So you finally took the leap and a got your nose pierced. Congratulations! Now it’s time for the aftercare. By now you should have your saline solution at the ready, and have listened to all the instructions provided by your piercer.
Yet despite all of your precautions, perhaps that new piercing looks a little red in the mirror, or hot or painful to the touch. Maybe the area is a bit swollen or is causing pain that over the counter medications just can’t compete with.
Is any of this normal?
Infections are a very real risk with any new piercing. You and your piercer can take all the necessary precautions, and you might still develop one. It’s OK -- that’s normal with new open wounds, and technically that’s what your body thinks a piercing is until it heals.
So, how do you recognize a nose piercing infection and once you do, what steps should you take next? Pierced Co has put together this user friendly care guide to help you understand nose piercing infections and how to treat them.
As always, if you have any questions, concerns or are ready to learn more about any type of piercing don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to help.
Causes of Nose Piercing Infections
Let’s talk a little science: most infections originate due to bacteria invading in places it doesn’t belong. If your piercer uses a piercing gun, for instance, your piercing site may take more tissue damage and be introduced to more bacteria-- it’s almost impossible to fully sterilize a piercing gun.
FUN FACT: At Pierced we only use professionally sterile needles, never “guns”
Another instance comes into play when bacteria is introduced to the wound through swimming pools, baths, or other large bodies of water. These waters harbour all sorts of bacteria-- it’s best to keep dry.
Touching is another no-no. This is why we tell you to wash your hands-- bacteria, bacteria, bacteria. But this doesn’t just apply to you. Make sure to tell others, especially partners you’re intimate with that they cannot touch or kiss the area until it fully heals.
Allergic reactions to metal can also cause an infection. Many people can’t tolerate nickel, and surgical titanium is almost always a safe bet. If you have any current piercings, think about the metals you generally use.
Preventative Steps to Avoid a Nose Piercing Infection
We’ve all heard the saying: an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure It’s popular because it’s true! While infections are a large risk, every step you take to prevent can help keep them at bay.
The first step is to know and trust your piercer. Hygiene practices in a piercing parlour are imperative to protecting yourself. Your piercer should be more than willing to explain everything their parlour does to mitigate that risk-- such as using sealed packs of hollow point needles instead of a piercing gun.
Ensure that you follow all of your piercer’s aftercare instructions and feel free to do some extra research beforehand. Keep your saline solution handy, or whip up a batch of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of salt to make your own saltwater solution for cleaning.
Before caring for your piercing, always wash your hands. Don’t use anything that can leave fibres, like cotton swabs-- instead, use a medicine dropper or just pour the water over the piercing site. You can use a dry paper towel to dab up the solution.
Recognizing an Infection
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of having an infection is realizing it is actually an infection. Sure, some infections are obvious, but others are more subtle. Most symptoms can easily be passed off as natural responses to a piercing:
- Discoloured or smelly pus
See what we mean? Most of these are pretty inconspicuous on their own. But in combination or to an excessive degree, you may have an infection. If you develop a fever, skip the self-treatment and get yourself to a doctor ASAP-- fevers mean the infection has moved beyond your piercing.
Minor infections can, however, be treated at home. If a few days pass with no improvement, you may want to pop into your doctor’s office or an urgent care centre for a quick check.
If you suspect you may have an infection but don’t want to waste the copay on suspicion, swing by your piercer’s parlour-- they know what to look for and can let you know if the reaction is normal or if you should probably cough up the copay.
Treating the Infection
While an infected nose certainly isn’t fun, the good news is that treatment is fairly easy. In fact, your regimen is almost exactly the same as typical aftercare: wash your hands, clean the piercing, and don’t remove the jewelry (unless, of course, your doctor specifically instructs you to). So, what’s the difference? You’ll want to wash the piercing twice a day and be careful not to leave any cotton fibres behind when drying.
No matter what, don’t give in to the use of the following:
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Hydrogen Peroxide
All three of the above are harsh on your skin can actually cause more cell/tissue damage which can slow down your healing process and possibly make things worse.
Remedy for Nose Piercing Bumps and Healing
Many people swear by tea tree oil when it comes to treating an infection or just treating a bump at the piercing site. Before you try, you should know that some people experience allergic reactions. If tea tree oil works for you, however, it can significantly shorten your healing process or dry out a piercing bump and clear it away.
Test for a reaction before applying the oil to your nose. Simply dab a diluted amount on your forearm and wait 24 hours. If you don’t feel any irritation or see any swelling, then you are clear to apply tea tree oil to your piercing.
Saline and sea salt solutions are also a favorite among both piercers and medical professionals alike. This solution is natural, cost effective and simple to prepare. Best of all it is not harsh on the skin and creates an isotonic environment that can actually enhance healing while eliminating bacteria.
Finishing the Healing Process
Now that you’ve treated the infection, your piercing should heal as normal. Remember, if the infection doesn’t fade after a few days of the treatment regimen, then you may need to see a doctor. Some infections are stubborn little gits that delve deep beneath the skin; your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic or other medication to help clear it up.
Don’t hesitate to use some Advil, Aleve, or other of your preference to help relieve the pain and swelling while you treat an infection. Let’s face it, they can be pretty painful. You still need to be able to go about your day without constantly being reminded of the infection.
The article is for information purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing signs of infection please reach out to your primary care physician or doctor for treatment.
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