In the modern world that encourages body positivity and self-expression, using all body art in the form of tattoos and piercings have become increasingly popular and the popularity is on a steady incline.
A lot of people amongst all age groups, race and class are getting one part of their body pierced. These body parts are outside the traditional ear piercings females get as infants. They include additional ear piercings and piercings on the nose, tongue, lip, etc.
Nose piercings have particularly garnered a lot of participants because of its location and its ability to improve the uniqueness and beauty of the face without causing too much inconvenience.
As much as a lot of people want to join this rising trend, they however, are held back because of the fear of pain, infections and other safety concerns. These fears are completely valid but are often disproportionate to the actual amount of pain felt and risk of infections.
That being said, It is the responsibility of the professional carrying out the piercings to make sure that you get the best results while allaying most or all the pain, fears and other safety concerns by practicing proper infection and pain control protocols.
Types of nose piercings based on their specific locations
There are three common types of nose piercings,each denoted by the specific part of the nose that’s receiving the needle. They are:
- The nostril
- The septum
- The high-nostril
How bad do nose (nostril and septum) piercing hurt?
The thought of a needle going through and through the skin of the nose is one that would make even the bravest individuals shirk, unless they’re properly experienced at getting body piercings.
The good news is that when performed by a professional, the nose piercings are not that painful. The pain is commonly described by its comparison to getting your eyebrows waxed or getting a shot.
The pain is mild in sharpness and pressure and is over before you even know it.
The overall pain you experience depends on a couple of factors like your natural pain threshold.
This is proven by the fact that individuals with lower thresholds would experience more pain than those with a higher threshold when exposed to the same levels of pain.
Another important factor affecting the amount of pain felt during nose piercings is the part of the nose that is getting pierced.
A septum piercing generally hurts more, but heals faster than the nostril because of its thin nature and a higher nerve and blood supply.
High nostril piercings may hurt less but take longer to heal because the skin there is a lot thicker than that of the septum and lower nostrils.
You may also experience mild pain and swelling after getting this piercing, so it is generally recommended for individuals who are experienced in proper piercing aftercare.
This brings us to another important factor that affects the pain levels of a nose piercing. This is proper hygiene and aftercare. The piercer must follow infection control proceedings like sterilization of equipment and disinfection of skin before carrying out the piercing.
After the procedure, the piercer should give detailed aftercare instructions and you, the client should adhere to these strictly because, if the wound gets infected, it would cause more pain and increase the healing time.
Which hurts more, the needle or the gun for nose piercings
It may be difficult to decide over a needle and piercing gun before you get your piercing. It’s easy to want to choose a piercing gun over a needle because it seems faster, more affordable and more convenient.
But a piercing needle is preferred to a piercing gun, for a lot of reasons. The most obvious ones being that needles are generally cleaner, less painful and more accurate than guns.
What can you do to reduce the pain?
You would be delighted to know that in addition to nose piercings not being all that painful, the little pain that you should’ve felt can be further reduced by the use of pain control methods.
They range from crude methods such as the use of ice to numb the area to more modern medical methods like the use of rapidly acting topical anesthetics.
Using ice cubes to freeze up your nose
If you’re based in areas that experience harsh winters or have at least put your hands in a freezer for extended periods, you know that the tips of your fingers, toes and nose start to get numb after a while.
This is because the freezing cold slows down nerve transmission in the terminal nerve endings found in these locations. This same principle is applied in the use of ice cubes to numb up your nose, but in a safer and more controlled environment.
Ensure you wrap up the ice cubes in a paper towel before attempting to place them on your skin to avoid some forms of nerve damage.
Hold the ice cube in place for about 3-5 minutes. The time isn’t constant as individual variations exist. Hence, just hold it in place until you feel numb enough to withstand the pain.
Carry out the piercing as quickly as possible because the effects of these methods don’t last nearly as long as the next one.
Using a topical anesthetic
This involves the use of topical anesthetics such as EMLA gel (EMLA stands for Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics and contains different proportions of lidocaine and prilocaine) and Dr. Numb™ (contains only lidocaine but just as effective) which can both be bought over the counter without a doctor’s prescription.
The pain abating effects of anesthetics last anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on the individual. You should try to get the piercing done during this period. Disinfect the overlying numb skin thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or any antiseptic before introducing any needles into your skin
Note: Topical anesthetics can have some side effects from something as minor as an allergic rash over the skin to more severe but extremely rare reactions like a cardiac arrest.
Make sure to check with your doctor and confirm that you have no prior allergies or hypersensitivity reactions to any constituent of the topical anesthetic of your choice.
Other tips to minimize pain
In as much as you walk into your local grocery stores and purchase an anesthetic, you should also follow some directives that directly or indirectly affect the pain experience, healing times and risk of infections. These include:
Picking the right piercer
Home And self piercings are more than okay for experienced individuals. But for first timers who’ve decided to go to a professional piercing parlor, the piercer’s methods and countenance would greatly influence the levels of pain you experience and your chances of getting another piercing.
Choose a piercer whose studio is in a clean environment and makes use of proper sterilization techniques like an autoclave for infiltrative materials like needles and jewelry.
Also, you should clearly choose someone who makes you feel comfortable, lets you express your concerns and ask questions.
Picking the right jewelry
Getting a nose piercing can be a lifetime investment hence, you should not be afraid to spend a sizable sum on jewelry. Using cheap plated metals containing nickel or cobalt can greatly increase the pain experience. It is advised that you get jewelry that is made from any one of these metals:
- Implant-grade titanium
- Implant-grade steel (NOT “surgical” steel)
- 14 karat gold
- 18 karat gold
Following aftercare instructions
Every piercing is a wound and needs to be properly taken care of after it is done to reduce risk of infections. Proper aftercare is so important that even the strictest and most hygienic piercing proceedings go to waste if they are not properly taken care of.
Your piercer would give more detailed aftercare instructions, but here are a few:
- Clean the wound 3-6 times a day with saline water.
- Avoid touching the piercing.
- Minimize your alcohol and aspirin intake while the wound heals.
- Steer clear of bodies of water like swimming pools and lakes, as they can introduce bacteria to the wound.
- Do not take off the jewelry until at least a month after the piercing, since the body can perceive it as a regular wound and close it up.
Prepare yourself mentally
Studies have proven that pain is largely a psychological phenomenon. This simply means that your emotions and thoughts at a particular point in time can affect the amount of pain you feel when exposed to the same stimulus.
So, before getting a piercing, talk to people who have had nose piercings done, either on social media or in person. Get yourself hyped up before getting into the piercing parlor afterall it can’t be that bad if these many people are doing it.
Can you numb your nose for a septum piercing?
Yes, you can! Although, the pain levels of a properly carried out septum piercing can be really low and is over before you know it.
But if you feel that you definitely can’t deal with it, feel free to ask your piercer to apply a topical anesthetic and this would basically eliminate all residual pain. Ice cubes cannot be used because of the inconvenient location and the chances of introducing water into the airway.
Your career? Yes. Your family? Definitely. Your personal preferences? Absolutely. But your fear of pain should never be a deciding factor on whether or not you should get a nose piercing.
First, they are not that painful and secondly, there are several medically proven ways to effectively numb your nose before and after getting it pierced.