Septum Piercing: Pain, Dangers, and Aftercare
What is Septum Piercing?
Your nasal septum is the skin that separates your nostrils. This thin wall of cartilage runs down the center of your nose. Piercing this area does not mean that the piercer makes a hole in your nasal septum. In fact, the piercing is done in the soft tissue just below, in a place often referred to as the "sweet spot.”
Another commonly used name for this type of nose piercing is bull piercing. If you have ever seen a rings in the nose of a bull, you will know exactly how septum piercing got this name.
What do you think about a septum piercing?
Risks and Dangers of Septum Piercing
Should you or should you not get your septum pierced? This is the first question that you need to ask before actually making an appointment at a piercing studio. The answer depends on whether you are aware of the dangers and risks that come from getting your septum pierced and are committed to caring for it.
- Any kind of body piercing poses the risk of pain and/or infection. Pain will vary from person to person. Most people report feeling manageable pain. Excessive pain may mean that there is something wrong with the piercing or you may just have a very pain threshold. In short, don't expect zero pain. You will feel pain but it is quite manageable. If you see tears in the eyes of someone getting their nasal cartilage pierced, it may not necessarily be due to pain. When your nose is pierced, your nervous system responds by involuntarily secreting tears. It's a natural response that may even occur when the person does not feel much pain. So, no need to run away!
- The danger of infection is higher in the case of a nose piercing because of the constant presence of bacteria in the nose. If you are prone to sinus infections or severe allergies, think carefully before getting one. Don’t get your nose pierced if you are sick of suffering from allergies. Colds make your septum piercing quite uncomfortable, will increase chances of infection, and delay the healing process.
How to Prepare for Your Piercing
The first thing to do is to choose your piercer carefully. There is no special body piercer for getting your septum pierced; any qualified and experienced body piercer can do this for you.
- Make sure they are experienced and knowledgeable. A professional piercer should be able to provide you with all of the advice you need. Ask as many questions as you want about the whole procedure and the problems that may arise. Go for a piercing studio that comes with good references.
- Find out about the jewelry they will be using. Generally, 16-gauge jewelry is used. If you are satisfied with the professional, it is time to get it done!
The Piercing Procedure
- The professional will clean the area, which includes trimming your nose hairs. The area will be cleaned with an antiseptic to remove germs and prevent infection.
- They may clamp the septum to numb the area and reduce pain.
- The needle will then be inserted just below the nasal cartilage. You will feel slight pain during this process. Of course, your eyes will water.
- The clamp will then be removed and a piece of jewelry will be inserted. There will be a little bit of blood but there's no need to be alarmed.
Caring for Your Pierced Septum
Nose piercings take longer to heal than some others because of the presence of bacteria. Good aftercare for the piercing is very important for the healing process.
- Clean the area with sea salt mixed in warm water twice a day (see recipe below). Just soak a cotton ball in the solution and place it on the area. Repeat for about five minutes. You can do this in the morning and at night before going to bed.
- You will notice the formation of crusts. Make sure to remove them with the salt water solution or with a gentle, anti-bacterial soap solution. Move it around a little to clean the area properly. Once you have cleaned the area, check to see if there is any soapy residue. If there is, remove it with a soft towel.
- The initial swelling may make your piercing look slightly slanted. The slant should disappear once the swelling subsides. Some people get quite worried about this and touch it or apply undue pressure. While it is fine to apply a little bit of pressure once the swelling subsides, don't do it if it is painful. Also, by constantly touching the area with your hands, you are increasing the risk of infection. Keep your hands away!
- Don't overdo with the washing! Yes, too much washing will only leave the area excessively dry and irritate the piercing. The idea is to keep the area clean to prevent infection and promote healing.
- Avoid getting any lotion or cream in the area. While applying your usual moisturizer or facial product, avoid touching the piercing.
- Treat any respiratory allergy or illness promptly. Don't worry; it won't lead to any serious damage. However, it can be extremely uncomfortable with a new piercing.
- The piercing may take anywhere from 10 to 12 weeks to heal completely. However, you can safely remove your piercing and try out a new piece of jewelry after about a month. You can safely remove it yourself.
Making Cleaning Solution
To make your own salt water cleaning solution, follow this recipe:
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one pint (16 oz.) of warm distilled or bottled water.
- Boil and allow to cool down.
- Pour into a bowl.
Dealing with Pain and Infection
Any secretion of white fluid around your septum piercing is quite normal. You just need to clean it up with soap and/or salt water solution. A yellow or green fluid, however, or excessive bleeding that refuses to stop, may be a sign of an infection. Increased pain may also be a sign that something is wrong. Call your piercer for initial advice and then consult your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics.
Septum Piercing Jewelry
If you want to keep your piercing hidden while at school or work, choose a circular barbell, which can be flipped up out of sight. Jewelry should also not affect your ability to breathe. If the size of the barbell is too large for your nose, it will cause discomfort and breathing difficulty.
You may want to use a septum retainer after your piercing, since it won't cause any interference in your breathing. The septum retainer is made of stainless steel and it allows you to get used to the piercing. A month later, you will be ready to choose something more attractive and appealing. These can also be easily hidden.
Stretching Your Septum
If you want to stretch your septum piercing, get in touch with your piercer. Stretching will depend on the individual nose. In some cases, it may be impossible to do any amount of stretching. Others may be able to stretch theirs easily.
Be warned: Stretching a septum can be extremely painful if you overdo it. Make sure to listen to your body. If it hurts, you are doing it too much. Also, wait for the skin to heal before going for a second stretching.
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