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Nostril Screw, L-Bend, Fishtail and Septum Retainers

Every piercing has different challenges and jewelry options. This is especially true once the piercing is healed. Sometimes due to employment or fashion jewelry that can be hidden easily or has a lower profile is a better option. A lot of times it's an issue of the shape and size of the piercee and limited space. In these cases less secrue jewelry is a better option. Where the jewelry is simply a bent piece of wire with a fixed end on one side or in the case of Septum Retainers no ends at all.

Nostril Screws are the most widely used of this type of jewelry. Basically it's an end on a long post that has been bent at a 90 degree angle and then curved. Think a question mark bent at the start of the curve. The straight area from the ball or other end sets in the piercing and then the bent curved area sits along the inside the nostril. The only thing keep the jewelry from falling out is the bent wire laying against the inside of the nostril. L-bends are basic the same but the wire is not curved.  The advantage is that you can place a stud style piece of jewelry in a tight place. The disadvantage is that they can fall out easily though they can be bent and adjusted to fit tighter after healing. Also they can be used in other tight areas like Tragus piercings.

Fishtails are not as readily used as they once were and have almost completely been fazed out in favor of threaded Labret Stud. The advantage of Fishtails was that there was no disc in contact with teeth and gums, thus reducing damage. The disadvantages were that the jewelry took up more room in the month, fell out easily if the jewelry was size correctly and didn't leave room for additional labret groupings. Basically it is a piece of wire bent at a 90 degree angle with a ball at one end then bent to the curve of the inside of the mouth.

Septum Retainers allow the piercee to flip them up into the nose to hide them. Since there is no ends caution needs to be taken when the jewelry is worn down.  Basically it has no ends or anything keeping the jewelry from sliding out of the piercing. However when flipped up, the conbination of the shape and size of the jewelry and the shape inside the nostrils will not allow it to fall out.


Removing Nostril Screws:

  1. Grab the end on the out the outside of the nostril. It can sometimes be helpful to push the jewelry out by putting your finger inside your nostril.
  2. Pull the jewelry out until you come to the 90 degree bend.
  3. Turn the jewelry past the 90 degree bend. This will cause the jewelry post to lay flat against the outside of the nostril.
  4. Rotate the jewelry through the curved part to slide the jewelry out completely. You want to kind of spin the jewelry through the curve.

Removing L-Bends and Fishtails:

  1. Grab the end on the out the outside of the nostril. It can sometimes be helpful to push the jewelry out by putting your finger inside your nostril. With Fishtails you want to first rotate the tail end so that it is vertical, then grab the ball.
  2. Pull the jewelry out until you come to the 90 degree bend.
  3. Turn the jewelry past the 90 degree bend. This will cause the jewelry post to lay flat against the outside.
  4. Simply slide the jewelry the rest of the way out.

Septum Retainers:

  1. First you need to flip the jewelry down by grabbing the ends and rotating them down. It can sometimes be helpful to push up on the tip of your nose to add extra space.
  2. Rotate and slide the jewelry out.


  • I found a long time ago that wearing medical gloves will increase the traction and grip you have on the slippery beads, balls and rings. 
  • Make sure that you have a paper towel or other safe place to place the ball or bead after you remove it. They are in cases perfectly round and will roll whatever direction gravity pulls them. Also if you are removing the jewelry over the bathroom sink, put a towel in the sink to avoid losing the jewelry down the drain.
  • Have someone else help you. Piercings especially those located above the neck are hard to see or to get ahold of. Save yourself hours of frustration and have someone else remove the jewelry.
  • It is easier to remove jewelry after a shower, soak or compress. This will not only remove anything that has deposited on the jewelry but will also cause the piercing to expand. Soaks and compresses should be done with a sea salt and warm water mixture. 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per cup or 8oz of warm water. Soak are done by inverting a small cup over the piercing area or submerging the piercing for around 10 minutes. For piercings where is not possible, take a folded up clean paper towel or sterile gauze sponge, soak up the liquid and lay it against the piercing area. Re-submerge the compress when it cools and apply it for roughly 10 minutes.
  • A small amount of water based lubricant can be used to make the jewelry easier to remove. 

Storing Jewelry:

  • Jewelry needs to be stored alone. Placing a number of pieces of jewelry into one container or bag will increase the likelihood of damage to the jewelry's finish from the contact with other jewelry.
  • The most common and easily available form of container is a zip lock baggy. It should be new to avoid contaminates. Also any air tight container will work including plastic ones.
  • The best option is to have your piercer wrap and sterilize the jewelry in an autoclave. The jewelry will be sterile kept sterile for a few months as long as the pouch is unbroken.