• You should clean a nose piercing two to three times a day with a .09% sodium chloride solution.
  • Wash your hands before touching the jewelry and keep the piercing in your nose while you clean it.
  • After cleaning, pat the piercing dry with a disposable paper product like a paper towel. 
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Nose piercings are becoming increasingly popular as a form of body modification many people use to express themselves. About 19% of women and 15% of men in the U.S. have their noses pierced. If you are considering getting a nose piercing, it's important to understand how to take care of it so you can avoid complications. 

Any new piercing, including a nose piercing, requires frequent cleaning to reduce the risk of infection and encourage healing. Here's a guide on how to care for a new nose piercing. 

Nose piercing aftercare

If you've just gotten a nose piercing, you'll have to take extra care of it while it heals over the next three to six months.

Following aftercare guidelines can help you avoid infections, which occur in about 20% of cases, says Gabe Gajate, a senior piercer with Inkahollik Tattoos and Piercing

Here are some general guidelines about what you should and should not do: 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your piercing. 
  • Rinse your piercing at least twice a day with a packaged sterile saline solution labeled for wound wash. Do not use contact lens saline, eye drops, or other saline products.
  • Refrain from touching your piercing, especially with unclean hands.
  • Try not to sleep on the side of your nose where your piercing is while it heals. Pressure from sleeping on the piercing can make it swell
  • Avoid makeup in the area for at least two weeks, Gajate says. Trying to apply makeup on or around the piercing can irritate the tissue surrounding the piercing.
  • Do not expose your new piercing to pool,beach, or hot tub water for about two weeks, Gataje says. These bodies of water can harbor bacteria that may cause an infection. 

You should follow these instructions throughout the entire healing process, which can take between three and six months, says Jef Saunders, a piercer for the Association of Professional Piercers (APP)

How to clean a nose piercing

Keeping your nose piercing clean can help reduce the risk of complications, like infections, and help it heal more quickly. Aim to clean your piercing two to three times a day.

Here is how to clean a nose piercing:

  1. Always start by washing your hands. "Touching with unclean hands is a surefire way to introduce bacteria which can result in problems like infections," Saunders says.
  2. With the piercing still in your nose, spray a 09% sodium chloride saline solution directly on the piercing. You can also saturate a piece of gauze to clean the jewelry, Saunders says. 
  3. Gently pat dry your piercing with a disposable paper product, like a paper towel. Cloth towels can carry bacteria and are more likely to snag on the jewelry, which may result in tugging and irritating the piercing.

You do not need to rotate the jewelry to clean it, and in fact, you should refrain from doing so, Gataje says. Rotating the jewelry can irritate the wound and interfere with the healing process. Spinning the jewelry can also cause it to loosen and fall out, which can then result in the piercing closing up, Saunders says. 

It's normal to experience some bleeding, pain, tenderness, swelling, and discharge for about one to two weeks after getting your nose pierced. 

Changing the shape of the jewelry from a stud to a ring or hoop-style piece of jewelry should only be done once the piercing has completely healed, which takes about six months or longer.

Saunders recommends consulting with a piercer before trying to change the jewelry on your own. The piercing needs to be completely healed before changing the jewelry and an expert piercer can evaluate whether or not the tissue is ready for this step. 

Insider's takeaway

A nose piercing can take three to six months to heal and it's important that you clean it regularly and properly for that entire period. Otherwise, you risk a longer healing time, or worse, an uncomfortable infection.

Clean your piercing at least twice a day with a saline solution labeled for wound wash. Always wash your hands before touching your piercing to reduce the risk of infection and consult with a professional piercer before trying to change the jewelry in your new piercing.  

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