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Nose Piercing: Process, Aftercare Tips, and Possible Complications

Nose piercing entails puncturing a person’s nose cartilage so they can wear jewelry such as a nose piercing stud or ring. If you want to know everything about this process and what to expect, keep on reading.

Types of nose piercings 

Nose piercing types depend on the part of the nose being pierced. Some of the most common types of nose piercings are:

  • Septum piercing
  • Nostril piercing
  • High nostril piercing 
  • Vertical tip piercing
  • Bridge or surface piercing
  • Nasallang piercing
  • Septril piercing

Before you settle on the type of nose piercing you want, it’s a good idea to do some research. Different types of piercings have different styles of jewelry that will fit the piercing best.

Nose piercing: the process 

The process of nose piercing sometimes involves sensitive, internal skin and can be quite painful. Make sure to find a high-quality piercer who meets your standards. Here are the steps of a typical piercing journey:

  • A clean, safe place: Make sure to choose a piercing salon that guarantees sterile methods. Anything that comes in contact with the nose should come out of a sealed bag and be disposable, meaning that it’s used only once and thrown away afterward. 
  • Sterilization: The first thing the piercer should do is put on sterile gloves. After that, the piercer will sterilize the cartilage or the spot chosen for the piercing. This decreases the chances of an infection.
  • Marking: Next you’ll choose the spot to be pierced. We’d recommend giving this some thought in advance. If the spot is not recommended by the expert, the piercer will suggest another safe spot, maybe around the septum or nostrils. The piercer will then mark the spot. Make sure the spot is exactly where you want it. This is the last chance to change your mind! 
  • Piercing: The safest tool traditionally used for piercing is a hollow needle — not a piercing gun. Hollow needles are cleaner and pose fewer chances of causing an infection; piercing guns, on the other hand, can cause tissue damage. Although everyone’s threshold for pain is different, there should only be little twinge when the needle pierces the nostril.
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Nose piercing aftercare 

After a nose piercing, what comes next? A nose piercing requires more delicate care than ear piercings or tattoos. The expert piercer will offer tips about nose piercing aftercare after the procedure to prevent a nose piercing infection and accelerate the healing process.

Keep in mind that nose piercing aftercare begins the day of the piercing. Here are some aftercare tips:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the pierced area.
  • Use a bulb syringe or cotton balls to gently apply saline solution to the piercing for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can try dipping your nose into the saline for a few seconds. You can buy this solution at the piercing studio or prepare it yourself by adding a 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (0.75 to 1.42 grams) of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz/250 milliliters) of warm distilled or bottled water.
  • Dry by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products because cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury. If you have oily skin or acne, use a cotton pad to wipe the nose gently so as not to irritate the piercing.
  • Stay hydrated and keep up a good diet to speed up healing.

How to clean a nose piercing 

  • A nose piercing is just like any wound and extra prone to infection because of its location, so never touch it with unwashed hands.
  • Use a cotton ball soaked in saline to clean the area gently. It may be a bit painful.
  • With a cotton swab soaked in saline, carefully rub out any crust attached to the piercing. If it is stuck too hard, soak the spot in saline again to soften. Never rub too hard or roughly.
  • Next, to prevent dryness, moisturize the nose piercing. Ask the piercing expert what moisturizer will work best. For example, they might recommend using a combination of tea tree oil and coconut oil (both unrefined). Use a fresh cotton swab to apply twice daily.
  • Don’t use stronger antiseptics if it seems like an infection is setting in; saline solution is enough. Try not to pick at the jewelry or rings because it can cause irritation, resulting in a nose piercing bump.

How long does it take for a nose piercing to heal? 

Different types of nose piercings take different amounts of time to heal, and everyone’s healing time may vary. However, the nose piercing healing process should be complete in a few months.

A septum piercing will take at least six weeks to heal as long as the cartilage was not punctured by accident.

Bridge piercings should heal completely within 8 to 12 weeks.

Nasallang piercings often take four to six months to heal because they are the most difficult to pierce perfectly.

Nose piercing bump 

A nose piercing bump can sometimes arise for a number of reasons, including:

  • Bad aftercare products (stick to saline)
  • Using inappropriate piercing instruments, like a piercing gun
  • Infected nose rings
  • Accidentally bumping or jostling the piercing
  • Allergic reactions to jewelry, such as that made with nickel

Mild infections from the nose ring or bad aftercare can lead to blisters or a pimple-like bump near the piercing known as a pustule.

Keloids are thicker nose piercing scars that sometimes form near the piercing. 

Granulations (a part of a wound-healing mechanism) form when the tissue surrounding the pierced area keeps increasing in size. They aren’t infections themselves, but picking at them can lead to an infection.

If the bumps still don’t disappear with good aftercare, consult a dermatologist. 

Infected nose piercing 

Because a nose piercing creates an open wound in the nose, it is prone to infections caused by harmful bacteria and germs. When bacteria are allowed to accumulate in the nose, they can multiply and cause an infection.

Here are some things to look out for that may indicate an infection:

  • A strange, painful bump on the nose, particularly around the pierced area
  • Redness on the nose that does not go away after a few days or is spreading

Nose piercings are painful, but the pain should decrease with time. If the pain or irritation is persistent, your health care provider can determine if you have an infection and help you treat it properly.

“Infected Piercings.” NHS Choices, NHS, 16 Apr. 2020, www.nhs.uk/conditions/infected-piercings/.

“Body Piercing.” Center for Young Women's Health, 21 Sept. 2020, youngwomenshealth.org/2013/08/07/body-piercing/.

“How to Treat Different Types of Acne.” American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/DIY/types-breakouts.

Alhajj, Mandy. “Physiology, Granulation Tissue.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Nov. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554402/.

“Tea Tree Oil.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Nov. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-tea-tree-oil/art-20364246.

Lin, Tzu-Kai, et al. “Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 27 Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/.

“What kids should know about getting piercing done safely.” Retrieved December 14, 2020, www.aad.org/public/parents-kids/healthy-habits/parents/kids/piercings-done-safely

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