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Nose piercings—nostril piercings in particular—are wildly popular. While it's tempting to just go into any old piercing shop and get one because they're cute, they're still a piercing. And as with any kind of piercing, you should be sure to educate yourself on the process and the risks, and choose an experienced piercer with high safety standards.
While nostril piercings used to be viewed as sort of edgy, they're becoming more and more common as an option for someone who wants to branch out of ear piercings. With tons of placement options and jewelry styles, they're versatile for just about anyone's personal style. Keep scrolling for all you need to know about getting and taking care of a nostril piercing.
Placement: Anywhere on the soft cartilage on the nose
Pain Level: 4/10
Healing Time: About three months
Aftercare: Soak three times per day in a saline solution and avoid touching or picking at the piercing
What is a Nostril Piercing?
A nostril piercing goes through the soft cartilage that surrounds the outside of the nasal passages (also known as the outside of your nose). The piercing can be placed anywhere on the nostril, even in the dimple. However, it's important to know that the anatomy of your nose can make different locations look better or worse, so it's important that you're absolutely sure about the placement before making it official.
Your piercer should place a small dot on your nose to show where they're going to insert the needle, and it's your job to really look at it and decide if that location is good or not. If you're intending on wearing a ring, maybe buy a fake one to experiment with placements.
Pain and Healing Time
Nostril piercings are very simple, and don't cause that much pain. It's actually the healing time that can be the most difficult, because of all the germs and bacteria that are ever-present in your nose. "The average healing time is three months, not that it hurts that entire time, it'll just be a little tender," notes Janeese Brooks, head piercer at IRIS Studios in Brooklyn. Allergies and colds can aggravate it, but also just everyday life can, too. Get a runny nose during winter? Blowing your nose will be difficult during the healing process, but it's not impossible.
Cost of Nostril Piercings
Nostril piercings can be anywhere from "$35-$50 in reputable shops," according to Brooks. The piercing itself is not overly expensive, though it's worth it to pay a bit more to make sure you're getting the utmost professional treatment. The biggest variable, says Brooks, is the cost of the jewelry.
It's truly essential that you follow the aftercare guidelines given to you by your piercer. Be very careful to keep this piercing extra clean, both inside and out, to avoid infection. People who wear makeup need to be especially wary of this—foundation can get in and you can suffer as a result. "New nostril piercings should be washed at least three times a day with a saline solution," says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS. "Soaking the area in a sea salt solution (approximately ¼ teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water) helps to prevent infection and promotes healing."
Brooks' top aftercare tip? "Don't touch it! I know, it's really hard not to obsess over the new thing right in your line of vision but if you touch it it won't be pretty for long." Murphy-Rose agrees. "Avoid picking or scratching the area. Instead, a cotton swab soaked in saline solution can be used to gently wipe the area," she notes.
To effectively clean your nostril piercing, Murphy-Rose suggests soaking your nose "in a cup or bowl of lukewarm saline solution for approximately one minute." Yes, really! "It is ok to blow bubbles through your nose if it is more comfortable and, of course, come up for air as needed during that 60-second period."
Side Effects of Piercing
- Scabs: According to Murphy-Rose, it's normal for scabbing or crusting to occur around a new piercing. "If any green or yellow discharge is present, discuss with a medical professional."
- Infection and allergic reactions: While infections and allergic reactions are fairly common with piercings of any variety, and may not be serious, you want to watch them closely. "It is important to look out for signs of infection (including fever, chills, redness, swelling, and increasing pain) as they can become very serious and even fatal," notes Murphy-Rose.
- Pain: A little pain and even bleeding is totally normal. Follow your piercer's advice to a T in order to minimize risk and talk to your doctor beforehand, says Murphy-Rose. "Many will recommend avoidance of alcohol and any non-medically essential medications or supplements that increase bleeding risk like NSAIDs, vitamin E, and fish oil, among others, about one week prior to your piercing."
- Keloids: To avoid the formation of a keloid, which is a large and permanent scar around the area of the piercing, "keep an eye out for thickening or bulging of the tissue around your piercing," says Murphy-Rose. "Early keloid scars often appear as a pink or purple nodule."
How to Change Out a Nostril Piercing
It may be tempting to swap out your piercing for something new the second it seems healed, but Brooks recommends exercising caution. "Let your piercer do it," she says. "A lot of times people will attempt the first change on their own and it's either too soon and causes damage or it's harder than it needs to be." To help cull the urge to change your new jewelry faster than is advisable, Brooks suggests thinking about what nose ring you'd want to wear long-term when you're at the salon for your initial piercing appointment.
When you do rise to the challenge of changing your own piercing (ideally after it's already healed and has been changed once by a professional), "always wash your hands well before touching your piercing or jewelry," says Murphy-Rose. "Wearing gloves over clean hands adds an extra layer of protection."
What Type of Jewelry Is Used for Nostril Piercing?
When selecting jewelry for your nostril piercing, consider the healing process. Although most people want to wear a tiny jewel, not a ring, a captive bead ring (CBR) is much more conducive to healing.
- Studs: A twist nose stud is a good option for a first-time nostril piercing, as it's comfortable, secure, and stays out of the way. These studs have a curved post that fits through the piercing.
- Hoops: Small nose hoops, such as a captive bead ring, are good for brand new piercings.
- Nose bones: In terms of jewelry, nose bones are okay if you don't ever want to change the jewelry (because the end of the nose bone has to be forced through the flesh in order to remove it). These are posts designed for nose piercings, with a ball on the underside.
- Nostril screws and fishtails: These are okay for nasal piercings after they're already healed, but can cause more problems than they're worth during the initial healing process. They're loose, are prone to falling out, and the thin wires can poke the inside of your nose. If you're going to wear a nostril screw or fishtail once it's healed, then you'll only need an 18 gauge piercing. Most nostril gems come in 18 gauge, sometimes even as small as 20 gauge. See what your piercer has available and get your piercing sized accordingly.
What Jewelry Material Is Used for Nostril Piercing?
- Titanium: Brooks says this is one of the best metals for healing a new nostril piercing. "A lot of jewelry that's out there for piercing is made of metals most people are allergic to or will be irritated by. You are worth whatever investment you take to the face, especially," she says.
- 14k gold: Higher quality gold—not the cheap stuff–is another solid option approved by Brooks.