Needle play is the practice of inserting needles under the skin of the submissive. Needle play is considered edge play and care should be taken to follow all appropriate safety precautions when engaging in play in order to avoid injury or infection. Only use sterile needles approved for medical use, and do not reuse them after they have been used. Used needles are dangerous and should be disposed of in a sharps container.
The smaller the gauge, the larger the needle diameter. Common needle gauges for play piercing are 26 through 18. Different gauges of needles have different colour hubs, but these colours are not consistent across brands. On the needle package, the needles are commonly identified first by gauge, and second by needle length (in inches). Thus, a package labelled "22 1 1/2" would contain 22 gauge needles with a length of 1 1/2 inches.
The plastic disposable protection around the needle is called the sheath. The plastic portion permanently attached to the needle is called the hub. Needless to say, care must be taken in handling needles as they can easily cause injury to the handler and those around him/her. If you have not used needles before then it is strongly advised to learn from an experienced user first. You can also practice on a raw chicken
The basic idea is that the needle should travel just underneath the surface of ordinary skin, to emerge through the skin a short distance from where it was inserted.
The needle tips have a bevel. With regard to the skin being pierced, the bevel may be up or down (it's personal preference.
Shallower = More Pain, Larger Diameter Needle = More Pain
Do not stick needles into internal organs, bones, eyes, etc. Again, the idea is that the needle should travel just underneath ordinary skin, passing only through skin and the subcutaneous layers just underneath the surface.
Play piercing involving the genitals is a special topic, with special precautions that must be followed to avoid causing permanent damage; don't try any sort of genital piercing without further training from someone who is familiar with and competent at genital piercing.
Temporary nipple piercing is enjoyed by people who like intense nipple play. The needle can be thrust through back of the nipple, taking care to include areolar tissue. An entire rosette of needles can be inserted. This of course can be dangerous, with potential exchange of bodily fluids and other infection.
Don't pierce wrists, hands, or spines, or near them. In general, piercing near a nerve tract (eg, near joints); avoid piercing where bones are close to the skin surface. Waist to shoulders is usually fine, though one should avoid the armpit and sternum.
The surface to be pierced should be disinfected first. There are three types of substances that may be used for this:
- This is opaque (which may be a problem) and shouldn't be used on someone who is allergic to shellfish.
- This should be 70%-90% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl). One shouldn't use it on someone who is on Disulfiram or Antabuse.
- These kill a broader spectrum of pathogens than alcohol, and allergic/irritation reactions are rare. Allergic reactions (distinct from irritation) are characterized by pale skin, sweating, localized redness, and asthma-like symptoms.
Some people prefer to wear latex or nitrile gloves as they do piercing, and to use the needle sheath to press down the skin in front of the needle as it is going through so that their hand or finger is not in the needle's way. Although most gloves will not protect you should you stick yourself with a needle, they can protect your hands against any blood (of uncertain infectious status) that may flow from skin punctures.
The primary danger in play piercing is infection. Be sure that the person you are playing with would recognize the signs of infection should they occur, and if so to go receive proper medical care. Some people are in special danger from infection as a result of medical conditions. A common example is diabetes mellitus in which circulation is frequnetly imparired; diabetics often require much longer healing times for any injury, including neadle punctures.