How to Effectively Heal an Infected Nose Piercing (Science Based)

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How to Effectively Heal an Infected Nose Piercing (Science Based)
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If you recently have had your nose pierced, you may want to know how to treat an infected nose piercing. Unfortunately, nose piercing infections are a common complication after getting a nose ring or stud. What was supposed to enhance your beauty can quickly become an unsightly infected hole that looks red, oozes fluid and pus, and possibly forms a scab or bump on your nose.

Infections can develop in nose piercings if bacteria or germs get into the piercing. There are a few reasons why infected piercings in the nose are common. For example, there are already a lot of bacteria in the nose that can infect the new hole. Also, many people are self-conscious of their new nose piercing and touch it often, thus spreading germs and dirt. This can cause a Staphylococcus bacterial infection in the wound.

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Of course, the best way to deal with a nose piercing infection is to prevent any germs affecting the piercing in the first place. However, what can you do if you notice signs of a skin infection around the nose ring or stud?

In this article, you will find out how to quickly treat a nose piercing infection. This will help to prevent any infection getting worse and will get rid of the signs of an infected pierced nose fast. At the end of the article you will learn when you should see a doctor if the nose piercing infection looks bad.

Symptoms of Infected Nose Piercing or Infected Nose Ring

Usually, with the proper aftercare, most people are able to avoid infections in a nose piercing. How can you tell if your nose piercing is infected?

The first sign that an infection has developed in your nose piercing is some redness and pain around the piercing site. Of course, in the first few days after any piercing, it is natural that there will be some signs of skin irritation.

However if your nose piercing becomes infected, the surrounding skin will usually be red and swollen. You may also suffer from pain around the infected nose ring or stud. You may also develop a nose piercing bump and there will probably be a yellowish pus-like discharge that fills the bump.

According to doctors from the National Health Service (NHS), signs of a nose piercing infection include tenderness when touching the nose, discharge from the nostril where the nose jewelry is, and a fever.1

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that another complication from nose piercings could be a nose piercing bump. The most common reasons for developing a nose piercing bump are some kind of trauma or infection in the pierced area (nose piercing infection).2

Infected Nose Piercing or Nose Ring Infection – Causes

Bacterial infection in nose piercing

The most common cause of an infected nose piercing is a bacterial infection in the wound. According to the American Family Physician, the nose ring or stud infection can be caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria that commonly colonize the nasal cavity.3

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The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that bacterial skin infections are also common in cartilage piercings. This can happen because of unsafe or unhygienic piercing practices or failing to care properly for the infected wound. However, nose cartilage and ear cartilage piercings are more difficult to treat because there is no blood supply to the area.4

Infection in nose cartridge piercing

One of the causes of nose piercing infections is the fact that cartilage in the nose takes longer to heal than piercing skin – for example, piercing your earlobe or getting your belly button pierced.

According to the journal American Family Physician, cartilage infections are more problematic to heal. A nose piercing can cause significant bleeding which can lead to nasal septal hematoma (a collection of blood within the septum of the nose) which will result in an infection of the nasal passages.3

Infected nose piercing vs. allergy to piercing jewelry

Symptoms of an infected nose piercing can be similar to an allergic reaction to the metal in the nose ring or stud.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of an allergic reaction to body piercing jewelry are commonly associated with nickel. An allergy to jewelry used in a nose piercing can have symptoms like a red itchy rash, bumps around the jewelry, and fluid that drains from the piercing site.5

One way to tell if the nose piercing is infected or showing signs of an allergy is to treat the piercing as you would if it was infected. Using natural remedies for nose piercing infections should help to clear the symptoms in a few days.

If you still have redness, pus draining from the piercing, and an itchy nose, you should see your doctor. It is also advisable to see your doctor for a checkup before using the home remedies to evaluate the severity of the infection.

Home Remedies for Infected Nose Piercing (Including How to Clean a Nose Piercing)

Let’s look at some of the best home remedies if your pierced nose is showing signs of infection.

Sea salt rinse to treat and clean an infected nose piercing

The best way to treat an infected nose piercing is to rinse the red itchy area around the ring or stud with a salt water solution.

Salt water helps to kill off bacteria in the wound and promote healing in the infection around nose piercing. The British Journal of Plastic Surgery reported that a saline solution speeds up wound healing due to a process called osmosis. The salt water removes pus and discharge from infected wounds and accelerates healing.6

According to doctors from the NHS, salt water on a piercing is the first step in caring for a piercing wound. In fact, you should bathe or rinse the nose piercing twice a day immediately after piercing to help prevent bacterial infections in your nose.1

How to use salt water remedy for treating infection after nose piercing

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This is how to make your own salt water remedy to clean the infected nose piercing and get rid of any signs of infection.

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt in a cup of warm water and stir until the salt has dissolved.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the salt solution.
  3. Place the compress on the infected skin area on your nose and hold for a few minutes.
  4. Rinse the nose piercing wound with warm water and dry with a clean paper towel.
  5. Clean the nose piercing using the salt solution 2-3 times to treat the infection and encourage faster wound healing.
  6. Continue applying the saline remedy to your infection every day until there are no signs of an infection on your nose.

Using warm water in the remedy helps the salt to dissolve and also promotes healing by increasing blood circulation to the infection around the nose ring or stud.

Tea tree oil for cleaning an infected nose piercing site

You can use tea tree oil to treat an infected nose piercing because of its strong antibacterial properties.

Tea tree oil contains many compounds that help piercing wounds heal quicker and prevent further infections. For example, according to studies published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews, tea tree oil is effective enough to kill off Staphylococcus bacteria strains. Also, tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe redness and itching around the nose piercing wound.7

The benefit of using tea tree oil for a swollen nose piercing is that it is gentle enough to be used undiluted directly on small areas of skin.

How to use tea tree oil to clean an infected nose piercing

It is very easy to use a few drops of tea tree oil to treat a piercing infection. This is what you should do:

  1. Put a few drops of tea tree oil on the end of a clean cotton bud.
  2. Gently dab the tea tree oil to the skin around the infected nose ring.
  3. Clean the nose piercing area 2-3 times a day for best results.
  4. If you also want to apply the tea tree oil to the inside of your nostril, use another cotton bud to prevent transferring germs.

If tea tree oil irritates your skin too much, you can mix it with a little coconut oil to create your own healing ointment. Coconut oil doesn’t just help kill off bacteria from the skin, its fatty acid content helps to moisturize the nose wound as it is healing.

This is what you should do:

  1. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil.
  2. Use a clean cotton swab to apply the coconut oil remedy to the pierced nose infection.
  3. Clean the piercing site 2-3 times a day to promote healing and soothe discomfort from the infection on your nose.
  4. Continue using until your no longer have signs of an infection around the nose stud or ring.

Apple cider vinegar to treat swollen nose piercing infection

Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy that has antiseptic properties to help treat a swollen nose piercing infection.

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The healing power of apple cider vinegar is due to its high content of acetic acid. According to a scientific study in the European Journal of General Medicine, solutions that contain 3% to 5% acetic acid have disinfectant properties that promote wound healing. Researchers who conducted the study stated that apple cider vinegar can be used to treat antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It is non-toxic and an inexpensive way to treat skin wounds.8

How to use apple cider vinegar to effectively treat nose piercing infections:

This is how to make your own apple cider vinegar natural home remedy for healing nose piercing infection:

  1. Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with equal quantities of water.
  2. Dip a cotton ball in the vinegar solution and apply to the infected skin around the nose ring.
  3. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Apply 2-3 times a day to help remove pus, crusting, and other signs of a bacterial infection in your nose piercing.

An apple cider vinegar solution is also great for treating other skin ailments like soothing the discomfort eczema causes, helping to treat psoriasis symptoms, and getting rid of acne naturally.

Aloe vera to heal nose piercing infection

Aloe vera can help to remove itching, redness, and oozing fluid from a nose piercing that has become infected.

According to a review of the healing power of aloe vera for skin wounds, the Natural Medical Journal reported that aloe vera helps wounds heal quicker. The benefit of aloe vera on infected wounds is that it has natural antioxidants and it reduces bacterial inflammation. It also boosts the skin’s production of collagen to assist in healing a wound without a scar.9

How to use aloe vera as an infected nose piercing treatment

If you have an aloe vera plant at home, you can use the flesh from a leaf as a natural gel. Or, you can buy aloe vera gel with as few added ingredients as possible. This is what you should do to treat a nose piercing infection at home:

  1. Apply a little aloe vera with a clean cotton swab to the pierced area around nostril that has signs of an infection.
  2. Leave to dry.
  3. Use the aloe vera remedy 2-3 times a day to help the nose piercing infection heal quickly.
  4. Aloe vera is also gentle enough to help clear an infection inside your nostril.

You can also use aloe vera as a natural remedy for skin bumps and to treat skin cysts that are causing discomfort.

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Other Remedies for Healing an Infected Nose Ring

There are a number of other home remedies that you can use to treat nose piercing infections naturally.

Calendula. According to the journal Wounds, calendula helps to successfully treat wounds and alleviate pain. Calendula has an antimicrobial activity and will reduce signs of inflammation to accelerate wound healing.10

To make a natural calendula ointment, add 2-3 drops of calendula essential oil to a tablespoon coconut oil. Apply to the skin area of the nose where you have signs of an infection twice daily.

Chamomile. Using chamomile tea bags is one way to make a warm natural compress to heal a nose piercing infection. Studies into chamomile have shown that chamomile extracts can speed up wound healing and soothe irritation at the same time.11

To make a warm chamomile compress, place a chamomile tea bag in a cup of hot water and allow to infuse for a few minutes. Remove from the water, squeeze the excess, and allow to cool slightly. Hold on the chamomile tea bag on the infected nostril for a few minutes. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the nose infection around the piercing has healed completely.

How Long Does Infected Nose Piercing Take to Heal?

Dr. William Blahd on WebMD says that it may take 4-6 weeks for some piercings to heal.12 However, doctors from the National Health Service say that a nose piercing will take up to 6 months to heal. This may take longer if the nose piercing has become infected.14

How to Prevent Nose Piercing Infection

To prevent a nose piercing infection, it’s essential to follow the aftercare instructions you receive from the piercer. This usually includes rinsing with a saline solution 2 times a day for a few weeks or even a few months. You should continue doing this until the wound heals and there is no sign of redness or discharge.

However, there are other steps that you can take to prevent complications after getting your nose pierced. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic advise the following safety precautions to prevent nose piercings becoming infected:13

  • Always clean your hands with an antibacterial soap before and after touching a nose piercing that is healing.
  • Never attempt to pierce your nose yourself and always go to a reputable piercing salon.
  • Insist that the piercer wears gloves to prevent spreading infection.
  • Make sure that all equipment is sterilized or disinfected.
  • To prevent skin irritation that allergic reactions cause, get nose rings or studs that are from surgical steel, or 14 or 18-karat gold.
  • Avoid swimming until the nose piercing has completely healed.
  • Don’t fiddle with the nose stud unless you are cleaning it.
  • Don’t pick at discharge that has hardened.

Nose Piercing Without Infection (Keloids or Granulomas)

Not all nose piercing complications involve infections. Sometimes a bump around the nose piercing site can form.

Granuloma. Nose bumps just beside a piercing could be a granuloma. This is an overgrowth of tissue that forms as the wound is healing.

Keloid. A keloid is a whitish looking nose bump that is formed by scar tissue in the pierced hole. There is no way to prevent keloids forming and some people are more prone than others to them.

When to See a Doctor for Nose Piercing Infection

You know it’s time to see a doctor for a nose piercing infection if there is no improvement in your symptoms or if an infection starts getting worse.

According to doctors from the National Health Service, you should seek medical care immediately if you suffer from the following symptoms of a nose piercing infection:14

  • Swelling and redness around the wound doesn’t get better when bathing with a saline solution.
  • The wound area starts to throb and feels warm to touch.
  • The piercing becomes increasingly more painful to touch.
  • You have a yellowish or green discharge from the wound.

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. NHS. Body piercing.
  2. MayoClinic. Piercings: How to prevent complications.
  3. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Nov 15;72(10):2029-2034.
  4. WebMD. Cartilage piercings riskier than earlobes.
  5. MayoClinic. Nickel allergy.
  6. Br J Plast Surg.2000 Jan;53(1):42-5.
  7. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.
  8. Eur J Gen Med. 5, No. 2, 2008, pp. 104-106.
  9. NaturalMedicineJournal. Aloe vera gel research review.
  10. WoundsResearch. Calendula officinalis and wound healing.
  11. Mol Med Report. 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895–901.
  12. WebMD. Body piercing problems.
  13. MayoClinic. Adult health.
  14. CIEH. Ear and face piercing aftercare.
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