Once your original nose piercing has healed, your piercer will likely give you the go-ahead to change out the jewelry. There are also a lot of options you can experiment with until you’ve found your favorite look. The most common types of nose rings include:

  • corkscrew
  • stud
  • hoop-shaped

Still, there are specific steps to follow when putting in a nose ring, some of which can vary based on the type of jewelry you’re using. Following the right steps — always with clean hands — can help you avoid infection, injury to your nose, and damage to the jewelry.

A corkscrew nose ring is shaped just like it sounds — in a subtle hook shape. If you’re looking for something different than a traditional nose ring, the shape of this type is more likely to stay put. However, corkscrew rings are slightly more challenging to insert.

You should always clean your piercing and the new jewelry before swapping out nose rings. To insert a corkscrew nose ring:

  1. Wash your hands before touching your piercing, ideally before taking out the original jewelry.
  2. Locate the piercing hole in your nose and gently insert the tip of the corkscrew ring only.
  3. Place a finger from your opposite hand inside your nose to find the ring tip. This will help you know where to guide the rest of the corkscrew ring so you don’t injure yourself.
  4. Take your finger out of your nose as you slowly twist the rest of the corkscrew into your piercing, using a clockwise motion.

A nose stud is a bit easier to handle than a corkscrew nose ring. This type of jewelry is a vertical piece of metal, or rod, with a ball or jewel on top. It also has a backing to help keep it in place. Still, if you don’t insert it correctly, you can risk irritation or even an infection around your piercing.

To insert a nose stud:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Slowly insert the rod into your piercing hole, holding the jewelry by its top.
  3. If for some reason the rod doesn’t go in smoothly, then you can gently twist it into place in a clockwise motion.
  4. Gently secure the back onto the rod through your nostril. The backing should be tight enough to keep the jewelry in place, but not directly against the inside of your nose.

A hoop nose ring consists of a circular-shaped piece of metal. It may also have beads and jewels on it.

To insert a nose hoop:

  1. With clean hands, pull the two ends of the ring apart, using plyers if you need to. If there are any beads in the middle, remove them at this time.
  2. Carefully insert one end of the hoop-ring into the piercing.
  3. Press both ends of the hoop to lock the ring together.
  4. If you have a beaded hoop ring, place the bead back on the hoop before closing.

It’s just as important to know how to remove old nose jewelry. This will reduce your risk of injury or infection.

The key is to do it slowly. Some types of jewelry, such as corkscrew rings, need to be removed in a counterclockwise movement. Think of the old saying “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.”

Once you’ve removed the old jewelry, take a cotton ball and soak it with cleaning solution. Using light pressure, gently wipe around your piercing to remove debris, crusted discharge, and bacteria.

If you don’t have a cleaning solution, you can create your own with a combination of one-quarter teaspoon of sea salt mixed well into eight ounces of warm water. Clean the old jewelry, too.

Before touching your piercing and swapping out the jewelry, you should always wash your hands. This is the best preventive measure against infections. An infected piercing can become red, inflamed, and pus-filled, and it can also cause further complications such as scarring and piercing rejection.

Damage to your skin can also occur if you put the nose ring in too roughly. If the ring doesn’t budge, you can lubricate the metal with soap. If this still doesn’t work, see your piercer for guidance. You never want to force the ring into your skin. That may risk injury and scarring.

While nose rings are relatively easy to switch out, following the correct steps can help minimize any associated risks. See your piercer with any concerns, especially if you think you’ve developed an injury or infection.