From the outer conch to the anti-tragus to the humble Prince Albert, there are plenty of different types of piercings out there. Snakebites (or dual lower lip piercings) have stood the test of time as a popular choice, packing major sex appeal and visual impact.
What’s thisssssss then? The snakebite piercing 101
Hold tight, here come the fast facts about snakebite piercing jewelry, healing, and safety…
What’s a snakebite piercing?
Two studs or rings at either corner of your mouth, pierced through your lower lip. You’ll look like a sexual viper god/goddess/deity from the Garden of Eden itself.
How do you get a snakebite piercing?
Find a reputable, clean piercer. Give them some cash. They’ll then sterilize your mouth and use specialist equipment to thread your snakebite piercing jewelry into your lip.
Healing from a snakebite piercing
Recovery takes up to a month and a half. Pain, swelling, and bleeding should stop after a week. Snakebites aren’t nearly the most painful piercings out there, so don’t worry too much.
Caring for your new piercing
Your piercer should give you detailed aftercare advice. But it’s always a good idea to keep the pierced area clean and avoid fiddling with the piercing while it heals.
If you’re wondering how much a snakebite piercing hurts, how long it’ll take to heal, or any other query, we’ve got the guide for you right here.
A snakebite piercing consists of two piercings on your lower lip, placed near the corners of your mouth. It gets its name from the badass visual effect it creates, similar to having snake fangs.
Some snakebites use rings, others use labret studs. It’s not the same thing as a snake-eye piercing, which is done on your tongue.
How much does it cost?
The cost of getting a snakebite piercing depends on your piercer, but expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $120 for the two piercings and the jewelry to go with them.
What types of jewelry should you use?
Snakebite piercing jewelry comes either as:
- labret studs, short barbell-like things with a flat end inside and around stud outside
- rings that circle your whole lower lip
Don’t be surprised if the first one the piercer uses feels loose. Your lower lip will swell after the piercing.
When it heals, you can swap with a better fit.
What materials should piercing jewelry be made from?
According to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), the materials in your snakebite piercing jewelry should include:
- surgical steel
The American Society for Testing and Materials Standard (ASTM International) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) go into more detail on how to make sure the different types of jewelry are safe:
- Surgical steel should be ASTM F-138, ISO 5832-1, ISO 10993-(6,10, or 11), and (EEC [European] Nickel Directive compliant.
- Titanium should be implant-certified (Ti6Al4V ELI) and ASTM F-136, ASTM F1295, and ISO 5832-3 compliant. You can also use commercially pure titanium if it’s ASTM F-67 compliant.
- Gold should be yellow, rose, or white, 14k or higher, free of nickel and cadmium, and properly alloyed to be used as body jewelry. Note that 18k gold or higher isn’t suitable because it’s too soft.
- Glass jewelry should consist of fused quartz glass, lead-free borosilicate, or lead-free soda-lime glass.
That might all look a bit technical right now, but it’s handy if you want to research further. Your piercer will be able to let you know more about the materials they use.
Pros and cons of a snakebite piercing
Weighing a snakebite piercing against similar lip or face piercings is an exercise in personal preference.
The snakebite piercing is
- A visually striking and fashionable look ✅
- Serious sex appeal for anyone, regardless of gender ✅
- A style which shows off your facial symmetry and draws attention to your lips ✅
- Simple and relatively cheap to get ✅
- Easy to maintain ✅
- An instant guide in how to speak Parseltongue 🐍
- It’s a style that’s hard to hide for formal events or job interviews. ⛔️
- Two piercings mean twice the time and pain. ⛔️
- Mouth piercings open you up to the possibility of tooth and gum problems. ⛔️
Yeah, it’s gonna hurt. You’re sticking a bit of f*cking metal through your flesh.
How bad it hurts depends on your own tolerance for pain. A detailed browse through piercing culture blogs and subreddits suggests it hurts more than an ear or nose piercing, but less than getting your nipples or genitals done.
Make sure you clean your piercing and jewelry. This will:
- help it heal
- cut the risk of infection
- generally subject you to less pain and misery
And those are all good things.
Your piercing should heal in 4 to 6 weeks if you look after it. The pain could last for up to a month, decreasing as you go through the stages of healing. Swelling could last around 3 to 5 days, but you can cut that time down by switching to cold drinks.
These are general guideline figures, of course. Everyone heals differently. If you experience health concerns or if you smoke, healing could take longer.
What to avoid while your piercing heals
You can help your piercing heal by avoiding a few simple no-nos. While it’s healing, don’t:
- fiddle with the piercing
- remove the piercing before it fully recovers
- share cups or cutlery with others, even family members
- chew gum, pens, straws, or anything which could carry bacteria
- play contact sports or take part in strenuous physical activity
- do anything sexual involving your mouth
- … anything at all, including kissing
- … no, not even that
- … especially not that
The process involved in getting this type of piercing is similar to most others on your lip. Each piercer will have their own way of doing things, but a typical experience might look like this:
- The piercer checks your lower lip to make sure it can accommodate the piercing.
- You’ll pick out your jewelry and sign a consent form.
- A dose of antiseptic mouthwash cuts the number of bacteria in your mouth, while an antiseptic wipe takes care of your outer lip.
- Using a body marker, the piercer marks the entry points and makes sure you’re happy with them.
- They then insert a hollow needle through your lip and string the barbell or ring through.
- One more dose of mouthwash later, you’re all done.
- You pose for a post-hardcore album cover and get 20,000 sexy points.
You’ve just stuck a bit of metal through your lip, so it’s normal to experience pain, bleeding, and swelling for a week or so after your piecing. But there are some more serious risks associated with piercings in general, which you should be aware of. They include:
- infection from the piercing or lack of sterilization or aftercare (including HIV transmission, tetanus, hepatitis B and C, or other blood-borne infections)
- allergies, particularly if your jewelry contains nickel, which can irritate sensitive skin
- excess bleeding or swelling, which lasts longer than a week
- damage to your teeth from accidentally biting jewelry or excess friction on your teeth
- choking on broken jewelry
- brain abscesses in extremely rare but documented cases
- damage to your nerves (again, very rare, but it has happened)
- drooling (not life threatening, but piercings can increase the production of saliva)
What if my snakebite piercing hurts on one side?
Pain in one specific area of your piercing could be a symptom of infection. Talk with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing:
- bleeding and swelling getting worse over time
- yellowy-green mucus or a bad smell around the pierced area
How to know if a blood clot has developed
In extremely rare cases, a blood clot might develop as a result of a piercing. Get immediate medical advice if you experience any of these:
- swelling, redness or discoloration, or unusual warmth in one of your limbs
- dull, throbbing pain or cramps in one of your limbs
- feeling suddenly out of breath
- stinging chest pains which get worse as you inhale
Once you’ve got your shiny new piercing, there’s plenty you can do to make sure it stays clean and free of infection until it heals. This includes:
- eating soft foods or soup for a few days
- using a toothbrush with soft bristles
- rinsing your mouth with diluted mouthwash or a sea-salt rinse before bed
- cleaning your hands before you touch the piercing
- putting ice in your drinks to help with swelling
- using an extra pillow when you sleep to raise your head, again to ease swelling
- taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen in the morning for the first week
Snakebite piercings aren’t without their risks and pain points, the same as any other type of body art. But if you take the time to pick out a credible piercer (the APP can help) and do your bit to keep the piercing clean, snakebites can be a safe and visually striking look.
With employers updating their old-fashioned stance on piercings and tattoos at work, it’s now more acceptable than ever to express yourself openly. If you’re looking for something fresh to show off your individuality, this could be the option for you.