How To Clean A Nose Piercing: Step-by-Step Process

Written by Reshma Latif
Edited by Asmita De
Fact-checked by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism)
Last Updated on

Even though nose piercings are fairly common, just like any other piercing, they are not without complications. If you already have your nose pierced or are planning to get it done by a professional piercer, emphasize understanding how to clean a nose piercing to ensure a safe healing journey. Nose piercings can easily trap dirt from the environment as well as sweat, skin care or makeup products, and other irritants. Following a proper aftercare regimen can help protect your nose piercing from infections and prevent rejection by your body. It is all the more important when your nose piercing is still new and vulnerable in many ways. So, to help you along this journey, we have compiled detailed information on how to clean your nose piercing and care for it, ensuring a quick and smooth healing period. Keep reading to learn more.

How To Clean A Nose Piercing Safely

Any piercing is an open wound at the initial stage, requiring intricate aftercare. Here is a step-by-step routine you may follow to clean your nose piercing site:

  1. Wash Your Hands
    The nose harbors a multitude of bacteria and is highly susceptible to infection. Therefore, wash your hands with antibacterial soap before touching the piercing site.
  1. Clean With Saline Solution
    Clean the area with salt solution twice daily to keep away bacteria and associated infections. You may use a saline spray to clean the outside surface and a saline wipe to clean inside the nostril and remove any crusting or discharge.
  1. Rinse With Water
    After cleaning with a saline solution, rinse the piercing site with lukewarm water to remove any residue of the salt solution.
  1. Pat It Dry
    Pat the area dry with clean paper towels. Avoid using cloth towels, as they can carry bacteria and the threads may also snag at the jewelry. You may also use wipes, non-fibrous swabs, or gauze. This will make it easier to wipe away softened crusts and discharges from the wound.
  1. Clean The Jewelry
    Once the nose piercing has healed, ensure weekly cleaning of the piercing jewelry too. Dirt and oil can accumulate in the nose jewelry, making it necessary to clean it to maintain hygiene. Soak the jewelry piece for a few minutes in a tiny container with a sterile saline solution. If it has intricate designs, use a soft, clean toothbrush to clean the little crevices. Rinse it thoroughly and pat dry with clean paper towels before inserting. Do not remove or rotate piercing jewelry if the piercing site is still in the healing stage.

Cirice, a blogger, shares her nostril piercing experience in detail. She explains her saline soak routine and adds, “If I bump my nose, accidentally touch it, or if I blow my nose, I just wash my hands thoroughly and then spray a little bit of saline on the piercing to clean it in case I transferred any bacteria to the area (i).” She also mentions using a Band-Aid to cover and keep the piercing secure while sleeping.

protip_icon Did You Know?
The piercing heals from the outside to the inside. While it may look perfect superficially, the inside portion might still be tender. Your piercer can help you identify if it has healed completely.

Nose piercings demand proper aftercare measures from day one of the piercing, but several factors can lead to an infection. Early detection of an infection can make its treatment efficient and convenient. Read on to learn how to handle an infected nose piercing with care and medication.

How To Clean An Infected Nose Piercing

Woman getting her infected nose piercing treated
Image: Shutterstock

Infections are a common occurrence with piercings. Redness, discoloration, blisters, tenderness, throbbing pain, itching, and colored discharges are the common signs of infection. The first course of action is to reach out for medical help when you notice these signs. The next important step is to exercise more mindful care when cleaning an infected nose piercing. Here are some general guidelines for cleaning an infected nose piercing.

  • Gently clean your infected nose piercing using a soft cotton pad dipped in sterile saline solution, at least twice a day, and whenever you notice blood or pus oozing out of it. Do not pick at crusted blood and discharge. Instead, just dip a Q-tip in the saline solution and gently loosen it.
  • Avoid using harsh cleansing products like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as they will further irritate the infected site.
  • Do not rotate, twist, or remove the piercing jewelry. This may cause irritation or even lock the infection in.

Following these extra precautions while cleaning your infected nose piercing can help manage and support its treatment. Additionally, you may take note of the following tips to ensure the infection does not worsen:

  • Use a cold compress to soothe and decrease inflammation at the infected piercing site.
  • If the situation does not subside within the next 2 to 3 days, consult your professional piercer or get medical help. You might be prescribed antibiotic creams and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can use the cream after cleansing the area, and the drug will help reduce the pain and redness.
  • Your piercer may suggest changing the nose jewelry if they suspect a metal allergy. They may instead use a low-reactive metal like 14-18k gold, surgical steel, or platinum which may slowly help reduce inflammation, as they are meant to be safer for people with sensitive skin or metal allergies (1).
  • Sometimes, the professional may also advise removing the piercing to heal the infection and get a re-piercing done after the wound is healed.

With a bit of extra diligence in your cleaning procedure, you can take proper care of an infected nose piercing. Usually, fresh nose piercings are susceptible to infections. Therefore, paying extra attention to aftercare during the initial weeks is important. If you are wondering what type of cleaning solutions you can use for healing your piercings faster, explore the below section to learn more about them.

What To Clean Nose Piercings With

Tea tree oil for cleaning a nose piercing
Image: Shutterstock

We have established how important it is to clean your nose piercing to ensure good hygiene and health of the piercing wound. However, doing so with regular cleansers is not recommended. Here is what you can use to clean your nose piercing:

  1. Saline Rinse
    Experts recommend using a 0.09% sodium chloride saline solution to clean the piercing and jewelry (2). Sterile saline sprays are quick fixes for cleaning your piercing wound while you are at work or traveling. Use saline formulas specifically formulated for wound care.
  1. DIY Sea Salt Soak
    Make a saline solution by mixing ¼ teaspoon of sea salt in 1 cup of warm distilled water and use it as a cleaning solution or as a soak. Warm saline solution can draw out the discharge, promote blood circulation, and soothe irritations.

However, note that experts do not recommend preparing DIY saline solution, as one might miscalculate the formula and excessive salt can dry out the piercing wound (2). So go for a homemade solution only as a last resort or temporary fix until you can get a medical-grade one.

  1. Tea Tree Oil
    This essential oil possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (3). Piercing experts have mixed opinions about using tea tree oil on healing piercings as they may be too harsh for the vulnerable wound. Anecdotal reports suggest using the oil in the last stages of wound healing where the piercing has mostly scabbed. However, always consult your piercer before using tea tree oil. Dilute the tea tree oil, using only 2-3 drops with a tablespoon of any carrier oil or saline solution to reduce the risk of irritation. Also, run a patch test to check for allergic reactions before using it on the piercing wound.
  1. Gentle Soap
    Once the piercing has healed completely, you can use an unscented soap to clean the piercing site and jewelry. Liquid soap is the best option, and it can help remove sweat, oil, cosmetics, and discharge gently. Bar soaps are exposed and may collect bacteria over time, which may transfer to your piercing.
  1. Lavender Oil
    Lavender oil is another essential oil that may be a soothing solution for a healing piercing. It may promote faster healing and tissue remodeling (4). However, studies supporting this claim and its specific use for body piercings are limited. So check with your piercer before using it even in diluted form.

Only medical-grade sterile saline solution has general approval from the global piercing community. So ensure consulting your piercer before you use any of the above as their efficacy may be subjective.

Moving forward, it is also essential to know what kind of solutions you must avoid when cleaning your nose piercing. The following section sheds light on some commonly used wound-cleaning solutions that can irritate your nose piercing.

Cleaning Solutions To Avoid

Hydrogen peroxide should not be used for cleaning a nose piercing
Image: Shutterstock

While cleaning your piercing wounds, it is important to remember that your piercing site is sensitive, and not all cleaning solutions are suitable for this delicate area. Make a note of avoiding the below-mentioned cleaning solutions to minimize the risk of irritations and infections:

  • Harsh products like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial soaps, or iodine can dry up the skin and damage the cells (2).
  • Regular antibacterial ointments have a thick consistency and can block air circulation to the healing site, thus delaying healing (2).
  • Piercing care solutions containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK) generally used for ear piercings and general ear care have been reported to cause infections through contamination (5). Since then, experts have advised avoiding them altogether for any antiseptic preparations (2).

After understanding the nitty-gritty of cleaning a nose piercing, the next question that arises is the optimum frequency of the routine. Too much or too little can be problematic. Learn more about it in the next section.

How Often Should I Clean My Nose Piercing?

Like any new piercing, fresh piercings require frequent cleaning to keep the wound free of debris and microorganisms. Too little cleaning can cause dirt accumulation, while frequent cleaning can irritate the wound. Adhering to a twice-a-day piercing cleaning schedule is ideal for fresh piercings. Stick to a morning and evening regimen that starts on the first day of the piercing. The first few days may majorly involve cleaning the wound to prevent bleeding or discharge. So besides the two cleansing sessions, you may clean any oozing blood or pus following the same meticulous procedure as and when they appear. The oozing should stop within 2 to 3 days, and then you must stick to the aftercare cleaning routine twice daily until the wound appears to have healed completely.

Even though the cleaning process is rather simple, you might now wonder how long you should follow the routine. Let us provide a quick insight into how long you have to follow a cleaning procedure for the upkeep of your nasal piercing.

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Nose Piercing?

Smiling woman with a completely healed nose piercing
Image: Shutterstock

After the nose piercing has healed completely, which might take 2 to 6 months to even a year, you can reduce the frequency of the cleaning process to once a day, or every other day. You need not clean a healed piercing daily but do not leave it unattended as it will accumulate dirt, oils, product residue, dead skin, and other debris over time. You may use a mild, unscented, antibacterial soap for cleaning and maintenance of a completely healed piercing. Additionally, remove the piercing jewelry once a week to clean any accumulated dirt on it as well.

protip_icon Trivia
Celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Zayn Malik, Justin Bieber, and many more have famously sported nose piercings.

Proper cleaning methods aside, there are some things that you have to be careful about to prevent infections and other risks. Read the following section to understand the safety precautions that you must follow to avoid irritating your piercing.

Additional Safety Precautions

Alongside being gentle and consistent with cleaning your nose piercings, follow these steps to ensure their healthy healing and maintenance:

  • Do not remove the starter jewelry until the piercing heals, as it may agitate the wound.
  • Avoid using over-the-counter antiseptics like Neosporin or Bacitracin as they can be harsh and worsen infections. Consult your professional piercer or healthcare provider for appropriate products to use in case of an infected piercing.
  • Avoid applying makeup in the area around the piercing, as it may clog or irritate the open piercing wound.
  • Steer clear of water bodies like pools, lakes, and even bathtubs as they can harbor bacteria, leading to infections.
  • Do not keep rotating or moving the jewelry, as it can irritate the fresh piercing wound and prolong the healing time. Rotating nose studs can also cause it to loosen and fall out.
  • Dirty pillowcases can be the top reason for a nose-piercing infection. Change the pillowcase daily till the piercing is healed.
  • If you are wearing a silver nose ring or stud, use a silver jewelry cleaner to remove any corrosion that may get stuck in the piercing. Also, get yourself checked for metal allergies. In case you learn of skin sensitivities, avoid reactive metals like nickel and copper and opt for safe metals like titanium, surgical stainless steel, platinum, or 14-18k gold (1).

So you see, knowing how to clean your nose piercing is an important part of its recovery and maintenance journey. It involves dedicated care and a nuanced procedure. A few months of regular cleaning can not only keep your piercing clean but significantly lower the risks of infections, making it a smooth sailing process. Most nose piercings heal in 2 to 4 months, but some may take longer depending on individual wound healing capacity and case-specific issues. Fresh piercings are subject to infections and rejections, and sometimes healed nose piercings can also get infected or cause scarring due to negligence in the maintenance. This prolongs the healing period and demands extra care. The best thing to do is seek medical help while also making sure your infected piercing site does not get further aggravated. With enough patience and mindfulness your nose piercing will quickly be on its way to a safe and healthy recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I rotate or move the jewelry while cleaning my nose piercing?

Do not rotate, twist, move, or remove the piercing jewelry if it is still raw. Keep its movement as minimal as possible or it will irritate the wound and expose it to bacteria. You can gently clean around the jewelry with a Q-tip and saline solution to remove any crusting. However, if your nose piercing is completely healed, you may remove the jewelry once a week for a thorough cleaning of the piercing hole and the jewelry. Overall, avoid unnecessary friction even after the piercing is healed to prevent accidental injuries.

How do I safely remove crust or buildup around my nose piercing during cleaning?

You can try a sterile saline solution soak to soften dried or crusted lymphatic fluid or blood from the piercing site and the jewelry. Simply fill a bottle cap or a tiny container with the solution and submerge the nose piercing for 2-3 minutes. Then use a Q-tip to gently remove the loosened crust and rinse any residual dirt away. Always pat dry with clean, disposable paper towels that will not snag the piercing jewelry.

What are the signs that I might be over-cleaning my nose piercing, and what should I do about it?

If you are over-cleaning your nose piercing, you will feel dryness, tightness, itchiness, and redness at the site. These symptoms hint at improper care and can prolong the healing process leading to bleeding, jewelry rejection, or scarring. Follow a basic twice-a-day cleansing routine – once in the morning and once in the evening. Additionally, if you notice any oozing fluid from the site, you may clean it immediately.

Key Takeaways

  • Sterile saline solution is the holy grail for nose piercing aftercare. You can use it to clean the piercing area and also as a soak to loosen crusted fluid from the piercing.
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and alcohol-based products. Do not apply any products that can cause irritation, which includes antiseptic ointments, petroleum jelly, and makeup.
  • It is important to maintain a consistent cleaning routine until the piercing is completely healed, which may take between 2 to 6 months or more.
  • After the wound has healed, cleaning the piercing once a day or every other day is recommended for its healthy upkeep. Additionally, remove the piercing jewelry once a week to clean its crevices to ensure optimal hygiene.

Whether you are considering a new nose piercing or looking for guidance on its maintenance, the following video will give you comprehensive information on ensuring a successful piercing journey. Check it out to get professional insight into nose piercing aftercare practices.

Personal Experience: Source


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  1. Jewelry for initial piercings
  2. Suggested aftercare for body piercings
  3. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: A review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties
  4. The effects of lavender essential oil on wound healing: a review of the current evidence
  5. Case Report: Infected ear cartilage piercing
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Reshma is a content writer with a penchant for writing articles on relationships, makeup, and beauty. She started her writing career in 2007, soon after graduating from Mahatma Gandhi University. What began as a love for blogging bloomed into several freelancing opportunities over the years.

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Asmita De is an associate editor with over three years of experience. She graduated in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. She has collaborated with several digital companies and reputed publishing houses as an editor.

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Joyce Joyson
Joyce JoysonBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Joyce Joyson is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over a year of experience crafting short-form content for the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle niches. She has a triple majors bachelor’s degree in History, Political Science, and Geography from IIS University and a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kristu Jayanti College.

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