Needle Play

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Skull and crossbones.png Edge play is dangerous; do not try this at home! Skull and crossbones.png

Needle play, play piercing, or recreational acupuncture is body piercing done for the purpose of enjoying the experience rather than producing a permanent body decoration. Needles, sharpened bones, or other tools used in play piercing are removed from the body when the episode is complete, allowing the wounds to heal.

Play piercing as part of a BDSM scene can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours and may possibly induce orgasm in many of the people who experience it. The experience of multiple piercings in an erotically or spiritually charged context is qualitatively very different from the experience most people have had with phlebotomists in medical settings, in part because the needle is placed 'through' the skin at a secant so that both ends are accessible, rather than 'into' the skin, though some prefer their piercing scenes to take on a more medical theme and feel.

Basic Piercing Requirements

  • Full disclosure and trust of medical history from the top and bottom concerning Blood Borne Pathogens, recent fluid bonding history and testing.
  • A Sterile Environment (clean drapes, stainless steel surfaces, puppy pads/drop cloth, supporting furniture for the bottom)
  • A legal environment. In some cases performing piercing without a license may be illegal, research the laws in your area.
  • An EMT on duty prepared with emergency medical gear and access to an oxygen mask
  • Biohazard Sharps Container
  • A sterile field to work in.

Basic Kit Requirements

  • 1 Box Nitrile Gloves
  • 1 Box 100 22 gauge 1.5 inch sterile (length and guage may vary) single use, hypodermic needles intended for human use (you may use other gauges, but start with 22, or 24)
  • Needle Clippers and End Caps (or styrofoam bits, do not use cork/wood as an endcap)
  • Beta-dine and Iodine wipes
  • 91% alchohol solution
  • Mini Flashlight
  • A sugary snack and a water bottle filled with drinking water
  • Various sized Bandages, smelling salts, and a warm blanket
  • Optional: Surgical Skin Marker and Needle Decorations (feathers, ribbons, etc)


  • Improper piercing technique can cause contamination of blood borne pathogens, some of which will cause discomfort or worse, up to and including death.
  • Improper technique can cause blood loss (minor or severe), infection (minor or severe), and/or paralysis (both temporary and permanent).
  • Use of drugs or alchohol can cause severe blood loss and lack of clotting concerning needle play and may increase chances of contamination. Legal medications that thin the blood or cause low blood pressure are no exception.
  • Needles are a trigger for some people and may cause them to pass out, not everyone may be aware of this trigger before it occurs. This is more likely to occur in a poorly ventilated, stuffy room with a high temperature. Use smelling salts to wake someone who has fainted.
  • Proper technique may still result in some minor bleeding, bruising and scarring.
  • Improper aftercare can lead to infections, both minor and severe.
  • In rare cases use of play piercing needles can cause keloid scarring and therefore leave permanent or semi-permanent marks.
  • Know that hypertrohpic scarring (small bumps) is a potential side affect that can happen to anyone, especially those with poor circulation (which can result from bondage). If you experience bumps (hypertrophic scarring) after play, soak with warm water mixed with sea salt for ten minutes daily to reduce and treat.
  • Your bottom may pass out unexpectedly due to endorphin and adrenal highs, have proper furniture in place to ensure they do not fall with needles in them. Remember to start low and slow.

Basic Temporary Piercing Principles

Be Prepared

  • Do not attempt to temporarily pierce a person without proper hands on training and medical education; this article constitutes neither.
  • Aspirin and alcohol use in the bottom enhances bleeding and should be avoided if blood flow is not desired.
  • Have everything you need set up BEFORE you start. Once you are sterile and gloved, and your bottom flying on endorphines, you do not want to have to stop the scene because you just realized you were out of something or can't find something. Hypodermic needles can be purchased online. Avoid veterinarian supply stores as those needles are designed to go through hide and are less sharp.
  • Consider using 22 or 24 gauge needles to start with, rather than larger needles (lower number in gauge), especially when working with a new bottom.


  • Piercers are most likely to contaminate the Top with blood, the bottom is giving blood, not receiving it in most cases. If a bottom is pierced it is possible to contaminate them by first contaminating the top by sticking their finger during the piercing of the bottom, and then pulling the needle back through the skin of the bottom. Instead, if you stick the top when exiting the piercing, place an end cap on the needle and clip the needle further up the needle past where it was contaminated by the top, and then pull it back through. While the top is going to be contaminated in this case, there is no reason to contaminate the bottom as well.
  • The piercer(s) must wear nitrile exam gloves and consider them single use (always wear new gloves for each person pierced in a group scene to avoid cross-infection). Some bottoms have latex allergies so avoid latex gloves. It is recommended that the top double-up when wearing gloves and learn how to remove the gloves without touching the bloodied outside of the gloves. Blood bourne pathogens are numerous and will result in discomfort at best, death at worst.


Needle parts.jpg

  • Use antibacterial soap to prepare the skin before play, and use antiseptics immediately before and after piercing. Wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
  • Always use brand new sterile needles (right out of the package, single use only), usually 18-25 gauge, 1.5 inch or longer is recommended. For beginners, 22 gauge is a good start. 18 gets to be quite alot larger. A needle has three parts, the bevel, shaft and hub. Usually the hub is otherwise used to attach them to a syringe. The colour of this fitting usually indicates the needle gauge.
  • All the bio-hazardous waste (needles, gloves, swabs or alcohol preps) must all be disposed of in a biohazard sharps container, never in a trash bin.
  • Prep the area to be pierced with alcohol and (clear) betadine or Iodine. Remove the iodine with iodine removal pads. Make sure the bottom is comfortable and ready. Consider telling the bottom to take a deep breath right before inserting the needle, and then slowly releasing it as you pierce through. Be prepared by having the body well supported and oxygen available as some bottoms may feint from the endorpin rush or from the sight of blood or piercing.
  • Be aware many people carry MRSA and Hep C among many other types of infections.



  • Negotiate the patterns and number of needles ahead of time. Consider using a surgical skin marker if you want to pierce in a specific, predetermined pattern and it would be helpful to draw it out on the skin first. Keep the number of needles low for bottoms that are not very experienced with needle play.
  • Don't pierce wrists, hands, internal organs, bones, eyes or the spine. Avoid the armpit, sternum and areas with many veins and arteries such as the shaft of a penis. It is best to avoid piercing the genitals or face of any person unless you have professional training about the nerve endings/clusters, arteries and veins in these areas and how to pierce around them.
  • Study arteries and nerve clusters in the areas you intend to pierce. If you are new to peircing stick to the following areas: Thighs, Buttocks, Tummy and navel, specifically the meaty bits without lots of arteries and nerves near them. The finer the needle, the more likely it is to avoid nerve endings and to make it through the skin without causing any pain.
  • Consider briefly holding your breath while pushing the needle in as this can steady you. Find some skin which you can pinch up between your thumb and forefinger. In the other hand, hold the needle only by the plastic fitting and orient the needle so the long edge is closest to the skin, this will help prevent the needle from sliding upward and sticking your finger. Briskly push the needle all the way through the fold of flesh, making sure you don't stick yourself.
  • The needle should travel just underneath the surface (the subcutaneous layers) of ordinary skin, to emerge through the skin a short distance from where it was inserted. Be cautious of shallow piercings if they are intended to stay in. They can easily be ripped out and tear the skin. Be sure to place end caps on the needles if the bottom is expected to move about so that they do not damage themselves or others.
  • Check-in with the bottom often. Is she/he faint, going pale or shaking? These are common reactions to the flood of hormones and neurotransmitters circulating throughout the body. Have water, a first aid kit and blankets nearby. Never pierce without a safety. Continually Monitor the bottom for signs of shock, emotional reactions etc. Lots of motion on the part of the bottom once needles are placed can cause abrading or skin irritation.
  • Once pierced you can glue feathers to your hypodermic needles inside the plastic cap on top if you wish to make pretty patterns, such as angel wings, eagle wings etc. Colored end caps can also be used to make elaborate patters. Ribbons can be tied in to create patterns or skin corsets. You may also decide to attach various bondage elements to the needles to control the bottom.
  • Sadistic play can include pushing larger needles through slowly, piercing sensitive areas, pulling on, tapping, or twisting needles, or attaching bondage (such as tiny weights or strings) to needles. Be very careful when attaching to needles as the skin may not hold what you are attaching and instead the needle will tear through the skin. Needles may also be used to pierce things together, such as lips to prevent speech, or be electrified such as with the use of a violet wand. Some very experienced piercers may use exceptionally long needles to pierce various body parts together or incorporate other methods of play as well. Some may use acupuncture needles, methods, and therapies.
  • If you pinched the skin to get the needle in in the first place, there may be some tension on the needle. If you draw it out without re-pinching up the skin the tip of the needle may cut through the flesh inside as it comes out. Pinch the skin up again if this might be the case before removing. Draw the needle straight back out a brisk and smooth movement.
  • As a precaution against infection, and especially if there's any bleeding, apply a small antiseptic pad briefly to the site. Note that swabbing the area with a disinfectant or alcohol after removing a needle can sting. As needles are removed there can be some subcutaneous bleeding. This is blood being released into the tissue around the hole and this can cause bruising. Apply bandages to all open wounds.
  • Some times reactions or drop from play set in long after the needle-play itself is over. Sometimes aftercare can repair a scene gone awry, or help both parties process their feelings about what just occurred. Be attentive to the bottom during aftercare as needle play can be a very intense experience.

Needle Play insertion demonstration


Most play piercing supplies can be found in our store here in the medical section, but needles themselves are not available in our store due to certain store regulations, however, if you wish to buy play piercing needles, consider purchasing them here.