Infected Septum Piercings: Causes & Treatment

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 5, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

When you want a new piercing, but don’t think a nostril piercing is edgy enough for the look you want to pull off, you might want to check out a septum piercing. This piercing is enjoying a surge in popularity right now, yet it isn’t so common that everyone has it.

Just like any other piercing, a septum piercing comes with a risk of infection. Here’s what you need to know about the causes of septum piercing infections, what you can do about them, and how to give yourself a better chance of staying infection-free.

The fewer problems your piercing causes you, the more you’ll enjoy it overall.


What is a Septum Piercing infection?

With a septum piercing, a needle goes through the nasal septum, which is the area that comes between your right and left nostrils.

This area can easily become infected if bacteria is introduced. An infection can cause serious harm to the piercing site and if left untreated, it may spread. When infections spread beyond the injury site, they can, in rare very rare circumstances, become life-threatening if left untreated.

If you end up with an infection, it’s important that you realize what caused it, what can help clear it up, and how to prevent it from recurring in the future.

What Causes Septum Piercing Infections?

Most piercing infections are caused by bacteria and there are a number of ways that it can reach your piercing site.

One of the most common ways bacteria makes its way into your piercing is through your own two hands. People constantly mess around with their noses. We’re always touching them, wiping them or rubbing them. It’s an area that’s impossible to avoid because you’ll touch it without even thinking about it. It’s second nature.

If your hands aren’t clean when you touch your nose, bacteria can transfer from your hands to your septum. Before long, those bacteria multiply and you will be sporting the symptoms of a painful infection.

To keep your sniffer infection-free, you need to wash your hands before you touch your nose – every single time.

To properly wash your hands, you need to do it longer than the typical person does. Use plenty of soap and wash your hands for approximately 20 or 30 seconds – experts advocate singing the entire happy birthday song . Make sure you pay close attention to your fingertips since they’ll be the stars of the show when it comes to cleaning your septum piercing. Clean fingertips give you an edge.

Other things you can do to stave off infection is to make sure your piercer uses great hygiene in their practice. If they use dirty or non-sterile equipment, you’re going to increase your infection odds. Talk to them about their equipment before you decide upon them doing the procedure.

If they can’t show you sterile equipment or you don’t see any cleaning materials in sight, you should look for another piercer. It’s best if you hire someone whose work you’re familiar with. Ask some of your friends who have had piercings, who did their work? Find out if they’d recommend their piercer and why.

While your septum piercing is healing, you should stay out of public pools. If you decide to risk it and you go anyway, don’t submerge your head underwater and try to protect your face from any splashing. There can be a lot of bacteria in pool water, especially if chlorine content isn’t in use or is insufficient. If it gets into your piercing, there could be trouble.

Finally, not cleaning your new piercing regularly and thoroughly as it heals is another major cause of infection.

Is My Septum Piercing Infected?

With septum piercings, you know you’re going to be feeling it for a while. It’ll be red, sore, crusty and swollen. It’s going to hurt quite a bit for the first three weeks or so. You should be prepared for some discomfort.

Although, sometimes those symptoms can point to an infection rather than just regular healing.

The best way to take care of an infection is to nip it in the bud before it has a chance to rage out of control. You’ll only be able to do that if you notice the warning signs.

Your piercing might be infected:

  • You have a colored or smelly discharge oozing from the wound
  • Swelling isn’t decreasing or is getting worse
  • Your piercing continues to bleed after several days
  • The area becomes very red, sore or warm to the touch (pain should improve every day, and if it worsens, this is the earliest sign of an infection)

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s best to get medical advice as soon as possible. Minor infections can usually be treated at home while larger ones will likely need a course of antibiotics.

How To Treat An Infected Septum Piercing

After your piercing, you should have been cleansing the area with sea salt water. All you have to do is mix one-fourth of a teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of hot water and dab that mixture on your septum piercing. It will help cleanse it and stimulate healing.

When you have an infection in your septum, you need to keep cleaning that area with the sea salt solution at least twice a day – once in the morning and once at night. If you happen to be home during the middle of the day, cleaning it an extra time would be a good idea during an infection.

To dab the mixture on, you can use a Q-tip or a cotton ball. While you’re cleaning it, make sure you clear away any crust gently because that crust can block the piercing site and keep that bacteria trapped in. Keeping the site open will allow that infection to drain out and heal faster.

If your infection appears to be fairly severe, your doctor may want to prescribe antibiotics for it. That’s a necessary step if the infection appears to be spreading. You’ll be able to tell if that’s happening because you might notice red streaking of the skin at the piercing site. You might also have a fever or chills.

If you’ve been given a round of antibiotics to take, it is imperative you finish the entire course, even if your symptoms have vastly improved or disappeared entirely. This will prevent the infection from returning with a vengeance. Continue cleansing with the saline solution and don’t be tempted to use hydrogen peroxide, which will delay healing.

What Happens After A Septum Piercing Infection?

After you have your septum pierced, you should get ready for a long recovery phase. It can take from six to eight months for your new piercing to heal. It could potentially take even longer if you end up with an infection. That’s why taking care of your septum piercing is so important.

Another thing you’ll want to pay attention to is whether the metal in your jewelry seems to be triggering an allergic reaction. If you end up with an allergic reaction, you’ll need to switch out your jewelry to a different metal to see if that helps.

Those who use nickel in their jewelry are usually pleased with the price because it’s inexpensive. However, a lot of people have allergic reactions to nickel so it’s really not as much of a bargain as you think it is.

Other metals like titanium and gold are better tolerated than nickel for most people. If you can’t handle nickel, another fairly good option for your jewelry is surgical stainless steel.

Sterling silver isn’t a great choice for the part of the jewelry that will be inside your septum. Sterling silver is known for tarnishing and it can also contain nickel. If you love the look of it, stick to using it for the charms on your jewelry – not the part that will be inside your body.

How To Prevent Septum Piercing Infections In The Future

You should try to be careful with your piercing. Simple things like accidentally catching your piercing when you’re pulling a shirt off can prove to be pretty painful for you – septum piercings can be painful enough. This kind of incident can also cause tiny injuries to the septum, and when your skin is injured you increase your risk of another infection.

Therefore, after you get your septum piercing, remember to treat it carefully and give it the respect it deserves. It’s a sensitive body part, as well as being body art.

In addition to protecting it the best you can from injuries, you should also make sure to use high-quality jewelry, and if you do find that it’s irritated or starting to feel raw or painful, resume cleaning it with sea salt water and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, you should consult with your piercer to see if he has any idea what’s causing your discomfort.

Staying on top of any problems before they snowball is the best way to keep your septum piercing healthy and problem-free.

Summary

Septum piercings are gaining in popularity, but they do take a long time to heal. To give yourself a good chance of bypassing an infection, pay careful attention to cleaning and taking care of your new piercing.

With a few simple precautions, you’ll be happy with your septum piercing instead of regretting the day you had it done.