How Much Do Nose Piercings Hurt? (Pain Guide)

  • Written By Dan Hunter on June 15, 2018
    Last Updated: March 12, 2022

Almost everyone will wish to know how much a new nose piercing will hurt before going in for the procedure; especially those who have never had a piercing before.

Having this knowledge can help you to prepare for what is about to come, and could even help to minimize the pain during and after the procedure. So keep on reading.

Nose Piercing Pain

While a nose piercing will sting and likely make your eyes water a bit, nose piercings are generally less painful than many other types of body piercings. That being said, everyone experiences pain in their own way, but luckily the needle used for a nose piercing is extremely thin and sharp, meaning the procedure is usually over very quickly.

With regard to how nostril piercings compare to septum piercings in terms of pain – they shouldn’t actually differ that much from one another.

In general, the more relaxed you are going in for a piercing, the less intensely you will feel the pain. Believe me, nose piercing pain is bearable. After all, everyone who has gotten a nose piercing before you will have gone through the same pain. Based on how other people describe nose piercing pain, here’s what you might expect.

The pain will likely be enough to make your eyes water. This happens often with nose piercings, in particular, because the nose tissue is connected to your sinuses, and when the nose is irritated, it sends nerve signals to the eyes to water.

Therefore, if you’ve watched someone get their nose pierced and seen their eyes well up with tears, it doesn’t mean it hurt so bad that they cried. It probably just means their eyes are watering as a normal reaction to the stimulation of nose tissues.

If you’ve had other areas of your body pierced, then you may have some comparison of what to expect. Ear piercings are the most common piercing, so we’ll compare a nose piercing to those. Earlobes are pretty much the least painful area of the body to have pierced. Consequently, if you’re going in for a nose piercing expecting it to feel the same as earlobe piercing, you’ll be in for a shock.

On the other hand, cartilage piercings can be some of the more painful piercings because the needle has to go through thicker, firmer tissue. Therefore, if you’ve had a cartilage piercing done, you can expect nose piercing pain to be somewhat similar to that.

For many people, the pain of a nose piercing amounts to a pinch and a twinge, like you need to sneeze. So, if you’re wondering whether you should get your nose pierced, don’t let the pain become your deciding factor.

What To Expect At The Shop

When you go in for a nose piercing, the procedure is pretty standard. The piercing professional who does the piercing will prepare the equipment, making sure that the piercing needle and jewelry are clean and sterilized.

They will also clean the area to be pierced on your nose, and they should put on a new pair of gloves before getting started.

The piercer will mark the spot to be pierced with a pen, and put a clamp on your nose. The clamp holds the nose in place so you don’t move around during the piercing process.

The clamp has smooth edges and does not hurt. Next, the needle is inserted through the marked area. For nostril piercings, the needle will go through cartilage.

You will likely feel the most intense part of the pain as the piercing needle is passing through the nose. Remember, this part is over in a matter of seconds, and it will be a thin, sharp needle, the kind that causes the least pain.

Finally, the piercer will put the jewelry through the piercing. For some people, this part can cause a bit of pain as well. Others don’t experience any pain when the jewelry is placed.

Often, the jewelry is attached to the end of the hollow needle so that when the piercing needle exits your nose, the jewelry goes through with it in one smooth motion.

How Long Will A Nose Piercing Hurt For?

The initial pain of a nose piercing is over in a few seconds, but you can expect your nose to be sore for a few days afterward during the healing process. New piercings have a tendency to swell and get inflamed (red and tender). This reaction usually clears up within 5 days for nose piercings (unless an infection occurs).

If your piercing hurts for longer than a week, or if you develop any bumps, extreme redness, or scarring, you should go back to your piercer to have it checked out.

Cleaning the nose piercing with a saline solution or a good piercing aftercare​ product regularly during the first couple of weeks can help to speed up the healing process and reduce any lingering pain.

What Factors Can Affect Nose Piercing Pain?

If you’re still uncertain about how much getting your nose pierced will hurt, consider that how you prepare beforehand and care for your piercing after can affect how much pain you experience.

Take a look at these possible influences on how you perceive the pain:

How much sleep you’ve had

Going in for a piercing well-rested is an excellent idea. Sleep is how your body recharges and heals itself. With this in mind, if you have slept well the nights leading up to your nose piercing, it will help you tolerate the pain at your peak pain threshold. Meaning, you should not stay up partying or studying all night before going in for a piercing.

General health

If you’re not feeling well or undergoing medical treatments, your body is not at its best for tolerating pain. You also won’t heal as well if your system is maxed out. You’re already trying to cope with stressors. If possible, you may want to wait until you are feeling better.

Which nose piercing you get

There are several different types of nose piercings, and they all feel different. A piercing on the bridge of the nose tends to be one of the least painful nose piercings. As for nostril versus septum, it really depends on how much septum skin (columella) you have available below your cartilage and how experienced your piercer is.

Getting the septum pierced can be quite painful, but for some lucky individuals, it is a relatively low pain piercing. The most painful nose piercing is a vertical nose piercing, which goes up through the tip of the nose cartilage.

Use of a numbing product

Some people find numbing creams for nose piercings effective while others do not. You can purchase a numbing cream at a drug store before going in for a piercing. Keep in mind that you have to apply it early enough for it to have taken effect and close enough to your piercing appointment that it hasn’t worn off, and it only numbs the surface of the skin, reducing the feeling of the initial needle prick.

One of the most effective piercing numbing products currently on the market is Zensa Numbing Cream, which contains the highest level of Lidocaine allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter use. The feedback left by thousands of customers for this product is nothing short of exceptional.

Just follow the instructions on the packaging, apply shortly before your piercing procedure is due to begin, and look forward to a less painful and more comfortable piercing experience.

Gun versus needle

There are still some places that will use a piercing gun to perform nose piercings. Just don’t do it. The gun hurts more and is more likely to leave a bump in your nose cartilage.

A procedure using a needle instead of a gun might mean the piercing may cost slightly more (due to the additional experience and carefulness required), but this small additional cost is definitely worth it in the long run.​

Piercer experience

This is one of the biggest factors in how tolerable your nose piercing pain is. Experienced piercers know just the right area to place a piercing, and they can get the needle and jewelry through as quickly as possible. Generally, a faster piercing process means less duration for the pain.

Personal pain tolerance

This is another one of the big factors in how much pain you experience. Everyone has an individual pain tolerance threshold. What feels like level 1 pain on a 1 to 10 scale for someone may feel like level 4 pain to someone else.

Ways To Deal With Nose Piercing Pain

Your physical and mental state really do make a difference in how you experience piercing pain. Here are some things you can do the day of your piercing in order to make it more bearable.

  • Listen to music during the piercing; music has been shown to reduce pain in medical procedures
  • Bring along someone to talk to for distraction, or talk to your piercer if they’re okay with it
  • Meditate or think about how much you will enjoy your piercing
  • Remember that everybody with a nose piercing has gone through the same process
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before and don’t drink alcohol or take unnecessary drugs
  • Educate yourself about the process for a nose piercing beforehand
  • Eat a snack before you go into the shop; it can prevent fainting
  • Wear comfortable clothes


If you tolerate pain reasonably well, a nose piercing is no big deal. You’ve likely dealt with needles for dental work or immunizations at your doctor’s office before, and you didn’t even get a cool piece of jewelry for those. Just take care of yourself leading up the piercing day and be relaxed.

Nose piercing pain is very rarely as bad as it may seem, so go in there with your head held high and fly through the procedure.

If you want to ensure your piercing heals as best as it possibly can, it’s imperative that you follow your piercer’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality aftercare solution to aid recovery.

The best piercing aftercare product I’ve ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, 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.​ Click here to buy from Amazon

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