What Is a Chin Piercing?

Emily Cardiff

A chin piercing is a type of body piercing in which metal studs or hoops are inserted into the flesh of the chin and sometimes also the lower lip. There are a couple of different styles and methods, but most fall into one of two categories: either surface piercings, which involve the smooth, flat skin at the base of the chin, or labrets, which begin in the mouth and protrude down to the chin through the lower lip. There are different styles and ornamentation that can be used with each. Both types of piercing had significance in ancient cultures, particularly among the tribal people of Central and South America. Some people choose this sort of body ornamentation for cultural reasons, but more often it’s elected as a means of expressing something about an individual’s personality. In general the process of inserting the chin jewelry is quite painful, but it isn’t permanent. It can, of course, last forever with proper care, but people who tire of it can usually remove it and allow the body to heal itself naturally, though depending on how long the piercing was in place there may be a scar. Infections are also a risk that people need to be aware of both at insertion and removal.

Pus caused from a piercing may be treated with sea salt and water.
Pus caused from a piercing may be treated with sea salt and water.

Basic Concept

The main idea with any sort of facial piercing is to add a bit of metal or flair to the face. Ornamentation on the chin is almost always immediately evident, and is often meant to convey something of the wearer’s personality of self-expression. Sometimes men groom their facial hair to accentuate a pierced chin, and women often choose decorative studs or rings.

IV antibiotics may be needed to treat an infection as a result of a piercing.
IV antibiotics may be needed to treat an infection as a result of a piercing.

Styles and Methods

Chin piercings can either be placed vertically or horizontally. Vertical insertions tend to be more popular because they typically heal more rapidly than horizontal piercings. Those who choose the labret style almost always end up with a vertical pierce in order to descend down to the chin region. Jewelry for both commonly include studs, surface barbells and curved barbells. Hoops or rings can sometimes be used, too; a lot depends on the look the person is going for.

Like most styles of body art, there is much that can be customized about this sort of piercing. The original puncture is typically made with a metal stud that is forced through the skin with a specialized piercing gun; in rarer situations a sharpened stud itself can push its own hole. Once the skin around the stud heals, the stud can be removed and replaced with a variety of different colors, shapes, and sizes of ornamentation.

Significance and Meaning

In modern times, body piercing of almost any sort is seen as a sort of art and is usually used as a vehicle for self-expression. Pierced chins tend to be most popular with teens and young adults, and people who elect this for of body art may also choose other body piercings, such as in the lips, nose, or eyebrow.

In some parts of the world, facial piercings are viewed as somewhat “alternative.” This hasn’t always been the case, though. A number of ancient cultures celebrated pierced facial art, sometimes even focusing on the chin region. Chin labrets were perhaps most popular among the pre-Columbian populations in Central and south America, particularly in the Aztec and Mayan kingdoms. In these places piercings were made with stone, seashell, and bone in addition to metal ores.

Importance of Proper Care

Soon after chin piercing, some slight bruising or redness may occur; this is a typical side effect of piercing. If the bruising and redness worsens, a visit to a doctor to test for infection may be wise. Like other piercings, a chin piercing requires care in order to heal properly and quickly. Using a sea salt and water mixture to cleanse the open wounds made by the jewelry may effectively clean and sterilize the area. Soaking jewelry at least once a week in either sea salt and water or in a product recommended by the piercer also can help prevent infection.

As with any other body piercing, chin punctures can cause a high level of pain. Infection is also usually a serious risk. Labret piercings are often especially prone to infection since they are exposed to germs, food-borne bacteria, and a constantly moist environment in the mouth. Though it does not go through the mouth, a surface piercing can still pick up germs on its way through the facial flesh. This is a risk with any type of body art and should be taken seriously during aftercare; in general medical advice should be sought at the first sign of infection to reduce the chance of complications.

Symptoms of an infected piercing may include pus and inflammation around the site.
Symptoms of an infected piercing may include pus and inflammation around the site.

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