What Gauge Is A Nose Piercing?

Getting your nose pierced is a popular choice but choosing the right gauge or thickness of the needle can make a difference in the healing process and long-term results. This article provides guidance on gauge sizes used for nose piercings and factors to consider.

While jewelry sections display varied gauge sizes, did you know the number refers to needle thickness for initial piercing? Selecting too big or small a gauge can hinder healing or cause fits later. Understanding gauges helps ensure a healthy piercing experience.

The guide defines industry-standard gauge sizing systems and their implications. You will learn how gauge relates to jewelry fitting over time, risks of improper sizing and need to consult professionals. Tips to identify compatible jewelry sizes based on your unique piercing gauge are also included.

Nose piercings often use a 20 or 18-gauge needle

Nose piercings often use a 20 or 18-gauge needle

A 20 or 18-gauge needle is the most common thickness used by experienced piercers for standard nose piercings. The 20-gauge creates a small 1.2 mm hole ideal for nose anatomy and heals smoothly usually within 2-4 months when cared for properly. An 18-gauge at 1.4 mm is suitable too but due to slightly larger starting size, healing can potentially take a couple weeks longer. Anything thinner like a 22-gauge risks tearing tissue whereas thicker like 16-gauge wounds tend to swell severely delaying the process. Standard earring wires also fit these gauges well for initial jewelry.

The “gauge” means the size or thickness of the needle 

Gauge is a sizing system denoting needle diameter – the lower the number, the thicker it is. Standard measurements range from 14 to around 26 gauges. For reference, here are common gauges’ diameters measured in millimeters:

  • 14 gauge – 1.6 mm
  • 16 gauge – 1.4 mm  
  • 18 gauge – 1.2 mm
  • 20 gauge – 1.0 mm
  • 22 gauge – 0.8 mm

So in summary, the lower the gauge number, the bigger the needle diameter and resulting piercing hole size. This has important implications for achieving the ideal healing conditions.

A lower gauge number means a thicker needle and a bigger hole

A lower gauge number means a thicker needle and a bigger hole 

As gauges decrease numerically, they physically become thicker. For instance, an 18-gauge needle is fatter than a 20-gauge. The end result is a larger piercing hole size.

  • 18-gauge needle makes a 1.4 mm hole  
  • 20-gauge creates a 1.0 mm hole

A bigger starting hole takes longer to heal as the skin must regrow more surface area. However, too small a hole may not allow standard 14-20 gauge jewelry to fit easily later, potentially hindering comfort and resulting in refinishing with a new piercing. Selecting the appropriate gauge balances these considerations.

A standard earring is usually a 20 or 22-gauge 

Most common earrings retail in either 20 or 22-gauge sizes for pierced ears. This aligns well with customary ear piercing needles which create a 1.0-0.8 mm entry hole that accommodates standard earring posts. 

However for additional piercings like nose or eyebrow, the same size jewelry may not always be anatomically or cosmetically suitable. For example, attempts to wear tiny 22-gauge studs in a new nose piercing done with an 18-gauge needle could cause fits or migration issues as the jewelry is too thin for the larger piercing channel. The gauge discrepancy must be considered.

If the hole is too big or small, it can cause problems

If the hole is too big or small, it can cause problems

An improperly gauged piercing that’s either too wide or narrow can lead to issues during healing and later on:

Too small may not fit standard jewelry, fail to seal entirely or become irritated more easily. 

Too large takes too long to heal as more tissue damage occurs. It could also stretch or sag long-term. Jewelry that’s far thinner or thicker than the piercing gauge may rub. Migration (rejection) risk increases when jewelry regularly pulls at piercing edges. Standard wearing may not be possible if hole size doesn’t match common gauge pieces. So only a professionally gauged piercing matching your needs optimizes success for comfort, cosmesis and longevity.

Always ask a piercing professional for advice on gauge size  

Instead of guessing a gauge, consult an experienced piercer to determine what’s most suitable. They consider:

Anatomy – Nostril anatomy, thickness and placement affects sizing.

Jewelry – Recommendations align future wear options with piercing gauge.  

Healing – Balancing entry hole dimensions and projected time to fully heal.

Comfort – Thinner gauges amplify any imbalances between piercing and ornament.

Longevity – Ensuring stability over years as placement settles. 

Let professionals knowledgeable in bodily variances properly match gauge and jewelry for your unique needs. Avoid self-piercing or using random sizes.

Your body’s healing can change its size over time  

Though a gauge creates a fixed initial hole, the piercing channel adapts and may resize very slightly as part of the multi-month healing cycle:

Swelling following piercing will make it feel larger temporarily. As swelling subsides and tissue remodels, the sizing may contract imperceptibly. Natural shifting of the placement point over months of maturation can affect fit. Piercing holes generally stabilize after ~6 months but keep in mind minor changes. Proper gauging and routine downsizing ensure jewelry continuously fits comfortably as the piercing size dynamically evolves with the body’s healing process.

Choosing the right jewelry size helps keep your piercing healthy 

Choosing the right jewelry size helps keep your piercing healthy 

While the initial piercing sets the gauge to match jewelry, continuous wearing of well-fitted ornamentation further supports ideal healing:

Jewelry overly large can cause irritation from movement. Too small could result in ingress of debris or denial of fluids aiding metabolism. Using the gauge as guidance, have your piercer recommend jewelry suitable throughout. Downsize periodically as swelling subsides to prevent unintended stretching. Replace jewelry if it becomes too loose with time as piercings may settle internally slightly. Correctly sized adornments post-piercing maintain the results and prevent future complications.


With the right gauge selection and professional piercing, your nose jewelry experience can be comfortable and successful long-term. Following gauge and jewelry guidelines optimizes healing conditions. Consultation ensures anatomical compatibility for maximum satisfaction and prevention of issues.

This guide covers gauges used for standard nostril piercings and their influence. Factors like initial sizing, jewelry fit, healing implications and potential problems from improper gauging are examined. Make informed choices by understanding this informative measurement system to ensure a healthy piercing outcome.


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