Nose Piercing Risks and Safety Tips

Updated August 16, 2022
person with nose piercing

A nose piercing is where a needle is typically inserted into the skin of your nostril or the cartilage of the septum, and a stud or a hoop is added. It's a common type of body modification performed by professional piercers. But are nose piercings safe?

Before getting the procedure done, it is important to be aware of potential nose piercing side effects, like infection, rejection, or trauma. Explore ways to mitigate nose piercing risks, like choosing an experienced piercer and keeping your nose ring clean.

Potential Nose Piercing Side Effects

After a process of weighing the pros and cons, you may have decided that you want to get your nose pierced. Before planting your derriere in the piercer's seat, you need to think about the piercing that you want to get and the potential risks that might be involved. Because, as with any body modification, nose piercing involves some potential side effects.

There are two common areas for nose piercing:

  • Nostril - the fleshy side of your nose
  • Septum - the area between the nostrils that contains cartilage

While there are other areas of the nose that do get pierced, these are the most common. Now that you know where to pierce, it's essential to understand the side effects and risks associated with both.


nose piercing procedure

Infection is a common problem in both the nostril and the septum. According to the Body Piercing Infections in StatPearls, staphylococcus bacteria are common in the nasal cavity and can cause infections in this area.

According to Cleveland Clinic, signs of staph infection can include swelling, tenderness, pus, persistent pain, and aching. Abscesses or bumps are also another sign that an infection might be present in a nasal piercing. Due to the type of bacteria in your nose, you will want to visit your healthcare provider immediately if you suspect infection to get a round of antibiotics, according to StatPearls.

Necrotizing Nasal Lesions

An infection to the septum, and in lesser cases, to the nostril, can lead to necrosis, or death of the tissue, in the nasal wall. This can leave the person with a mild to severe deformity as the tissue must be removed. These lesions can be caused by a bacterial infection, according to National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). Therefore, you can find this in a new and older piercing that has been improperly cared for.

Perichondritis of Septum

Another deformity that an infection can cause in a septum piercing is a perichondritis infection typically stemming from the bacteria, pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine (JUCM). In a perichondritis, the perichondrium, the connective tissue found in cartilage, becomes inflamed and infected. Without proper treatment with antibiotics, this can cause tissue death and require surgical removal.

Septal Hematoma

A piercing in the septum can lead to a septal hematoma, where blood collects between the nasal septum and the perichondrium. A hematoma in this area will need treatment because it can cause a loss of blood supply to the nasal septal and destroy the tissues. Symptoms of this condition include pain, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

Swallowing Jewelry

You use your nose to breathe. Therefore, if you put jewelry in an area you use to breathe, there is always the possibility that you will aspirate or swallow the jewelry in your nasal or septum, even in your sleep.

Rejection and Trauma

As with any piercing, your body might choose to reject the metal you are putting in it, notes the JUCM. Not only can your body push the metal out of the skin, but it could also absorb it all together, causing the skin to grow around it. This could lead to infection and/or require surgical removal of the jewelry.

Another danger of this type of piercing is trauma. Nasal piercings, especially those in the nostril, can get ripped out. This could lead to trauma to the skin.

How to Reduce Nose Piercing Risks

While there will always be aware of the danger when piercing your body, there are several things you can do to minimize the danger of piercing your nose. It's important to take all the precautions when it comes to the safety and well-being of your piercing and body.

Seek Out a Professional

While piercing your nose yourself might seem like a good idea, a professional piercer has the right equipment and training to properly pierce your nose. Additionally, the facilities and equipment that they use will be sterile, and they will properly prepare the area for piercing.

By piercing your nose yourself, you are opening the area to several additional risks from unsterilized equipment and improper procedures. This could increase your risk for developing infections, along with other complications, and it could also lead to a more painful experience.

Check Out the Shop

Before going in to get your nose piercing, ensure that the shop you use is clean. Make sure the piercer follows basic sanitary hygiene (washes their hands and uses disposable gloves). The tools they use should also be sterilized and properly disposed of. You might also look for specific certifications like those from the American Red Cross.

Follow Aftercare Instructions

man with pierced nose

After getting a nose piercing, ensure that you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer or the Association of Professional Piercers. This includes cleaning the area properly and ensuring that all jewelry is adequately secured. You will also want to watch the site for signs of infection. While all new piercings will be tender and swollen, prolonged swelling and tenderness could indicate a problem that needs professional diagnosis from your healthcare provider.

Be Aware of Metal Allergies

Knowing any allergies that you might have to specific metals is important before getting a piercing. Your body can reject a piercing if you are allergic to the specific metal, but generally, surgical steel, titanium, platinum, and solid gold are nontoxic.

Clean the Area and Jewelry

Even with an established piercing, you want to ensure that you clean the area properly with antibacterial soap at least once a day when you would normally wash your face. It is also important to check the jewelry to ensure that the balls and backs are tight. This can help lessen the risk of jewelry falling out or getting sucked up your nose.

Check With Your Healthcare Provider

Since piercing your nose can come with several complications, like infection, rejection, and even physical deformity, it may be smart to communicate with your healthcare provider before the procedure. Then follow aftercare instructions and take care of your piercing to reduce your risk. Then if you have any questions at all or feel something isn't right, check with your piercer or healthcare provider to ensure everything is healing normally. It's better to be proactive than to wait.

Nose Piercing Risks and Safety Tips