Complications of Nipple Piercing

Body piercing has been a form of art for thousands of years, and although the exact history of nipple piercing is disputed, a 2003 article in "The Lancet" notes that it goes back at least as far as Victorian times. While piercing any body part always presents a risk for complication, good aftercare can promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.

A close-up of jewelry in a body piercing shop. (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

Nipple Enlargement

Piercing involves driving a hole into the delicate tissues of the nipple, which can lead to swelling, bruising and bleeding -- all of which are normal and temporary. Although the initial swelling resolves during the healing process -- which varies from 6 weeks to 6 months -- some people who pierce their nipples experience a permanent enlargement of the nipple after piercing.

Possible Infection

Infection is a complication with any body piercing. Piercing creates a deliberate wound, through which bacteria can enter. The Association of Professional Piercers recommends gently cleaning your nipples with soap and water daily, washing your hands first to avoid introducing dirt and bacteria to your piercing site. Drying your nipples with clean paper towels rather than a towel -- which can harbor bacteria, especially if it's been used already -- can also help protect against infection.

Loss of Sensation

Pain and some residual soreness of the nipple is to be expected directly after a piercing and will typically resolve as normal healing progresses. Some people, however, experience the complication of numbness after piercing their nipples. Unfortunately, this numbness seems to be a permanent condition—most people who experience numbness do not regain sensation.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.