My Septum Piercing Questions: Pain, Smell, Aftercare – The verdict is…

woman posing with septum piercing.
Image -Instagram @allthingszzoe.

Rhianna, Alicia Keys and Katy Perry rock a fake one and Madonna’s done it for real, along with Zoe Kravitz, Lady Gaga and a long list of other famous septum piercing enthusiasts who have brought this ancient trend to a wider audience. Wearing a septum piercing has become the ultimate cool-girl accessory.  If you’re considering having your septum pierced – get your professional piercers number at the ready because it’s very likely you’ll be using it after reading this!

Although only popularised in western cultures during the 20th century, body piercings have a rich, ancient history which evidences that people have been getting piercings for millennia. In the modern western world, we may think septum piercings are a cool fashion statement but it’s thought that the Mayan, Aztec and various American Indian warrior tribes practised septum piercing to appear fiercer to their enemy.

Google Searching

A highly searched question on Google is “What does a septum piercing say about you”? The answer to that is ‘nothing’ – anymore.

Wearing a septum piercing doesn’t have any significant meaning in the west and people choose them just for fashion and expression. However, they have long been associated with rebellion which is perhaps why many ask this question so much.

Interestingly, septum piercings, as well as most other body piercings, do have something to say about you in some ancient and modern cultures. These include showing you are married, as well as advertising wealth, signifying strength and comradery.

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What is a septum piercing?

The nasal septum is the cartilaginous wall that divides your left and right nostrils. However, it’s not the cartilage targeted for a septum piercing – it’s the thin strip of membrane between the cartilage and the bottom of your nose. This target area referred to as the ‘sweet spot’ and it’s vital that piercing is only in this area. This is what makes it’s one of the more technically difficult piercings to perform – on top of getting it perfectly straight!

If you’re still not sure exactly where the correct placement for the septum piercing is – simply locate the hard piece of tissue at the base of your nostrils – your piercing will go just above that hard tissue through the soft, flexible skin located just above it and underneath the septal cartilage. Can you feel it?

woman posing with septum piercing.

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How much does a septum piercing hurt?

We are all different and so are our noses. Pain is a personal experience as we all have different pain thresholds and areas of sensitivity. Due to the location of a septum piercing, many agree that it is one of the least painful areas to pierce. In fact, those who’ve experienced it have rated it from zero to three out of ten for pain. That ‘sweet spot’ I mentioned before is the reason for this. The target area is soft tissue instead of cartilage and this greatly minimises the pain. Some people report that the clamping of the nose feels worse than the piercing. It’s important that the piercing of the septum is via a one-use sterilised needle.

If you want to see a professional septum piercing live – check out this video below shared by Underground Tattoos in Stevenage, UK. It didn’t put us off!

How long does a septum piercing take to heal?

Unlike cartilage piercings, the septum can take as little as 6 – 8 weeks to completely heal. However, some people may experience a longer healing time of up to 3 months.

During the healing time, you must leave the piercing alone except for when cleaning which you should do twice a day for the entire healing process.

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How much does a septum piercing cost?

In London, prices for a septum piercing start at around £40 + the jewellery you choose – and this is where you’ll find the prices will differ massively. At the very least you’ll have to pay an additional £50 for the jewellery.

However, essentially, getting your septum pierced with a standard 1.6mm titanium horseshoe can help to reduce the risk of infection during the healing process – so it’s not necessary to fork out lots of extra cash on jewellery at this point. When fully healed, we advise that you give yourself a monthly jewellery budget because septum jewellery is so desirable, you’re going to find it hard to resist growing your collection quickly. Don’t bust the bank!

How do you hide a septum piercing?

One of the reasons a septum piercing is so popular is that you can easily hide it. This is possible by flipping a horseshoe ring, so it goes into the nostril instead of hanging outside. It’s quite amazing there is no evidence of it at all – someone would literally have to look directly up your nostrils to discover it. Besides, you can also use a septum retainer to do this or alternatively you could choose a septum plug to conceal your piercing. Although, plugs can be more noticeable compared with a flipped horseshoe or retainer.

How soon can you flip a septum piercing?

As soon as the piercing has healed, you can flip your septum. If you do it before then you’ll run the risk of infection, your body rejecting the piercing, bleeding as well as inadequate healing. It’s definitely not worth the risk.  If you feel you’ll need to hide your piercing when you first get it done for whatever reasons, this probably isn’t the piercing for you – unless you can avoid who you’re hiding it from for up to 3 months. It seems like a good time to discuss fake septum jewellery!

FAKE IT – Fake septum piercings

If it’s so important to hide your septum piercing, it’s probably best not to get it pierced at all, simply get yourself some fake septum jewellery which will give you the option to rock the look when you can without going under the needle. When wearing well fitted and properly designed fake septum jewellery it’s impossible to tell it’s not a real piercing. It’s a no-commitment, cool-girl approved way to rock the septum piercing look. Remember when Kylie Jenner wore that giant fake septum piercing on her cover for Elle Canada? We loved it. Furthermore, way back in 2013, Jessica Biel famously wore a clip-on septum piercing for the punk-themed Met Gala which made headline news around the globe but sadly we’ve yet to see her wear it since!

kylie jenner pictured with a septum piercing for Elle Magazine.

What are the risks involved with a septum piercing?

The biggest risk for all types of body piercings, including septum piercings, is the risk of contracting certain blood-borne diseases (such as hepatitis) through the needles used for piercing. You can avoid this risk by getting your piercing done by a reputable piercer who only uses sterile single-use needles.

It’s essential to do your research as well as choose a competent and reputable piercing professional who has performed hundreds of septum piercings including those who have no problem locating that ‘sweet spot’. Visit the salon and ask to see their portfolio of work. Experience is everything.

Head over to Holier Than Thou, Manchester’s leading body piercing and tattoo specialists and get familiar with their Piercing’s FAQ page where they detail everything to look out for, plus the key questions to ask when looking for a professional body piercer.

Once you’ve had your septum professionally pierced, the most common risk is an infection as well as pain. You can manage the risk of infection with proper piercing aftercare. If you experience excessive pain during and after your piercing, it’s possible that the piercer missed the ‘sweet spot’ and instead the pierced the cartilage. If you suspect that is the case, then seek the advice of a professional piercer or GP.

Worst case scenario – in rare cases this piercing can sometimes lead to ‘septal hematoma’ which is an injury to the soft tissue within the septum. This causes the accumulation of blood and fluid under the lining that can cause nasal congestion, interfere with breathing, and cause pain and inflammation. If left untreated the condition can ultimately cause the formation of a hole in the septum that leads to nasal congestion.

How do you know if your septum piercing is infected?

Luckily, you won’t have much trouble figuring out if you have an infection in your piercing. It’s quite easy to identify an infected septum piercing. Symptoms may include:

  • Yellow, pus-like discharge
  • Inflammation/swelling, redness and pain around the piercing that lasts more than two weeks
  • Itching and burning

If you experience any of the above symptoms, seek the advice of a GP or specialist straight away. To avoid infection you must strictly follow aftercare instructions.

close up of a septum piercing.

How do you clean a septum piercing?

Throughout the entire healing process, you need to clean your piercing twice a day using a saline solution or unscented soap. Check out this aftercare guide by the Association of Professional Piercers that gives cleaning instructions for body piercings. Contact your body piercing professional if you feel you need further aftercare advise.

How to clean a septum piercing with saltwater?

Another commonly asked question is “how do you clean a septum piercing with saltwater? Let Painful Pleasures, a leading provider of quality jewellery, tattoo and piercing supplies, answer this for you with their homemade sea salt solution method.

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Why does my septum piercing smell?

That rotten smell coming from your septum piercing is known as ‘septum funk’ or ‘septum stench’. It’s nothing to worry about! You’ll also be happy to know that you’re the only one that can smell it!

Most people with septum piercings experience this smell or at least did during their healing process. The septum smell is very common with other body piercings too and when taking them out, you’d notice that they’d smell a little as well. With the septum piercing being in your nose, it obviously makes the smell more alarming.

The excretion that gives off the vile odour is a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells, soap residue and probably bogies too! To keep on top of the odour be sure to clean your piercing and jewellery regularly with a saline solution or unscented soap. Soak cotton buds with your chosen cleaning solution to easily target the area.

When can you first change a septum piercing?

As soon as your piercing is healed, you can change the jewellery for the first time. Septum piercings can take up to 3 months to heal. If you change the jewellery before your piercing is completely pierced you run the risk of infection, your body rejecting the piercing, bleeding and inadequate healing.

Unless there is an issue, don’t change your septum piercing until your piercing is completely healed. If you’re not sure if your piercing has healed consult with your piercing professional. It is recommended to return to your piercing professional to remove your septum piercing as well as change the jewellery for the first time. They will also be able to give you tips on how to remove, along with change, septum jewellery yourself. Always consult a professional piercer if you’re unsure about anything regarding your piercing.

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How do you change a septum piercing?

There are many different types of septum jewellery available and the fitting techniques differ. If you’re unsure how to change your septum piercing, then it’s best to pop back to your piercer to get some fitting advice for your new jewellery. However, if you’re confident to change your septum piercing without consulting a professional first, there are some super helpful resources online that guide you step-by-step through the fittings for different types of septum jewellery. We particularly love the fitting advice provided by Lulus. Check out the image below where they guide you through the correct fitting of a fixed bead ring.

tutorial from lulus on how to change your septum piercing.
Image – How to change a fixed bead ring by Lulus.


Image Gallery – Septum Piercing Gallery

Image - Instagram

One of the most challenging things about septum piercings is getting familiar with all the different types of jewellery available. To make that process easier for you – we’ve created an image gallery for you which features the most popular styles available. Get ready to fall in love!

Some of the most popular types of septum piercing jewellery include:

  • Fixed bead rings
  • Hinged rings
  • Clickers (snap ring)
  • Horseshoe
  • Circular barbells
  • Plugs
  • Tusks
  • Curls

Silver horseshoe

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Gold Horseshoe

Rose Gold Horseshoe

Black Horseshoe

Gold Hinged Ring

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????????? ???????? ?? @intambo ?

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Gold hinged ring with black onyx fixed ball

Large Horseshoe

Silver Hinged Ring

Gold Hinged Ring with Chain

Titanium Beaded Seam Ring with Crystals

Titanium Seam Coronet Ring with Crystals

Gold and Pearl Coronet Clicker (Snap Ring)

Gold and Diamond Side Inlay Clicker (Snap Ring)

Opal Side Inlay Hinged Clicker

Rose Gold and Opal Clicker (Snap Ring)

White Gold Diamond Hinged Clicker

Maria Tash Spike Collection

White Tusk

Blue Tusk

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I’m stupid happy with where I am in life. After years of struggling, everything rapidly came together and now I’ve got a job, a job where I can keep and get new piercings, I’ve got a car, I’ve been stable since getting on medication and going to therapy AND my romantic life is blooming again. I really feel like that Kronk meme ? “Oh yeah, it’s all coming together” #happy #progress #goth #gothgoth #blooming #doingbetter #irish #wiccan #gothicgirl #gothgirl #alt #alternativegirl #altgirl #blackmetal #deathmetal #numetal #numetalcore #progressivemetal #melodicmetal #doommetal #speedmetal #thrashmetal #heavymetal #deathmetal #deathcore #dsbm #pierced #dahlias #bridgepiercing #snakebitespiercing #septumpiercing

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Silver Retainer

Black Retainer

Septum Plug

Septum Plugs Stretching Set

Stretched Septum

Glass Septum Plugs via Pinterest

Pin It.

Will you be getting your septum pierced this summer? It’s one way to seriously up your summer look! No doubt another one bites the dust…

If you’ve had your septum pierced, we’d love to know what your experience has been like. Do you agree that it’s one of the least painful piercings? Let us know in the comments below.

Wishing you all the good things

Beautysyn xx


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Affiliate Disclosure: We are a professional website and may get commission from the retailers and product brands we recommend in our articles. This in no way directs or effects the content we put out, but it does help to keep the lights on. We are independently owned and the opinions we express are our own, and most importantly they are truthful.