Important: How to Properly Clean a Nose Piercing and Avoid Infection


Stocksy / Design by Dion Mills

Nose piercings are a super popular choice for those looking to change up their look or ease into body modification. Their commonality doesn’t make them cheesy, though; instead, the ubiquitous piercing type is a delicate adornment for the face that can easily be swapped in or out depending on your style or mood. If you’re considering getting your nose pierced, the most important thing is to be sure that you’re seeing an experienced and licensed body piercer. It’s also a necessity to closely follow aftercare procedures so your piercing stays safe from infection.

Keep reading to learn what else you need to know to be sure you’re properly caring for your new nose piercing.

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Nose Piercing Aftercare

Just like a tattoo, a nose piercing is an open wound that requires routine and safe aftercare. The risks for nose piercings are even greater thanks to its location in the area between your upper lip and your eyebrows. Because the veins in this area are connected to your sinus cavity, any problem in this area could be serious. The most likely issues stemming from improper aftercare are bleeding, loose jewelry, scarring, or an infection.

The nose piercing site goes through a few different stages of healing, though it’s important that you keep the wound clean to be sure everything goes smoothly. Make sure you take diligent care of your piercing during the first few days, as the tissue around the piercing site is regrowing and most sensitive then. You can expect to experience some pain, warmth, or bleeding during this period too, so don’t automatically assume these are symptoms of infection. You can expect to see this behavior from your new piercing for up to three weeks (and experience tenderness for up to six weeks), but the lack of symptoms does not mean your nose piercing is fully healed.

To make sure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible, wash your hands before you touch your piercing or jewelry. Don’t soak your piercing in any water (other than saline solution) until it’s fully healed. This means you should stay away from swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, and baths during the healing period. Be sure to also avoid moving your jewelry during healing—you may accidentally reopen the wound and slow down healing or even cause an infection.

The time it will take your nose piercing to fully heal depends on the location just as much as it does on your aftercare. A nostril piercing takes roughly three to six months to heal, depending on the thickness and type of jewelry. A septum piercing (placed in the soft connective tissue that lies between the nostrils), however, will heal in closer to two to four months, as there is less tissue between your nostrils for your body to reconstruct.

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How to Properly Clean a Nose Piercing

You should clean your nose piercing twice a day every day until the full, months-long healing process is complete. The suggested aftercare product is a non-iodized sea salt soak or spray, which you can make yourself or buy at almost any drugstore or grocery store.

To make your own salt soak, mix a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt with a quart of distilled water.

If you soak your piercing, hold a small cup or bowl up to the piercing site and lean into the water. Hold the receptacle against your piercing for about 5 minutes; afterward, rinse with clean water and pat the piercing dry with a clean paper towel. If you’re using a spray, use a fine mist spray versus a stream style, and simply spray the piercing inside and out for 5 seconds before patting dry with paper towel.

Avoid using a cotton swab or round as the fibers can get caught in the piercing.

Also, be sure to keep the jewelry just as clean as your actual piercing. Wash the metal lightly with mild or gentle soap each day (the best time is during a shower) to remove any bacteria or crust around the jewelry.

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What to Do if Your Piercing Becomes Infected

It’s normal for new nose piercings to have pain, bleeding, or discharge while they’re healing, but anything more than minor irritation or annoyance is cause for concern. If the site looks bright red or otherwise unusually colored, is oozing thick yellow or green discharge, or forms blisters, you should seek medical attention. Three are also a number of non-visible symptoms of an infected nose piercing, like feeling extremely tender to the touch, smelling foul, being disruptively itchy, feeling overly painful, and a fever. Any and all of these symptoms are signs that you should call a doctor as soon as possible.

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When Is it Safe to Take Out Your Nose Piercing?

It’s imperative that you don’t touch, move, or replace a nose piercing until it’s fully healed. It’s recommended to wait at least six months, no matter the piercing, but the longer you give a piercing to heal, the more you can be sure it’s safe. A good marker to see if your jewelry is ready to be changed is if you no longer have any pain, tenderness, discomfort, or discharge. Any of these symptoms means you’re not yet ready for new jewelry.

No matter how long you wait, just be sure to replace any removed jewelry in a fairly quick amount of time, because all piercings can close up without jewelry, even if they’re fully healed.

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