A Guide to Septum Piercings: Info and Healing

Zoe Kravitz septum piercing

Taylor Hill / Getty Images

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, and Jeremy Fenton, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC in order to get the full scoop.

Read on to learn everything you need know before getting a septum piercing.

What Is a Septum Piercing?

Septum piercings are just what they seem—a piercing that's located at your septum, a part of the nose. This is a thin wall of cartilage that separates your left and right nostrils. Septum piercings do not penetrate this cartilage.

How Much Does a Septum Piercing Hurt?

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."

Zoe Kravitz septum piercing
Cindy Ord / Stringer / Getty Images

How Long Does It Take to Heal?

According to Fenton, your piercing will feel significantly better after eight weeks, but it takes about four to five 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."

The Risks

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 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. 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. 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.

Jordin Sparks septum piercings
Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Of course, the healing process can also lead to some risks. Fenton explains that the biggest concern while healing is infection. "Monitor for pus, swelling, or increasing pain. That could be a sign of infection." There are other factors that can occur, too. "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 can also develop, though hypertrophic and keloid scars are less common in this area.

If you get a bump, see your dermatologist or the piercer for an evaluation.

What Is the Aftercare Like?

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!"

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 of 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.

Bella Thorne septum piercing
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

How Much Will it Cost?

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.

Can You Take Out a Septum Piercing?

The short answer is yes, you can take a septum piercing out, but as Fenton mentioned, you should wait at least a year to change the jewelry. Once this time has passed, it can take days or weeks for the piercing to close up.

What’s the Best Jewelry for Septum Piercings?

After your piercing has healed, we're sure you'll be itching to try out some new jewelry. Find some of our favorite septum rings, below.

Maria Tash 8mm Cubic Zirconia Apsara Clicker
Maria Tash 8mm Cubic Zirconia Apsara Clicker $375

This stunning septum clicker is adorned with two rows of cubic zirconia stones for the perfect amount of glitz and glam.

Maria Tash 16g 8mm Titanium Hiranya Clicker
Maria Tash 16g 8mm Titanium Hiranya Clicker $65

For a more understated piece, you can't go wrong with this titanium clicker.

Maria Tash 9.5mm Opal and Cubic Zirconia Apsara Clicker
Maria Tash 9.5mm Opal and Cubic Zirconia Apsara Clicker $675

Like to play with color? Look no further than this septum clicker! It features a row of cubic zirconia stones above a row of natural Australian opals for an eye-catching piece.

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