Here's everything you need to know before getting a septum piercing, from pain to jewelry choice
Getting a piercing is no small decision. Even if you’re a body mod veteran actively planning your next batch of jewelry, it’s crucial to know what you’re getting yourself into. And while there is a great big sea of piercing options, septum piercings have been everywhere for longer than a hot minute.
For those unfamilar with this particular piercing, septum piercings run through the thin piece of skin in front of the cartilaginous division of the nasal septum (aka between the nostrils). As with other nose piercings, the jewelry comes in different shapes and sizes, and offerings include everything from rose gold horseshoes to opal studded barbells.
Whether we see them on a fashionable girl in the basement of a DIY punk show or they’re making a million-dollar red carpet appearance on celebs like Zoe Kravitz, or Rihanna, the reign of the septum piercing is certainly going strong. In order to learn more about what to expect from the piercing process itself, we talked with Allison Minor of Chicago Tattooing and Piercing Company.
She gave us the nitty gritty on how to best prepare yourself for the piercing, and the best ways to avoid infection. If you’re currently weighing the possibility of a septum piercing, Minor’s got the 411.
When it comes to preparation, Minor says it’s crucial to make sure you don’t go into the parlor with a runny nose or any kind of nasal congestion. Beyond that, you should be good to go. “Just make sure you’re not sick, because blowing your nose with a fresh piercing is uncomfortable and will lengthen your heal times,” explains Minor. “Make sure you’re reasonably hygienic and blow and clean your nose the day of. The piercer will do all the cleaning we need, we just don’t want to be covered in snot.”
One of the biggest questions looming over any piercing decision is: How likely will I get infected?! Because of the unique placement between your nostrils, septums have a low chance of infection. “Because the piercing in the mucous membrane, the wound is pretty much self cleaning,” says Minor. “In my 10 years I’ve only seen problems with septum piercings when people put really low quality jewelry in the piercing.”
While ear piercings only take a month to heal (unless you’re going for the cartillage), Minor shared that the full healing time for septums is much longer. On average, it takes the body 4-6 months to heal a septum piercing, oftentimes even longer. “For a truly healed piercing that you can swap out on the regular, you’ll need to wait one and a half to two years,” states Minor. “But if you’re not planning to regularly change jewelry, it’s mostly sealed up by the fourth or fifth month.”
Once you’ve let your nose heal for a few months, you’ll want to know which jewelry is the safest for your piercing. Your septum jewelry choices are where you need to pay the most attention. “Always look for “implant grade” metals,” presses Minor. “Surgical steel is not something that should be left in the body for long periods of time.” Minor says that if you want your jewelry to have a silver look, go for titanium, implant-grade stainless steel, or biocompatible white gold. If you’re going for gold, go for the real thing. And if you want biocompatible yellow or rose gold jewelry, opt for titanium anodized versions. Avoid any silvers, in any piercing they can tarnish your skin and give you something called a “piercing tattoo.” Minor also recommends avoiding copper, brass, any plating or coatings. “Don’t buy your jewelry for your septum on Etsy or any other online situation,” says Minor. “Septum piercings are very finicky about the metal. Your nose is built to break down or stop stuff from going into your lungs and has no problem breaking down a cheap piece of costume jewelry. Be prepared to spend some money on the real stuff; think fine jewelry not ‘body jewelry.'”
Pain is naturally one of the first concerns for any of us, but Minor said the initial process of piercing your septum isn’t bad at all. “It doesn’t hurt as much as you might think,” says Minor. “It’s through a thin webbing in your nose, so expect your eyes to water. But it’s not super painful if the process is done properly. Also, the procedure is your time to be a badass, you can be scared, but that’s part of the fun! Let your bravery sparkle!”