Septum Piercings Info and Healing Guide

Updated 05/08/19
Chey Rawhoof/Flickr

Septum piercings are named after the part of the nose where they're located. 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, does not penetrate the cartilage but the softer space of tissue just below the septum. Piercers often refer to this as the "sweet spot."

The pain of getting a septum piercing varies with everyone, but it will no doubt cause you to tear up. That doesn't mean you're crying, it's a natural response of your nervous system to involuntarily secrete tears when your nose is pinched or pierced, even if it's not particularly painful.

Needless to say, the nose is a dirty place. The constant presence of bacteria can make it difficult to heal a septum piercing, so keeping your nose clean (literally) is essential. If you have seasonal allergies or are prone to colds certain times of the year, you may want to avoid getting your septum pierced near or during that time. If you have severe allergies or are easily prone to sinus infections, you might want to avoid this piercing altogether.

One advantage of the septum piercing is that with the right jewelry (usually a circular barbell) it can easily be hidden by simply turning the jewelry and allowing the ends to rest inside the nose. The size of the jewelry and the balls on the ends, however, could affect your ability to breathe through your nose when you do that, so it's something to keep in mind. A septum retainer bypasses that particular problem, but it's not quite as attractive when visible.

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.

Difference Between Septum and Nostril Piercings

Nostril piercings are very simple without much pain. It's the healing time that can be difficult because of all the germs and bacteria that are ever-present in the nose. As with septum piercings, allergies and colds can aggravate this. Blowing your nose will be difficult during the healing process, but not impossible. It's essential that you are very careful to keep this piercing extra clean, both inside and out, to avoid infection.

While septum piercings penetrate the central nasal cartilage, nostril piercings penetrate the soft cartilage that surrounds the outside of the nasal passages. The piercing can be placed anywhere on the nostril, even in the dimple, but each person's nasal anatomy will make different locations look better or worse. Before you choose this type of piercing, be sure you're sure you like the way it looks. 

A nostril or nose piercing can be traced back to the Bible, Native American tribes and finally to India where brides wear a beautiful piercing to symbolize their wedding. The nostril piercing is also worn by native tribes in both South and North America and remains a very popular choice for a facial piercing. 

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