Wellness·6 min read

Why it Takes So Long for Nose Piercings to Heal — And Other Questions, Answered

Person Smiling with Nose Piercing
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Jul 25, 2022

You finally did it: You got your nose pierced. Next up is healing, cleaning, and aftercare. Which can come with a lot of questions. Like how long does it take a nose piercing to heal? So we asked Annie Nasta, a piercer at Shaman Modifications, a piercing studio in Dallas, and Christina Blossey, owner of the Piercing Experience, a piercing studio in Atlanta, what you need to know.

Design: theSkimm

What types of nose piercings can I get? 

When it comes to adorning your nose, you’ve got options. Including: 

Nostril piercing

This is your starter pack nose piercing. And probably the first thing you picture when someone says “nose ring.” It goes straight through the outside of one nostril. The hardest part (other than actually getting it pierced) might be deciding which side to do. Or maybe you want to pierce both. Or get two on one side. Like we’ve said: You’ve got options.

Bridge piercing

A horizontal bar that goes across the bridge of the nose. It doesn’t puncture bone or cartilage, so it’s considered a “surface piercing.” But there’s a greater risk of migration with this type of piercing. That’s when the body rejects the piercing and pushes it towards the skin's surface. This is more likely to happen because there’s less skin in the area to keep the piercing secure. 

Austin bar piercing

Like the bridge piercing’s twin. But further down the nose. Picture a studded bar that goes through the nose tip and has two studs at the end of each nostril.

Nasallang piercing

A bar placed through the right nostril, septum, and left nostril. It gives the illusion that you’re pierced in three different areas. A nasallang piercing can be especially painful, more so than the other types of nose piercings. That’s why experts suggest piercing a different part of your nose for the first time, so you can gauge your pain tolerance. Note: It is “almost impossible” for nasallang (as well as Austin bar) piercings to heal “without a crazy amount of scar tissue,” said Blossey. 

Septum piercing

This piercing goes through the thin membrane (known as the septum) in the center of your nose. Big Taurus energy. This might be more painful than your standard nose piercing. 

Septril piercing

This requires a multistep piercing process. First, you’ll get your septum pierced and let it heal (more on that below). Then you’ll stretch your septum out by slowly increasing the size of your septum piercing (which can take at least 18 months). Then you can get a septril piercing, which goes through the inside of your septum to a point at the tip of your nose. 

The Rhino piercing

If you ever wanted to do a rhinoceros cosplay, this is your chance. The piercing moves vertically through the tip of your nose. So you get to rock a little horn. 

How long does it take a nose piercing to heal?

The new piercing should stop bleeding and stop feeling sore after a few days. A few things can influence the nose piercing healing time, said Blossey. Like, how you care for your piercing, the quality of the piercing, and the fit of the jewelry on your body. Not to mention your overall health and sleeping habits. Compared to piercings like the nostril, the nasallang, rhino or septril piercings may take longer to heal. Because they’re anatomy-specific piercings. Meaning, they depend on how the piercing works with your specific body shape, and are more complicated piercings.

When your piercing heals, new tissue forms at the piercing site. Typically, you can expect a healing time of… 

  • Nostril: Six months to a year (Note: it takes longer if pierced with a ring as opposed to a stud, said Blossey) 

  • Bridge: Two to three months

  • Austin bar: Two to three months 

  • Nasallang: Four to six months 

  • Septum: Three to four months 

  • Septril: Four to six months 

  • Rhino: Six to nine months 

How do I clean my nose piercing? 

Cleaning your piercing is an essential part of the recovery process to help avoid infections. Here’s how to do it properly: 

  • Wash your hands to avoid introducing bacteria. 

  • Spray a saline solution (like a 0.9% sodium chloride solution) directly on the piercing or onto a cotton ball or gauze. Then use it to clean the jewelry.

  • Dry your piercing by gently patting it with a paper towel. Avoid using a cloth towel since this can pull on the piercing.  

Other aftercare tips:

  • Don’t play with your jewelry. It can introduce bacteria and can put you at risk for infection. Which can prolong your healing time.

  • Avoid getting the piercing wet for at least one to two weeks. So, when you shower, try to avoid putting your face directly under the shower head. You might want to consider taking a bath instead. And avoid any type of swimming since pools can expose your piercing to chemicals like chlorine, which can increase risk of infection. And the ocean can expose your piercing to bacteria. 

  • Skip makeup or moisturizer on the piercing site until it's healed to prevent irritation or infection. (Yes, that could mean waiting months). 

  • Don’t apply alcohol or peroxide to the piercing site. It can cause irritation or infection. Stick to saline solution instead.

  • Don’t remove the piercing too early or the hole could close up. Your piercer will tell you how long to wait before changing your jewelry. 

  • Self-care is essential. A healthy body is less likely to experience symptoms like infections. So, stay hydrated, rest up and eat well, said Nasta.

How do I know if I have an infected nose piercing? 

Signs of infection may include:

  • Colored (think: blue or green) and/or smelly discharge  

  • Redness around the piercing site

  • The area feeling hot to the touch

  • Extreme swelling

  • An unusual smell emitting from the piercing (think: a scent similar to cheese)

  • Throbbing pain

  • Fever

  • Intense pain

Placing a warm and clean paper towel and applying a saline solution may help. But if you suspect that your piercing is infected, call your doctor. They may prescribe antibiotics

When can I change my nose piercing? 

Most piercers can change the ends or downsize the post during the healing process, said Nasta. But you shouldn’t insert a new piece of jewelry until the site is completely healed. When you’re ready, visit your piercer to get help with the changeout.

theSkimm

Getting a new piercing is exciting. To keep the process as painless as possible, be sure to follow the aftercare instructions and help it heal properly. 

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

Updated on Feb. 7, 2023 to reflect new information.

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