Infected Nose Piercing

The nose is one of the most common location of facial piercings. As with any body piercings, a nose piercing may be infected if it is not cared for properly [1, 2].

Nose Piercing

The practice of nose piercing has been present for several centuries. In the Middle East, a nose piercing has been associated with familial wealth. A nose ring is also one of the gifts that a husband may give to his new bride as a sign of security. In civilizations found in Central America, piercings in the septum may indicate their status in the society. The meaning of nose piercings may have changed in the modern times wherein they are mostly done in aesthetic purposes. Nowadays, nose piercings are associated with bohemian and punk subculture [1, 3].

There are several locations in the nose that can be pierced. Examples of these locations are the nostril, septum and the bridge of the nose. Unlike some other forms of piercing, nose piercings may involve sticking a hole into a cartilage which usually takes a longer time to heal. Some of the types of jewelries that may be used with a nose piercing are nose hoops, stud bone, nostril screw, bead ring and circular barbell [4, 5].


Figure 1 shows an example of a nose piercing.

Infected Nose Piercing Causes

The primary cause of a nose piercing infection is a pathogenic microorganism such as bacteria, fungi and yeast. These organisms enter the piercing site through several means. It may be due to touching the wound or the jewelry with dirty hands, failure to clean the site regularly, swimming in a dirty public pool, or sleeping on dirty beddings.

During the piercing procedure, the piercer may use unsterile needles or reuse equipment to several individuals and this may be a potential cause for an infection. Moreover, there are individuals who experienced allergic reactions due to the material of the jewelry that they used. Other causes may include injuries and trauma [6].

Infected Nose Piercing Signs & Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms that may be present and they vary in their severity. One of the first signs which may be noticed is the presence of discharge on the piercing site. If the discharge is clear, it means that the wound is going through the normal healing process. But if the discharge have a yellowish or greenish color, it may mean that it has a bacterial infection. This discharge may have a foul smell and can be more pronounced if the jewelry is manipulated [6].

The presence of swelling and tenderness in the nose may be expected especially in the first few days following the procedure. It may only be a cause for concern if the swelling have persisted and the redness have started to darken because these may indicate the presence of infection [6].

Infected nose piercing image

Pus may accumulate in the area and may appear as bumps and this may be due to the body’s reaction to the presence of foreign material in the body. It usually resolves after a few days but the persistent appearance may mean a constant irritation to piercing site [6].

The signs of infection at the piercing site may be accompanied with fever, nausea and chills especially if the infection have become serious. The presence of these symptoms should warrant a consultation with the physician because it may mean that the infection have become systemic [6].


Health history and physical examination

The history will include the time when the symptoms started appearing and identification of the possible cause of the infection. During the physical examination, the physician will identify other symptoms which are present [1, 6].

Further examinations

If an infection is suspected, the physician may perform a culture swab test. This will be able to identify the type of pathogenic organism that is present so that an appropriate treatment will be given [1, 6].


The focus of the treatment is to treat the underlying infection. The patient may be given an antibiotic agent based on the result of the swab test and this may be in the form of an oral agent or a topical cream.

Patients who are given antibiotics must be advised to finish the entire course of the treatment to fully treat the infection. Failure to complete the regimen may result in a recurring infection or the appearance of antibiotic resistant pathogenic strain. Other medications which may be given are anti-inflammatory and pain medications to help relieve the symptoms [1, 5, 6].


Proper care of the nose piercing is important in the prevention of the infection. Manipulating the jewelry should be minimized or avoided especially with unclean hands.

Regular cleaning of the piercing site must be done accordingly. A fragrance-free antibacterial soap must be used because alcohol-based solutions may prolong the healing period.

The jewelry must be manipulated while cleaning to ensure that it is clean. A washcloth must not be used because some threads may be left behind and this may be a source of an infection [1, 6, 7].

The beddings that comes in contact with the piercing must be kept clean and changed regularly. If lying on the side of the piercing can’t be avoided, a clean T-shirt can be placed on top of the pillow. Ensure that any clothing or hair does not come in constant contact with the wound as they can be a possible source of pathogenic microorganism [1, 5, 7].

  1. Skin-Artists. (2015). Nose Piercing Bumps – Treatment. Retrieved from Skin-Artists:
  2. Chandler, B. (2015, April 15). Live Strong. Retrieved from How to Celan an Infected Nose Piercing Site:
  3. Bustle. (2015). 7 Popular Types Of Nose Piercings & Their Corresponding Jewelry Because Septums Aren’t Everything.
  4. Vidyarthy, K. (2015). Top 6 Different Types of Nose Piercings. Retrieved from Listovative:
  5. Kelsea. (2015). Infected Nose Piercing, How to Treat & Clean Nose Piercing Infection. Retrieved from Beauty Hows:
  6. Heal Cure. (2015). Infected Nose Piercing Care, Cleaning, Treatment, Signs and Symptoms. Retrieved from Heal Cure:
  7. WikiHow. (2015). How to Treat an Infected Nose Piercing. Retrieved from WikiHow:

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