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Swollen Nose Piercing

Swollen Nose Piercing 101: The Ultimate Survival Guide


Nose piercings are one of the most popular piercing trends nowadays. Many people love the edgy look of a sparkly nose stud. On the other hand, though nose piercings are very cute, they may easily get swollen and irritated, particularly within the first few weeks after being pierced. A swollen nose piercing can be pretty painful and look kind of gross if liquid starts oozing out!

You may experience a swelling in your nose if you have recently pierced it or if you have had the nose-ring for some time. Swollen nose piercing is not funny but it is quite common. Fortunately, it is not serious in the majority of cases, so its treatment at home has no particular problems.

In this article, you’ll get a detailed guide on how to care for a swollen nose piercing. I’ll walk you through the common causes of nose piercing swelling, signs of infection to watch for, proper aftercare and treatment steps to reduce swelling fast. You’ll also learn when it’s crucial to seek help from your piercer or doctor.

Additionally, you’ll get some great tips to prevent future nose piercing irritation and swelling. Trust me, some simple tricks like using a travel pillow, keeping your hair away from the piercing, and avoiding touching the area can make a huge difference in keeping your nose piercing comfortable and swelling-free.

The goal of this complete guide on swollen nose piercings is to equip you with all the information you need to troubleshoot nose piercing swelling quickly and safely. Whether you just got your nose pierced or have had it for years, this guide will be your ultimate resource when dealing with the dreaded swollen nose piercing. Let’s get started!

Causes of a Swollen Nose Piercing

Getting a bump or swelling around a nose piercing is common, especially in the first few months after getting it pierced. Here are some of the most common reasons you may experience a swollen nose piercing.

Trauma to the Piercing

It’s easy to bump or snag a nose piercing, which can irritate the skin and cause swelling and pain. Things like blowing your nose, wearing glasses that sit on the piercing, sleeping on the piercing, or catching the ring on your clothing or hair can all traumatize the area.

Even gently bumping your nose or sustained pressure on the piercing from wearing headphones can lead to irritation and swelling. Be mindful of activities that may cause trauma to your piercing. The best way to avoid this is to not touch, move or fiddle with the piercing unnecessarily in the first few months.

Bacterial Infection

One of the most common causes of a swollen nose piercing is a bacterial infection. The open wound caused by a new piercing is susceptible to bacteria which can enter the site and cause an infection. Signs include pain, swelling, redness, discharge and a foul odor.

You may be more prone to infection if you do not care for the piercing properly, fail to wash hands before touching it, use poor quality jewelry, or submerge the piercing in unsanitary water. See a doctor if you suspect an infection, as you may need antibiotic medication to clear it up.

Allergic Reaction to Jewelry

Many people don’t realize they may be allergic to the metal in their jewelry. Nickel is a very common metal allergy. Jewelry made with nickel or other irritating metals can cause redness, bumps, swelling and itching around the piercing.

Switching to an implant-grade titanium flat back labret is recommended by piercers to ease allergic reactions. Avoid low quality jewelry that may contain nickel or other irritants. See your piercer to help determine if a jewelry allergy is the culprit.

Poor Aftercare

Swollen nose piercings are often caused by improper cleaning and aftercare. If you fail to regularly clean the piercing site with saline solution or an antimicrobial soap, debris can build up and bacteria can grow, leading to swelling and discharge.

Be sure to gently clean crusties and dried discharge away from the piercing each day. Over-cleaning or using harsh products like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can also irritate the piercing. Follow your piercer’s instructions to keep the area clean without drying it out or damaging the healing tissue.

Using Low Quality Jewelry

Cheap jewelry made with nickel or other irritating metals is often the culprit behind infected or swollen piercings. Invest in implant-grade titanium, solid gold, or surgical steel jewelry from a reputable company.

Avoid piercing guns or any jewelry that seems flimsy, doesn’t have markings, or causes you discomfort. See your piercer to help determine if a jewelry issue is causing your swelling. They can fit you with more compatible, higher quality jewelry.

Changing Jewelry Too Early

It’s tempting to change up your nose ring once the initial swelling goes down, but switching jewelry too soon can definitely cause swelling and irritation. You should wait at least 2-3 months before attempting to change your starter jewelry.

Let your piercer change jewelry the first few times until the piercing has fully healed – usually around 6 months to a year. Changing it yourself early on can introduce bacteria and restart the healing process. Be patient and keep that starter earring in!

Signs Your Nose Piercing May Be Infected

While a little tenderness and swelling is normal during the nose piercing healing process, if you notice signs of infection developing, it requires prompt treatment. Here are some key signs and symptoms that indicate your nose piercing may be infected rather than just irritated.


Redness around the piercing site is common. But if the redness spreads and becomes more intense, it could signal bacteria. An infected nose piercing will often look angry, hot and inflamed. The skin surrounding the bump may have a reddish hue. If warm compress and saline soaks don’t calm the redness within a few days, see your piercer.

Hot to the Touch

Heat around the piercing along with swelling is a giveaway that inflammation and infection may be developing. A swollen nose piercing from simple irritation or trauma will not feel hot. The area may be slightly warm from increased blood flow during the healing process. But significant heat indicates possible infection brewing underneath.

Green/Yellow Discharge

Some clear, odorless discharge around a new nose piercing is normal as the wound heals. But thick, discolored discharge is a red flag for infection. Yellow, green, or gray discharge that has a foul smell is especially indicative of bacteria. The discharge may be totally contained within the piercing bump or drain out of the area. See a doctor promptly if discharge is prolific.

Foul Odor

In the first month after piercing, a musty smell from old blood or plasma around the site is normal as it heals. But if you notice a strong foul, rotten or fishy odor from the piercing, it likely means an aggressive infection is present. This smell may be more noticeable after removing the jewelry to clean the site. Any putrid odor is a reason to have your piercer or doctor examine your nose piercing.

Increased Swelling/Pain

Some swelling and soreness around a new nose piercing is expected initially. But if the swelling seems to get bigger and the pain intensifies, an underlying infection is likely the culprit. Bacteria inside the piercing can cause major swelling that won’t subside with simple at-home care. Swelling that blocks the nostril or makes it very painful to move your face warrants medical intervention.


A fever, especially accompanied by chills, points to an internal infection. Oral antibiotics will be necessary to treat bacteria that has gotten into the deeper tissues or bloodstream. Don’t ignore a fever just because other infection symptoms seem mild. Seek medical treatment promptly to prevent a blood infection.

Treatment Delay

If your nose piercing has been swollen for more than 5-7 days without improvement despite at-home care, it may be infected. Swelling past the first week that isn’t responsive to heat, saline soaks and aspirin usually means you need prescription antibiotic treatment. See your doctor or piercer for evaluation. Leaving an infection untreated can have serious consequences.

Caring for a Swollen Nose Piercing

Got a bump near your nose piercing? Swelling and irritation is common, but needs some TLC to calm down. Here are the best at-home remedies and care tips to reduce swelling and discomfort from an angry nose piercing.

Use Warm Compresses

A warm compress can help soothe swelling and pain by improving blood flow and circulation.

Make a saltwater solution with a 1⁄4 teaspoon of sea salt per cup of warm water. Dip a clean paper towel or cloth in the solution. Gently hold the warm compress over the swollen area for 5-10 minutes a few times per day. The warmth will provide relief while the salt helps draw out fluid and infection.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen or aspirin can reduce swelling, pain and redness around an irritated nose piercing. They inhibit inflammation causing compounds called prostaglandins.

Aspirin also has natural blood-thinning properties that can improve circulation. Take the recommended dosage on the bottle every 6-8 hours until the swelling diminishes. Consult your doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

Do Sea Salt Soaks

Sea salt is naturally cleansing and therapeutic for healing wounds. Make a sea salt solution using 1⁄4 teaspoon of pure sea salt per cup of warm distilled water. Hold your nose and dip the pierced area into the solution for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times daily.

Alternatively, soak a clean cotton ball or gauze pad and apply to the piercing. The salt will pull out fluids, soothe inflammation and fight microbes. Be sure to mix a fresh solution every time.

Apply Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a powerful essential oil long used for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help fight infection while reducing swollen piercing tissue.

Dip a clean cotton swab in pure tea tree oil and gently apply around the piercing 2-3 times a day. Ensure you use a very thin layer so it absorbs fully. Never put tea tree oil inside the piercing channel. Monitor for any skin reactions.

Switch to a Flat-Back Labret Stud

Wearing a nose bone or hoop while healing can prolong swelling issues. Switching to an implant-grade titanium flat-back labret takes pressure off the area while keeping the hole open. See your piercer to get properly fitted.

A flat back avoids excess irritation and trauma. Once healed fully, you can switch back to a nose hoop or bone if desired, which typically takes 6-12 months.

Avoid Makeup and Touching It

Don’t apply makeup like foundation or powder directly on or near the piercing, as chemicals and friction can cause irritation. Avoid touching or fiddling with the piercing unnecessarily, and don’t let others touch your face. This can transfer bacteria as well as physically agitate the area.

The less disturbance to your nose piercing, the faster swelling and tenderness subsides. Keep hair products, cosmetics and hands away from the area.

See Your Piercer or Doctor

Home care may be all that’s needed for minor nose piercing swelling. But if significant swelling, pain, redness or discharge persists beyond several days, it’s time to seek professional help. See your piercer or doctor to assess if infection isbrewing and get appropriate treatment.

With an antibiotic prescription, better quality jewelry and proper aftercare advice, they can get a swollen nose piercing under control. Don’t delay seeking help if over-the-counter methods fail.

When to Seek Medical Care

Most minor nose piercing swelling and irritation can be treated at home. But in certain cases, it’s important to see your piercer or doctor for specialized care.

See your piercer or doctor if:

  • The swelling, pain or redness gets worse or persists for more than 2-3 days despite proper aftercare. If a swollen nose piercing isn’t improving with at-home treatment, professional help may be needed.
  • Signs of infection develop, like pus, foul odor or fever. Infections require prescription antibiotic treatment to clear up.
  • The swelling is severe and completely blocks your nasal passages. Excessive swelling can sometimes warrant oral steroids or other intervention to reduce it.
  • You develop hives, trouble breathing or other signs of an allergic reaction. You may need to change jewelry type if your body is reacting to the metal.

Don’t try to power through nose piercing swelling or infection on your own. A professional can assess the cause and quickly provide appropriate solutions, like switching jewelry type, prescribing antibiotics, or draining a piercing abscess.

Seeking timely help prevents complications like scarring inside the nose, a collapsed nostril, or the infection spreading. It also minimizes the chances the piercing will need to be removed entirely.

With the right prescription medication and aftercare guidance, a seasoned piercer or doctor can get a swollen, angry nose piercing under control again. Trust their expertise.

Preventing Future Swelling and Irritation

Got a nose piercing that’s prone to swelling and bumps? With some simple tricks, you can help prevent frequent nose piercing irritation.

Allow It to Fully Heal Before Changing Jewelry

It’s very tempting to change out your starter nose jewelry once the initial swelling goes down. But switching it too soon can cause major irritation, swelling and injury.

Wait the full healing period of 6-12 months before swapping jewelry or sizing down your stud. Let your piercer do the first few jewelry changes. Changing it yourself early on can introduce bacteria and prolong healing.

Use Only High Quality Jewelry

Low grade nose rings made with nickel or cheap metals are a prime culprit for reactions. Invest in implant-grade titanium, solid 14k+ gold, or surgical steel jewelry from reputable companies.

Quality jewelry prevents irritation, infection and swollen piercings down the road. Have your piercer fit you with suitable metals for your skin type.

Maintain Good Hygiene

Prevent future issues by keeping your piercing super clean. Gently wash cruisties away once or twice daily using saline solution or mild antimicrobial soap. Be sure to rinse well afterwards.

Wash hands before touching the area to prevent bacteria transfer. Keep hair products, cosmetics and dirt away from the piercing site. Good hygiene prevents infection and swelling.

Don’t Touch or Move the Jewelry

It’s tempting to play with your new nose bling, but avoid touching, twisting or moving the jewelry unnecessarily. Even slight friction or pressure can irritate the piercing channel.

Keep hair, clothing and phones away from the piercing. Accidental tugs on the ring or bone can cause injury and swelling. Leave it alone while healing and when possible afterwards too.

Protect It From Trauma

Bumps, pressure against the piercing, and abrasion from clothing can spur swelling. Be mindful to protect it from trauma during sleep and daily activities.

Try a donut-shaped travel pillow to avoid sleeping directly on the piercing. Wear eyeglasses instead of sunglasses to avoid pressure on the nose bridge. And opt for loose, soft clothing that won’t scrape the area.


A swollen nose piercing is a common annoyance, but doesn’t have to be something you just suffer through. With the right care and troubleshooting, you can get that nose piercing bump to calm down quickly.

In this comprehensive guide, we covered all the key things you need to know about nose piercing swelling. You learned what typically causes irritation and bumps, like trauma, infection or allergic reactions. We went over the signs of infection and when professional help is recommended.

Importantly, you now have a toolkit of remedies to reduce swelling fast at home. A warm sea salt compress, anti-inflammatory meds, tea tree oil and a flat back stud will promote healing. And being gentle with the area while keeping it clean prevents further issues.

While a swollen nose piercing can look and feel unpleasant, it’s easily treatable in most cases with some simple tweaks to care and jewelry. Don’t panic or pick at the area, which can worsen swelling. And see your piercer promptly if symptoms persist or worsen despite home treatment.

With the knowledge you’ve gained, you can troubleshoot a swollen nose piercing like a pro. Knowing how to calm irritation quickly keeps your new bling comfortable and speeds up the healing process. Both new and experienced nose piercing wearers can benefit from these tips.

So next time your nose piercing gets angry, put this guide to work. Relieve pain and swelling confidently using the effective remedies and aftercare routine outlined here. And don’t forget those crucial prevention tips to avoid future swelling episodes. With a little extra TLC, you’ll have that temperamental nose piercing back to normal in no time!

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