Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nose Piercing Complications :( part one.

I'd love to say that my nose piercing and I lived happily ever after. Sadly, this was not to be the case. Shortly after I posted "A permanent accessory" I developed a small bump around the top of my piercing. It was also red and slightly swollen-looking. A friend recommended tea tree oil, the first of many remedies that I tried in the hopes of being able to keep the piercing that I wanted so badly. Tea tree oil is very strong, and has a very potent smell when applied to your nose. It also burns and, regrettably, was of no help to me whatsoever. I tried to delude myself into thinking that it was helping... but lucky for me both my mums and lovely sis JULIETTE would constantly squint at it... then advance closer to my face. "That doesn't look right, is it infected?" (M) or, "I hope that isn't a staph definitely looks infected." (J) never let me forget for too long that something wasn't right about my healing process.

I reluctantly decided to call the shop where I had this hardware installed and discovered that my beloved Marcie was going to be out for the next couple of weeks due to illness. This news left me feeling vaguely unsettled. Since I didn't want to go see a different piercer I postponed my trip to North Coast as long as possible... which wasn't that long because I was beginning to have visions of my poor proboscis (we had made a tentative peace) now adorned NOT with a cute little post... but a gigantic wart-like SCAR. I would look like an evil witch!

I love googling any random question I may have, but made the mistake of hopping on my macbook (get a mac) and googling "bump on nose piercings". The repulsive images of disgusting protuberances of all sizes will forever be singed on my brain.

From that point forth, (though outwardly appearing confident that the piercing was healing nicely), I was secretly terrified at the thought of a nubby little bump on the side of my nose... mocking me for ever trying to improve it in the first place. In subsequent weeks I ended up taking a total of 4 additional trips to North Coast Body Mod (NCBM), each visit a bit more surreally horrible than the one before it.

Trip #1- I spoke with a male employee (I'll call him Brutus since I didn't catch his name) who told me that my nose didn't look infected... it was just taking awhile to heal. He told me that I had two possible options to treat the "keloid" (disgusting word that I hate): 1. the tea tree oil 2. the aspirin treatment.* When I informed him that I had tried the tea tree oil already, he told me to try the aspirin treatment and that it should clear up in 3-4 days "no problem". Brutus also said that he didn't think that the tea tree oil was very effective but that anyone he had told about the aspirin never came back into the shop to say it hadn't worked. I was skeptical, but cautiously optimistic.

I also inquired as to whether or not it was possible to be allergic to the metal jewelry NCBM uses for new piercings. I had first put this question to Marcie on P Day back in October but wanted to hear Brutus' take on the matter. Long ago I got my bellybutton pierced and my body (I call it the luxury vehicle**) reacted in the exact same way. Same bump, same strange not-really-infected, but yet not-really-healing situation. I had ended up having to remove the piercing after multiple attempts to keep it. I wondered back then if it had something to do with the type of metal in the jewelry, since my ears always get infected if I wear earrings that aren't 14 carat or sterling silver. I never tried out my 14 carat theory on my bellybutton and ended up with a scar and no piercing. I figured I would at least ask this time to see if it was possible.

Brutus quickly informed me that it is impossible to be allergic to the piercing jewelry. He assured me (as did Marcie) that when people have reactions it is because of the nickel that is found in some jewelry... but that North Coast pierces with no-nickel-having-surgical-steel. Marcie had gone a step further in her explanation and said that it is the same metal used in surgery when you need pins for broken bones and such, which means that people can't have an allergy to it. Both of them spoke with such conviction that I felt a little foolish for asking (twice). But even while immersed in that uncomfortable "foolish" feeling... I still didn't really believe them. I thanked Brutus, left, and went immediately to Walgreens to fetch some Bayer aspirin and hoped for the best.

Well, 3-4 days did nothing. Nor did 3-4 days after that. In fact, if possible, the bump was bigger, and the skin was beginning to peel. This was extremely upsetting to me, and I was also still fielding questions from Mums and Juliette with regularity, fueling my anxiety further. After about a week of the aspirin treatment, I woke up one morning and discovered that my bump looked just like a blood blister. Bright red... and evil. Instead of being scared and disheartened, which probably would have been the normal reaction, I was excited. I thought, "if this is only a blister, maybe someone at North Coast can do something to it, and then all will be well!" Wrong again. I was beginning to think that this whole nose piercing affair was God's little way of letting me know how often I am incorrect about things.

Back I went to North Coast and this time Brutus called upon a fellow with an impressive mohawk and tattoo collection to assess my pathetic non-healing situation. I don't remember his name either, probably because he traumatized me so much, so I have christened him Mohawk for storytelling purposes. Mohawk was very nice, and took me back to their piercing rooms. He put on his gloves and began examining my nose. He deduced that yes, it was a blood blister and theorized that if he was able to "release the fluid" then perhaps I would be on the road to healing. What followed was incredibly painful and involved the wooden stick end of a cotton swab being jammed repeatedly into my bump. Mohawk would jam the stick, then twist it, then swipe the increasingly bloody utensil through some disinfectant he had applied to a medical tray. I know that sounds disgusting, and I apologize for the graphic deets, but I owe it to you to be as specific as possible. Mohawk repeated this process at least 10 times, so I'm sure you can imagine my horror and pain as I saw my blood on the tray and felt this blunt little torture tool being jabbed into my face.

When he was finished, he apologized for any pain he had caused and said that now I should use the aspirin treatment and that I should be successful. Wiping the involuntary wet tracks off of my face with a paper towel, I thanked him, and quickly left so that I could reflect on this excruciating episode in the solitude of my car. I took a few moments to lament the fact that other people get piercings all the time and don't have these troubles. After wallowing for a bit, I got on with my day and tried to feel optimistic. Little did I know that even more pain was coming my way, and that my saga was only halfway over.

to be continued....

* the aspirin treatment: crush an uncoated aspirin and add water until it becomes the consistency of toothpaste, then smear it all over the outside of your piercing and leave it on overnight. Let me tell you-- it is a very attractive look.

** more on the luxury vehicle later. Forevermore, when I have more to say on any topic I shall use the acronym of MOTL.


  1. LOL - I'm guessing that "Brutus" is the big guy, bulldog tattoo on his head? If so, that's Rich - the owner of the shop. He did my most recent tattoo. And I know exactly who Mohawk is - he's a sweetheart! But for the life of me I can't think of his name right now...Jesse rings a bell, but I could be wrong.

    Sorry to hear you're having so many problems with the piercing. The other piercer at NCBM (Beckie) is awesome as well. I've had problems with any piercing I've had done anywhere other than by them.

  2. what was the outcome? I too have a blood blister that comes and goes with my nose peircing at least once a month strangely enough.... guess i will be heading into my tattoo shop to get this remedied.

  3. I know this is from 2010 and I’m hoping you get this but what happened after? This is exactly what’s happening to my nose piercing. I’m at that blood blister stage and the top layer of skin has peeled off.. please tell me it gets better? Nothing has worked for me and I’m becoming so disheartened. I’m also in full on meltdown mode because I think I’m going to end up with a huge scar! I don’t know if I should admit defeat or to persevere...

    1. Maddy! I'm sorry it has taken me awhile to respond; yes this post is from awhile ago! I am happy to report that once I switched to a white gold post instead of that metal one it healed immediately. I haven't had any problems since then, and have graduated to using sterling silver posts and rings without any further infections or difficulties. I hope that you persevere and that I'm not too late to be of some assistance!!! Good luck!