Nose Piercing History
While nose rings have only gained widespread popularity in mainstream culture in recent years, nose piercing is not a new practice. It was first recorded in the Middle East roughly 4,000 years ago, and the Bible says that Abraham gave his son's wife Rebekah the gift of a golden "Shanf", which translates to "nose ring". To this day, African tribes like the nomadic Berber and Beja tribes still practice nose piercing. In groups like the Middle Eastern Bedouins, a man gives his wife a nose ring when he marries her; its size denotes the family's wealth, and the nose hoop serves as financial security for the woman in the event her husband leaves her or dies before her.
Nose rings are probably most commonly associated with Indian culture, but the practice of nose piercing didn't reach that area until the 16th century. Typically Indian women wear a nose stud or ring in the left nostril, since the left side of the body is associated with reproductive organs in Indian medicine; a left nostril piercing is believed to make childbirth easier and less painful. A nose ring may be attached to an ear piercing via a delicate chain.
In the late 1960s, hippies who traveled to India brought the custom of nostril piercing back to the United States. In the 1970s, it was adopted by the Punk movement as a symbol of rebellion against conservative values. Although many conservatives still do not react well to nose piercings, they've since gained such popularity that the stigma associated with them is lessening proportionately.
The Nose Piercing Process
When you first go to see your piercer about having your nose pierced, you'll have to tell him or her if you want a nostril piercing, a septum piercing, or another type of nose piercing. If you want a nostril piercing, which side do you want pierced? Once you decide, your piercer will mark the area where s/he plans to insert the needle. Once you're happy with the placement, your piercer can begin!
Don't be surprised or embarrassed if tears involuntarily flow from one or both of your eyes when your nose is being pierced. It's a very common physiological response (particularly to nostril piercings) that has nothing to do with your ability to tolerate the momentary discomfort associated with nose piercings.
Word of Warning: If you get a septum or nasallang piercing and experience excruciating pain when pierced and significant discomfort afterwards, the piercer likely went through your septum cartilage. Big oops. If you find yourself in that situation, take your jewelry out, let your poor nose heal, and find someone who knows what they're doing to re-pierce it later. (Read more about septum piercing problems in our forum.)
Being selective when choosing a piercer is the best way to avoid nose piercing problems! See our Choosing a Piercer article for tips on how to find a great piercer.
Nose Piercing Healing Time
Each type of nose piercing takes a different amount of time to heal, and healing times vary from person-to-person. On average, though, you can expect:
- A nostril piercing will take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to heal (3 months if you're lucky).
- Septum piercings need about 6 to 8 weeks to heal, as long as the cartilage wasn't accidentally pierced. They're actually the fastest-healing nose piercings when done right.
- A rhino piercing should heal in 6 to 9 months.
- Bridge piercings heal faster than most other piercings, usually in 8 to 12 weeks.
- Nasallang piercings take 4 to 6 months to heal. This is the most difficult piercing to get right, because it's actually a 3-in-1 piercing (nostril-septum-nostril). Find a reputable professional piercer to do this one for you--preferably one who's APP certified.
Note: If you'd like to learn more about any of these piercings or have questions about nose piercings not answered here, visit our Nose Piercing FAQs page.
While your nose piercing is healing, you should leave your jewelry alone unless you're having an allergic reaction or experiencing significant swelling that's causing the jewelry to press into your skin. If you do have excessive swelling, itching or a rash, get your piercer to swap out your jewelry for either a stainless steel or solid (not coated) titanium nose ring or stud. Those metals are the most inert and least likely to cause an allergic reaction. If your jewelry just isn't long enough to comfortably accomodate a normal amount of swelling, you'll need to have larger jewelry inserted to prevent necrosis (tissue death), which can lead to infection.
If you try to change your jewelry yourself, you might damage the delicate, healing fistula (i.e. hole where you were pierced) or risk having the fistula close up while you try to get jewelry back into it. That's why it's best to get your piercer to help, even if it means paying a small fee.
If you have no choice but to change your nose piercing jewelry yourself, make sure your new nose ring is the exact same gauge as your starter one so you won't have trouble inserting it. Also, consider buying one of the styles that's easiest to insert, like a flexible niobium seamless ring (shown above). Nose bones and nostril screws are also very easy to put in by yourself. If you want to wear a labret, consider buying a threaded taper in the same gauge as your jewelry to make it easier to insert the labret back (example above).
During the initial healing process and any time your nose piercing is irritated/inflamed, it's very important to keep up with your nose piercing care regime. You can purchase a product like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray or H2Ocean to spritz on your piercing a few times a day. Make sure to spray both the inside and outside of your nostril, if you just got a regular or high nostril piercing.
Additionally, you should cleanse your piercing more thoroughly 2-3 times a day with a sea salt solution (SSS) soak. You can either drench cotton balls in a piercing aftercare spray like Recovery and apply them to your piercing for 5 minutes at a time, or you can make a homemade sea salt solution to use when doing soaks.
To make homemade SSS, boil 1 cup of water for 5 minutes to sterilize it. Mix in 1/4 tsp. sea salt (not table salt, which contains iodine; get aquarium sea salt from a pet store). If desired, you can also stir in 2-3 drops of tea tree oil for its moisturizing and antiseptic qualities. Let the mixture cool a bit, and then apply it by soaking your piercing directly in the solution or by applying it with clean cotton balls. (Some people like to apply SSS while it's still warm, others prefer it cold.)
When caring for your nostril piercing, do not...
→ apply oils, balms or creams directly to your piercing. These things can clog the fistula, trapping in bacteria and leading to infection, or at a minimum, delaying the healing process.
→ turn/twist/slide your jewelry, even to loosen up "crusties". Crusties are just dried lymph, which is a clear fluid that the body naturally excretes during the piercing healing process. Lymph dries to a whitish crust that you can soften up with warm water or sea salt solution and then gently wipe away with a wet cotton ball or swab. If you turn your jewelry to loosen the crusties, you could push bacteria into the delicate fistula and delay healing.
→ change your jewelry during the first 3-4 months unless you're having an issue with your starter jewelry, such as an allergic reaction to the metal.
Nose Rings: Nose Studs & Nose Hoops
When it comes to nose rings, there are lots of options available. You can wear a captive bead ring or one of several styles of nose "studs", including nose screws, nose bones and fishtails (shown to the left). Painful Pleasures carries one of the world's largest assortments of nose rings with so many length, gauge and style options available that you're sure to find the perfect nose ring for you! Start shopping for a nose ring by selecting a category below:
All Nostril Rings
BioPlastic Nostril Jewelry
Gold Nose Rings
Platinum Nose Rings
Sterling Silver Nose Rings
Surgical Steel Nose Rings
Titanium Nostril Rings
Captive Bead Rings
All Septum Jewelry
Glass Septum Jewelry
Circular Barbells / Horseshoe Barbells
Nostril & Septum Retainers
If you've been stretching your nose piercing for awhile and want a tunnel or plug instead of a more traditional nose ring, you'll find plenty of options through our Body Jewelry main page. Choose from organic jewelry, plugs, tunnels, tusks, and more!
Other Nose Piercing Resources
In our photo gallery and forum, you'll find nose piercing pictures and useful nose piercing information, like aftercare tips, how to determine if you have a nose piercing infection, and more. Take a look:
Nostril Piercing Photo Gallery - Check out images of our community members' nose piercings, including some extreme nose piercings like the large gauge septum piercing shown here!
Facial/Oral Piercings - In this section of our forum, you can read about other people's nose piercing stories, write about your own experiences, or submit a question for our knowledgeable moderators and experience forum members to answer.
There are also a number of other nose piercing articles within our Information Center that you might find useful, including:
Nose Piercing FAQs - In this handy nose piercing guide, we've answered the questions that people search for most often, like "what types of nose piercings can I get?" and "How can I hide my septum piercing from my boss?"
Nose Piercing Jewelry - This article breaks down the various options available for nose piercings, as does our FAQs article above.
How to Bend a Fishtail Into a Nose Screw - If you want to make your own custom nostril screw with a fishtail nose ring and a pair of pliers, this guide has the instructions you need to get started.
History of Body Piercings - Learn more about the history behind nose piercing and other piercings.
Measuring Body Jewelry - This guide to measuring jewelry is invaluable if you're trying to order new jewelry but don't know what size your current jewlery is.