For thousands of years, indigenous people in the Middle East, India and the Americas pierced their nostrils, septums and nasal bridges. Nose piercings could indicate wealth, observe sacred significance, or enhance appearance. So, join a long tradition, but educate yourself so the piercing in your nose is a thing of beauty.
Nose Piercing Procedure
A nose piercing in the curve of the nostril holds a delicate ring or stud. Through the septum - the piece of cartilage that divides the nostrils - the jewelry is a more substantial ring, "horseshoe" or bar. Much more rare, a piercing through the top of the nose between the eyes (bridge piercing), is designed for a bar with studs on either end. Here's what to expect for the most common nose piercing for jewelry inserted into the side of the nostril. The process is almost identical for a septum piercing.
- The piercing site is cleaned and marked with a surgical marker or gentian violet.
- A small piece of cork is placed inside the nostril.
- Round forceps are placed over the mark on the nostril and the needle placed inside them.
- The needle is pushed through the nostril into the cork.
- The jewelry is inserted into the hollow end of the needle and is pulled through with the rest of the needle. The needle is removed leaving the jewelry behind.
A piercing gun is not the tool of choice for this particular procedure since it is too cumbersome to get an exact placement for the hole and cannot be properly sterilized.
Nose Jewelry Tips
Selecting a Style
There are several styles of nose jewelry.
- Nose rings are hoops that come in various sizes and are self-clasping.
- Nose studs are similar to earring studs, using a small clasp on the back to hold the jewelry in place.
- Nose screws require no clasp to stay in place. There is a half-circle turn at the bottom of the very short post used to screw the jewelry into place. Many people prefer nose screws to rings or studs for their comfort, easy insertion and easy cleaning.
Select the material for your nose jewelry with care to avoid an allergic reaction or unattractive oxidation and tarnishing.
- Surgical steel is ideal in a fresh piercing. It is hypo-allergenic and generally causes none of the skin irritation encountered when using cheaper metals such as nickel.
- Gold is the next best thing to surgical steel, but choose real gold - 14kt or 18kt is sturdy enough not to bend easily, and pure enough to be safe. Avoid gold plate, as it quickly wears away with constant exposure to body fluids.
- Titanium is another popular and durable metal used in jewelry making. It works for most people but can irritate an unhealed piercing. If you want to use Titanium, wait at least six months after your piercing to do so.
- Sterling silver, although beautiful, is not a good choice to use in any fresh piercing. Your body fluids oxidize the metal, turning it black. This black oxidation can penetrate your tissues, leaving a permanent spot or stain around the piercing. Wait at least a year after your piercing to wear silver jewelry and check frequently for signs of tarnish and oxidation.
Other materials that can be used for nose jewelry include:
Since nose piercing penetrates cartilage, not just flesh, it takes six to 12 weeks to heal. During this period, it is important to keep the site scrupulously clean. Get aftercare instructions from your piercer and follow them precisely.
- Always wash your hands before you touch your piercing or jewelry.
- Clean the piercing at least three times a day with a clean cotton ball soaked in sterile saline solution. Drench the area, slightly rotating your jewelry to make sure the saline gets into the hole. Then gently pat it dry.
- Dip a fresh cotton swab in saline solution to clean the clasp or screw inside your nostril.
- Never scrub any part of your piercing or jewelry. This can damage the tissue, cause an infection and dislodge your jewelry.
- Use a dry paper towel to pat the area after cleaning. Better yet, just hold the paper towel there and let it "wick up" the moisture.
- Avoid sleeping on your face at night.
- Replace your pillowcase every few days to cut down on germ exposure.
- Support your immune system with a good vitamin supplement containing vitamins C, B-12 and zinc. This helps head off respiratory illnesses and the resultant mucus build-up that could interfere with your healing.
- Avoid fingering your jewelry and making frequent changes during the first six months. Fiddling with and changing a stud or ring could damage the cartilage causing an unattractive lump, called a granuloma, to form. Once you get one of these, they can be nearly impossible to get rid of.
Any type of body modification is a personal choice, but this and other types of body art are sometimes prohibited in schools and the workplace. It's probably a good idea to check with your employer or school officials, just to make sure you understand any no-exceptions piercing policies. There are a couple of options you can try to make your nose piercing less noticeable.
- Hide a nostril piercing by wearing an "invisible stud" during the work or school day. This type of stud comes in different flesh tones and blends in with the rest of your nose. After your daily obligations are over, switch to your favorite jewelry. Keep in mind that you cannot remove or replace your jewelry until the perforation is healed. So be prepared to have your piercing show for at least two to three months, or request that your piercer use an invisible stud in the initial piercing.
- A septum piercing can be discreetly preserved with a septum retainer, a U-shaped device that can be inserted through the hole without showing on the outside.
Educate yourself about what to expect and your piercing adventure should be successful. You're the agent of your health and healing, so you need to know how to deal with the new addition to your signature look.
Pain During Piercing
Everyone's threshold for pain is different, but generally all piercings cause momentary pain. Using a surgical needle to create the piercing is the least painful technique because it passes so easily through the cartilage.
Mucus Build-Up from a Cold
A cold is a complication you want to avoid, but that's not always possible. When you have a nose piercing, it's important to keep the area free of mucus and crust, which can trap bacteria and cause infection. Increase the number of cleanings to keep the area clean, and take an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce sinus drainage. Avoid using nasal sprays that contain anything other than simple saline.
Safely Removing the Jewelry
Your nose ring must be left in during the healing period, or the piercing will close up in less than 24 hours. After the first year, you can leave your jewelry out for a few days, but test frequently to make sure the hole doesn't close again.
Problems and Infection
If you experience pain, swelling or tenderness, see your piercer immediately. According to FastMed Health Center, problems with a nose piercing can result from minor irritation due to improper aftercare or inappropriate jewelry. If your piercing is hot to the touch, exuding red or green fluid or you develop a fever, see your doctor immediately since these are the signs of an infection that can be potentially serious. In the event of a problem, do not remove your jewelry because doing so could cause an infection to become trapped.
Enjoy Your Piercing
Nose piercings are a great way to show off your individuality. Rely on an experienced, licensed piercer, know the procedures, and follow proper aftercare directions to protect your investment and your beautiful face. A healthy, planned-for hole in your nose is an adornment that will last a lifetime, if you take care of it.