How to Handle an Infected Nose Piercing

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Few things are as frustrating as getting a piercing infection, even worse when it’s in a conspicuous location like your nose. If you’re wondering how to handle an infected nose piercing, we’ve got you. 

In this guide, we’re talking about how to detect and treat nose piercing infections, and tips for preventing them. 

Why do nose piercings get infected?

Nose piercing infection


Nose piercings are especially prone to infections because of the bacteria present within the nose. Additionally, you can get an infection when the piercing is done by an amateur or unhygenic piercer using unsterilized tools or allergenic starter jewelry like 10K gold. 

Poor aftercare also causes infections. For example, touching your fresh piercing often or with unwashed hands, not cleaning it regularly, and exposing it to toxic chemicals found in some cosmetics.

How do you know you have an infected nose piercing?

After getting a new piercing, it’s normal for the piercing site to feel delicate, itchy, and perhaps redden or darken. It may also feel crusty after bleeding a little or produce a colorless fluid. That doesn’t mean your piercing is infected; it’s only healing. 

However, if your piercing swells, feels very hot and painful, and produces pus (green or yellow fluid), it’s likely infected. You might also get a fever. 

💡 Take Note: You know you have an infected nose piercing if your piercing site is swollen, very painful, oozes pus, and makes you feel unwell. 

What does an infected nose piercing look like? 

If you’re dark-skinned, an infected nose piercing will look much darker than the surrounding skin. If you’re light-skinned, an infected piercing looks very red. It also looks swollen and full of pus, just like in the video below.

How to treat an infected nose piercing at home

If you’ve got an infected nose piercing, here are a few tips to help you treat it.

1. Apply salt and water mix

Add one teaspoon of salt to two cups of water and mix. Then dip a cotton swab or clean cloth in the solution for a few seconds and clean the piercing site with the cloth. Afterward, dry it with a clean cloth. Do this thrice a day.

2. Use warm compresses 

Dip a clean, absorbent cloth in warm water and then place it over the infected piercing for a few minutes. This helps to reduce swelling and soften any bumps. 

3. Use tea tree oil

Essential oils like tea tree oil also help reduce swelling in an infected nose piercing. Mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil (like almond or coconut oil), dip a cotton swab in the solution, and use the swab to clean the piercing site. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to the salt solution suggested earlier.

4. Keep it clean

Your nose piercing could be infected because of poor piercing hygiene. Cleaning the site regularly (two to three times a day) goes a long way with getting rid of the infection. 

💡 Take Note: Remember to wash your hands with mild soap and water first before cleaning your piercing. 

5. Replace jewelry

If an allergic reaction to the jewelry has infected your piercing, changing the initial jewelry could help. However, don’t replace it yourself as the site is still delicate. Visit a doctor or professional piercer to check and replace the jewelry with a hypoallergenic metal like titanium, sterling silver, or 18K gold. 

6. Medication

Use OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers to reduce the pain. You may have to visit a doctor who will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. 

How long does an infected nose piercing take to heal?

A minor nose infection can take about two weeks to heal. A more serious infection will take longer. Either way, you should notice an improvement every couple of days.

What to do if your infected nose piercing isn’t improving

If the infection isn’t improving, you should go back to your professional piercer, who will check and decide the best solution. They may suggest replacing the piercing jewelry if a reaction has caused the infection.

If your nose piercing becomes unbearably painful, or you get an abscess or a fever, you should see a doctor immediately. He may drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. 

💡 Take Note: If your infected nose piercing is not improving or seems to be getting worse after a few days, visit your professional piercer or doctor. 

6 tips for preventing an infected nose piercing

nose piercing infection - How to Handle an Infected Nose Piercing


If you’re getting a nose piercing, here’s how you can lower your chances of getting an infected piercing:  

  1. Get your piercing done by a professional piercer who uses sterilized equipment.
  2. Choose a hypoallergenic metal for your initial piercing. Examples of safe metals are platinum, 18K and 22K gold, and sterling silver.
  3. Use a saline solution to clean the new piercing site twice daily, morning and night. 
  4. Keep body lotions, makeup, and perfumes away from your nose piercing. Cosmetic products can irritate a new nose piercing and lead to infection.
  5. Keep your hands away from the piercing as much as possible. Always wash your hands first before touching the piercing area.
  6. Avoid swimming until your piercing is fully healed. The chlorine and bacteria in the pool water will irritate and infect your piercing. 

Frequently asked questions

If you still need more information about infected nose piercings, we’re answering a few questions people usually ask. 

Do infected nose piercings go away?

With diligent treatment, infected nose piercings should go away. If you don’t see any signs of improvement, go back to your piercer for advice. If your symptoms get worse, see a doctor immediately. 

How do you know if your nose piercing is rejecting?

A piercing rejection is different from an infection. For a rejection, the piercing hole expands, and you’ll notice that the piercing jewelry is more visible under the skin. The piercing site will also be very sore, and the jewelry may change its original position. 

Should you squeeze pus out of an infected nose piercing?

No, squeezing out pus yourself will be hard and painful. It may also worsen the infection. It’s best to see a doctor or professional piercer for help. 

When should I take out my piercing if it’s infected? 

You should take out your piercing only when your professional piercer or doctor says it’s okay. Professionals typically examine your piercing and decide if taking it out will help and they’ll also remove for you. Taking out an infected piercing on your own may spread the infection. 

An infection isn’t the end

Although getting an infected nose piercing can be painful, it doesn’t have to be the end of your piercing. By trying the home remedies above and seeing a professional as soon as possible, you can treat your nose piercing infection. 

Of course, it’s always best to prevent a mess. So if your nose piercing isn’t infected yet, ensure to keep it that way by keeping the piercing site clean and practicing other safety measures. 

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