Thinking of getting a bridge piercing? Chances are, you’ve got a few questions first.
Below, you’ll find answers to 11 common Qs about this eye-catching nose piercing.
A bridge piercing, also called an Erl piercing, runs horizontally across the bridge of the nose. It’s technically considered a surface piercing since the bridge typically isn’t fleshy enough for a dermal.
The jewelry is inserted through your skin, usually at the narrowest part of your nose or right between the eyes. That said, you can play with placement anywhere along the bridge or even have the piercing run vertically, if you have enough flesh to accommodate it.
If you wear glasses, just be mindful of positioning. Most bridge piercings don’t interfere with glasses. If they do, switching to a shorter or curved barbell can help, as can choosing jewelry with smaller or flatter ends.
If you’re worried, bring your glasses to your appointment so your piercer can suggest the best placement and jewelry.
Bridge piercings typically run between $30 and $60. This cost depends on variables like location, the studio, and the type of jewelry you choose. Your piercer’s experience can also influence cost.
You’d think a piercing that essentially sits between your eyes would be pretty high up there in terms of pain, but most people don’t find it terribly painful.
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, of course. But in general, bridge piercings tend to hurt less because they mostly just go through skin.
You can expect a quick pinch as the needle goes in. Most people find the clamping of the skin (more on that below) more uncomfortable than the actual piercing.
Here’s what you can expect during your bridge piercing appointment:
- The piercer will examine your bridge area to make sure your anatomy can accommodate a bridge piercing.
- You’ll choose your jewelry and fill out a waiver.
- The piercer will disinfect the area and mark the entry and exit points with a marker.
- The piercer will use a clamp to gently pull your skin away from the bridge.
- Your piercer will push the needle through the skin and immediately insert the jewelry and screw the ends in place.
- They’ll clean the area again before giving you aftercare instructions and sending you on your way.
Bridge piercings typically heal faster than other nose piercings because they only pass through a bit of skin. The healing process usually takes around 2 to 3 months.
Keep in mind that tissue heals from the outside in, so your piercing might ~look~ healed a lot sooner — but that doesn’t mean it is.
Proper aftercare can help you heal faster and reduce your risk for infection and other complications.
Here’s what to DO while your bridge piercing is healing:
- Wash your hands before handling your piercing.
- Use saline solution as needed, either by spraying it on or applying with clean gauze saturated with saline solution.
- If your piercer says it’s OK, wash the skin gently with a mild soap.
- Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap.
- Gently pat the area dry with a clean paper towel.
- Sleep on a clean pillowcase.
Here’s what NOT to do during healing:
- Don’t touch your piercing unless you’re cleaning it.
- Avoid playing with your jewelry — rotating isn’t necessary.
- Don’t submerge your piercings in swimming pools, hot tubs, or open water like lakes and oceans.
- Don’t use harsh products that contain alcohol, Bactine, perfumes, dyes, or chemicals.
- Be careful when getting dressed, brushing your hair, or putting on your glasses to avoid snagging or friction.
- Don’t remove or change your jewelry until you’re fully healed.
Some localized tenderness, swelling, and redness are to be expected in the first few days. A bit of crusting and itching is also normal.
You might have heard the myth that a bridge piercing can make you cross-eyed, but a myth is all it is — your piercing won’t leave you cross-eyed. In fact, it shouldn’t be much more noticeable than the bride of your nose is right now.
If you’re hyper-aware of the piercing and bothered by it, talk with your piercer about switching to a smaller, less noticeable piece of jewelry.
There’s some risk with any procedure that punctures tissue. Choosing a reputable piercer and taking good care of your piercing as it heals can mitigate most of these.
Still, it’s wise to keep the following risks in mind:
- Infection. Piercings are open wounds that can allow infection-causing bacteria in. Infection can involve symptoms like severe pain, redness, and swelling, along with thick, smelly discharge or pus.
- Blood-borne infections. Though rare, it’s possible to contract a blood-borne disease like tetanus or HIV from contaminated, unsanitary instruments.
- Allergic reactions. It’s possible to be allergic to materials in jewelry, like nickel. If you have a latex allergy, be sure your piercer wears non-latex gloves.
- Rejection. The proximity of the jewelry to the surface of the skin increases the risk of rejection. You might notice your jewelry shifting from its location and the holes getting bigger. The skin between the entry and exit might appear thinner, flaky, or calloused.
A 12- or 14-gauge curved or straight barbell is what’s typically used for bridge piercing.
The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) recommends sticking with these materials for initial piercings to reduce the risk of complications:
- Titanium. Medical grade titanium is most piercers’ first choice because it’s completely hypoallergenic and safe for everyone, including people with a nickel allergy.
- Niobium. Niobium is similar to titanium and safe for everyone. It costs less than titanium, but it doesn’t have the medical grade designation.
- Surgical steel. Surgical steel is affordable and durable. It contains some nickel but has a low nickel release which makes it safe for most people. You may want to skip it if you’re very sensitive or allergic to nickel.
- Solid 14K or higher gold. If you’re going to opt for gold jewelry, choose 14 karats or higher. Anything less is too soft to be worn inside the body. Make sure the gold is solid, not plated — gold plating can flake off and expose you to the other metals underneath, which may include nickel.
As soon as you’re fully healed.
It’s always a good idea to have the initial piercing jewelry changed professionally. Initial piercings can be a bit stubborn. A pro can make the swap without damaging the thin layer of skin over your bridge.
If a bridge piercing is your jam, find yourself a reputable piercer. Ask for recommendations from friends or find one through the APP’s website.
Be sure to check out the studio beforehand to make sure it’s licensed and clean and verify that all piercers practice proper sanitization procedures. It also never hurts to ask to see your piercer’s portfolio and references.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.