Infected septum piercing: What does it look like and how to treat it?

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Infection can sometimes happen after a new piercing, but older septum piercings aren’t immune to infection. It’s good to know what to look for so you can treat an infected septum piercing early!

What is a septum piercing?

Getting a septum piercing can be a new and exciting way to change your look. A septum piercing is a type of body piercing that passes through the cartilage dividing the nostrils.

It is one of the most popular piercings among both men and women. But having an infected septum piercing can be a real headache.

Septum piercing is one of the least infection-prone piercings

The truth is that septum piercings are actually some of the least infection-prone piercings.

That’s because of their unique location. Septum piercings are placed right in front of your nasal cartilage, so they’re located in a mucous membrane in the nose. That mucous membrane makes the piercing effectively self-cleaning.

Still, it’s possible to experience an infection in a septum piercing.

What Does an Infected Septum Piercing Look Like?

How to know if your septum piercing is infected? If your septum piercing has become infected, you can usually tell by looking at the infected septum piercing symptoms.

For example, persistent redness around the piercing site is an early sign. Of course, if your piercing is new, some redness is expected. But if it persists after about two weeks, chances are good that you have an infection. Here are some of the symptoms to look for.

Infected septum piercing symptoms

  • Soreness and tenderness around the piercing site, especially if you try to touch it
  • Bleeding from an old piercing or more than three days after a new piercing
  • A bump at the piercing site
  • Discharge coming from the piercing, especially yellow or green pus
  • Septum swelling and pain that lasts for more than two weeks
  • Crusting at the piercing site

It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between an infected septum piercing and a piercing that is just going through the normal healing process. But if you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s likely infected. Of course, when in doubt, it’s good to reach out to your piercer or doctor for advice.

How to Treat an Infected Septum Piercing?

The good news is that in many cases, you can successfully treat an infected septum piercing yourself. Here are a few simple steps you can take to treat an infection:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Clean the infected septum piercing. Make a salt solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with one cup of water. Stir the solution until it dissolves. As an alternative, you can also use antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and dab it around the piercing site. Don’t remove the jewelry!
  4. Take clean gauze or tissue and pat the area dry.
  5. Apply a small amount of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
  6. Gently turn or move the jewelry to make sure it isn’t sticking to the skin.
  7. Go to your doctor if the infection is still not improving.

Follow these steps three times a day. To avoid possible re-infection as the infection site clears up, change your pillowcase at least once every three days.

As a general rule of thumb, follow the above steps for three days. If the infection is still not improving, make an appointment with your doctor to have the site evaluated.

How to clean an already infected septum piercing?

If your septum piercing is already infected, you can follow these instruments to clean it and avoid possible re-infection.

  1. Make a salt solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with one cup of water. Stir the solution until it dissolves. As an alternative, you can also use antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and dab it around the piercing site. Don’t remove the jewelry!
  3. Take clean gauze or tissue and pat the area dry.

How to clean a septum piercing as a daily routine?

If your septum piercing is fine and you just need a daily routine, the cleaning process will be much easier.

In general, cleaning it at least 2 times a day with a saline solution will work. And of course, ensure your hands are clean before touching your piercing.

Your piercer should give you detailed instructions on keeping your piercing clean once the piercing has been placed.

Make sure you start carefully cleaning your piercing as soon as you get it. With attention and regular care, your piercing should heal quickly, and you can enjoy the new addition to your look!

Preventing Septum Piercing Infection

Whether you haven’t yet gotten your septum pierced or have experienced an infection and want to avoid it in the future, it’s a good idea to be aware of some ways to prevent it:

1. Make sure your piercer uses sterile equipment.

A reputable piercer will run a clean shop and use sterile, single-use needles for piercing. Make sure you do your research before choosing a piercer. But if the shop looks dirty or the piercer wants to use a non-sterile needle, don’t be afraid to go somewhere else!

2. Choose the right jewelry size.

Septum piercings are often 16G. Getting the right size of septum jewelry is essential, as too-tight jewelry increases your risk of infection. A reputable piercer should know what size to choose. But if the jewelry is uncomfortably tight, be sure to let your piercer know.

3. Choose high-quality jewelry.

Low-quality jewelry can irritate your piercing and even contribute to infection. Luckily, high-quality, body-safe materials can still be affordable. Look for implant-grade titanium nose jewelry and 14K gold jewelry.

4. Clean the piercing.

Most piercers will advise you to clean the piercing at least twice a day with a sterile saline solution. However, your piercer will likely give you detailed aftercare instructions. Following them closely will minimize your risk of infection.

5. Avoid applying sunscreens or creams.

If you’re using sunscreen, makeup, or facial creams, be careful to keep them away from the area of the piercing. These products can cause irritation and make infection more likely.

6. Don’t touch the piercing.

Avoid touching the piercing as much as you can, and never touch it without washing your hands.

Best materials for septum piercing jewelry

One of the most important factors in the healing process of nose piercings is the material you choose. If you’re considering a nose piercing, here are some of the best metals for septum piercings.

1. Implant-Grade Titanium

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Rosery Poetry Implant-grade titanium nose ring curved barbell horseshoe 5 pcs $29.9, SHOP NOW.

Titanium is an element that is completely hypoallergenic, so it’s probably the best material for nose rings, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Implant-grade titanium is the purest form and will not change or corrode if it’s exposed to skin or bodily fluids. Implant-grade titanium jewelry is durable, hypoallergic, lead-free, nickel free, and non-corrosive.

Implant-grade titanium is often marketed as ASTM F-136 titanium. Compared to ASTM F-136 titanium, G23 titanium is not an implant grade of titanium.

Price Range: About $10-$20.

Pros:

  • Approved by the Association of Professional Piercers
  • Won’t cause allergic reactions
  • Is scratch-resistant and won’t fade

Cons:

  • Not as valuable as gold, silver, or platinum
  • Doesn’t sparkle quite as much as other metals

2. 14K or 18K Gold

Infected septum piercing: What does it look like and how to treat it?

Rosery Poetry 14K gold septum piercing ring simple and minimalist $34.9, SHOP NOW.

If you’re looking for a glittering, valuable metal for your nose jewelry, either 14K or 18K gold may be your answer.

It is also one of the best metals for nose rings that are highly recommended not only by piercing experts but also doctors. Its excellent quality of being inert makes it suitable for first piercings.

However, gold is a fairly soft metal, so it doesn’t stand up to scratches and excessive wear. Compared to 14K gold, 18K gold is more prone to being affected by everyday use as it is softer and is closer to being pure 24K gold.

Both of these metals include other metal types in order to make them stronger. In order to avoid skin reactions, look for nickel-free metals.

Price Range: About $30-$200.

Pros:

  • One of the most valuable materials
  • Will not easily tarnish
  • Offers plenty of sparkles
  • Is easy to engrave or use to set stones

Cons:

  • May contain non-hypoallergenic metals
  • 18K gold in particular is not very scratch resistant

3. Surgical Stainless Steel

Lots of new piercings are done in stainless steel. This material is affordable and typically doesn’t cause reactions. However, it contains a small amount of nickel, so if you have a nickel allergy, it might be best to choose something else.

It is incredibly resistant to corrosion and will keep its shine for years.

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If you’re considering steel, 316L or 316 LVM steel is probably your best choice. Both names stand for the same surgical steel material, but the “VM” stands for”vacuum melt,” or the way the steel is produced.

Price Range: About $10-$40.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Common enough that you’ll have plenty of jewelry choices
  • Extremely durable and resistant to damage and corrosion

Cons:

  • May cause reactions in those with nickel allergies
  • Not considered as valuable as some other materials

Why Do Septum Piercings Get Infected?

If you notice your septum piercing is infected, it’s a good idea to find out why so you can prevent it from happening again.

The truth is that septum piercings are actually some of the least infection-prone piercings. That’s because of their unique location. Septum piercings are placed right in front of your nasal cartilage, so they’re located in a mucous membrane in the nose. That mucous membrane makes the piercing effectively self-cleaning.

Still, it’s possible to experience an infection in a septum piercing. Here are a few possible causes:

1. Touching the piercing.

Our hands carry around plenty of bacteria. And most people will find themselves touching or messing with their piercing site multiple times per day. But when you do that without washing your hands first, you transfer bacteria to the site. They can then multiply enough to cause an infection.

2. An unhygienic piercing process.

There’s a reason it’s important to choose a reputable piercer each time you get a piercing. If you see a piercer who doesn’t use sterile equipment, you’ll have a much greater risk of infection.

3. Swimming in a pool too soon after piercing.

Pools have a lot of bacteria, especially if not enough chlorine is used. If you submerge a fresh piercing in water (or if the piercing gets splashed), you might find an infection develops.

4. Cheap or tight jewelry.

Cheap pieces of piercing jewelry often have rough edges that can scratch and re-open the piercing, leaving it vulnerable to infection. And if you have a piece of jewelry made of toxic metals, it can cause an allergic reaction or other complications. Therefore, change to a safe material for septum piercing.

If your septum jewelry is too tight for the piercing, it prevents air from getting into the piercing channel. It can also restrict blood flow to the area. Both of these factors will leave it more vulnerable to infection. Plus, a tight piercing is terribly uncomfortable!

Consequences of an Infected Septum Piercing

In many cases, an infected septum piercing can be treated easily. However, there are some rare complications.

One is something called a nasal septal hematoma. With this condition, blood vessels become obstructed. As a result, blood and fluid accumulate in the lining of the septum. It may lead to congestion of the nose and trouble breathing. In very rare cases, this condition leads to something called “saddle nose” where part of the bridge collapses.

An infection may also make scarring more likely. Since scarring around the piercing won’t be visible to others, it’s not really an aesthetic concern. However, some types of scarring can become painful or uncomfortable.

Rejection vs infection

After having your septum piercing done, it’s important to be aware of the difference between rejection and infection.

Rejection is when your body starts to push the jewelry out. On the other hand, infection is when bacteria get into the piercing site and causes problems. Symptoms of infection include redness, swelling, pain, discharge, and changes in color around the piercing.

If you think you might have an infected septum piercing, it’s important to see a doctor. They will be able to prescribe antibiotics to help clear it up.

In the end

While it’s helpful to know that septum piercings don’t tend to be at high risk of infection, it’s still wise to know the signs of infected septum piercings so you can keep an eye out.

Be sure to clean your piercing thoroughly and follow your piercer’s instructions, and you’ll likely have a smooth, painless healing process!

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