To numb or not to numb

Piercing can be anything from mildly uncomfortable to very painful, depending on a number of factors including which body part is being pierced and your state of mind. For some people the pain is a rite of passage, for others the prospect of pain puts them off having a much desired piercing. If the piercing environment is calm and your piercer is relaxed, you are more likely to be relaxed and the experience will be more comfortable. The actual piercing (and the pain directly associated with it) is over in a fraction of a second and any tenderness you feel afterwards should be just that, tenderness.

Pain is caused by the stimulation of pain receptors at the ends of nerves. The stimulation causes sodium to enter the nerve ending which causes an electrical signal to build up in the nerve. When this signal is big enough it passes along the nerve to the brain where this signal is interpreted as pain.

So how do you stop it?

Freeze sprays (or vapocoolants)

This is a type of aerosol spray product that contains a liquefied gas (usually ethyl chloride) which, when sprayed onto the skin, causes rapid cooling thereby making the skin less sensitive; it is however not an anaesthetic and when used on open wounds it can cause skin burns and lead to other irritations.

Some freeze sprays work a little too well; freeze sprays can be used for treating warts or skin tags and they work by freezing tissue to the extent that the tissue is destroyed so that the wart or skin tag eventually just falls off.

Personally, I am not a big fan of freeze sprays because there is a risk of damaging the skin just at the time it needs to be at its most resilient.

Local anaesthetics

Local anaesthetics include an active ingredient which might be lidocaine, tetracaine, prilocaine (or other something-caines). These work by temporarily stopping sodium entering the nerve ending at the site of the injury, thus preventing an electrical signal building up and passing along the nerve fibres to the brain.

These local anaesthetics can be applied by a spray or by a cream. In my experience the sprays work well only inside the mouth where the active ingredient is absorbed quickly in the soft tissue. For all external piercings it is the cream that works best (but only when applied correctly and for long enough). I have found that customers who have even chosen a piercing which is generally recognised as being intensely painful find the experience quite comfortable when properly numbed.

If the piercing pain is part of the pleasure then that’s all good. But if the prospect of pain puts you off the pleasure of having the area pierced then fear not, there is something we can do.

Please tell us at the time you book the appointment if you want numbing cream. It will add £2 to the cost of your piercing.