What is a Snakebite Piercing?

N. Swensson

A snakebite piercing is when the lower lip is pierced twice, once on either side. This creates two holes that look like a snakebite. A number of different types of body jewelry might be used with this piercing, such as labrets, rings, or barbells. The two pieces of jewelry are sometimes connected with a chain or combined with a tattoo. The piercing can also be directly on the lip or sometimes is just underneath it. This type of piercing is somewhat popular and is a relatively simple procedure. Like all body piercings, some basic precautions should be taken to ensure proper healing and prevent injuries.

Rinsing a snakebite piercing with mouthwash several times a day is recommended for a new piercing.
Rinsing a snakebite piercing with mouthwash several times a day is recommended for a new piercing.

Like most lip and oral piercings, the snakebite piercing will usually heal quickly and easily. The mouth area has an ample blood supply, which helps to speed healing. The piercing is done in a similar way to other oral piercings. The piercer marks the areas to be pierced and then uses a clamp to hold the lip and inserts the piercing needle, followed by the jewelry. Most snakebite piercings are done all at the same time, although it is sometimes suggested to pierce one side, wait for it to heal, and then pierce the other. This method may minimize swelling and speed healing.

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

Swelling is a common problem with snakebite piercings. The piercer can help to choose appropriate body jewelry that leaves enough room to accommodate initial swelling. Although most swelling is minor and goes away in a short period of time, jewelry that is too tight may prevent the piercing from healing properly and can also cause infection. If a snakebite piercing causes a great deal of pain, bleeding, or swelling, the jewelry may be too small and should be exchanged for a larger set.

Proper cleaning is also very important for a new piercing. Many piercing studios recommend rinsing with a medicated mouthwash several times a day, including after all meals. The outside of the piercing should also be rinsed with saline solution or soap and water. The jewelry should not be removed for cleaning because oral piercings can close very quickly.

People who have a snakebite piercing or other oral jewelry should be careful not to bite down on it, as this can chip or crack the teeth or cause other mouth injuries. Take small bites of food when eating and chew slowly. After the piercing has completely healed and there is no more swelling, return to the piercing shop to get shorter labrets, as improperly sized jewelry can also contribute to mouth injuries.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- Congrats on your piercing!

I personally like the round studs, they look great. I have a friend who is very fair and she has black colored round studs. It looks amazing! For darker skin tones, I think silver toned round studs look better.

Basically, it looks good if you create a contrast between your skin tone and the color of the snakebite piercing. If you have other type or piercings, you could also pick something that matches the style and color of those.


I was very excited about getting a snakebite piercing done but now I kind of regret it. It's been two months since I got them and my lips are still swollen. The swelling seems to die down at times but then it returns. I'm having a hard time eating and drinking.

I thought I was reacting to the lip piercing jewelry but the guy who did the piercing said that this is the highest quality metal out there and the safest one for piercings.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to take them out but I might have to if the swelling doesn't go away soon.


My snakebite piercing is healed and I'm going to have the labrets changed this week. I still haven't made up my mind about what type of piercing jewelry I want. I've seen pictures of ring type jewelry as well as round shaped studs in different colors. I think they all look cool.

Any suggestions?

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