According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sinusitis affects more than 30 million people nationwide annually. This means that on any given day, more than 12 percent of adults may be suffering from a case of sinusitis.
Are nasal piercings a potential trigger for sinusitis? As unlikely as this may sound, there is actually a link between piercings and cases of sinusitis.
In this article, learn how nasal piercings may increase your risk for developing sinusitis and what you can do to guard against allergic reaction, infection and other health consequences of a piercing.
Two Basic Types of Sinusitis
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), sinusitis can be either acute (sudden onset) or chronic (ongoing).
In most cases, acute sinusitis is caused when you breathe in something that your body reacts to, perhaps because you are allergic to it. Acute sinusitis is sometimes also called allergic rhinitis for this reason.
Several potential allergens may trigger acute sinusitis, including pollen, mold, mildew, pet dander and dust mites.
According to the World Allergy Organization Journal, chronic sinusitis often arises out of an initial case of allergic rhinitis that fails to resolve. When symptoms have lasted for eight weeks or longer, chronic sinusitis is typically diagnosed.
With chronic sinusitis, both the nose and paranasal sinus passages are inflamed and may cause nasal drip, nasal pain or pressure, congestion, blockage, loss of smell sensitivity and other concerning health symptoms.
Can Nasal Piercings Lead to Sinusitis?
As the University of Michigan School of Medicine points out, essentially nasal piercings act to introduce a foreign object into the nasal structure.
Samuel Becker, a sinus expert of NJ & Philadelphia, mentions that anytime foreign or manmade matter is introduced inside the body, there is the potential for infection or rejection to occur. This is easiest to see when a child stuff something into their nose, whether it is a bead, Lego, a battery or something else sufficiently small to fit inside the nostril. After some time, if the item is not removed or gets stuck, the nose will develop an infection.
A nasal piercing punctures the nose from the outside in, bringing the potential for germs and bacteria inside the nasal cavity. As these germs travel up inside the nasal cavity, they can quickly cause infection.
The risk increases if it is a new nasal piercing that was not done under completely sterile conditions or if you have a tendency to touch, play with or change your nasal piercing without completely sterilizing your hands first.
Nasal Piercing Care to Avoid Sinusitis
As Healthline points out, it is critical to learn how to clean your nasal piercing under completely sanitary conditions to avoid secondary complications and infections like sinusitis.
Using a saline rinse is a sanitary way to clean your nasal piercing while it is healing and after. You should always use a saline rinse when you want to change out your piercing.
Also, take care if you use cotton balls or pads not to inadvertently get any of the cottons caught on your piercing as this could also irritate the area and cause infection.
Once your piercing has healed completely, you may want to change your piercing with your outfits. You should still use saline solution to pre-clean your jewelry before inserting it into your nose to avoid the risk of infection.
Another protective measure you may want to take, especially if you have any known metal sensitivities, is to only use jewelry that is surgical-grade. Steel, 14+ karat gold or titanium are good hypoallergenic choices to reduce the risk of infection.
Can You Keep Your Nasal Piercing During a Rhinoplasty?
If you are contemplating scheduling a rhinoplasty or revision rhinoplasty procedure and you have an existing nasal piercing, you may wonder if you can keep your piercing during your surgery.
Here, there is good news and less good news. The good news is that having had a nasal piercing in the past will not prevent you from being a good candidate to undergo a rhinoplasty or revision rhinoplasty procedure. Piercings are traditionally inserted through the tissue and/or cartilage and not through bone, which means they are not a cause for concern when planning for a rhinoplasty.
The less good news is that more than likely, you will need to remove your nasal piercing as part of your preparation for a rhinoplasty. There are multiple concerns to consider, including the risk of electric shock and heat conduction, obstruction of surgical instruments and surgeon visibility, the introduction of infection and similar issues.
While you will need to remove your nasal piercing before the day of your rhinoplasty procedure, you may be able to safely re-insert it after your procedure once the initial temporary bruising and swelling have subsided.
If the piercing was entirely healed before you had your rhinoplasty, there is a reasonable chance the hole may still be open and you can sterilize your jewelry and place the piercing back into your nose. Here, it is always important to talk with Dr. Becker first to ensure replacing your nasal piercing will not delay your rhinoplasty healing process.
If your nasal piercing hole has closed partially or fully, it may not be possible or advisable to try to place your jewelry due to the risk of secondary infection while your nose is still healing from rhinoplasty.
About the Becker Ear, Nose & Throat Center
The Becker Ear, Nose & Throat Center brings together an accomplished team of ear, nose and throat specialists who specialize in minimally invasive aesthetic (cosmetic) and treatment rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty.
Together, the team at Becker ENT Center has published more than 100 research papers, been a guest lecturer at national and international symposia, authored many textbooks and book chapters and changed patients’ lives for the better daily.