Piercing Safety


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ASK THE THERAPIST

February 1997

by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1997 by William A. Henkin

<Q> What is the likelihood of infection from a piercing? Do nipple piercings preclude future nipple play? What type of male piercing most enhances female pleasure?

<A> I'm not a piercer, and in an area where such experienced professionals reside as Raelyn Gallina, Fakir Musafar, and Jim Ward, among others, I encourage you to take your research to those sorts of experts rather than to an observer like me before you undertake any sort of piercing adventure. But to get you started, nipple piercings do not usually preclude nipple play except during the healing period, which can be rather longer than that of other piercings because the skin of the nipple and aureole is relatively tougher than other skin that is frequently pierced. Most people I know who have nipple piercings, both male and female, report that once the piercings have healed they enhance rather than detract from the sensation they receive through nipple stimulation.

I don't think there is one particular male piercing that most enhances female pleasure. Some women I've spoken to like the ampallang, which runs sideways through the head of the penis and, I'm told, stimulates the sides of the vaginal walls; some find a PA (Prince Albert) – a ring that enters the under side of the penis and exits through the urethra – to be a source of great stimulation and satisfaction. One mistress I know especially likes the guiche – a piercing in the penineum – with which she pierced her male slave because she can lock his PA to it and thereby exercise control over his erections. Some women don't like male piercings at all, of course. Preference in this matter seems to depend on the individual woman, so if you're a man and have a particular female in mind whom you would like to please by being pierced, consult with her before you undertake your venture. If you're a male slave expecting your Mistress to pierce you for her pleasure, leave the decision up to her and contribute whatever consultation and input your arrangement affords you. And if you're a female asking the question, ask yourself what might please you and why.

Your harder question concerns the likelihood of infection from being pierced. Assuming the piercer takes proper care of you, the piercing instruments, and the piercing environment with cleanliness and sterile equipment, and assuming you give the piercing proper aftercare as well, infection need be no more likely from a piercing than it is from any other event that punctures the skin; it should be rather less likely than events that break the skin where sterile conditions do not obtain, such as slicing your finger with a kitchen knife while peeling carrots, or skinning your knee when you fall off your roller blades onto a city sidewalk.

At the same time, accidents do happen and infections can occur, especially since a permanent piercing is not a slice or a surface abrasion, but rather is designed to create something like a tunnel of false skin underneath your real skin's surface so that the piercing jewelry can have someplace to hang. Timely and proper medical attention for an infection in this sort of place is just as essential as it would be if you contracted any other infection in the area you've had pierced. Fortunately, at the end of this millennium in Western civilization, many doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals – particularly in cosmopolitan areas like San Francisco – are neither surprised nor upset by a wide array of body adornments, including piercings. But even if you find yourself infected in Russell, Kansas, you're better off to risk a straight medic's straight reactions than to risk letting an infection get out of hand.

While most trained piercers use sterile procedures routinely, and virtually all professionals provide customers with written instructions for piercing aftercare, the direction their advice now takes is rather different than it was, say, eight or ten years ago. Once upon a time professional piercers frequently suggested intense cleaning procedures with agents such as Betadine and Hibiclens for piercing aftercare. These days, however, the only times the piercers I know mention such powerful cleansers refer to them strictly for immediate first aid, or to an extremely dilute drip as sort of piecing wash. Instead, more and more piercers are turning to harm reduction techniques in order to protect the new, growing skin cells that create the new skin tunnel, while at the same time minimizing exposure to infectious agents. Some recent aftercare guidelines I've seen promote antibacterial soaps containing triclosan, while others suggest plain, generic Castille soap for cleaning, abundant plain water to rinse the soap away, and the sort of generic saline solution used to clean contact lenses to enhance healing. And all, of course, remind you to protect your new piercing as you would any wound: until it has healed, wash your hands before you handle it, keep animals and other germ-carrying agents away from it, don't get anybody's mouth on it including your own, and protect it as much as possible from the bumps and grinds of daily life, including the rubbing clothing might effect.


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