A nose piercing can heal and maintain itself well with regular cleanings. But with any piercing, there’s always a risk of infection or scarring and the piercing being rejected.

A new nose piercing requires frequent cleanings. Like any new piercing, regular cleanings help keep debris out of the piercing while also preventing infection.

However, the aftercare doesn’t stop there. You’ll need to regularly ensure your nose piercing and jewelry are both in good shape to prevent any future problems.

Read on to learn the ins and outs of nose piercing care. You can also talk to your piercer for specific tips tailored to you.

Getting a nose piercing is a relatively quick process. The healing process, however, isn’t so quick. It takes several weeks, and up to a few months, for a piercing to completely heal. Within the first few days, your nose piercing will be red, inflamed, and possibly painful.

The first step to nose piercing aftercare is cleaning. Your piercer will recommend a saline rinse to use at least twice per day. You may also consider using your own DIY sea salt rinse, or even tea tree oil if your nose is especially tender.

You’ll also want to make sure you leave the original jewelry in place until the piercing heals. Changing out the jewelry puts you at risk for infection. Also, you risk letting the piercing hole close up.

Don’t touch the piercing unless you’re cleaning it with recently washed hands — you may accidentally introduce bacteria and cause an infection.

An untreated nose piercing infection can lead to nasal trauma and a host of other symptoms, including breathing difficulties and a change in the shape of your nose.

The Center for Young Women’s Health says it takes an average of two to four months for a nose piercing to completely heal. Your piercer can help you determine this for sure.

Once your piercing has healed, you won’t have to clean the site as often as you once did. However, you’ll still need to clean your nose piercing occasionally to maintain it. This will also help prevent infection and scarring.

To clean your nose piercing, you’ll need the following items:

  • saline rinse or a sea salt soak
  • cotton balls
  • thick paper towels or cotton cloths, as thin material can fall apart and get stuck on the jewelry

If you’re making your own saline rinse, thoroughly combine 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in warm distilled water. You can dip the cotton balls or paper towels in the solution or place your nose in a cup of the water.

You’ll need to clean a new nose piercing twice a day, but you can do it more often.

After several months, when your piercing has completely healed, you can transition to fewer saline rinses and soaks by using them only if the piercing area is dirty or oily. You can also start using mild, unscented soap for healed nose piercings only.

In addition to cleaning your nose piercing, it’s important to clean your nose jewelry, too. This helps to get rid of any oil, dirt, or debris that’s stuck to the jewelry. You may also rinse away potential infection-causing bacteria.

New piercings require cleaning around and beneath the stud. As you switch to other types of jewelry while your piercing heals, it’s helpful to clean the jewelry any time you clean the piercing. This may be done with regular saline solution or regular soap and water.

If you wear silver jewelry in your nose, you’ll also want to occasionally clean it with professional silver jewelry cleaner. This helps to get rid of any corrosion that could potentially get stuck in your piercing.

When it comes to your nose piercing, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing how to maintain it. To maintain a nose piercing:

  • Don’t apply over-the-counter antiseptics, including Neosporin. If you think your piercing is getting infected, continue your saline rinses and see your piercer for advice.
  • Don’t use hydrogen peroxide — this will cause irritation in the piercing.
  • Don’t twist or play with your nose jewelry, as this will irritate the piercing.
  • Don’t touch your piercing with dirty hands.
  • Never share nose rings or studs with other people.
  • Don’t ever force a ring back into the piercing hole. This can damage your skin. If it’s not going in right away, gently insert the ring in a clockwise motion until it sets.

You can also help avoid allergic reactions and other skin sensitivities by opting for quality nose rings. Look for the following materials in a prospective nose ring:

  • surgical-grade steel
  • titanium
  • 14-karat or higher gold

Quality jewelry is also less likely to fall apart in the nose, which can cause complications if it’s swallowed or aspirated.

A nose piercing can heal and maintain itself well with regular cleanings. However, as with any piercing, there’s always a risk for complications.

Infections and scarring are most common with new nose piercings, but they can still occur with healed piercings, too. Piercing rejection is another possibility.

Talk to your piercer about any nose piercing complications that may arise. They might recommend a different cleaning approach, new jewelry, or another nose piercing altogether.