Nose piercing: Everything that you need to know
Apr 01, 2022
The world of nose piercings is far more complex than most people realize. And whether you're choosing your first (or next!) nose piercing or simply want to learn more, here's a guide to all you need to know.
From antiquity to the present day
Currently, ear piercings and lip piercings are probably the most popular piercing in the world. But nose piercings go back to ancient history.
They were commonplace in the Middle East and India as far back as 4,000 years ago. In Australia, aboriginal people wore septum piercings made of bone as far back as 44,000 B.C.
Nose piercing meaning
Ancient North African tribes used golden nose rings to signify wealth. And in India, women often wore nose rings in the left nostril, believing that it would ease menstrual cramping and make childbirth easier. Now, nose piercings are often viewed as being somewhat counterculture.
Nose piercing types
If you're fairly new to the piercing scene, you may not even be aware of all the nose piercing types out there. Here are some of the main nose piercing types:
The Nostril piercing is very probably the most common nose piercing type out there. It usually goes through your nostril right where it starts to curve away from your face.
You can use a wide variety of jewelry types here, although studs and rings are the most common.
Some people choose to only pierce one nostril. But if you prefer a more symmetrical look, you might choose to pierce both.
As far as pain goes, this is one of the least painful nose piercings you can get. Healing time is usually only about 2-4 months. It's worth knowing that the area around the piercing is likely to be swollen and red for up to three weeks after the piercing, though.
Double & triple Nostril piercing
Getting a Nostril piercing is sometimes a gateway to even more piercings! In some cases, people opt to have two or even three piercings on the same nostril. Just like a single nostril piercing, each one is not particularly painful.
That said, if you choose this option, do your best to go to an experienced piercer. Each piercing needs to be placed carefully. Misplacing them can lead to pain and even nerve damage. In order to make placement less complicated, it's usually wise to go for thinner studs or rings.
This one has a pretty self-explanatory name. It's similar in appearance to a Nostril piercing, but it is located higher up on the nose bridge. It's a good choice if you like the look of Nostril piercings but want something that's a bit less common. Usually, a very thin (18 gauge) needle is used.
Since a high Nostril piercing goes through a very thick part of your nose, it's a lot more painful than most!
It also takes longer to heal; you can usually expect to wait 4-6 months. Because this type is very prone to infection, make sure you choose a skilled piercer and carefully follow aftercare instructions.
Septum piercing is relatively common, especially among younger people. The piercing itself is placed right in front of where the Septum cartilage begins, so the result is a piercing between your nostrils. Usually, a curved Barbell or a captive bead ring is the best choice.
You might hear some people refer to a septum piercing as a "bull nose piercing." Especially when it's done with a closed barbell, this piercing does look a bit like the nose ring used on bulls.
This is a suitable first piercing, as it isn't particularly painful. Healing time will depend on each individual person, though -- for some people, healing will be complete after 2-3 months. For others, it can take up to eight months.
The Septril nose piercing is one of the more complicated and more painful nose piercings you can get. There are also a few steps involved, so you'll want to make sure you are committed enough to follow through with it.
However, these piercings are very rare, so a Septril piercing is a good choice if you really want to stand out.
The first step toward getting a Septril piercing is getting your septum pierced. But it doesn't stop there; the Septum piercing needs to be stretched over time. It can be tempting to stretch it yourself, but it's best to leave this to a piercer who really knows what they're doing.
Once the septum piercing is adequately stretched, it's time for the second part of the Septril piercing. A smaller-gauge needle is pushed through the cartilage right between your nostrils. The goal is to connect both piercings together.
When you combine the need for a septum piercing first with the healing time for both stages, you can usually expect a Septril piercing to heal fully in about 9-12 months. And as you've probably guessed, the complexity of a septril piercing means that it's probably not a great choice for your first piercing.
This is a somewhat unusual piercing type. It's a bar that goes through the top part of your nose, and the finished product makes it look like you have a small bead on either side of your nose. Usually, this type will use a fairly short Barbell.
The Austin Bar does not go through your nostrils themselves. Instead, the Barbell threads through the skin right above the nostrils. This feature sets it apart from the more painful Nasallang piercing discussed below.
The main disadvantage of an Austin Bar piercing is that it can be very painful, so it probably isn't the best idea if you've never had a piercing before. However, it only takes around two months to heal.
You might sometimes hear this one described as a tri-nasal piercing. To the casual observer, it usually looks like two separate Nostril piercings. But a Nasallang goes through three places: both nostrils and the septum. It's done with a barbell.
As you may have guessed from that description, the Nasallang nose piercing is one of the most painful nasal piercings you can get. It's also one of the more complex nose piercings, so it's very important to seek out a piercer who is good at doing them.
The nasallang takes a fairly long time to heal. Often, it will take around nine months. But in some cases, it can take up to a year to heal all the way.
And thanks to the bacteria in the nose, this is also one of the more infection-prone piercings. Make sure you follow aftercare instructions and don't hesitate to see a doctor if you suspect an infection.
Vertical tip or rhino piercing
If you really, really want to make a statement, this odd piercing is worth considering. The vertical tip nose piercing is often called the "rhino" because it looks a lot like a tiny rhinoceros horn.
It can only be done with a curved Barbell. One end rests between your nostrils while the other one sits between your nostrils on top of your nose.
This piercing goes through a good bit of thicker tissue on your nose. That means that it takes a good bit of time to heal -- usually, you can expect one of these piercings to heal in about 6-9 months. A vertical tip piercing is also one of the more painful piercings to get, so it's not a good choice for a first piercing.
The Bridge piercing is a surface piercing, meaning it only pierces skin -- it does not go through cartilage or bone. It is also referred to as an "erl."
Curved Barbells are a common jewelry choice for this piercing type. However, shorter, straight Barbells are also relatively common. These piercings make it look as though you have a small bead on either side of the bridge of your nose.
Since it only goes through the skin, this piercing is one of the less painful ones on the list. But be careful -- this is a piercing that can sometimes be rejected, meaning your body will simply push it out of your skin.
If you wear glasses or frequently wear sunglasses, make sure you discuss that with your piercer. They can help make sure that your piercing placement won't interfere with your frames.
A Bridge piercing is similar to a Nostril piercing in terms of healing time; it usually will only take around 2-3 months. Since it heals quickly and isn't that painful, it's a suitable choice for a first piercing.
Third eye piercing
The Third Eye piercing is sometimes called a "forehead piercing." But since the piercing is technically placed at the bridge of the nose, we'll include it here.
A Third Eye piercing is placed squarely between your eyebrows, right at the bridge of your nose. It's often done with a curved Barbell so you appear to have two small beads resting on your skin.
A Third Eye piercing only goes through the skin, so it's one of the least painful piercings on the list. There are a few things to keep in mind before getting one, though. Mostly, you'll want to make sure that you have at least some looseness in the skin between your eyes.
A competent piercer can let you know if you're a good candidate for a Third Eye piercing. If you don't have enough looseness in the skin, this piercing can cause damage to bones or blood vessels. Too-tight skin can also make rejection more likely.
Nose piercing jewelry
As we saw above, different nose piercing jewelry types tend to be better suited to some piercings than others. Now, here's a bit about some of the more common jewelry types used for nose piercings:
Nose piercing studs including nose bone studs, L-shaped studs, corkscrew nose rings
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These are commonly used for nostril piercings. Much like stud earrings, they have a straight bar. There is usually a small gem at the top. There are also curved versions that add a bit more security.
- They heal relatively quickly
- They don't cause much discomfort when resting your head
- They aren't extremely noticeable
- They can come out more easily than rings
- If not cleaned regularly, they can get infected
Nose rings or nose piercing hoop
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Some rings are just loops of thin metal. Others are what's called "captive bead rings." These are rings that are "sealed" with a bead. Sometimes, the bead is inlaid with a gem to add some visual interest. And in some cases, plain "hoop" nose rings may have a small gem on the side.
- They're less likely to become crooked like curved barbells
- There are lots of options ranging from simple metal hoops to ornately jeweled rings
- They usually remain securely in place
- Captive bead rings can be very hard to close
- Thin hoops can be bent very easily
Barbells aren't really seen a lot in nostril piercings, but they are often used for more complex piercings. A barbell is just a long metal bar with two ball ends.
- They heal faster than curved barbells
- The barbell ends hold them in place securely
- The piercing itself is fairly easy to clean
- Since barbells go through fleshier parts of the nose, they are more prone to infection
- Barbell piercings tend to be more painful than other piercing types
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These Barbells are sometimes called "Horseshoe Barbells" because they look like horseshoes. Their curves make them especially suitable for septum piercings.
- The curved shape can make bridge piercings more comfortable
- Curved barbell piercings don't go through bone or cartilage
- They are available in a very wide variety of designs
- They heal more slowly than straight barbells
- They tend to be prone to migration or rejection
Nose piercing chain
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Chains can be an eye-catching embellishment to nose piercings. Often, a chain will connect a nose ring to an earring. Some chains will connect each end of a Nasallang piercing across the bridge of the nose.
- They have a distinctive look that can really make you stand out
- They're a great way to highlight piercings you already have
- You can easily alternate chains for a different look every day
- They can easily snag on clothes, hair, etc.
- Heavier chains can pull on piercings and cause discomfort
Recommended materials for nose piercing jewelry
Regardless of jewelry type, make sure to choose a high-quality material to avoid infections or adverse reactions. Here are some good materials to choose from:
Implant grade titanium: Examples of materials suitable for nose piercing include implant grade titanium; Which is highly preferred and safe from contamination, hypo-allergic, and adaptable to the body.
14k/18k gold: The 14k/18k gold is also another material that comes in highly recommended by piercing not only experts but also doctors. Its excellent qualities of being inert thus suitable for first piercings.
Medical-grade and surgical stainless steel: In addition, medical-grade and surgical stainless steel are highly endorsed due to their easy adaptability to the human body, and it also stops infections.
Niobium: Niobium is another material that could be useful to make jewelry as it is non-reactive, polymeric, and has a wide range of colors.
What gauge is a nose piercing?
The most common gauges for nose piercings are 18G and 20G. However, piercers will often use a slightly larger needle (about 16G) to make healing easier. The larger hole allows for some swelling and prevents the healing from getting too tight as it heals.
That said, make sure to listen to your piercer! Experienced piercers will be able to recommend the right gauge to avoid rejection or unnecessary complications.
Potential risks of nose piercing
Before you get a piercing, it's important to know the risks. Here are some common ones:
1. Infected nose piercing
You can expect some swelling and redness after a piercing. But if the redness persists or gets worse and you notice extra swelling and/or pus around the area, it's likely infected.
How to treat an infected nose piercing?
- If the infection is mild, you can usually get rid of it by washing the piercing two to three times a day.
- Use isopropyl alcohol, betadine, diluted hydrogen peroxide, or another antiseptic.
- Applying antibiotic ointment after washing it.
- If the infection persists or gets worse, you may want to see a doctor.
2. Nose piercing bump
Typically, a raised red bump around the nose piercing is a sign of infection. Make sure to use the treatments above to control the nose piercing bump -- if it worsens, you could develop a severe systemic infection.
And as a side note, with bumps or other signs of infection, don't remove the piercing! That can cause the hole to close, sealing in the infection.
3. Keloid and scar on nose piercing
Untreated infections can lead to scar tissue around the piercing. And sometimes, if left untreated, an infection will lead to a buildup of fibrous tissue that causes a scar called a keloid.
Keloids are uncommon, but they can be hard to treat. If you have a noticeable keloid, be sure to consult with a dermatologist for treatment advice.
How long does it take a nose piercing to heal?
As we saw above, the healing time for a nose piercing varies widely. On the shorter end, nostril piercings can heal in around two months. More complex piercings like the nasallang can take nine months or even longer to heal.
How bad does a nose piercing hurt?
Since everyone has different tolerances for pain, this is a tough question to answer. It really depends on the piercing, too. Piercings that go through fleshier parts of the nose and/or cartilage are much more likely to be more painful.
How much is a nose piercing?
Prices will vary widely based on location. But most nose piercings range from $25-$95. Generally speaking, more straightforward piercings like nostril piercings tend to be on the cheaper end. More complex piercings like septril piercings will usually cost more.
Nose piercing aftercare
- Take care to avoid contaminating the piercing.
- Avoid touching it or applying makeup very close to it.
- Avoid getting in water that might be dirty.
- Clean your piercing twice per day using saline solution.
- And of course, make sure to avoid snagging on clothes or towels.
- Don't move the piercing before it heals. Pulling on a piercing early in healing is painful, but it also can get in the way of healing or damage the piercing itself.
How to clean nose piercing?
Proper care is essential if you want your piercing to heal well. Generally, you should rinse the piercing with saline solution or use a special tattoo aftercare spray at least twice a day.
When can I change my nose piercing?
On average, you can replace your piercing jewelry in 4-6 months. This can vary depending on the piercing type, so be sure to check in with your piercer.
How long does it take a nose piercing to close?
Your piercer will probably tell you to leave your jewelry in continuously. After all, a very new nose piercing can close in minutes or hours. Piercings under a year old can close in hours or days.
Now that you've effectively gotten a primer on the world of nose piercings, we hope you have a better idea of which type to get. Of course, when in doubt, be sure to discuss your options with your piercer!