I have such a vivid memory of getting my nose pierced on my 15th birthday. Like, I remember exactly what I was wearing (low-rise flare jeans and a pink tube top) as I basically ~strutted~ out of the tattoo shop with my shiny little stud. You know what else I remember? How f*cking painful it was to heal. Between the constant irritation, redness, and swelling, it wasn’t exactly a shocker when I eventually let it close up.
But since those piercings will always have a special place in my heart—and TBH, my nose—I decided to chat with a legit professional to find out exactly how to clean a nose piercing so it heals beautifully, so you can live the piercing dream I couldn’t (sigh). Ahead, the best tips and tricks for taking care of your piercing.
How often should you clean a nose piercing?
Here’s the good news: Even though a nose piercing takes a while to heal (more on that in a sec), you really only need to clean it a few times each day. “I recommend doing a saline rinse twice a day—on the inside and the outside of your nose,” says Ava Lorusso, professional piercer at Studs in NYC. “Healing isn’t something that can be rushed, and overcleaning can actually lead to irritation and a longer healing process.” Got that, folks? Once in the morning, once at night—nothing less, nothing more.
The only thing you’ll want to look out for while you’re cleaning is any irritation or bumps, says Lorusso, which—although common—might be a sign of infection. When in doubt (or in pain), book an appointment with a dermatologist or head back to your piercer to get a second set of eyes before you do anything. And in the meantime, keep up with your twice-daily cleanings. These saline sprays and mild soaps (read: no fragrances or harsh detergents) are great to have on hand:
4 super-gentle ways to clean your piercing
When can you stop cleaning a nose piercing?
That’s the not-so-great part: Nose piercings can take up to a year to fully heal. “A perfect nose piercing might heal during the suggested four to six months, but it usually takes between nine months to one year until your piercing is healed and ready for new jewelry,” says Lorusso. Keep in mind that nose piercings don’t heal identically to ear piercings because they’re way more susceptible to makeup and skincare products (and any other junk you slather on your face every day).
When can I switch to a nose hoop?
Looking to trade out your stud for a hoop? Welp, there’s a reason professional piercers almost always start you out with a stud. “Nose hoops are very hard to clean thoroughly and they rarely heal efficiently,” says Lorusso. “Nostril piercings are also especially prone to piercing bumps, so keeping a stud in for the full duration of healing is a great way to avoid complications down the line.”
Remember: This piercing is on your face (!!!), so you’ll want to take extra care and make sure it’s totally healed before you swap in new jewelry (Lorusso even suggests waiting an extra month or two for good measure). And when you are ready for new jewelry, it’s always a good idea to have a professional piercer help you out. “Nose piercings are particularly sensitive, so any jewelry change can cause swelling, irritation, and scarring,” says Lorusso. “The best way to avoid any problems is to see your local body piercer.”
The final word
Say it with me: Saline spray twice a day. That’s all you need to safely clean your nose piercing. And as with any piercing, remember that the healing process takes time—so even though you might be trying to swap in new jewelry or try out a hoop ASAP, do yourself (and your nose) a favor and hold off for at least a year.
Ruby was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covered beauty across print and digital. Her work has appeared on The Zoe Report, Fashionista, and StyleCaster. Follow her on Instagram.