Septum piercings were once a staple in the alternative and hipster scenes, now they’re a relatively non-committal way to add a bit of edge to your appearance. With the flexibility of concealing it with a simple flip of the ring and being able to remove it without any noticeable scars, the septum piercing is a great choice for those exploring their aesthetic. While this piercing has grown in popularity over the years, you probably still have lingering questions when contemplating getting one or after having just gotten one.
One of the biggest factors to keep in mind when getting a septum piercing is healing time. Compared to the ear lobe or cartilage, a septum piercing takes considerably longer to heal. You’ll be able to change the jewelry (provided you avoid anything dangly) about six to eight weeks after getting pierced; and in six months to a year the piercing should be fully healed.
Other common questions include healing times, the risks of removing your new piercing too early, and how to style your new septum piercing.
What could happen if you take it out or change it too soon?
The risks of taking out or changing your septum jewelry too soon far outweigh the rewards.
The act of piercing involves creating a wound through which a sterile surgical grade metal, such as silver or titanium, is threaded. Because of this it is crucial to keep a clean environment in order for the fresh piercing to heal properly. Removing a piercing that hasn’t fully healed reopens the wound, introducing it to bacteria which can lead to an infection.
Switching the jewelry too soon can also cause problems. Before the six to eight week mark, the area around the septum will still be too delicate, sensitive, and weak to safely insert new jewelry – especially if you’re inexperienced with septum jewelry. Attempting this can result in trauma, such as inflammation and irritation, to the area and the piercing which can cause more issues when healing like scarring or rejection.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to take a break and let the professionals handle it. They know what they’re doing and can prevent further damage. Alternatively, if you remove the septum jewelry and do not replace it, it will close up and you’ll have to wait to get it repierced.
How quickly can a septum close up?
A septum piercing is unique from other piercings – it isn’t fully external or internal and, when done properly, doesn’t even pierce any cartilage. Because of this, it follows its own rules. A septum piercing taken out too soon can close up anywhere in the span of a few hours to a few weeks. If you’re concerned about your piercing closing up, it’s best to re-insert it as soon as possible.
Tips for healthy healing
It can be a little awkward to treat a new septum piercing. Unlike other piercings that are easily soaked, it’s a tad inconvenient to soak your nostrils in salt water; and while you can avoid sleeping on a new lobe piercing, it isn’t really an option to avoid breathing through your nose for weeks.
Luckily there are tips of the trade for a piercing in this area:
- Mist away germs: The first few weeks after getting pierced you should soak your septum a couple of times a day in a salt bath. After that, you can swap this out for more comfortable cleaning methods. A good option is a quality saline nasal spray. These can be bought for under ten dollars at your local drug store and work wonders for on-the-go cleansing. For best results, mist your nostrils and piercing three to six times a day.
- Stifling sniffles: If you’re anything like me, then you’re an absent-minded nose wiper. Normally it’s just a mildly bad habit, but during the first few weeks with a fresh septum piercing it can hurt – and hurt bad. More than that, it introduces bacteria and can cause trauma. In order to prevent this, avoid touching your nose and the jewelry for the first month. When you need to wipe, make sure to only use clean tissue and not your hand or sleeve.
- Find new selfcare: Hot, steamy environments are a breeding ground for germs. As a result, you should refrain from relaxing in baths or hot tubs until the septum piercing for the first month, until it has had time to heal a bit.
- Reconsider your skincare: It’s important to ensure that skincare products such as lotion, soap, or make up do not get into the piercing while healing. This may cause over drying or a buildup of skin cells and dirt which can lead to an infection. A mixture of a couple drops of tea tree oil with salt water or saline solution is enough to clean and moisturize the area.
How do you know when a Septum piercing is healed?
Determining the healing stage of a septum piercing can be a bit harder to pinpoint than the average piercing. However, some general guidelines to be on the lookout for include:
- Jewelry flexibility: Your jewelry should be able to move freely. If you feel any pangs or have to force the ring to move, then your piercing is not fully healed.
- Smell: It’s common for septum piercings to have a smell even after healing. So, if your septum has an aroma that isn’t necessarily a sign that it isn’t healed; it is, however, a sign that you have some build up on your jewelry and could do with a deep clean. If there is an overwhelmingly foul smell coming from your septum, then you may have an infection and should contact your piercer.
- Discharge: During the healing process it is normal for your new piercing to have a white discharge or whitish crusties on your jewelry. For most people, this is nothing to be concerned about. Once this discharge clears up then your piercing is well on its way to healing. Discharge that is yellow or green discharge could be indicative of an infection, however.
Ways to style your new septum piercing
The first month and a half after getting your septum, you should still be sporting the jewelry your piercer used. Typically, this will be a curved barbell or ring made of surgical grade metal, like silver or titanium, that you purchase at the shop or buy elsewhere and bring to your piercer.
No matter how much you like the jewelry you were pierced with, you’re probably tired of seeing it every day after the first month. Thankfully, after it’s gone through the initial healing process, you’ll be able to change it to something new that won’t cause irritation.
Some jewelry elements to keep in mind for this stage are:
- Material: Metal is the classic material for a piercing. However, if you’re dealing with cell build up and some funky smells, then consider opting for jewelry made out of wood or glass.
- Weight: Even though your septum piercing has healed enough to change the jewelry, it is still a sensitive area. While you can wear jewelry that dangles, it is best to avoid rings with heavy, dangling elements or chains that can pull at the piercing or get caught on things like sweaters and hair.
- Gauge size: Generally speaking, most septums are pierced with a 16-gauge needle. When buying new septum jewelry, you should take into account the size of your current ring in order to avoid accidentally stretching your piercing.
- Diameter: Depending on your nose shape and where exactly you were pierced, you may need a ring with a smaller or larger diameter. To determine this, measure, in millimeters, the distance from your piercing to the edge of your nose. This number tells you the smallest ring that will fit; keep in mind that your septum ring should never be tight enough that it cannot move
Remember, every new piercing comes with a laundry list of best care practices that are well worth following for a piercing that you’ll be able to enjoy for as long as you want.