Nose Piercings: Aftercare and Healing

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 12, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

If you’ve got a brand new nose piercing, or you’re seriously thinking about getting one, you need to know the right way to take care of your new piercing while it heals to avoid painful setbacks.

If you’ve had other piercings before, you’ll find the information to be similar to other piercings, but there are several points that are specific to nose piercing in particular. It’s a good idea to arm yourself with this extra knowledge, even if this isn’t your first time around.

Cleaning and Aftercare

Your piercing may have some clear discharge for several days while it heals, and that’s perfectly normal. You’ll likely find that some of the discharge dries and forms a crust around the piercing. It’s annoying, but you shouldn’t try to pick it off or move the jewelry around.

Instead, use a cotton swab soaked in a saline solution to wet the area where the crust is formed. Don’t force it off. Clean the underside of the piercing this way too. You may find that after a warm shower is the easiest time to remove any crust.

Also, wash the jewelry itself with a mild soap during your shower each day. This removes bacteria and any crust that got on that jewelry.

Aftercare is all about hygiene. Every day while your nose piercing heals, soak it with a salt water solution for a few minutes at a time, twice every day.

Salt water, or saline, is a gentle antiseptic. It will prevent bacteria buildup and infection without harming the healthy cells regenerating around your piercing.

Specialty aftercare products are also available to help ensure your new ​piercing heals as well and as quickly as possible (although these can bump up the overall cost of your nose piercing slightly). They may be worth the expense to enhance healing, reduce pain, and improve the outcome.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

What To Do On The First Day

Aftercare should begin on the same day that you get your nose piercing. It doesn’t require handling of the jewelry or piercing. All you need to do is keep the nose piercing clean.

Wash your hands before performing piercing aftercare. To clean the fresh piercing, purchase a saline solution, or make your own sea salt solution at home with a cup of warm water and a fourth of a teaspoon of fine sea salt.

You can use cotton balls or bulb syringes to apply the saline to your piercing. Or you can just dip your nose in a cup containing the salt water solution.

There may be some pain and tenderness following your procedure, so try to be as careful as possible when cleaning the area.​

That’s it for the first day of care. Simple.

The Rest Of The Aftercare Phase

Nose piercing aftercare should be performed until the piercing is completely healed. Once the piercing appears healed, it’s good to continue aftercare for another week or so because it may not be fully healed even if it looks that way.

Healing Times For Each Type Of Nose Piercing

Generally, when people talk about nose piercings, they are talking about a nostril piercing (as opposed to other forms, such as the septum piercing).

If you’re thinking about getting your nose pierced, this is the most common type of nose piercing. A nostril piercing takes between 4 and 6 months to be fully healed. That means you’ll need to follow aftercare for about 6 months to make sure your piercing stays healthy and looking good.

However, not all nose piercings take the same amount of time to heal. A septum piercing takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal if it was done properly. There’s a sweet spot under the nose cartilage, called the columella, and if your piercer went right through the columella, you’re looking at a pretty quick and easy healing period.

On the other hand, if they missed, or you don’t have much of a columella (some people don’t), then your healing period will be longer. In fact, if the piercing went through cartilage, you’re looking at more like 6 to 8 months.

A rhino piercing, or vertical nose piercing, is the longest nose piercing to heal. It takes about 6 to 9 months. Again, that means you should follow the essential aftercare routine for up to 9 months.

The bridge of the nose is also an increasingly popular piercing. Its healing period is about 8 to 12 weeks, which puts it right between the amount of time for a septum or nostril to heal.

Remember, these are general time frames. Each person’s body heals at a different rate, so pay attention to your piercing and how your body is handling it.

A well-healed nose piercing

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Nose Piercing?

When your piercing is fully healed, it won’t release any more discharge. At this point, you won’t need to clean it with a cotton swab unless it gets ripped or torn.

If that happens, you should treat it like a new piercing and follow aftercare for a couple more weeks. Infections can happen after the healing period if your piercing gets torn or traumatized.

After the healing period is over, you no longer have to perform salt water soaks. However, you should still be mindful not to play with or irritate your piercing.

As for cleaning, you should occasionally (at least once a week, or as often as every shower) remove the jewelry and wash it with soap and water.

You can also wash the pierced area with mild soap and water at this point to prevent the buildup of oil and dead skin cells, which can create an odor.

It’s also good practice to apply a bit of natural oil after cleaning, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, or you can purchase a moisturizing product made specifically for piercings.

Potential Complications

While most nose piercings heal very successfully, there are instances where one or two problems may arise throughout the healing process.

Firstly, infections can set in quickly if a proper cleaning routine isn’t maintained or if the piercing studio wasn’t as sterile as it should have been. Symptoms of infection include redness that doesn’t subside, smelly or colored discharge draining from the piercing site, extreme swelling, chills and fever-like symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur while your piercing is healing, it’s best to speak to a doctor as soon as you can for further advice.

Secondly, allergic reactions can also occur in rare circumstances. This is when the tissue around the piercing becomes irritated by the type of material that the jewelry is made from. If you’re suffering from redness and itching around the area, it may be worth going back to your piercer to ask about the jewelry you were given. Materials such as stainless steel, titanium and gold are usually safe bets when it comes to piercing jewelry.

What Not To Do During Healing

There are several mistakes that can be made when healing a nose piercing. If you do things that irritate the piercing, or introduce additional bacteria to the area, you increase the chances of developing a nose piercing infection.

Infections are no fun. They slow down the healing process, meaning you’ll have to wait even longer for a fully healed nose piercing. Not only this, but infections can cause scarring and unsightly nose piercing bumps – so watch out for these bad habits:​

Playing with your jewelry

Putting your hands all over your jewelry is one of the most common ways for lots of bacteria to enter the piercing.

You touch lots of stuff throughout the day, and any number of different bacteria makes its way onto your hands. Keep them away from your nose piercing to avoid infection.

Not washing your hands

I’ve talked about how touching your piercing with dirty hands is a problem, but sometimes you have to touch it, like when you’re cleaning it, so before cleaning, always wash your hands first.

Using harsh products on the piercing

Even cleaning products can be a problem for a sensitive new piercing. Harsh ingredients can irritate the piercing, resulting in the opposite of what you intended.

That means no rubbing alcohol or peroxide for cleaning the piercing.

Putting makeup or cosmetic products over your nose piercing

Makeup, moisturizer, and other cosmetic products often harbor bacteria or irritating chemicals. Keep them all away from your nose piercing.

Removing the jewelry during the healing period

You need to keep your jewelry in during the entire healing period. If the jewelry you have in isn’t working for some reason, such as if it feels too tight or gets in the way, then return to the piercing studio and have them replace the jewelry with another appropriate piece.

If you take out your nose piercing before it is fully healed, it can close up within a day, requiring you to get it re-opened.

Going swimming

Going for a swim with a new piercing is a bad idea. If you absolutely can’t stop yourself from getting in a pool, hot tub, or other body of water, then make certain that your nose stays out of the water. These places are full of bacteria that could infect your nose piercing.

When Can I Replace My Nose Piercing Jewelry?

Never remove your nose piercing jewelry during the healing period. After your piercing is completely healed according to the time frames listed above, you can replace the jewelry with a different piece.

Just make sure that when you take out the jewelry, you put a piece of jewelry back in within a reasonable time frame. Even healed nose piercings can close up given enough time without jewelry in place.


How long it takes for a nose piercing to heal depends on several factors, including which part of the nose you get pierced, how well you take care of your piercing and your own body’s individual healing capacity.

It’s better to go longer and continue your nose piercing care than risk infection, and once you’ve successfully passed the healing period, remember to continue cleaning the jewelry and piercing often in order to prevent funky odors and potential infections in the future.

Expect it to take at least 6 weeks for your piercing to heal, and typically more like 6 months. You can speed things along by keeping dirty hands and other irritants away from the piercing and cleaning with a gentle salt water solution twice daily throughout the healing period.

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