Nose Piercing FAQs | Painful Pleasures Community

Nose Piercing FAQs

Got questions about nose piercings? Here's everything you need to know.

by shero March 10, 2014

When it comes to nose piercing, people have lots questions: What types of nose piercings could I get? Which side of the nose should I pierce? Does nose piercing hurt? What nose ring is best for me? Where do I learn how to clean a nose piercing? And the list goes on… That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of Nose Piercing FAQs with answers to all your nose piercing questions!

Septum Ring and Nostril Studs

Common Nose Piercing Questions

To make it easier to navigate our handy Nose Piercing FAQs, we’ve turned every question below into a link that will take you right to that question’s answer. You can either read through the whole guide for a thorough nose piercing education or just click a link to read the answer to the question that interests you most.

Shop for Nose Jewelry at

Q. What types of nose piercings can I get?
Q. If I want to get a nostril piercing, which side should I pierce?
Q. Which types of nose rings work best with which nose piercings?
Q. How much are nose piercings?
Q. Does a nose piercing hurt?
Q. What does proper nose piercing care involve? Can you tell me how to clean a nose piercing?
Q. Is there a difference between how to clean a septum piercing vs. another nose piercing?
Q. How long does nose piercing healing take?
Q. When can I start stretching my nose piercing, and how long do I need to wait in between stretches?
Q. Facial piercings aren’t allowed where I work. How can I hide my septum piercing from my boss and make my nostril piercing more discreet?
Q. I don’t think I’m ready for a real nose piercing. Where can I get a fake nose ring?


Answers to Nose Piercing FAQs

Q. What types of nose piercings can I get?

A. The two most common types of nose piercings are nostril piercings and septum piercings: 

Nostril Piercings – These piercings are done on either the left or right side of the nostril, or both, usually in or around the Supra Alar Crease, which is the indented area where the nostril first starts to flare. The more unusual version of this is the high nostril piercing, which requires placing smaller jewelry (~20g) through the nostril at a higher point, closer to the nasal bridge. It can be tricky to change high nostril piercing jewelry yourself; definitely ask your piercer to help you the first time.

Septum Piercing, Nose Piercing, Common Nose Piercings

Septum Piercings – These piercings go through the “sweet spot”, which is the soft tissue between the Columella (underside of your nose) and the bottom end of the septum, which divides your nose. Septum piercings should not go through the cartilage itself; that mistake can be extremely painful.

Less common nose piercings include:

Bridge Piercings (A.K.A. Earl Piercings) – A bridge piercing is done between the eyes, across the bridge of the nose. Bridge piercings are highly prone to rejection because they’re surface piercings. Every surface piercing wages war on the body, which tries to push out any small, foreign object that gets under the skin (think splinter). The only way a surface piercing can win is if the body has to expend more energy to push the jewelry out than it would if it just accepted the intruder and healed around it. That’s why an experienced piercer will place a surface piercing as deeply as possible beneath the skin and use the heaviest gauge jewelry appropriate for the area being pierced. Unfortunately, the bridge of the nose can’t accommodate a very deep piercing or a very heavy gauge jewelry, because there’s limited tissue between the dermis and the bone below. If you get one and it rejects, you could end up with an ugly scar between your eyes.

Double Bridge Piercing, Straight Barbell, Pierced

If you have enough space on your bridge, it is possible to get a double bridge piercing like the Body Mod Photo Gallery member to the right did. It’s not advisable to get two bridge piercings at once, though, because that could increase your chances of rejecting both piercings and ending up with even worse scars. It’s best to wait at least a few months after the first bridge piercing is healed to get a second one.

Nasallang Piercings – This is a tricky 3-in-1 piercing that’s the nose’s equivalent of an industrial ear piercing, since it requires a long, straight barbell. With this piercing, a piercer goes through one nostril from the outside, through the sweet spot (below the septum/above the Columella), and out through the opposite nostril. You can see the exact placement of a nasallang piercing in the diagram below.

Rhinoceros Piercings (A.K.A. Vertical Nose Tip Piercings) – The “Rhino” is a piercing that places jewelry behind the tip of the nose (called the Tip Defining Point), so that one end of the jewelry perches on the center tip of the nose, and the other end protrudes from the front-underside of the nose. This is done by piercing through the underside of the nose, just in front of the Infratip Break (i.e. the underside of your nose, close to the tip) and out between or slightly behind the domes that form the Tip Defining Point. 


Q. If I want to get a nostril piercing, which side should I pierce?

A. In western cultures, the placement of a nose ring on one nostril vs. the other is fairly insignificant. However, in India, women often pierce their left nostrils with the belief that it will make childbirth easier. It’s also a symbol of social standing, a mark of beauty, and a Hindu’s way of honoring Parvati, the goddess of marriage. 

Bottom Line: If you’re of Indian heritage and want to honor your cultural traditions, pierce your left nostril. Otherwise, which side you pierce is really just a matter of personal preference. 



Q. Which types of nose rings work best with which nose piercings?

A. There are many types of nose “rings” because there are a number of different types of nose piercings that require different styles of jewelry. Many of those styles aren’t rings at all. For instance, people with nostril piercings often wear nose screws, nose bones or fishtails (shown to the left), none of which are rings.

Each type of nose piercing jewelry is listed below along with the nose piercing(s) in which it can be worn. For types of jewelry that can be worn in more than one type of piercing, the advantages and disadvantages are listed so you can compare your options better.

Nostril Jewelry Styles, Nose Bone, Nose Screw, Fishtail

Nose Screws For Nostril Piercings – This type of nostril piercing jewelry is a short pin with a decorative top attached to one end; the other end is curled into a semi-circle, which is then bent until it’s perpendicular to the shaft. Depending which nostril it’s going in, the semi-circle bend is either to the left or the right. 

Advantages: Nose screws are easy for people to put in and take out themselves, without the help of a piercer. There are custom nose screws you can have made so that your jewelry fits you perfectly, too. 

Disadvantage: Nose screws sometimes spin around inside the nose during everyday activities, leading the bottom end of the screw to peek out of the nostril. Unless your nose screw fits you just right, it’ll look like you’re picking your nose whenever you adjust it!

Nose Bones for Nostril Piercings – A nose bone is comprised of a decorative top connected to a short, straight post that has a ball formed onto the bottom end. Typically, the bottom ball is only slightly wider than the post. 

Advantage: Nose bones are even easier than nose screws to put in and take out by yourself, unless the bottom ball is quite a bit larger than the post.

Disadvantage: If the bottom ball–which doesn’t unscrew–isn’t big enough, the nose bone can fall out too easily; if it’s too big, it can be uncomfortable to get it in and out of a nostril piercing. Fortunately, there are custom nose bones available, so you can get the perfect balance of post gauge and bottom ball diameter for your piercing.

Fishtails for Nostril Piercings – A fishtail nose ring has a long, straight shaft with a decorative top attached to it.

Advantage: The length makes the jewelry totally customizable. Usually piercers use these to create custom nose screws for nostril piercings, but you could try other formats, like an L-bend. 

Disadvantage: Unless you have the tools and skills to do it yourself (which you can learn in our How to Bend a Fishtail article), you’ll need to pay a piercer to turn a fishtail into the perfect nostril ring for you.Ornate Septum Ring | Seamless Ring Septum Jewelry

Hoop Nose Rings for Nostril & Septum Piercings – If you prefer the look of a hoop, you have a few options that you can use as a nostril hoop or septum jewelry: seamless ringssegment rings and captive bead rings. Screw-on ball rings are also an option, but they’re not as practical or attractive in nostril or septum piercings as the other types of hoop nose rings.

Advantages: A nose ring hoop can be ordered in just the right gauge and diameter combination for you, so your nose ring fits around your nostril or septum as closely as you’d like. Some rings can be anodized to turn the metal a color of your choice, too. Pair a captive ring with a matching captive bead, a bead in a contrasting color, or even an opal for variety.

Seamless rings have an additional advantage: they’re really easy to put in and take out. Just bend the ring slightly to widen the gap at the opening, insert it, and then squeeze it tight to make the ends meet again. 

Disadvantage: Some people find captive bead rings hard to put in without help and/or ring opening and closing pliers. Segment rings can be a little tricky, too, but don’t require a tool; it’s just a matter of snapping the removable segment back into place.

Labret Nose Jewelry | Labret Studs for Nose Piercings

Labret Studs for Nostril Piercings – Labret studs are a great alternative to traditional nostril piercing jewelry.

Advantages: Their flat backs are less obtrusive inside your nostril than some other nostril rings, like nose screws. They’re very secure and unlikely to accidentally fall out. There are tons of options for decorative tops, because you can use any matching dermal top with a labret stud.

Disadvantage: Labret studs can be difficult to put into a nostril piercing without a threaded taper or someone’s help. If you have a push-pin labret in your nostril piercing, you may need your piercer to change your jewelry for you.

Circular Barbells for Nostril PiercingsCircular Barbells for Septum Piercings – Circular barbells (a.k.a. horseshoe rings) make great septum jewelry. 

Advantages: They’re fairly easy to put in and take out. The circular barbells themselves can be anodized to any color(s), and there are loads of options for the decorative ends, like screw-on balls, gems and more. If you need to make your piercing more discreet for a job interview or other situation, just flip your horseshoe barbell up into your nose! 

Disadvantages: Circular barbells tend to move side to side a lot, so you have to check periodically to make sure your jewelry isn’t askew.

Septum Pinchers for Septum PiercingsOther Septum JewelrySeptum pinchers and septum tusks are cool alternatives to wear in your septum piercing once it’s fully healed. You can find pinchers as small as 16g, but many designs are only available in sizes upwards of 12g (2mm). Tusks are best suited for those who have slowly stretched their septum piercings over time. 

Straight Barbells for Nasallang Piercings & Some Rhino & Bridge Piercings – Straight barbells are the perfect jewelry for nasallang piercings, and in some cases, they’ll work for rhino and bridge piercings, too.

Straight Barbell, Titanium Barbell, Nose JewelryAdvantages: Straight barbells are very customizable. They come in a wide variety of length, gauge and ball size combinations, so you can easily find a short one for a bridge or rhino piercing or a long one for a nasallang piercing. Straight barbells made of titanium, niobium and stainless steel can be anodized to any color you choose, too, and there are almost endless options for balls or other decorative ends.

Disadvantages: Straight barbells can put undue pressure on bridge piercings, which can trigger the rejection process. They’re also not as ideal for rhinoceros piercings as bent barbells are. Unless your piercer says a straight barbell will work better for you based on your anatomy, you should have a bent barbell put in your rhino or bridge piercing initially.  

Bent Barbell, Titanium Barbells, Titanium Body JewelryBent Barbells for Bridge Piercings and Rhino Piercings – Bent barbells (a.k.a. banana barbells or curved barbells) are the ideal jewelry to use in bridge piercings and rhino piercings. 

Advantage: When used in a bridge piercing, the curve of the barbell works with the curve in the bridge of the nose so that the jewelry doesn’t put undue pressure on the fistula and increase the likelihood of rejection. For rhino piercings, a curved barbell provides a little more flexibility than a straight barbell would in terms of placement of the entry and exit points and, subsequently, the top and bottom balls.

Disadvantage: Until your bridge piercing is fully healed, the ends of the barbell may be constantly in your inner lines of sight. You can get a shorter barbell and different ends once your rhino or bridge piercing is healed.

Flesh Toned Discs, Threaded Ends, Invisible Jewelry, Body JewelryTip: Consider looking at eyebrow rings when shopping for a bent barbell to use in a rhino or bridge piercing; they’re the right shape and smaller than many of the options in our Bent Barbells shopping category. For rhino piercings, you might consider putting a flat disc on the underside of your barbell–maybe even a flesh-tone disc (available in 16g here and 14g here). There are many cute dermal tops you could use for the top decorative end, especially if your piercer gives you an internally-threaded barbell.

Whatever type of nose ring you choose to wear in your nose piercing initially, make sure you ask your piercer what size it is before you leave the shop (i.e. gauge and, where appropriate, length or diameter). That way you’ll have a guideline for what size to get when you’re ready to buy cool new jewelry for your nose piercing!



Q. How much are nose piercings?

A. Nose piercing prices vary widely based on the complexity of the piercing, what type of jewelry you want, and where you live. Prices are often lower in rural areas than they are in cities, where shops tend to pay more to rent space. A simple nostril piercing will likely be cheaper than a bridge or septum piercing, which should cost less than a nasallang piercing, since it’s the trickiest one for a piercer to get right. You can save money by sticking with the basic starter jewelry the shop includes in the cost of the piercing. Buying nicer jewelry before your piercing heals is pointless unless it fits you perfectly before and after, which is unlikely with anything but a nose hoop. Most of the time you’ll need a shorter barbell later, so just be patient and buy something stellar once you’re fully healed!



Q. Does a nose piercing hurt?

A. Nearly every piercing hurts at the moment the needle breaks skin. That pinch is typically just momentary, though–at worst lasting until the jewelry is inserted. After that, your nose shouldn’t hurt per se, but you may feel a dull ache and/or throbbing for a little while after you get your nose piercing. If you can tolerate Ibuprofen (not aspirin!), take the dose indicated on the bottle to address any achiness and/or swelling you have post-nose piercing.

Some people think nose piercings hurt more than other piercings because certain ones can cause you to involuntarily tear up. For instance, someone getting a nose piercing in their left nostril is likely to release a flood of tears from their left eye during the piercing. It’s an anatomical response and nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you bawled outright, though, it’d be okay!

If you don’t choose an experienced piercer to give you a septum or nasallang piercing, you may end up in quite a bit of pain. Too often, people come to our forum asking why their septum piercing hurt so much and is continuing to hurt terribly afterwards. When that happens, it likely means your piercer went through the cartilage above the “sweet spot” in between the end of the septum and the Columella (i.e. the underside of your nose). In that case, the best thing you can do is to take your jewelry out, keep cleaning your nose with sea salt solution until it’s fully healed, and then get re-pierced by someone who knows what they’re doing in a few months.



Q. What does proper nose piercing care involve? Can you tell me how to clean a nose piercing?

A. Nose piercing aftercare involves a regimented cleaning routine plus generally good hygiene, nutrition, and rest. You should also avoid aspirin, alcohol and tobacco for a while. 

Your nose piercing aftercare regime will be heaviest during the first few critical weeks of healing. You should do sea salt solution (SSS) soaks morning and night, if not 3 times a day, and spritz your nose piercing with a piercing aftercare spray, like Recovery Aftercare, in between soaks. Recovery Purified Saline Wash Solution will be especially cooling and refreshing on a new nose piercing when it gets hot and irritated in between SSS soaks.

Here’s our sea salt solution recipe, which has proven successful time and again when applied regularly to new nose piercings of all varieties:

  1. Boil water for 5 minutes to sterilize it. That’s 5 minutes of roiling boiling, not 5 minutes from the point you start heating cold water.
  2. Measure 1 cup of sterilized water into a heat-safe container.
  3. Stir in 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Aquarium salt from a pet store works well. Just don’t use table salt; it contains iodine.
  4. If desired for its moisturizing and/or antiseptic qualities, add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to your SSS.
  5. Let the mixture cool to a comfortable temperature, and then apply it to your piercing with a series of clean cotton balls. Make sure you soak the inside and outside of the pierced area. Keep applying SSS-soaked cotton balls for 5 minutes.
  6. Repeat 2-3 times per day, or as instructed by your piercer.
  7. Carry a small bottle of Recovery Aftercare with you to spritz on your piercing in between SSS soaks so that you’re flushing your piercing of dirt and debris a total of 5-6 times per day.

During the healing process, DO NOT…

  • Touch your piercing unless you’ve just washed your hands or are wearing gloves.
  • Play with your jewelry or turn it.
  • Move your jewelry to break up “crusties” (i.e. dried lymph, which the body excretes as a natural part of the healing process). Use a cotton ball soaked in SSS or a piercing aftercare spray to soften the crusties, then gently wipe them away. 
  • Use oils, balms, creams, or ointments on your piercing. They can clog the fistula (hole where you were pierced), potentially trapping in bacteria and causing infection. It is okay to dilute 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in your sea salt solutions, though; it’s a natural antiseptic and moisturizer.
  • Wash your piercing with soap unless your piercer strongly recommends it. In that case use a gentle antibacterial soap with no fragrance. Preferably, though, you should just use SSS and piercing aftercare spray to keep your nose piercing clean.

Warning! ​If you experience significant swelling that causes your nose ring to press into your nose, see your piercer ASAP and ask for a larger nose ring. If you develop a rash or other signs of an allergic reaction, you may be reacting to the nickel content or another material in your jewelry and should try switching to a titanium, surgical steel or bioplast nose ring. See your doctor ASAP if you notice signs of infection, which include skin that’s hot to the touch, streaky redness of the skin around your piercing, discharge of thick, yellowish pus, and/or fever. You may need antibiotics to address infection.

If you get an infection, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your nose piercing. Just keep up with the nose piercing aftercare regime outlined above while you take antibiotics, and your nose piercing should heal just fine.



Q. Is there a difference between how to clean a septum piercing vs. another nose piercing?

A. No, there is no significant difference between how to clean a septum piercing as opposed to any other nose piercing. You may want to use a bulb syringe to draw up SSS and squirt it onto your septum piercing instead of using cotton balls, but that could be true of any of the nose piercings detailed here except bridge piercings. If you want to try squirting SSS onto your piercing instead of using cotton balls or in addition as a quick alternative in between full SSS applications, just go to your local pharmacy and ask for a bulb syringe. The small ones made for babies are perfect for flushing the inside of your nose.



Q. How long does nose piercing healing take?

A. Nose piercing healing times vary based on the type of piercing. Below is a list of average nose piercing healing times. Everyone’s different, so you may need more or less time to heal than what’s listed.

  • Nostril Piercing Healing Time: 4-6 months (for both regular and high nostril piercings)
  • Septum Piercing Healing Time: 6-8 weeks (as long as neither the cartilage above or the thicker skin below was accidentally pierced instead of the sweet spot.)
  • Rhino Piercing Healing Time: 6-9 months
  • Nasallang Piercing Healing Times: 4-6 months 
  • Bridge Piercing Healing Time: 8-12 weeks



Q. When can I start stretching my nose piercing, and how long do I need to wait in between stretches?

A. If you want to stretch your nose piercing, you’ll need to wait 2-3 times longer than the average healing time listed above before each stretch.

  • A septum piercing just needs 16-24 weeks to heal before you stretch.
  • It takes 24-36 weeks for a bridge piercing to become stable enough to stretch.
  • Wait 12-18 months to stretch a nostril piercing or a nasallang piercing.
  • A rhino piercing needs 18-27 months in between stretches

If you want to stretch more gradually and comfortably, you can wrap a nose ring with incremental layers of stretching tape. Just take out your jewelry, wrap it with a layer of stretching tape, re-insert it, give your piercing plenty of time to adjust to the new size and reinforce itself, and then repeat the process. With this method, you can slowly work toward the next size over the course of the weeks or months you would normally wait to stretch up to the next size.

Whichever method you choose, if stretching becomes uncomfortable at any point, slow down!



Clear Septum Retainer

Q. Facial piercings aren’t allowed where I work. How can I hide my septum piercing from my boss and make my nostril piercing more discreet?

A. If you get a septum retainer in the right size, you can hide your piercing almost completely. Use a clear septum retainer, a clear nose bone or a clear nose screw to make your piercing as discreet as possible. With a septum retainer, you just need to insert it through your septum piercing, and then flip it up so that the “legs” of the staple-shaped septum retainer are tucked into your nostrils.Rounded Metal Septum Retainers

Check out our Septum Jewelry section to see all of our septum retainers




Captive Bead Ring, Rainbow Captive Bead Ring, Titanium Jewelry, Titanium Ring

Q. I don’t think I’m ready for a real nose piercing. Where can I get a fake nose ring?

A. We don’t sell fake nose rings per se, but here’s a way to make a fake nose ring out of a real one: Buy a captive bead ring, remove the bead, widen the gap in the ring a little if needed, slide the ring over your nostril or place it over your columella (central underside of your nose) like a septum ring, and then squeeze it gently until it’s tight enough to stay put.

Fake Nose Rings - Seamless Rings

You may also be able to use a seamless ring as a fake nose ring–just not one that has a decorative bottom half, since the break in such rings is typically on the side. The decorative part of an ornate seamless ring just wouldn’t sit right on your nose if it wasn’t actually in a piercing. (See an example of an ornate seamless ring in the Hoop Nose Rings section above).

The nice thing about making a fake nose ring out of a real one is that you can continue using it once you get a real nose piercing!


References Piercing History

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