How Do I Treat an Infected Nose Piercing? 8 Tips

Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2021
how do I treat an infected nose piercing
A nose piercing can cause mild inflammation, redness, and pain. Learn about what can cause a piercing to get infected, and how to treat the infection

When you pierce your nose or any part of the body, it is normal to have mild inflammation, redness, and pain around the piercing site. As the piercing is healing, you may experience:

  • Itching in the surrounding area
  • Slight pus or discharge
  • Crusting
  • Mild pain and redness

However, if these symptoms linger or get worse, it could mean that the piercing is infected.

What can cause a nose piercing to get infected?

When it comes to nose piercings, getting it done in a hygienic setting and doing proper aftercare are important. Reasons a nose piercing may get infected include:

  • Poor hygiene after piercing, such as not cleaning the site with water
  • Poor hygiene while getting pierced, such as infected instruments
  • Wrong products or techniques used while cleaning
  • Allergic reaction to the jewelry worn
  • Poor immune status due to diabetes or other immunodeficiency conditions

What causes a nose piercing bump?

If you notice a bump around the piercing site, this may indicate:

  • Keloid: Puffy scar tissue that invades normal skin cells
  • Granuloma: Immune system reaction in which extra blood cells form around the piercing
  • Trapped fluid: Causes a lump due to abnormal healing

8 tips for treating an infected nose piercing

  1. Clean the piercing site. Clean the site at least 2-3 times a day to prevent microbial buildup in the area, which can lead to infection. You can use a clean cloth, tissue, or cotton pad along with antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Apply a topical antibiotic.
  3. Avoid picking or removing crusts or pus from the infected site.
  4. Change your jewelry. The inflammatory reaction may be occurring due to constant contact with metal jewelry, such as nickel, which causes continuous inflammatory reactions. Switching to a low reactive metal, such as gold or platinum, should relieve skin hypersensitivity and decrease the inflammation around the piercing site.
  5. Use a hot compress with soothing oils. Heat can relieve pain, and tea tree or chamomile oil, which have anti-inflammatory properties can help bring down the inflammation.
  6. Rinse the area with soap and water when showering. Even a salt solution application can help in faster healing and reduce the buildup of germs in the area.
  7. Take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve pain and fever.
  8. Seek medical treatment if there is no improvement with home remedies. Your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or drain the accumulated pus and fluid if required.


Bacterial Infections 101: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments See Slideshow

When to seek medical help

If there is only minimal discomfort with mild signs and symptoms, topical application of antibiotics and ointments should be enough to treat an infected nose piercing.

However, if there is very severe throbbing pain or burning sensation, foul-smelling discharge, and heavy crusting, seek immediate medical help. These symptoms indicate that the infection may be spreading to other areas. An infection can even spread to cartilage in the nose, causing perichondritis (infection of cartilage) in rare cases.

An infected nose piercing can also cause fever, headache, nausea, etc. due to the systemic response to infection taking place inside of the body.

Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2021
Image Source: simonmcconico / Getty Images

WebMD. What to Know About Ear Piercing Infections.

Meltzer DI. Complications of Body Piercing. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Nov 15;72(10):2029-2034.