Body piercing: from the obvious to the much less common

LIKE tattoos, body piercing has become a lot more popular and widely accepted over the years. Find out here about the different parts of the body which can be pierced, from the obvious to the much less common.

History of body piercing

Body piercing is nothing new, there is evidence to suggest that it has been carried out in multiple way by both sexes all over the world for more than 5,000 years, in fact, the oldest mummified remains ever discovered had earrings.

In modern history, it has gained popularity since World War II and piercing body parts other than the ears becoming common amongst the general population in the Western world since the 1990s.

Reasons for body piercing

People get piercings for religious and cultural reasons, but also as a way to express themselves or rebel against culture or religion. It can also be simply because they believe them to be attractive. Some types of body piercing, mainly genital piercing, are done for sexual pleasure.

Reasons against body piercing

Some cultures and religions do not look favourably on piercings, so that may be a reason for some people to not consider them. It could also be an issue within families, as some people still think that body piercings, especially when they are numerous, are a sign of low social status. Like with tattoos, depending on your career path, you may want to think about getting piercings where they are not immediately visible to employers.

What types of body piercings are there?

As well as the ear, popular places for piercings are the navel, eyebrow, nose, lip, tongue, nipples and genitals. Other areas include the hip, the nape of the neck, the wrist and the chest.

Ears: There are many different parts of the ear cartilage which can be pierced as well as the more common ear lobe piercing. Most of these are straightforward and not extremely painful but will require a daily cleansing routine until they have healed which can take up to a year or even more for some areas. Ear piercing has been carried out since prehistoric times. In Europe in the Middle Ages, sailors believed that piercing one ear improved long-distance vision, but would also pierce their ears to that there would be something with which a Christian burial would be afforded if their bodies were washed up on shore.

Navel: Carried out with a curved barbell, although it is not a painful area to have pierced, during healing you will need to clean this area extra carefully and keep it protected from irritation caused by your clothes. You must not change it until it has healed completely, which can take up to a year.

Lips: Lip piercing can be done on the top or bottom lip, in the centre or to either side, as well as the corners of the mouth. Some people like to have more than one and will often get them balanced. They can take a few months to heal and are not overly painful to get done.

Nose: There are many parts of your nose that you can get pierced. The sides are popular, but there is also the septum (quite painful) and bridge. Nostril piercings will normally be done with a stud which can later be changed. The level of pain depends on the placement, as does the likeliness that it be rejected by your body, but generally speaking, with the proper aftercare, they should heal well and relatively quickly, within a few months. Nose piercing has also been performed for centuries and remains especially popular in Pakistan and Bangladesh amongst other countries.

Eyebrow: Also done initially with a barbell, it is an area which can be a little more painful to pierce as well as being more likely to be rejected by your body and more prone to infection. Takes up to eight weeks to heal.

Tongue: Before you get a tongue piercing, it’s important to discuss the risks with the body piercing expert. While it should take just seconds to do and not be overly painful, you need to be aware that there is a risk of infection as well as damage to teeth and dental work. The piercing will be carried out with a longer barbell to allow for swelling but should later be changed for a shorter one to avoid damaged to the teeth. The instruments used for piercing the tongue (like any other area) should be sterile and disposable, as well as using sterile jewellery of good quality. Get proper instructions from the piercer about aftercare. It should take up to six weeks to heal.

Nipple: The nipples are sensitive and  piercing them is a bit painful. While they heal, you will need to take care to prevent them from being knocked or rubbed by your clothes. It can take up to six months to heal. The piercing is usually done with a barbell and can be changed for a ring later. Nipple piercing is believed to have been a sign of masculinity amongst Roman soldiers.

Genitals: Genital piercing is, as you might expect, one of the most painful types to get done. This includes piercing the genitals, scrotum, anus, perineum and pubis.

While female genitalia is quicker to heal, it can take the male genitalia up to one year. As the areas remain covered most of the time, it is important to be very careful after getting a genital piercing, to avoid excess heat and tight clothes, and increase cleanliness in the area considerably.


If you want to get a tattoo or body piercing on the Costa del Sol and you are looking for a reputable studio to advise you and do great work, then check out Jaganath Tattoos and Piercing, Calle Ramon y Cajal 42, Fuengirola

Jaganath tattoos and piercing Costa del Sol

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.

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