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Play piercing

AKA needle play, needles.

What is play piercing?

Play piercing is different from regular piercing as it’s temporary and doesn’t involve jewellery. During a scene thin needles are stuck through the skin (close to the surface), possibly manipulated during play, and then taken out afterwards, usually with no lasting marks. It can involve one needle or whole rows or a pattern of them, sometimes laced together with threads.

What’s the attraction?

This type of edge play involves sexual stimulation through pain, an example of power play. Both men get their kicks from this mind trip, from the feelings of danger and being manhandled.

The top is turned on by controlling and enjoying the trust of the sub, who in turn gets off on the anticipation, fear and surrender that comes with a scene of intimate penetration. On being pierced he may feel a rush of powerful, sometimes overwhelming, pain-killing, euphoria-causing chemicals (endorphins).

Play piercing also has an obvious pull for men with a fetish for needles and medical scenes.

Things to know

How and where

The piercing is shallow, going just under the skin’s surface, with the needle coming out of the skin very close to where it went in.

Body parts pierced include back, arms, thighs, buttocks or around nipples. Ball sacks and foreskins can be pierced but this is advanced needle play that needs to be learnt from an experienced player.

Needle play that hurts a lot is not being done properly. It should feel like having an injection. Play piercing’s impact comes from its psychological effect, not just any pain it causes. Get medical help if serious pain carries on after needles are removed.

What to use

Sterile, disposable, hypodermic needles are needed (not sewing or similar needles). These are available from medical suppliers.

Needles are sold by thickness, with their plastic caps colour-coded according to gauge. The higher the gauge, the thinner the needle, with gauges 18 to 25 best suited for needle play. The thinner the needle, the milder the feeling.


Hygiene is vital. Infections getting into the bloodstream through a needle wound can be fatal.

Needles should be sterile and not touched by hand. Before using a needle, take it straight from the sterile pack, and then only handle by the plastic cap. Skin being pierced should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol/surgical swabs or wipes.

The piercer should wear latex surgical gloves to protect himself from blood from the sub. The gloves won’t protect against accidentally being pricked with a needle.

Re-using a needle, even re-inserting one into yourself, risks introducing infections into the bloodstream, as does touching a needle while it’s in someone.

Needle play risks contact with blood, which could transmit infections like HIV or hepatitis C if it comes into contact with broken or inflamed skin (or mucous membranes such as eyes, mouth, lips and head of the cock).

Other things to know

Steady hands and clear judgement mean booze and drugs don’t mix with play piercing.

Needles should always be disposed off extremely carefully, preferably in proper ‘sharps’ containers like those used in hospitals, or handed in where used needles are accepted (such as needle exchange centres for drug users and some chemists). Placing them in household rubbish puts refuse workers at risk of needlestick injury. In an absolute emergency putting a needle in a plastic container with a lid is better than leaving one loose in the rubbish.

A sub should be checked during and after needle play as they might faint, shake or go pale under the influence of hormones released during a scene.

Last review: 19/09/2018
Next review: 19/09/2021