NOSE RING

Nose Piercing Healing Issues

Healing and Aftercare Advice

This article is for people who already have their noses pierced and think they are having some sort of healing issue or other problem. If you don’t have your nose pierced yet, “All About Nose Piercings” has better information for you.

Please note, if you just got your nose pierced, it perfectly normal for it to be red, swollen, tender, and maybe even bleeding a little. I mean, you just got a sharp object shoved through part of your nostril; that sort of reaction is to be expected.

If you are worried that something about the piercing wasn’t done right, go back and see your piercer. After all, it’s his or her work. If you are really worried you have an infection, go and see a doctor. They are the best at recognizing that sort of thing.

If you are looking for other information, you may find it below. The table of contents below offers shortcuts to specific topics.

Piercing Healing Issues and Answers

Below, you’ll find answers to the following topics:

  • Jewelry choices and fit problems.
  • Nose ring cleaning information.
  • What to do if your jewelry is disappearing into the piercing.
  • How to change your nose ring.
  • How to change corkscrew jewelry.
  • Information about bumps, keloids, and scarring.
  • How to recognize an infection.

Nostril Stud

A simple stud worn in a nostril piercing.  The bead on the outside has to be large enough that it doesn't sink down into the piercing itself.
A simple stud worn in a nostril piercing. The bead on the outside has to be large enough that it doesn’t sink down into the piercing itself.

Jewelry and Fit Problems

Here are a whole range of problems that people have with brand new nose piercings that are related to their choice of jewelry. All of these can be avoided if you pick a hoop or ring to start with and make sure it is gold or surgical steel.

Too tight a fit: Many nose studs, especially those from the evil piercing guns, are very short and fit too tightly on the nostril. The initial swelling that follows a piercing can make them sink deeply into the nose, cutting off air to the healing piercing and making it impossible to clean properly. This can add to the chances of forming scar tissue (bumps) or getting an infection.

No backing: I get emails frequently from people who put a backless stud into a nose piercing and then wrote asking for help after the jewelry fell out or was pulled out accidentally. The moral of the story here is that jewelry without a backing often doesn’t stay in place. Initially it might, especially if the new piercing is swollen, as that can cause the jewelry to fit very tightly, but once that goes down, backless studs can easily drop out, especially at night when you are asleep.

Black marks: There’s really only one situation that causes this, and it’s wearing sterling silver in a healing nose. The silver tarnishes (that’s the black), and that tarnish rubs into the healing skin, leaving a stain that will be in the skin forever. I believe the only way you’d get rid of this would be to see a dermatologist who might have some method for removing the stained skin, but you’d probably have to give up the piercing to be able to heal the wound from the skin procedure.

Help, My Jewelry Is Disappearing Into My Nose!

If you have a brand-new nose piercing, and the jewelry has sunken into it or even one end has vanished inside it, it means you picked a poorly-trained body piercer to do your nose. Sad but true.

Pierced noses swell up, and the size of the piercing channel is not stable. Back when I first started getting pierced in the late 1980s, body piercers seemed to know this. Now, many people doing nose piercings have almost no training, and it’s literally hurting the customers.

The jewelry that you start out with for a new pierced nose should not be the smallest you can get.

This is why a reputable piercer will refuse to put in a teeny stud and why ring-style jewelry is really recommended to start. This prevents the jewelry from being pulled inside the piercing. Once your nose has healed (3 months later) then you can re-evaluate the size of the piercing and pick smaller jewelry.

If you have a stud that is disappearing into the piercing, you need to go back to where you got pierced and have them switch the jewelry to be something with a longer post and with a larger outside bead, or better yet, get a proper nose ring.

Bumps, Keloids, and Scarring

If there’s one question I get asked more than any other, it’s about bumps, keloids, and scar tissue. As the popularity of nose piercing has spread, unfortunately so has the number of piercers who are not correctly trained on how to pierce properly (no ear piercing guns!), fit jewelry (rings really are best to start with), or care for healing noses (many piercers tell people they are just like ears, but they aren’t).

What the heck is a keloid, anyway? A keloid is scar tissue that grows beyond the borders of the original wound, creating a bump. These bumps of scar tissues sometimes appear right next to people’s nose piercings if there was a lot of trauma during piercing, if the starter jewelry has too tight of a fit, or if they are genetically predisposed to forming keloids. The bumps can start to show right away, or they might suddenly appear days or weeks later. It’s not uncommon for them to show up after a snag or following a painful jewelry change.

If it’s not a pimple don’t pop it!

And if a bump appears next to a new piercing, never assume it’s a pimple.

It would seem a lot of teens think that any bump that forms on their faces is meant to be popped. Pimples are pores that are blocked by a build-up of dirt and skin oils. They are frequently red from inflammation, or white as the oils build up into a head. The bumps that form next to nose piercings are very often not pimples, and the best evidence is that they bleed when squeezed.

If this happens, do not ever do it again! Apply some anti-bacterial ointment to the wound. If the bump is still there once the wound heals, start treating it as a keloid, which is the most common form of scar tissue that forms alongside nose piercings, and leave it alone.

How to Recognize an Infection

The tissue trauma of getting a nose piercing causes some redness, tenderness, and swelling, which may not show up until a day or two after the initial piercing. Being sore and a little red after getting a nose piercing is completely normal.

It’s when you have all of the following symptoms that you most likely have a problem.

Infections are most-often characterized by:

  • Increasing redness
  • Increasing tenderness and pain
  • Increasing swelling
  • Discharge that is yellowish or greenish in color

To treat an infection, you need to keep the piercing clean (this includes your hands that touch it and the pillowcase you sleep on!) and apply an anti-bacterial treatment (ointment or cream) to kill the infection.

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