A Guide to Septum Piercings: Info and Healing

Updated 05/31/19

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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 (I know it's not just me)? 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, in order to get the full scoop.

Does it Hurt, and Why?

Septum piercings, as you may know, 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, shouldn't penetrate the cartilage. It should go through the softer space of tissue just below the septum. Piercers refer to it as the sweet spot.

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 of your nervous system to involuntarily secrete tears when your nose is pinched or pierced, even if it's not particularly painful. 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."

When You Shouldn't Get a Septum Piercing

This seems obvious, but it's easy to forget: 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. We have good news for those with hay fever though, as Tash 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. 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.

The Nitty-Gritty

"You can either pierce a septum freehand, using a receiving tube or popping some clamps onto the area," Tash says. 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. 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.

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. As for aftercare, Lamb says follow standard piercing cleaning procedure. "Saline-soak twice per day; dry the skin after; no picking, playing or twisting the piercing; and try not knocking it!"

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