Nose Piercing

Plan to get your nose pierced? Make sure it’s done safely and you know how to care for the piercing after you get it.

Your nose can be pierced in different spots:

  • The nares, the fleshy skin around your nostrils
  • The septum, the tougher cartilage between your nostrils
  • The soft flesh at the bottom of your septum below the cartilage

Health Concerns

Nose piercing has risks. Your nose is in what doctors call the danger triangle of your face. That’s the area between your eyebrows and upper lip. Veins in this area are connected to your sinus cavity. Any procedure on this part of your face could cause a serious infection.

You could also be more likely to get:

Infection. Bacteria that line the inside of your nose can cause an infection. And viruses like HIV, hepatitis B or C, or tetanus from poorly sterilized equipment could get into your bloodstream.

Bleeding. Any piercing will bleed. A septum piercing may bleed more than pierced nares. You could also form a hematoma, a swollen bruise that can become infected or disfigure your face.

Loose jewelry. Nose rings or stud backs can loosen or shift in your hole. If that happens, you could inhale or swallow the little metal pieces. Loose studs or backs can also get stuck in your nose’s lining.

Allergic reaction. You could be allergic to the metal in your nose jewelry.

Nerve damage. Nose piercing may damage a nerve and cause numbness or pain.

Scarring. Keloids -- lumps of fibrous scar tissue -- can form.

Nose Piercing Safety

Get your nose pierced by a licensed professional. Never do it yourself or let a friend do it for you.

Make sure the person doing the piercing follows these safety procedures:

  • Asks if you have any health problems or could be pregnant.
  • Uses a sterile needle. Piercing guns can’t be properly sterilized.
  • Sterilizes the nose jewelry on-site in a machine called an autoclave.
  • Opens the sealed needle package in front of you.
  • Uses sterile gloves, and washes her hands before and after the piercing.
  • Cleans and disinfects your nose with alcohol or antiseptic liquid before it’s pierced.
  • Gives you clear instructions on how to clean and care for your nose piercing.

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Pain and Healing Time

You’ll have some pain when your nose is pierced. You may have some blood, swelling, tenderness, or bruising at first. It may be sore, tender, and red for up to 3 weeks.

Pierced nostrils heal completely in about 2 to 4 months. A pierced septum heals in about 3 to 4 months.

How to Care for Your Nose Piercing

To care for your nose until it’s healed:

  • Wash your hands before you touch the piercing or your nose jewelry.
  • Clean your nose gently with a gauze pad soaked in saline solution. Pat the area dry with a fresh paper towel.
  • Don’t get in any water that could be dirty until your nose heals. Avoid swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs.
  • Don’t put antibacterial ointments on the site.
  • Don’t move your nose jewelry until it’s healed.
  • Sleep on clean sheets.
  • Take showers instead of baths

Signs of a Problem

Call your doctor if you notice these signs of infection:

  • Fever
  • Red, swollen, very painful, or tender skin around the piercing
  • Yellow or green gunk oozing from the site

Will It Close Up?

Nose piercings can close years later. Keep jewelry in your nose at all times so the hole stays open.

Cost and Safe Types of Jewelry

Nose piercing has two costs: one for the piercing procedure and one for the jewelry. Piercing your nose can often cost less than other body parts, like nipples or genitals. Nose rings made of expensive metals will cost more.

Safe metals for nose rings include:

  • Surgical stainless steel
  • Solid gold
  • Titanium
  • Niobium

Nickel jewelry is more likely to cause an allergic reaction. Nose jewelry shouldn’t be too large or heavy, or it can cause pain or swelling.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 13, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Family Physician: “Complications of Body Piercing.”

Journal of Infection and Public Health: “Infective complications of tattooing and skin piercing.”

Cases Journal: “Complication of nasal piercing by Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis: a case report and a review of literature.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Body Piercing, Teens & Potential Health Risks: AAP Report Explained.”

Mayo Clinic: “Piercings: How to prevent complications.”

DermNet NZ: “Body piercing.”

Center for Young Women’s Health: “Body piercing.”

Government of South Australia: “Body Piercing -- Know the Risks.”

Victoria State Government: “Piercings.”

Association of Professional Piercers: “Aftercare.”

National Health Service: “Body piercing.”

TeensHealth from Nemours: “Body Piercing (for Teens).”

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