Updated: AUGUST 7, 2017

Scarification is a form of body modification in which individuals scar or brand themselves by scratching, etching, cutting, or burning designs into their skin.

Scarification is widely practiced in tribal cultures to mark milestones and show belonging within particular communities. It has also spread to the Western world as an alternative to tattooing.

Scarification is also called scarifying and cicatrization.

More About Scarification

There are many common scarification techniques including methods of branding, cutting, abrasion, and the application of chemicals. Some people rub ink or ashes into open cuts to create a tattoo or remove skin during the cutting process to create deeper, thicker scars.

People then irritate their wounds during the healing process to create more noticeable scars, by adding chemicals or other irritants like lemon juice or toothpaste, by picking at the scars, or by performing further scarring practices.

The scarification process is very painful, but it can also release endorphins which can send the person being scarred into a euphoric state. Many people choose scarification because it’s more unusual than tattooing. It’s also becoming a popular choice among people who want to feel anchored to tribal traditions. Due to the extreme pain involved, scarification has become popular in S&M circles.

Creating scars and irritating healing wounds carries a high risk of infection. The materials that create the wounds and the wounds themselves must be kept clean and free of bacteria to reduce the risk of spreading diseases like hepatitis B and C and HIV. Diseases such as these can also be passed from the skin into the air during branding, which can make the person administering the scar sick or even kill them. For this reason, many people wear masks when branding someone else.

As the popularity of scarification grows in the Western world, more businesses known as skin-penetration premises are popping up to perform the procedure safely. It’s advised to use these rather than have an amateur work on your scars, as these professionals know how to achieve the best results with minimal risk of infection.


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