Septum Piercing: What I Asked My Friend Before Getting One

The visage of people with septum piercings is either the nose rings or bull rings. Records of the history of this piercing go back to Native Indian tribes, but this piercing appears in a myriad of faces today.

The Shawnee leaders like Tecumseh, the peoples of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea sported septum rings but interestingly it was the Asmat tribe of Irian Jaya that used large thick bone plugs as septum jewelry, made from tibia bones of enemies killed in wars or the leg bones of pigs! That’s a piece of cool history right between your nose! 

Now, I have seen this piercing look so cool on celebrities that I decided to get one for myself. As an informed teenager, I decided to ask the following questions to my friend who got one to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into: 

What is a septum piercing? 

A septum piercing goes through the nasal septum, which is in the middle of the left and right nostril. For this piercing, the needle pokes through the thin piece of flesh towards the front of your nose, beyond the cartilage. This is called the “columella,” but is often referred to as the “sweet spot.” Some people do not have a columella, so their piercing is done through the cartilage, making it extremely painful.

During the process, some people barely feel the needle pass through their septum, but you will feel the tug as the piercer pushed the ring through. Often times the eyes well up with tears involuntarily. Soreness can exist for the next 3–5 days, but this can be expected from any piercing. On a pain level scale, this piercing is the least painful. Please note that this may vary depending on your pain tolerance.

Septum piercing pain: 2 out of 10 

Nose piercing pain: 3 to 4 out of 10

Vertical labret pain: 4 out of 10

medusa piercing pain:  4 out of 10 

Daith piercings pain: 5 to 6 out of 10. 

Rook piercing pain:  6 out of 10

Why does my septum piercing smell? 

Often called “septum funk” or “septum stench” this smell is very common as most septum pierced people experience that smell at one time or another. Plus, the fact that the nose and septum piercing are stuck to your nose, quite literally, obviously makes it more distinctive and probably more bothersome. 

Many people experience this during the healing process, as it is a mixture of dead skin cells, probably boogers as well, even old soap is what gives it the rotten odor. So, clean the piercing site but don’t forget the piercing too. During which you can notice that they’d smell a little too.

Ways to prevent or minimize septum piercing smell: 

  • If the smell is combined with pain, yellow pus, or blood, you might have a problem. Otherwise, that smell is the scent of dead skin cell build-up, and your body trying to heal itself. 
  • Keeping a good healthy cleaning routine is recommended in general, and could help you minimize that funky odor by simply use Q-Tips with warm water and soap. Also try to use an antiseptic or saline water which you should use to take care of your fresh piercing. 
  • Carefully clean the piercing from both sides and even try to rotate your septum ring as much as the jewelry allows and clean the spot which is normally inside the septum channel.  
  • Dip some cotton balls in a gentle soap and water solution and rub the jewelry.
  • In order to wear the septum ring again especially when the smell is stubborn, consider choosing a different material for your septum ring. You might have an allergy to the metal. 
  • Lastly, if the smell doesn’t still doesn’t go away, take the jewelry out and soak it in warm water and gentle soap. 

Why does my septum piercing hurt? 

The pain of your septum piercing during the healing process can get pretty intense and it’s hard to know whether or not its healing pain or infection pain. 

Generally, a complete healing time for a septum piercing is anywhere from six to eight months and, according to Skin-Artists, your whole nose can seriously ache for the first three weeks. 

A white build-up of discharge around the piercing is normal along with a little initial swelling that could cause your piercing to appear slightly crooked. But what if your discharge and swelling coupled with pain could also be indicators of something more serious? So if you’re concerned then just closely at your discharge:

Is it white? Do you see green or yellow-tinged discharge?

Is there blood? 

Is the septum swollen and does it feel hot to the touch? 

If so then give your doctor or piercer a call right away to figure out a treatment method. 

Luckily, infections can be pretty easily avoided as long as you follow the following:

Don’t Touch It: If you think about it, you use your hands a lot so you’re picking up multiple strains of bacteria every time you touch something. Don’t transfer germs and bacteria to that area. 

Mild Salt Water Soaks: Purchase a saline mixture from most piercing studios or order some online for piercings.  Soak your piercing in saltwater to keep it clean and infection-free. Otherwise, you can make your own saltwater solution at home by simply dissolving a 1/4 teaspoon of pure sea salt (not table salt) into one cup of warm water until the salt dissolves. Then soak your piercing in this solution for several minutes. Whether you go with prepared saline or make your own, you should put the solution into a small bowl for cleaning your piercing.

Take Anti-Inflammatories: To reduce the pain and swelling in the first few weeks, take anti-inflammatories as necessary. Don’t overdo it, though!

How much does a septum piercing cost? 

By now you know it’s worth noting that you should never skimp on piercings – it’s much better to pay a little more and visit a really good, HYGIENIC certified piercer than to save a few pounds. Septum piercings usually run around £15-£40 or $40 to $90 so find the most legit piercing studio near you and see how much they charge.

What does a septum piercing say about you? 

A step up from the basic nose piercing, a person with a septum piercing doesn’t give a sh*t about what others think of them. You are all about impressing other cool people but the significance of this type of piercing can also be found in history. 

Septum piercing jewelry originated from the Indian and other warrior cultures, although people of different cultures have also used it. The Indians have a rich culture and history, and they have no reservations when it comes to expressing themselves, and so could you! 

Piercing the septum can have a lot of significance based on the culture and the wearer. Wearing a bone in the septum was for a fierce appearance. Septum rings are especially popular among warrior cultures. The septum piercing was used to signify their success and show their rite of passage into manhood.

Lastly, some of you who want this piercing can take comfort in the fact that North American Tribes see the ring as a rite of passage after a successful return from a soul-searching journey in the wilderness. This could be you. 

How to clean a septum piercing?

So you’ve made the commitment to your new badass septum piercing and are likely anxious to show it off to the world (get your selfie stick ready), but first, we need to talk septum piercing aftercare. These piercings take three to four months to heal. The more you take care of it right off the bat, the faster it will heal. You really have to try to screw up a septum piercing to get an infection. If you suddenly find you have swollen lymph nodes and a high fever, these are telltale signs of an infection. If you’re experiencing either of these symptoms, get in to see your doc right away.

To clean your septum piercing washing your septum piercing once a day, preferably in the shower, using soap such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap, and water for the outside of the piercing, and a saline solution for the inside portion of the septum piercing. Never use soap or astringent on the insides of the nostril itself, because it’s a mucus membrane and you’ll just dry it out and irritate it. The nostril’s job is to trap and kill bacteria. It doesn’t need your help to do that.

While you should be diligent with cleaning your freshly pierced septum, don’t overwash, or more importantly, not to constantly play with it. If you think about it, you use your hands a lot so you’re picking up multiple strains of bacteria every time you touch something. Don’t transfer germs and bacteria to that area. 

How to hide a septum piercing? 

Want to hide your septum piercing? Here’s how you do it: 

1. Flip Up Your Septum Jewelry

Rotate your septum jewelry up into your nose, so it rests out of sight. This trick is not recommended for new piercings or during healing (6 to 8 weeks and more) because it can irritate the tissue, possibly causing damage or tearing, which WILL lead to infection. When your septum piercing is healed, you can easily and painlessly try this trick out with horseshoe-shaped jewelry like curved barbells when you need to keep your septum piercing hidden for photos and or meetings and such. Keep in mind that everyone’s anatomy is different, so this may not work for every person or with every piece of septum jewelry.

2. Wear a Septum Retainer

A septum retainer is a piece of jewelry designed specifically to hide in the nose versus hanging down decoratively. It’s a smaller piece of jewelry that will have a snugger fit, usually made from glass, steel, titanium, or acrylic. Most retainers can actually be flipped down and be visible if desired too. Since septum piercings are usually pierced with a horseshoe barbell or circular barbell, let your piercer know ahead of your piercing if you want a septum retainer. 

To hide it during healing, a retainer is a safer way to go to. 

Most piercings need to be covered with tape or removed to be hidden, but septum piercings are more flexible. Remember to always wash hands before and after touching your septum jewelry. You should leave a new septum piercing alone for 6-8 weeks before changing or flipping up the jewelry. If you have to hide your piercing before then, we recommend visiting your piercer to have them help you move it or change to a retainer to help avoid irritation and infection.

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