Clotting Disorders: Conditions that affect blood clotting can lead to excessive bleeding during and after the piercing.
  • Diabetes Or Immune Disorders: These conditions can slow down healing and increase the risk of infection.
  • Skin Conditions: Skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis, particularly around the piercing area, can be exacerbated by the piercing.
  • Heart Conditions: Those with heart conditions should consult with a healthcare provider, as there may be increased risks of endocarditis (infection of the heart lining).
  • Previous Breast Surgeries: If you’ve had surgeries like breast augmentation or reduction, discuss with your surgeon and piercer about any additional risks.

Consulting with a healthcare provider before getting a piercing is always a good idea, especially if you have existing medical conditions or concerns.


If you decide you no longer want your nipple piercing, the process for removal and healing is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Remove The Jewelry: If the piercing is fully healed, you can gently remove the jewelry yourself. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable doing this, a professional piercer can assist.
  • Keep The Area Clean: After removing the jewelry, continue to clean the area regularly with a saline solution or mild soap to prevent infection.
  • Monitor The Healing Process: Watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or discharge. The holes from the piercing may close over time, but this can vary from person to person.
  • Manage Scarring: Some scarring may occur where the piercing was. The appearance of the scar depends on your skin type and the duration of the piercing.

Remember, it’s important to treat the area gently during the healing process and to consult a professional if you have any complications or concerns.


Nipple piercings are generally considered more painful than some other types of piercings due to the sensitivity of the area. However, pain is subjective and varies from person to person. Here are some tips to alleviate pain and make the process easier:

  • Breathing Techniques: Practice deep breathing during the piercing to help manage pain and anxiety.
  • Pain Relief Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be taken before the appointment (consult a doctor first).
  • Choose An Experienced Piercer: A skilled piercer can perform the procedure quickly and efficiently, reducing discomfort.
  • Stay Relaxed: Tension can increase the perception of pain, so try to stay as relaxed as possible.
  • Aftercare: Proper aftercare can reduce discomfort and promote healing. Follow the piercer’s instructions on cleaning and caring for the piercing.

Remember, everyone’s pain tolerance is different, so experiences can vary widely.

A man pulling on his piece of jewelry.


The cost of a nipple piercing can vary significantly across different regions of the United States. Here’s a general idea of the cost ranges in various parts of the country:

  • West Coast: The average cost of a nipple piercing in this region is around $60. However, prices can vary based on the studio’s location and the piercer’s experience.
  • Midwest: In the Midwest, the cost of a nipple piercing can range between $30 to $65. This price may fluctuate depending on factors like the jewelry type and the reputation of the piercing studio​​.
  • South And East Coast: The average cost of a nipple piercing in both the East and South United States falls between $80 and $100. This range is also influenced by various factors, including the location of the piercing studio, the type and size of the jewelry, and the professional performing the procedure​​​​.

It’s always recommended to check with local piercing studios for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information. Keep in mind that the piercer’s experience, the studio’s cleanliness standards, and the quality of the jewelry can also impact the price. ​


The nipple piercing procedure follows the same basic steps as most other piercing procedures. These steps help ensure both safety and proper technique:

  1. Consultation And Planning: The piercer discusses placement options, and jewelry types, and addresses any questions or concerns.
  2. Preparation:
    • They start by cleaning and disinfecting the area around the nipple.
    • The piercer marks the exact piercing spot for accuracy.
  3. Piercing Procedure:
    • The piercer uses a sterile, single-use needle.
    • The needle passes through the nipple, usually at its base.
    • The piercer inserts the jewelry along the path of the needle.
  4. Aftercare Instructions: The piercer provides detailed aftercare instructions to prevent infection and promote healing, including cleaning methods and signs of infection to watch for.
  5. Follow-Up: It’s recommended to have a follow-up visit to ensure proper healing.

Throughout the procedure, the use of sterilized equipment and a clean environment is crucial to minimize risks. It’s essential to choose a reputable, experienced piercer and follow all aftercare instructions for a safe and successful nipple piercing experience.


The healing process for a nipple piercing is both internal and external. Therefore, the duration varies based on several factors:

  • Initial Healing Phase: The first few weeks are crucial. During this time, the piercing is most susceptible to infection and other complications.
  • Secondary Healing Phase: After the initial phase, the piercing continues to heal internally. This stage can last from 6 to even 12 months and requires continued care.
  • Personal Factors: Factors like individual health, lifestyle, and adherence to aftercare instructions can affect healing time.
  • Check-Ins: Regular visits to the piercer for check-ups can help identify and address any issues in the healing process.

Throughout the healing period, it’s vital to maintain good hygiene and be patient with the process, as rushing or neglecting care can lead to complications.


Caring for a nipple piercing involves meticulous hygiene and attention to detail to ensure proper healing and prevent infection. Here are key aftercare steps:

  • Clean Regularly: Clean the piercing twice a day with a saline solution or mild, fragrance-free soap. Avoid harsh cleansers.
  • Avoid Touching: Minimize handling the piercing with unclean hands.
  • Keep Dry And Clean: Pat the area dry after cleaning or showering. Avoid letting shower gels or shampoos run over the piercing.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose breathable, clean, and preferably loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritation.
  • Avoid Pools And Hot Tubs: Until fully healed, avoid swimming to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Be Mindful Of Activities: Limit activities that may cause friction or pressure on the piercing.
  • Monitor For Infection: Watch for signs of infection like excessive redness, swelling, or discharge.

Following these aftercare guidelines carefully is crucial for the healing and longevity of a nipple piercing.


Changing the starter body jewelry for a nipple piercing should be done with care and only after the piercing is well on its way to healing. Here’s a guide on when and how to do it:

When to Change Starter Jewelry:

  • Healing Period: Nipple piercings have a longer healing time compared to some other piercings. It’s best to wait at least 6 months to change the nipple piercing but depending on your healing experience, you may even need to wait longer.
  • Consult a Professional: Before you attempt to change your nipple piercing jewelry for the first time, consult your piercer. They can assess whether your piercing has healed sufficiently for safe jewelry change.

How to Change the Jewelry:

  • Wait Until Fully Healed: Only consider changing the jewelry once the piercing has fully healed and shows no signs of redness, swelling, discharge, or pain.
  • Clean Hands and Area: Ensure you clean both your hands and the piercing area. Thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial soap.
  • Sanitize New Jewelry: You should sterilize the new jewelry, often by boiling it for a few minutes, depending on the material.
  • Use Lubrication: Applying a small amount of water-based lubricant to the new jewelry can make insertion smoother and more comfortable.
  • Avoid Irritants: Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on the piercing, as these can be harsh and irritating.
  • Aftercare Continues: Even after changing the jewelry, continue with aftercare practices to maintain the health of the piercing.

Remember, each person’s healing process is different. Always prioritize the health and safety of your piercing, and when in doubt, consult your piercer.

A man with his shirt lifted showing off this nipple piercing.


For nipple piercings, choosing the right jewelry material is crucial to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of allergic reactions or infections. The most recommended materials are:

  • Implant-Grade Stainless Steel: Specifically, people choose 316LVM surgical steel, known as Implant-Grade Stainless Steel, for its low nickel content, which reduces the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Titanium: Experts highly recommend implant-grade titanium (ASTM F136) for its hypoallergenic properties. Being lightweight, it allows for anodization to produce different colors, offering great variety for those who want diversity in their jewelry.
  • Niobium: This is another excellent hypoallergenic material. Like titanium, niobium can be anodized and is safe for fresh piercings.
  • Solid Gold: If you opt for gold, make sure it’s at least 14K and solid (not plated). Gold is a good option for healed piercings but might be too soft for healing piercings. Avoid gold-plated jewelry as it can wear down and expose the skin to base metals.
  • PTFE Or Bioplast: These flexible materials are body-safe and can be good choices, particularly if you have experienced allergic reactions to metals. They are also suitable for situations like pregnancy when the piercing needs to accommodate significant body changes.

It’s important to avoid jewelry made from low-quality metals, which can irritate the piercing. Nickel and costume jewelry are particularly notorious for causing allergic reactions or other complications.

Always consult with your piercer about the best material for your body, especially if you have metal sensitivities or allergies. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your healing progress and skin sensitivity.


For nipple piercings, the types of jewelry you choose are also important, not only for aesthetic reasons but also for comfort and healing. The most commonly used and recommended types are:

  • Straight Barbells: These become the most popular choice for nipple piercings, especially during the initial healing period, because they are easy to clean and less likely to catch on clothing.
  • Circular Barbells: Also known as horseshoe barbells, curved bars with a bead on each end offer more comfort for some people and allow adjustable snugness.
  • Rings: Once healed, some people prefer rings, such as captive bead rings or seamless rings, though they move more and might cause irritation during the healing process, making them generally better suited for fully healed piercings.
  • Nipple Shields: Decorative pieces known as nipple shields sit around the nipple and attach to a standard barbell. People usually use nipple shields after the piercing has fully healed because of their more intricate designs and larger contact area with the skin.
  • Dangles Or Charms: These decorative elements hang from the barbell. Like nipple shields, they suit healed piercings better since they are more prone to catching on clothing and causing irritation.

When choosing jewelry, consider:

  • Size: The gauge (thickness) and length of the jewelry should be appropriate for your piercing. A professional piercer can help determine the best size, especially important for the initial jewelry to accommodate swelling.
  • Comfort: Especially during the healing period, choose a style that minimizes movement and irritation.

It’s crucial to ensure your piercing has healed sufficiently before changing jewelry or experimenting with different styles.

Several gold plated straight barbells pictured against a white background.


Check out these 8 celebrities known or reported to have nipple piercings.

  • Rihanna: She openly shares her nipple piercings and sometimes wears clothing that showcases them.
  • Kendall Jenner: She revealed her nipple piercing at several public appearances and spoke about it in interviews..
  • Miley Cyrus: Known for her bold style choices, she has also showcased her nipple piercings.
  • Kylie Jenner: In some of her social media posts, Kylie has hinted at having nipple piercings.
  • Amber Rose: She openly discusses her piercings and has displayed her nipple piercings at public events.
  • Christina Aguilera: The singer has talked about having a nipple piercing in the past.
  • Nicole Richie: She mentioned her nipple piercing in interviews.
  • Lenny Kravitz: Known for his edgy style, he has sported a nipple piercing.

It’s important to note that celebrities’ choices about body piercings can be personal and are subject to change. Additionally, the visibility of such piercings can often depend on the types of clothing worn during public appearances.


Exploring nipple piercings reveals their appeal and necessary considerations. This body modification demands understanding the procedure, risks, and aftercare commitment. It’s crucial to choose a professional piercer and a clean studio to ensure safety and success. The healing process, lasting 6 months to a year, requires diligent aftercare to prevent complications. Selecting appropriate jewelry, like surgical stainless steel or titanium, is vital for healing.

Nipple piercings often symbolize body autonomy and self-expression, going beyond fashion to embody empowerment. However, they’re not for everyone, with anatomy, lifestyle, and health being key considerations. Thorough research and professional advice are essential before proceeding.

Nipple piercings, a personal and aesthetic choice, necessitate careful consideration and maintenance but can be a meaningful expression of individuality for those who choose them.

Need to find a piercer? Check out the Association of Professional Piercers.

Author: Scott S.

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