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Why Does My Ear Piercing Smell!?

14k Gold Nose Hoop- Cool Breeze

14k Gold Nose Hoop- Cool Breeze

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Why Does My Piercing Smell

Updated on December 6, 2019

Have you ever been sitting alone in a restaurant between meal rushes, or wandering through a department store on a lazy day to kill time before an important appointment, and all at once you got a whiff of what must be the spawn of Limburger and Parmesan cheese? Have you searched the area, prepared to give the thoughtless pervade of fresh, sweet-smelling a dirty look to rival his or her filthy smell, only to see people standing in a cluster, giving YOU that look? That’s because IT IS YOU! Well, your ear piercing, that is.

Ok, so no one else can smell it, to be honest. If people are clustered and looking at you funny, it’s because you look like something is disagreeing with you in an awful way, and they want to stick around to see if it should disagree with them, too. However, we repeat: they CAN NOT smell it. So, you can relax. A little.

However, you MUST get to the source of your ear piercing’s wretch-worthy odor and put a stop to it. Not only could it make you sick to your stomach (imagine tossing your cheesecake onto those clustered, frowny people!), it can create an infection bad enough to warrant hospital treatment or surgery. It could also in time cause permanent damage to the ear skin through which it is pierced. So, we wanna help you find the cause of the smell, and make a few suggestions for clearing it up.

why does my ear piercing smell
Model babe @megramshaw for @dayofthedreads
Septum ring - Indian Mystique - solid 14 k gold

Infection Causes Ear Piercing Smells

Despite the greatest of care with which you treat all your ear piercings, and your devotion to your cleansing and rotating rituals, your piercing can become infected. Think about it- your ears, and any other areas of your face are exposed to sweat, the elements, makeup, hairspray, etc. Even if you have no piercings, it is important to clean your ears regularly. For those of us who do, we must accept the fact that holes in our body are extra susceptible to any infection-rearing germs floating around us nonstop. This makes them the perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria and infections.

So, don’t beat yourself up if a piercing gets infected. In many cases, it isn’t your fault (unless you haven’t been cleaning and rotating it properly; in which case, shame on you!). Instead, take immediate action to remedy the infection so you don’t suffer any permanent damage and so you can get back to wearing your awesome jewelry pain-free!

Until the infection clears, switch to plain, antibacterial soaps for cleaning, and double the amount of times per day that you clean your piercing. Ask your piercing specialist if they can recommend a good antiseptic to use in between cleanings, and keep a close eye on the piercing, should you need to consult a doctor. An infected ear piercing isn’t the end of the world, but it can get out of control quickly if you don’t act right away.

why does my ear piercing smell
Model and Photo by @dayofthedreads
Septum ring - Delicate Beauty

Your Ear Piercings Attract Children and Pets

Both kids and animals are fascinated by three things: bright, shiny and new. Chances are, your piercing(s) are all of these. What is the first thing they want to do with anything bright, new or shiny? Grab hold and investigate up close. This creates two issues for piercings: germs (which we discussed in the Infection section above) and tears, or rips.

When any ear piercing, old or new, develops tears and abrasions, those little nicks become brand-new crevices into which odor-causing germs can wiggle themselves and hide. In these instances, especially in older piercings, pain may not give you an indication that anything is wrong. It may only hurt for a few seconds, or the pain may subside once you clean and rotate your piercing. However, over time, you may notice a strange smell, and that the skin around your piercing is loose, or that the ear piercing hole seems bigger, or isn’t holding your jewelry in place as well.

Little can be done to reverse the process if your skin has already begun stretching. However, your specialist can help you prevent the problem from worsening and resulting in a “rejected” piercing, and he or she can certainly help you do something about the ear piercing smell!

ear piercing smells like cheese
Model is badass @meg.ecliptic
Nose Ring - Choker

Body Chemistry Can Cause Ear Piercings to Smell

Believe it or not, your unique body chemistry reacts with (or in some case, against) certain substances like perfumes and soaps and materials (metals, plastic, wood, etc.), which creates various fragrances and/or skin discolorations. Some people classify any such occurrence as an allergic reaction. However, unless you experience any pain, itchiness, redness or inflammation simultaneously, this typically refers to an “intolerance” to certain substances or materials. An intolerance is little more than your body’s way of telling you, “That stuff and I do not get along; please remove it and thanks!” That’s why some people smell irresistible wearing certain fragrances, and other people find themselves avoided by skunks.

Ear piercings react in a similar fashion by either “rejecting” jewelry made from certain materials where the skin recedes (shrink) as far away from the offending material as possible.  Or, by omitting an offensive odor. We want to mention again that, if this is accompanied by pain or any other kind of irritation, it may indicate an allergy or infection, for which you should seek help at once. If, however, it is just the smell, try a simple jewelry change. If the ear piercing smell persists, be sure to consult an expert as soon as possible.

Ear Piercing Smells Away!

Do you have an experience with a smelly ear piercing and/or remedy you’d like to share with us? Please let us know! We’re always looking for new, helpful suggestions to add to our collection.

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