Septum piercings are nothing new, but it's definitely one of the more unusual places to get pierced. Yet more and more people seem to be flaunting a hoop through the middle of their noses. Now, this may be TMI, but have you ever plucked a hair out of your nose? Well, it stings. Your eyes water. You sneeze. Surely, a piercing right through your septum would be an unbearable experience? We talked to London boutique Maria Tash's head piercer, Kevin Lamb, and Jeremy Fenton, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC to get the full scoop.
Placement: The septum, aka the layer of cartilage between the nostrils
Pain Level: 7/10
Healing Time: Four to six months
Aftercare: Soak with saline solution two times per day and avoid unnecessary touching. Keep soap and skincare products away from the immediate area.
Read on to learn everything you need to know before getting a septum piercing.
What is a Septum Piercing?
A septum piercing is just what it sounds like—a piercing that's located at your septum, a part of the nose. Your septum is a thin wall of cartilage that runs down the center of your nose, separating your right and left nostrils. A septum piercing, however, should not penetrate the cartilage. Instead, it should go through the softer space of tissue just below the septum. Piercers refer to it as the "sweet spot."
Also, while deviated septums are pretty normal, you'll want an experienced piercer if you have one—it can get wonky-looking if it's pierced wrong. "You can either pierce a septum freehand, using a receiving tube, or popping some clamps onto the area," Lamb says.
Pain and Healing Time
The pain of getting a septum piercing varies for everyone, but it will absolutely cause you to tear up. That doesn't mean you're crying; it's a natural response to secrete tears when your nose is pinched or pierced. Lamb shared: "From clients' experiences, they tend to find it a quick, sharp sensation, but once the needle is out and jewelry is transferred, everything then relaxes, and it goes to a warmer feeling."
According to Fenton, your piercing will feel significantly better after eight weeks, but it takes about four to six months for most of the healing to take place. "As with any significant damage to the skin or mucosal surfaces, it can take up to a year or more for the scar tissue to have reached its full strength, so one should be cautious about changing jewelry prior to that."
Cost of a Septum Piercing
As with most beauty procedures, the cost of a septum piercing varies based on the place you go to and the state where you're getting the piercing done. You can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100.
As for aftercare, Lamb says to follow standard piercing cleaning procedure: "Saline-soak twice per day; dry the skin after; no picking, playing, or twisting the piercing, and try not to knock it!"
Your skincare routine should also be modified during the aftercare process. "When cleansing or moisturizing the skin near the nasal septum, minimize the use of soap or moisturizer in close proximity to the piercing," says Fenton. "You really want to avoid contact with things like soaps and creams or moisturizers that could migrate into the piercing." He also advises steering clear of soaking in baths or hot tubs since these can be breeding grounds for bacteria.
That said, there's no need to worry about switching up your skincare routine once the piercing has healed. "The piercing is on the inside of the nose, and shouldn’t be getting products applied to it regularly anyway," Fenton explains.
Side Effects of Piercing
- Infection and irritation: Fenton explains that the biggest concern while healing a piercing is infection. "Monitor for pus, swelling, or increasing pain. That could be a sign of infection." If you have seasonal allergies or are prone to colds at certain times of the year, you may want to avoid getting your septum pierced near or during that time. We have good news for those with hay fever though, as Lamb told us you'll find blowing your nose "just fine." Regardless, if you have severe allergies or are easily prone to sinus infections, you might want to avoid a septum piercing altogether. Some people report a strange smell while wearing a septum ring—while the piercing itself won't impact your smell, an odor could be a sign of infection around the piercing or an irritation to a type of metal.
- Granulation tissue and scarring: "Granulation tissue, a bump that forms and many people mistake for scar tissue, can form at the site of a nose piercing," Fenton says. "This is really an over-reaction of the healing process due to the environment of the nose and the jewelry." Scarring may also develop.
How to Change Out a Septum Piercing
While you can take a septum piercing out, as Fenton mentioned, you should wait at least a year to change the jewelry. You may want to see your piercer again for the first swap. One advantage of a septum piercing is that with the right jewelry (usually a circular barbell) it can easily be hidden by simply turning the jewelry upside down (i.e. flipping the piercing up). The size of the jewelry and the balls on the ends could affect your ability to breathe through your nose when you do that, though, so that's something to keep in mind. A septum retainer bypasses that problem, but it's not quite as attractive when visible.
Keep in mind that, like pretty much all piercings, a septum piercing will close if jewelry is kept out of the hole for too long, particularly if you remove your jewelry while the piercing is still healing. Once you've bypassed the healing process, you can take a break every now and then, but it's best to keep jewelry in the hole if you don't want it to close up.
What Type of Jewelry is Used for Septum Piercings?
- Septum clicker: These hoops feature a hinged closure that springs open and clicks shut for easy insertion and removal. Closed hoops often have different stones and decorative elements on the outer edge, making them great for customization.
- Barbell: Circular barbell jewelry fits neatly into a septum piercing and allows you to do that easy flip-up trick to hide it without actually removing the jewelry.
Starter jewelry can be as small as 18 gauge, but 16 and 14 gauge suit a fuller nose much better. The piercing can be stretched to a larger size if desired.
What Jewelry Material Is Used for Septum Piercing?
- Stainless steel: This is among the safest metal choices for any piercing because it's hypoallergenic.
- Titanium: Another popular pick for nose rings that is not likely to cause a reaction, and is also durable. Titanium tends to be on the pricier side compared to other metals.
- Niobium: If you're ultra-sensitive to metals, the element niobium could be a great choice. The chance of a reaction is low, and it tends to fall in the middle price-wise.