Nose piercings were popular in the 90s and early 00s. Piercings in general were the it factor if you needed a boost in your cool rating. I grew up listening to a lot of emo rock bands and I was a big fan of My chemical Romance and Avril Lavigne. Their tattoos, piercings and brightly coloured hair were goals for my awkward pubescent self many years ago. They were the inspiration for most of my fashion decisions back then and till today. I cringe when I look at old photos of myself because I almost always looked like shit.

Anyway, fast forward to the golden age of Kenyan children, 18, when you are legal and the freedom makes you giddy. The first thing I got was a tattoo followed by a nose ring. Both were impulsive and that brings me to the first rule of body modification, never get one on impulse. I’m stating the obvious here but, hey, I hardly followed that advice and ended up with not one but two, regrettable tattoos and a nose ring I almost regretted.

I digress, back to the main topic, nose piercing aftercare. Let’s get into it.

If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve already read up on the type of nose piercings so I won’t talk about that. Once you’ve had the piercing done, you may ask yourself, how long does it take for a nose piercing to heal? The answer to this question will essentially be determined by the type of nose piercing you get (different areas heal at different rates), your body’s healing ability and how closely you follow the prescribed aftercare regimen, but usually a nasal piercing takes 4 to 6 months to completely heal.

When I got my nose ring, I noticed that a lot of the tattoo and piercing shops don’t know the first thing about how to properly heal a new piercing. A lot will tell you to just clean it with salt water but they won’t tell you the proportions required to mix your saline solution.

You have to be consistent and extra careful with your proportions. Too much salt in your solution will lead to overcleaning and you end up with those annoying bumps that look like you grew a second nose. Too little salt and you end up with a weak solution that isn’t cleaning your piercing properly and you end up with a nasty infection.

So, what proportions should you use? First, the salt you’re using should be non-iodized sea salt. Add a quarter of a heaped teaspoon of it to about a double-sized shot glass of warm water, that’s about 80ml. I used to just dip my nose in and breath out to create bubbles, that way I knew I was cleaning it completely. Alternatively, you can use cotton wool to clean. Discard the solution once you’re done. Do this twice a day.

If the chemistry of mixing your own saline is too much for you, you can buy a pre-made antiseptic saline solution from a pharmacy. Then proceed to clean twice a day.

Always remember to keep your hands away from your new piercing unless cleaning it and to clean it religiously twice a day until it heals. Healing time takes 6-8 months.