Most people who get piercings are all too familiar with the extensive aftercare that’s required of a healing piercing.
As with any other wound, a piercing is a hole in the body that must be taken care of to heal properly. This requires routine cleaning and monitoring until the piercing is fully healed.
With a septum piercing, the process is a little different.
A septum piercing is done in the septum, or the flesh between your nostrils. Within that area is what is referred to as the “sweet spot,” or a piece of soft flesh underneath the cartilage of your nasal cavity.
Not everyone has this sweet spot, so septum piercings tend to be placed differently for each person. They’re generally lower on the pain scale but can be much more painful for those who don’t have a sweet spot and have to get the piercing through the cartilage.
Since the septum piercing is in an area that comes in constant contact with bacteria (think food, airborne diseases, mucus), it’s especially important to keep clean.
How Long do you Need to Clean a Septum?
You’ll need to keep a consistent cleaning routine for your new septum piercing the entire duration of healing. The healing process can vary but is generally around two to three months.
During those months it’s important to clean the septum piercing two to three times a day.
If you start out at three times a day and notice the skin around your piercing becoming dry, red, itchy, or flaky, try going down to two times a day. Excessive cleaning can lead to dry and irritated skin.
Can you use Regular Salt to Clean a Septum Piercing?
The recommended cleaning regimen for a septum piercing is to do a saline solution soak using sea salt and distilled water. Be careful when cleaning to not move or twist the jewelry too much as this can cause irritation.
You can apply the soak by dipping the tip of your nose in the solution but be sure not to put your mouth in the water too. Only the tip of your nose up to the septum piercing should be submerged.
You can also soak a paper towel or cotton ball in the solution and hold it against the piercing. This will require several cotton balls or paper towels as you’ll need to change them out throughout the process.
If you choose cotton balls, be careful not to let any of the cotton fibers tear off and get stuck in the piercing.
Overall, a soak should be done for around five minutes.
Sea salt is recommended because it’s the purest salt. Table salt is not recommended because it can often contain minerals that you don’t want mixed into your wound. Epsom salt should also not be used as it contains magnesium sulfate instead of sodium chloride.
In general, the idea is to use pure salt. If you can find other pure salts such as Kosher salt, they would make a fine alternative. You can find Kosher or sea salt at most local grocery stores.
Can you use only water to Clean a Septum?
Our bodies are naturally inclined to heal. When we get a cut, our body grows skin back to cover up the hole. With piercings, there’s a piece of jewelry in the way of covering the hole. So instead, our body naturally heals the wound site around the jewelry.
It’s important to aid the healing process because any wound is sensitive to infections, and when left untreated infections can spread and become dangerous.
Saline solution has long been a proven and effective cleaning method for wounds. It’s much more gentle than using alcohol (which you should never use for your septum piercing) and aids in the healing process rather than just cleaning the wound.
In a pinch, though, just using water can do the trick.
Many people who’ve gotten septum piercings have simply kept their piercing clean with plain water. A good way to do this is using the same soaking method as you would with a saline solution, but just using warm distilled water instead.
For those using just water, the first cleaning can easily be done in the shower.
Stand under the shower head and cup your clean hands under your nose, allowing them to fill with water and soak your piercing. Blow air out of your nose or mouth for as long as you can, step back to breathe, and repeat.
Although it may not seem like a thorough cleaning regimen, regular warm water can do great to keep the piercing site rinsed and clear of any build-up or bacteria that may gather there.
Can I wash my Septum Piercing with Soap?
Using soap is not recommended with a septum piercing. Because soaps generally have perfumes, alcohols, and other chemicals, they can cause reactions or infections to occur.
Soaps also tend to dry out your skin, which can lead to other issues with your piercing. It is not recommended to put any sort of cream, ointment, or salve onto your piercing site, so once the skin is dried out you can’t help it re-moisturize.
For these reasons, even mild, gentle soap is not recommended for a septum piercing cleaning.
With a septum piercing, less is more. You don’t want to overwhelm the area, but rather aid the body gently in its natural healing process.
Can I put Vaseline on my Septum Piercing?
As we mentioned above, you want to avoid putting any cream, ointment, or salve onto your septum piercing. This includes petroleum jelly substances like Vaseline.
Although Vaseline is known for helping the body heal, it does this by trapping in moisture underneath the layer of petroleum jelly.
The downside of this process when it comes to piercings is that you can inadvertently trap bacteria in the petroleum jelly, too; this would essentially smother your piercing in bacteria.
Your piercing also needs good airflow to heal, and if you cover it in a layer of petroleum jelly, you’re preventing proper airflow from going through the piercing.
Is Coconut Oil good for Septum Piercings?
Like Vaseline, you want to avoid putting coconut oil on your septum piercing.
Coconut oil does have great natural healing properties and helps keep your skin moisturized, but it’s also comedogenic, meaning it clogs your pores.
As we noted above, you need good airflow to allow your piercing to heal. If you’re clogging the piercing site with coconut oil, you’re preventing that airflow.
Some people recommend tea tree oil for septum piercings, but we wouldn’t recommend that either.
Tea tree oil has the opposite problem of coconut oil. It has astringent properties, meaning it will dry out your skin.
We’ve noted above that dry skin can cause irritation and other issues with your piercing, so you want to avoid anything that would cause your skin to dry out.
What else Should be Avoided for Septum Piercings?
Avoid rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Neosporin, and any other antibacterial substances.
Although these can be helpful for regular wound cleaning, they will dry out your skin and cause more harm than good to your new piercing.