Septum piercings: are they painful and should you get one?

Girl with glasses and septum piercing

Septum piercings in the past couple of decades have exploded in popularity and have become more normalised in society – but some still worry about facial piercings and ask things like “will a septum piercing hurt?”

While body modifications like septum piercings are much more common, questions about having septum piercings at work, piercing aftercare and the sheer pain of the procedure still play on people’s minds.

We answer your most asked questions, so you need wonder no more.

Rihanna septum piercing

Celebrities with septum piercings

Many celebrities have taken to facial piercings including septums, such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Willow Smith, Madonna, Ellie Goulding, Amber Rose and FKA Twigs.

Lots of celebrities with septum piercings appear to take out their piercings and put them back in – this might not be recommended, at least until it is properly healed, so it is worth talking to your piercer about the best way to care for if you need to remove and replace the piercing often.

But before you run out to your nearest piercing studio – there are some things you will probably want to know about getting septum piercings.

How is a septum piercing done?

As with most piercings, there is a fairly standard way of performing it.

Your piercer will clean the area, apply a clamp to your septum, and when you and they are satisfied that they are piercing the best place, they will pass a needle through your septum.

The needle used is a cannula, which is hollow and allows the jewellery to be inserted after – usually a ring or a horseshoe-shaped bar.

Does a septum piercing go through cartilage

Nope! A properly performed septum piercing will pierce the area between the cartilage and the front of your nose.

The septum separates the nostrils when piercing the needle goes through the thin flesh at the front of your nose called the columella or “sweet spot”. No cartilage involved.

Does getting a septum piercing hurt?

In short, yes – probably. But, as with any piercing, the pain and reaction will be different for every person.

Many say it is painful and that it makes you feel like you need to sneeze.

The healing process can be fairly long and cause pain as the piercing heals, so it is extra important to take good care of it after the initial pain.


septum piercing

(Getty Images)

Other things to consider is the placement of the piercing – after you have researched and chosen a piercer you trust, it is worth talking to them about high up you can have your septum pierced and where you want it to be placed.

Some say that lower down in the nose is more painful, takes longer to heal and is more difficult to stretch than higher up the nose, and can be harder to hide for work or other events where you might want it to be a little more discreet.

Where should I get my septum pierced?

Choosing a piercer you trust at a reputable studio is one of the most important steps.

Don’t rush into going somewhere you are unfamiliar with for your septum piercings as you might just end up regretting it.

Do some research online, talk to friends with piercings and find out which piercer at which studio you think you’d feel most comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to pop in and speak to the piercer before you intend to have the septum piercing done to discuss individual options, or call them up for a chat.

You should feel totally comfortable before you commit to having your septum pierced, and finding the right piercer will do that!


girl with septum piercing

(Getty Images)

How long will my septum piercing take to heal?

A septum piercing will take approximately six to eight months to be fully healed, depending on the person and how well they adhere to their aftercare regime.

Jewellery can be changed after around six to eight weeks, but it is advisable to speak to your piercer about it. You can even go in to ask them to do a jewellery change for you.

However, you should leave the jewellery you are pierced with in for as long as possible to give your piercing the best chance to heal and to only attempt to change jewellery when the piercing is well healed.

What is the best aftercare for a septum piercing?

A saline solution, either purchased or made at home, is the most effective way to take care of your new septum piercing.

Piercing studios usually sell a pre-mixed saline solution which can be sprayed on or used to soak the piercing. If possible, it is advisable to soak the piercing for five to 10 minutes. If you do not have a glass or cup which allows you to submerge the piercing, it is possible to use a disposable paper towel or cotton pad to create a compress to soak the piercing.

After soaking your piercing it is possible to clean it with a cotton bud and cold, clean water, in order to get rid of any crusty bits which might have formed.

Always wash your hands before handling the piercing, and don’t handle it unnecessarily while it is healing.

New piercings should be cleaned two or three times a day, and shouldn’t be overcleaned, as that can irritate the piercing. Similarly, don’t be tempted to flip the piercing up and down or to fiddle with it too much – this can cause irritation and could lead to an infection.

To make a saline solution, mix 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt with 250 ml of hot water. Allow the water to cool before using, as it may be too hot at first.

I think my septum piercing might be infected – what should I do?

If you think your septum piercing may have become infected it is highly advisable to go to your doctor or seek advice from a medical professional.

This piercing is on your face and can be knocked or bumped easily, so it is possible for it to get infected – if you are unsure or something doesn’t seem right, go back to your piercer and ask for their advice. They know their stuff and should be happy to offer you some advice.


Woman with septum piercing

(Getty Images)

I want to put in higher gauge jewellery – how long do I have to wait before I can stretch my piercing?

The best person to ask is your piercer – while you can change your jewellery

Many normally recommend waiting four to six months before stretching it to a higher gauge, or thicker jewellery, and this piercing, in particular, is recommended to take really slow with stretching.

Also ensure you wear high-grade jewellery made from materials like stainless steel or titanium, as other materials can cause problems. When stretching you should use the correct taper that allows the hole to be stretched without causing too much trauma.

Ask your piercer if they offer the service – most do, and will even sometimes let you bring in your own jewellery to change up to – as long as it is the right size. has some great deals on gold septum rings. Meanwhile, there are some very cool septum rings on

What is the best way to hide my septum piercing for work?

With certain jewellery, as long as is not too big, it is possible to flip the septum ring up into your nose to hide it when you can’t wear it but don’t want to take it out.

You can also get plastic retainers to put in your septum to keep it open if you need to be even more discreet – some piercers advise against wearing these for too long as they are not as easy to keep clean as some other materials.

I want to take out my piercing – will I be left with a scar or a hole?

Depending on how long you’ve had the piercing, the hole will either disappear completely or shrink.

Even if you’ve had a septum piercing for a number of years the visible hole left behind after you take it out will most likely shrink down to an unnoticeable size.