Body piercing involves the piercing (or puncturing) of the skin by means of needles or other sharp instruments. The vast majority of body piercings are performed using hollow steel needles that are made of surgical stainless steel. The needles used vary in thickness (referred to as ‘gauge’) and are either straight or curved in shape. The gauge of needle required for the piercing depends upon the size of jewelry intended to be worn. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the thickness of the needle. For instance, a nose piercing will generally require either a 20g or 18 gauge needle, while a navel piercing requires a 14g needle. Ready-made body piercing kits can be easily found for virtually any type of body piercing and should include the right size of needle and sterile body jewelry.
Pain is a subjective experience and is unique to the person being pierced. However, it is generally agreed upon that certain areas of the body are more sensitive than others when it comes to body piercing. The least painful areas to pierce are usually eyebrows, nostrils and the tongue. The most painful piercings are the nipples, genitals and cartilage piercings (ear), with the remaining areas falling in the middle of the pain spectrum. Although the pain for most piercings will only last a few seconds, there are a few things that can be done to minimize it. Make sure the needle is as sharp as possible. Another idea that might help is to take an aspirin or pain-reliever (over-the-counter medication taken as if you have a routine headache) a half hour to an hour before piercing. The use of pain reducing pads right before piercing can also reduce discomfort by numbing the skin. The final tip for minimizing pain is simply to relax – tense muscles and nervousness while being pierced can cause additional pain by putting your nervous system on ‘alert’. Always remain calm and try to focus your thoughts on something else. It will be over before you know it and you may not even feel it at all.