Stippling consists of multiple punctate abrasions caused by foreign material driven into the skin after a gun is discharged. It is important to carefully examine an area of suspected stippling, which may include taking a biopsy of the area.


Types of stippling:

(1) powder tattoo from gunpowder in the shell

(2) pseudo-powder tattoo (tattoo due to non-powder material)

Non-Powder Material



window penetrated by a bullet


plastic jacket to a bullet, shotgun shell casing, homemade silencer, penetrated piece of plastic


metal jacket of the bullet, material from homemade silencer, richochet bullet

dirt or stone

richochet bullet


richochet bullet, bullet passing through wood


Differential diagnosis of stippling:

(1) petechial injuries

(2) suture marks made to close a wound

(3) hemorrhage into hair follicles secondary to blast effect

(4) post-mortem insect activity


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