Neck and Nape Piercings: A Complete Guide

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

If you’re considering getting a new piercing, the neck and nape are two popular locations to consider. While they may seem similar, there are important differences to consider before getting pierced.

In this complete overview, we’ll explore everything you need to know about neck and nape piercings.

Neck Piercings: What You Need to Know

Neck piercings are typically placed in the front of the neck, just below the chin. This location is known as the “throat” and is a common spot for piercings like the vertical or horizontal surface piercing, or a more traditional piercing like the standard labret or Monroe piercing.

When it comes to the healing process, neck piercings can take longer to heal than other piercings due to the location. It’s important to follow aftercare instructions carefully, including keeping the area clean and avoiding irritating the piercing.

Nape Piercings: What You Need to Know

Nape piercings are located at the back of the neck, at the base of the skull. This location is popular for piercings like the horizontal or vertical surface piercing, as well as the more traditional dermal piercing.

Because the nape is a bony area, the healing process can be more uncomfortable than other piercings. It’s important to take care not to bump or rub the area during the healing process, and to avoid sleeping on it if possible.

Choosing a Piercing Type

When it comes to choosing the type of piercing you want, there are a few options to consider. Traditional piercings like the labret or Monroe are popular choices for neck piercings, while dermal or surface piercings are common for nape piercings.

Surface piercings can be more challenging to heal, as they are placed on flat areas of the skin that are more prone to movement and irritation. Dermal piercings, on the other hand, are inserted beneath the skin and are less likely to be caught or snagged on clothing.

Risks and Potential Complications of Neck and Nape Piercings

Like any body modification, neck and nape piercings come with certain risks. Infection is one of the most common potential complications, particularly during the healing process. Symptoms of infection can include redness, swelling, pain, and discharge from the piercing site. If you suspect that your piercing may be infected, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

Another potential complication is scarring, particularly with surface or dermal piercings. These piercings require an anchor beneath the skin, which can create a visible scar if the piercing is removed. Additionally, jewelry that is too tight or that rubs against the skin can cause keloids or hypertrophic scars, which are raised and often itchy or painful.

Finally, nerve damage is a potential risk with neck and nape piercings, particularly if the piercer is not skilled or experienced. This can lead to numbness, tingling, or even loss of sensation in the area around the piercing site.

How to Choose a Reputable Piercer for Your Neck or Nape Piercing

Choosing the right piercer is key to ensuring a safe and successful piercing experience. When looking for a piercer, start by asking for recommendations from friends or researching local piercing studios online. Look for studios that have good reviews, use sterile equipment, and follow strict hygiene protocols.

When you visit the piercing studio, take note of the cleanliness of the space and the demeanor of the piercer. A professional and experienced piercer should be willing to answer any questions you have about the piercing process, including aftercare and potential risks.

Pain Levels and What to Expect During the Piercing Process

The level of pain during a neck or nape piercing can vary depending on a number of factors, including your pain tolerance and the type of piercing you choose. Some people report feeling a sharp pinch or pressure during the piercing process, while others describe it as a more intense sensation.

During the piercing process, the piercer will use a sterilized needle or piercing gun to create the hole. After the jewelry is inserted, you may experience some bleeding, swelling, or tenderness in the area. It’s important to follow proper aftercare instructions and take care not to irritate the piercing during the healing process.

Popular Jewelry Styles for Neck and Nape Piercings

There are a variety of jewelry styles available for neck and nape piercings, depending on the type of piercing you choose. For traditional piercings like the labret or Monroe, a small stud or ring is often used. Surface piercings may require a barbell or more unique jewelry options, such as shaped or gemstone-encrusted pieces.

It’s important to choose high-quality and hypoallergenic jewelry to avoid any potential allergic reactions or irritation. Surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, or niobium are good options, as they are less likely to cause problems.

Neck and Nape Piercing Aftercare Tips

Aftercare is a crucial part of the piercing process and can determine the success of the healing process. Here are some more tips for taking care of your neck or nape piercing during the healing process:

Keep the Area Clean and Dry

It’s important to keep the piercing site clean and dry to avoid bacteria and infection. Use a sterile saline solution or warm saltwater solution to clean the piercing, and be sure to dry the area thoroughly after cleaning.

Avoid Sleeping on The Piercing

Sleeping on your piercing can cause irritation, infection, and slow down the healing process. Try to sleep on your back or in a position that doesn’t put pressure on the piercing site.

Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals or Rubbing Alcohol on The Piercing

Using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other harsh chemicals can damage the skin and irritate the piercing site. Instead, use a sterile saline solution or warm saltwater solution to clean the piercing.

Avoid Swimming or Submerging the Piercing in Water

Swimming in a pool, hot tub, or natural bodies of water can introduce bacteria to the piercing site and increase the risk of infection. Wait until the piercing is fully healed before swimming.

Avoid Playing with Or Twisting the Jewelry

Touching the piercing site or playing with the jewelry can introduce bacteria and delay the healing process. It can also cause irritation or pain. Avoid twisting the jewelry or playing with it in any way.

Be Patient

Healing time can vary depending on the type of piercing you get. While some piercings may heal in a few weeks, others may take several months. Be patient and follow proper aftercare to ensure a successful healing process.

If you experience any pain, swelling, or other symptoms that seem unusual during the healing process, be sure to contact your piercer or a healthcare professional right away. With proper care and attention, your neck or nape piercing can be a unique and eye-catching addition to your personal style.

How to Change or Remove Jewelry from a Neck or Nape Piercing

When it comes to changing or removing jewelry from a neck or nape piercing, it’s important to take care not to irritate the piercing site. Use sterile tools and wash your hands before handling the jewelry. If you’re having difficulty removing the jewelry, or if you experience pain or discomfort, it’s best to seek assistance from a professional piercer.

It’s also important to give your piercing time to fully heal before changing or removing the jewelry. Depending on the type of piercing, this could take several weeks or months. Changing the jewelry too soon can increase the risk of infection or other complications.

Tips for Hiding Neck and Nape Piercings When Necessary

While neck and nape piercings can be a unique and eye-catching addition to your personal style, there may be times when you need to hide them for work, formal events, or other occasions. One option is to wear clothing with high collars or scarves to cover the piercing. You can also choose jewelry that is more discreet or small in size, or consider removing the jewelry altogether if necessary.


With proper care, a neck or nape piercing can be a unique and eye-catching addition to your style. Whether you opt for a traditional piercing or a more daring surface or dermal piercing, be sure to choose a reputable piercer and follow aftercare instructions carefully to ensure a successful and safe healing process.

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