Things to Know About Piquerism

What is it?

Piquerism is an interest in stabbing, sticking, or otherwise penetrating the skin with sharp objects — think knives, pins, or nails. It’s usually sexual in nature.

In mild scenarios, sticking the buttocks or genitalia with a pin may be enough to provide gratification.

Some interests, however, are more extreme. Severe injury — and even death — is possible if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

What objects are typically used?

Any object that is sharp can be used. Pins, nails, razors, knives, scissors, and even pens may be able to penetrate the skin.

Some people with this sexual preference may like only specific objects. They may prefer a particular knife or only thin, disposable needles.

What areas of the body are usually targeted?

Because piquerism is considered a sexual proclivity, most areas that are targeted have a sexual connection. This often includes the breasts, buttocks, and groin.

However, for some people, the location doesn’t matter as much as the action of piercing skin.

Is it always done to another person, or can it also be done to oneself?

In most cases, piquerism is pleasurable only when it’s done to another person. This may be because the act of stabbing or piercing someone else can simulate sexual penetration.

Some people do find pleasure in piercing themselves during sex or foreplay.

However, this isn’t the same thing as cutting and shouldn’t be confused with self-harm.

Is it always a paraphilia (sexual)?

Yes, piquerism is considered a type of paraphilia, or “unusual” sexual desire.

It may be thought of as a form of sadism, too. Some people in BDSM communities may include piquerism in their sexual play.

Where does the desire stem from?

It’s unclear why some people begin to practice piquerism.

It’s also uncertain if it progresses from another type of kink or fetish or if it initially manifests as this desire.

In fact, no research has looked specifically at this sexual preference to understand why some people have it.

Is this considered a form of BDSM?

Yes, piquerism falls under the BDSM umbrella as a type of “edgeplay.”

In some forms of BDSM, couples or partners work with an understanding that each person will keep the sexual play safe and sane. They won’t challenge or push the play into risky territory.

However, fetishes like piquerism are inherently risky. “Safe” piquerism isn’t possible because of the perils it presents.

If every person in the agreement is aware of the risks and willing to accept them, they can adapt their agreement.

In that case, edgeplay takes them into activities that may carry additional risks.

Is it common?

Piquerism is a niche interest. It may be more common in the BDSM community because of special interests in sadism and edgeplay.

However, this sexual kink or fetish is rarely covered in research, so it’s not possible to know exactly how many individuals have it.

Likewise, people may shy away from talking about any behavior that’s considered “abnormal” or “unusual,” so self-reporting of such behaviors may be limited.

Is it safe?

Piquerism isn’t inherently safe. Any time skin is pierced, bacteria can enter. This can lead to infection and adverse effects.

It’s also possible to pierce blood vessels or arteries. This can lead to larger amounts of blood loss, which can be dangerous.

However, there are ways to mitigate some of these risks.

Although taking precautions may not eliminate all the risks, certain steps can help mitigate some of the more extreme hazards.

What precautions can you take?

You can reduce the risk of infection and other complications by taking the following steps:

  • Get informed consent. It’s important that everyone understand the potential dangers and communicate any boundaries before engaging in this type of play.
  • Sterilize all objects. Any items you plan to use to lacerate or pierce skin should be sterilized. You can boil them in water or steam them. You can disinfect objects using salt water and bleach, but sterilization is preferred over disinfecting.
  • Pick the area of skin wisely. You can accidentally cut a major artery or vessel if you pierce the wrong area or stab too deeply. This could become life-threatening. Opt for areas that have fewer major arteries, like the breasts and buttocks.
  • Clean up thoroughly. After play is complete, wash any pierced spots or cuts with antibacterial soap and warm water and dry them well. Apply an antibiotic ointment over the spots, cover with a bandage, and repeat daily until healed.

What can happen if proper precautions aren’t taken?

Any time the skin is broken, bacteria can get in. This can develop into an infection. It may require treatment, including antibiotics.

Likewise, any time you stab or pierce skin, you could cut blood vessels or even arteries. This can lead to blood loss that may be life-threatening or even fatal.

Has there been any research on it?

Although there are several documented cases of suspected piquerism throughout history, no real research has been conducted. Clinical information and case studies are also nonexistent.

This makes it difficult to understand why some people have this fetish and to develop formal guidelines for safer play.

How has it been depicted historically?

Perhaps the most famous historical incident of piquerism comes from London’s late-19th-century serial killer Jack the Ripper.

In 1888, this unidentified murderer killed five women and mutilated their bodies, often stabbing or cutting them.

In a 2005 analysis of the Jack the Ripper murders, one investigator wrote that “the injuries sustained by the victims displayed the signature characteristic of [piquerism].”

In the 20th century, a Russian serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, was known for stabbing and cutting his victims before murdering them.

The piercing may have given him sexual gratification. He ultimately killed more than 50 people.

Has it been seen in recent news?

In 2011, the “Serial Butt Slasher” made shoppers in Virginia nervous when he stabbed nine women with sharp razors on their buttocks. He was later sentenced to seven years in prison.

Has it been seen in pop culture?

Police dramas on television often borrow storylines from newspaper headlines. The visibility of these shows may make rare fetishes or interests seem more common than they really are.

In 2001, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” featured piquerism in an episode called “Pique.”

In this story, the FBI psychiatrist working with the police officers realizes that a murderer who engaged in the sexual stabbing of his victim has previously experienced sexual assault.

In the episode, the psychiatrist says, “He suffers from piquerism, counselor. The knife represents his penis. It is not disposable.”

Where can you learn more?

You may be able to get more information and find people with similar curiosities if you connect with your local BDSM community.

If you haven’t already done so, see if any nearby adult stores have upcoming workshops or meetups.

You can also check out online sources like and

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