Does your tongue bleed when you get it pierced?

Getting your tongue pierced is a popular body modification that many people choose for aesthetic reasons. However, like any piercing, it does involve some risks and potential side effects. One common question people have is whether there will be bleeding when the initial piercing is done.

Quick answer

Yes, it is normal and expected for there to be some bleeding when you get your tongue pierced. The tongue has a good blood supply, so some initial bleeding is unavoidable. However, the piercer will use techniques to minimize bleeding and it should stop quickly once the jewelry is inserted.

What happens during the piercing process

When you get your tongue pierced, the basic process involves:

  • The piercer marks the location where the piercing will go, usually towards the center of the tongue.
  • They use a needle to puncture directly through the tongue, creating an opening.
  • The initial jewelry, often a barbell, is quickly inserted into the fresh piercing.
  • The piercer will have gauze ready to soak up any blood.

This piercing process has to be quick to minimize bleeding as much as possible. However, some bleeding is inevitable since the tongue contains blood vessels and capillaries which will be damaged by the needle.

Why does the tongue bleed when pierced?

When any part of the body is pierced, there will be some bleeding from blood vessels being punctured by the needle. The tongue in particular bleeds when pierced for the following reasons:

  • The tongue has a generous blood supply. It contains numerous blood vessels and capillaries to supply blood to the muscles and tissues.
  • The mucous membrane on the surface of the tongue also contains many small blood vessels which can bleed if damaged.
  • A piercing goes fully through the muscle of the tongue, puncturing blood vessels along the way.
  • The tongue is very vascular so even a small piercing wound can lead to noticeable bleeding.

So in short, the tongue has many blood vessels running through it which will inevitably be damaged during the piercing process, resulting in bleeding.

How much bleeding is normal?

While some bleeding is totally normal, excessive bleeding can indicate a problem. Here is how much bleeding is considered normal or abnormal:

  • Normal bleeding: It is normal to see some dripping blood immediately after the piercing. The piercer will have gauze ready to absorb this. Bleeding should stop within a few minutes with proper pressure.
  • Abnormal bleeding: If bleeding seems excessive or continues steadily for more than 5-10 minutes, despite pressure being applied, this suggests a blood vessel may have been nicked and medical treatment is needed.

So in most cases, bleeding is minimal and stops quickly once initial clotting occurs. But if it seems like too much blood or won’t clot, you need assistance from the piercer or doctor.

Does a tongue piercing hurt?

Along with bleeding, pain is the other major concern with tongue piercings. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, but in general:

  • Having the initial piercing causes a sharp, temporarily intense pain when the needle goes through.
  • Most people report the pain is relatively brief during the actual piercing.
  • Afterward, the tongue is likely to remain sore, swollen and sensitive for a week or longer as it heals.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication as needed can help manage pain.
  • Severe, lasting pain should be evaluated by your piercer or doctor in case of a complication.

While tongue piercings do hurt briefly when the piercing is done, the pain tends to be manageable, especially compared to other piercing sites on the body. But it’s still possible to have swelling, soreness and discomfort as you heal.

Risks and complications

As with any piercing, getting your tongue pierced does come with some risks and possible complications to be aware of. These include:

  • Excessive bleeding – While some bleeding is normal initially, uncontrolled bleeding needs medical care.
  • Infection – An unclean environment or unhygienic aftercare could lead to a local infection developing.
  • Damage to teeth and gums – Playing with the jewelry could cause damage from friction over time.
  • Nerve damage – The tongue has sensory nerves that could potentially be affected by a piercing.
  • Swollen tongue – Temporary swelling and soreness is expected but excessive, lasting swelling needs evaluation.
  • Speech issues – Tongue swelling can make speech difficult for the first few days.
  • Reactions to metal jewelry – Some people may have allergic reactions to certain metals used in piercings.

With proper piercing technique, good aftercare and using only high-quality jewelry, risks can be minimized. But complications are still possible with oral piercings.

Aftercare and healing

Once your tongue is pierced, proper aftercare is vital during the healing period. Here are some important aftercare tips:

  • Use an antibacterial alcohol-free mouthwash after eating or drinking for the first week.
  • Avoid spicy, salty and acidic foods which can irritate the piercing.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers as directed to manage soreness.
  • Don’t play with the jewelry or touch it excessively.
  • Avoid smoking, kissing or oral sex during the initial healing.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.

It takes around 4-6 weeks for a tongue piercing to fully heal. Proper aftercare will help minimize the risks and make sure it heals properly without complications.

Should I get my tongue pierced?

Deciding whether to get a tongue piercing is an individual choice based on your personal taste, pain tolerance and willingness to do aftercare. Here are some pros and cons to weigh up:


  • Unique personal style statement.
  • Fun way to express your individuality.
  • Enhances use of the tongue sexually.
  • Minimal visible scarring.
  • Usually easy to hide the piercing if needed.


  • Risk of pain, swelling, bleeding and infection.
  • Can damage teeth and gums if not careful.
  • Need to take care during meals and oral hygiene.
  • May interact with some dental work like braces.
  • Not easily reversed if you later change your mind.

As with any body modification, it’s smart to think carefully beforehand about the risks and rewards. Discuss it with your piercer to make sure a tongue piercing is suitable for your individual health status. But for many people, a tongue piercing is relatively low risk and can be an edgy addition to your look if done properly.


A tongue piercing involves puncturing the tongue with a needle in order to insert jewelry into the hole. Some bleeding when the piercing is first done is normal and expected due to the vascular nature of the tongue. However excessive bleeding or bleeding that won’t stop within 5-10 minutes could signal a complication. While a tongue piercing does hurt briefly and takes around a month to fully heal, with proper piercing technique and aftercare the risks and complications can be minimized. As with any body modification, weigh the pros and cons carefully beforehand. But a tongue piercing can be a unique and personal way to express yourself if done safely by a reputable professional.

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