Do you plan to get your nipple pierced? Make sure the procedure is done safely and that you know how to care for your nipple after it’s pierced.
Nipple piercings carry certain health risks. A nipple piercing may be more dangerous for you if you have a medical condition or are taking medications that make you more susceptible to infection or to bleed heavily.
Recovery time is longer. Nipple tissue takes longer to heal than other pierced sites in the body. Your wound may take up to 6 months to heal.
Lactation and breastfeeding. A nipple piercing can cause problems if you want to breastfeed. Scar tissue at the puncture or around the nipple ring can block the milk ducts. A perforation of the nipple nerve may make it difficult for milk to flow. Nipple jewelry can make it harder for your baby to grasp the nipple. Your baby may even swallow or choke on loose nipple rings. Do not wear nipple rings while pregnant or breastfeeding. Wait a few months after you finish breastfeeding.
Abscess. A pierced nipple is more likely to develop an abscess. That's a painful lump filled with pus under the nipple or in the breast. You need to see a doctor for treatment.
Safe Nipple Piercing
Make sure you get your nipple piercing done by a licensed professional in a clean studio. Never pierce your own nipple or let a friend do it.
When you choose a place to get pierced, make sure:
The studio is clean.
They do piercings and tattoos in separate areas.
A staff member asks you if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and refuses to pierce you if you say yes.
Nipple piercing equipment and rings are sterilized in a machine called an autoclave.
Piercings are done with sterile, single-use needles sealed in a packet that’s opened in front of you.
They don’t use piercing guns. These can’t be properly sterilized.
The staff member washes their hands before and after the piercing.
They wear a new pair of disposable latex gloves while they pierce you.
They give you detailed instructions on how to care for your nipple after it’s pierced.
Your jewelry is the right size for your nipple.
Managing the Pain
There will be some pain when you get your nipple pierced. It’ll typically be sore for a week after the piercing. You may also bleed, itch, or see swelling or discharge from the wound. Your nipple may feel sore or irritated as it heals over the next few months.
How to Care for Your Nipple Piercing
While it’s healing, keep your pierced nipple clean to prevent infection:
Wash your hands with antimicrobial soap and warm water before you touch or wash your nipple.
If you see any crusty stuff around your nipple ring, gently rinse it off with warm water.
After you wash your nipple, pat it dry with a clean paper towel.
You can also soak your nipple in a saltwater solution made of a half-teaspoon of sea salt and warm water. You can let it air dry or pat it dry.
Try not to let your nipple ring snag on your clothes, towels, or sheets. This could tear your skin and lead to an infection.
You can wear a padded bra, thick sports bra, or cotton T-shirt to protect your newly pierced nipple.
What to Expect
As your nipple heals, you may see some white crust. Your nipple may be sore, irritated, or itchy at times. Even after it heals, you may notice some waxy ooze or crust.
If you notice these signs of an infected nipple, see your doctor:
Hot, sensitive, or painful nipple
Nipple oozes yellow, green, or brown discharge, or smells bad
Redness that spreads out from the piercing
Will the Piercing Close Up?
Some women remove their nipple rings to breastfeed. Milk can leak out of the piercing. The hole may get smaller or close up after a few weeks. But you’ll probably be able to put your nipple ring in again after you’re done breastfeeding.
If your piercing closes up for any reason, go to a professional studio to have it redone. Don’t try to re-pierce it yourself.
Cost and Safe Types of Jewelry
Nipple piercing costs vary, so shop around. It may cost more than ear piercing. The studio will charge you for the piercing and nipple jewelry separately.
Only use nipple jewelry that’s less likely to cause an allergy. This includes metals like gold, stainless steel, titanium, platinum, and niobium. Nickel jewelry is cheaper, but it’s more likely to cause skin reactions.