People generally don’t like to talk about it, but it’s a fact that piercings sometimes smell bad. This can happen to piercings at any stage of healing, though it’s sometimes more alarming than in other situations.
What is characteristic for smelly piercings is that the smell can occur even with healed piercings. In fact, fully healed piercings are sometimes the most affected by this problem.
Keep in mind that this problem can be easily solvable, so if this happens to you, don’t despair! The important thing is to make sure that the smell is not a symptom of another problem.
Why Are Some Piercings Smelly?
Piercings can become smelly at any time, so this isn’t something you can predict. The good news is that the smell is usually not the sign of a bigger problem, but it is important to make sure that there is no infection or another issue producing the smell. Keep in mind that infections and other problems are most common with new piercings that are still in healing. If your piercing develops an infection and if some pus forms inside the piercing, it will smell.
The smell that is a sign of infection will typically be followed by other signs, such as swelling, pain, discomfort, redness and discharge. In fact, the discharge is that causes the bad smell. If you notice these signs make sure to consult your doctor immediately. This is a sign of a developed infection, which means that it’s been there for a while. This is why it’s important to monitor your piercing regularly to notice any changes as soon as they appear. If you miss the signs the infection will develop further, which can cause numerous problems. In some extreme cases piercing infections can affect the whole body, so this is something you need to prevent at all costs. Therefore, if you notice any warning signs, make sure to seek medical help immediately.
However, keep in mind that smelly piercings can occur even if there is no other problem around. No infection and no underlying issues, and still you get a smelly piercing. What is going on?
Keep in mind that your body constantly secretes a substance known as sebum. This substance is secreted by sebaceous glands located in the skin. Sebum can easily be recognized as an oily substance. It is not a harmful thing – it is actually there to lubricate and protect the skin. However, once sebum is mixed with dirt, dead skin cells or bacteria, it can turn smelly pretty quickly. Since piercings are wounds in the skin and even healed ones have dead cells and dirt around them, it is clear how piercings can become smelly in no time.
You will notice sebum mixed with dead cells and dirt as an oily, soft discharge. It may be stinky and smell like cheese. In some extreme cases, the discharge will be almost solid. This is what causes your piercings to become smelly.
How to Get Rid of the Smell?
While it is impossible to prevent sebaceous glands from creating sebum, there are some things you can do to prevent its accumulation and bad smell:
- Clean your jewelry. It is important to keep your jewelry clean at all times. Dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells can easily accumulate around your jewelry, causing problems. In order to prevent sebum to accumulate, make sure to clean your jewelry regularly.
- Wash your piercing areas carefully. Make sure to always clean your piercings during showers. Some people forget about cleaning when the piercing is healed, but keep in mind that aftercare is not the only time when you should take care of your piercings. Piercings are best to be cleaned without chemical products, so a wet cloth will do. You may also use salt soaks to clean your piercings.
- Do not use harsh chemicals around your piercings. Harsh soaps, shampoos and other products can easily accumulate around your piercings, causing irritation and other problems. This can lead to further problems, including smelly piercings. Make sure to always use only gentle products around your piercing and to clean the piercing area fully with water to remove any chemicals from your skin.
- Take your jewelry off during showers and swimming. If your piercing is healed, consider taking your jewelry off during showers. This will make leaning easier and prevent the accumulation of soap and other products on the jewelry. You may also do this during swimming and other activities involving water, but make sure not to leave your piercing without jewelry for too long or else the hole will start to close. You may use temporary jewelry or piercing retainers for these activities.
- Use a drop of lavender oil on your piercing. After your piercing is clean and dry, apply a drop of lavender oil to the piercing. This should prevent the smell. Alternatively, you may use a drop of tea tree oil for the same purpose.