Nape Piercing

Location:Back of Neck
Jewellery:Curved Barbell or Staple Bar
Healing:2-6 Months
Age Limit:18 years old (16 years old with parental consent)
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A nape piercing is an alternative choice to commonplace body modifications that is becoming a more and more popular choice of quirky piercing.
Above: Nape piercing with a polished titanium barbell

Nape Piercing Options

The nape is an alternative term for the back of the neck.  It generally involves either a barbell or surface bar piercing, although some procedures, such as dermal piercing, allow for studded or even patterned piercing effects. Nape piercings can either be vertical or transverse, which means a variety of designs are possible.  A nape piercing is currently a popular option, as it is possible to both display and hide the piercing, making it suitable if you need to cover up for work.

There are a few considerations to think about before getting a nape piercing. As rejection is a common issue when dealing with nape piercings, it is important to check with your piercer whether you have enough loose skin on the back of your neck to make a nape piercing viable. It is also important to consider your lifestyle and day-to-day activities.  Having a piercing in certain areas may restrict you from doing certain hobbies, such as vigorous exercise or even swimming. The nape is an exposed area, so you should always think about restrictions a nape piercing may have on your lifestyle.

Due to the position of the nape piercing, it is often assumed that it could affect nerve endings and interfere with the spine. This is an unsubstantiated myth, as there is no proven link between piercings in the neck and paralysis. It is a completely safe procedure when completed properly and by a professional.


A nape piercing is done in a similar fashion to many other barbell and surface bar piercings. The piercer will mark the location of the piercing on the back of the neck and ensure the area is sterile before continuing the procedure. As you lean forward with your shoulders pushed together, the piercer will place a clamp onto the area of the skin where the piercing will be placed. A sterilised hollow needle will be pushed through the channel between the two pierced points. The surface bar or barbell is then inserted, and the area will be cleaned.

Microdermal piercing is also an option when considering a nape piercing. Piercings such as this are done by inserting an ‘anchor’ under your skin with a protruding point on which the jewellery is placed. After sterilisation of the skin area, a needle is used to make an L-shaped pouch under the skin where the base of the anchor can be placed. The piece of jewellery can then be screwed onto the anchor point. Often, a dermal punch is used to insert the anchor, although this can be dependent on the preference of the piercer.


A piercing to the back of the neck is a surface piercing so is generally deemed moderately painful.  Some people consider a nape piercing to not be very painful, however, as with all information on the pain felt during piercing, the information is purely objective. Every piercing experience differs, dependent on the individual. Everyone has a different pain threshold or varying sensitivity in certain areas, so any form of ‘pain rating’ is entirely anecdotal.

If you feel excessive pain during the process, or a few days after the procedure you should visit a doctor or health care professional. This can ensure there are no complications such as infection.


With nape piercings, the healing time can be between anything from 2-6 months. Initially, the pierced area tends to swell and may look angry. This swelling may last for 3-4 days, although if it persists, we again recommend seeking medical attention.

In order to keep a fresh nape piercing in tip top condition, we have a few tips to help with the healing process, whilst keeping the area bacteria and infection free. A new piercing site will be more susceptible to infection so it is important to keep the area clean and as sterile as possible. You can use a saltwater solution and cotton balls to clean the area. As the piercing is on the back of the neck, you may want to ask a friend or a family member to assist in the initial upkeep.

The healing process can be helped further by not applying pressure to the nape piercing. This includes wearing loose, low collared shirts, avoiding scarves or necklaces or exerting pressure on the area. You should tie up any long hair to avoid interference with the jewellery. Avoid sleeping on your back and certainly do not fiddle or play with the piercing while it is healing.

Some possible side effects of the process can include migration or rejection. If the piercing is not done deep enough, your body may try and push out the new foreign object, possibly leaving scars. Symptoms of rejection include nausea, chills, high fever, muscle pain, headaches and chills. It is also possible for the piercing to move from its original position. All of these side effects can be countered by using an experienced piercer. They will ensure the piercing is properly placed and measured, as well as using the appropriately sized jewellery for the designated area.


Choosing the appropriate type of jewellery for your nape piercing is particularly important as the area of skin around your neck can be slightly more sensitive than other areas. Also, your nape is an area affected by movement as well as many forms of clothing so is an area that is constantly in use. Here are some more common choices of nape piercing jewellery:

  • Curved Barbells – generally metallic piercings, although available in other materials, curved barbells are suitable for neck piercings than regular barbells as the shape allows for more freedom of movement than a straight bar.
  • Staple Bars – also suitable for nape piercings as their shape reduces favours flat-skin surfaces. They also exert less pressure on the skin during healing as well as during day-to-day activities. 

 However, the choice of jewellery is completely dependent on the type of piercing procedure you have. Having a micro dermal piercing opens more options when choose a style of jewellery to attach to the piercing anchor. With both staple bars and barbells, it is important to consider the gauge and length of the jewellery as it must fit perfectly in the space around the back of your neck. Before choosing any jewellery, it is important to consult your piercer to find a style that fits both practical and aesthetic needs.

Article Disclaimer: The information contained here within is based on our experience as one of the UK’s largest piercing chains. Please note that each individual’s experiences will be subjective and therefore each person will have a different experience of pain, healing and maintenance. For more information, please view our article guides terms and conditions page.

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