Why Do My Earring Holes Smell?

Have you ever noticed an unpleasant odor coming from your earring holes? You’re not alone. Smelly piercings are quite common and usually occur due to a buildup of dead skin cells, excess sebum oil, and bacteria. However, not all smells indicate an infection. In many cases, it’s simply a normal part of the healing process.

Let’s take a deeper look at some potential causes of smelly piercings and how to properly care for them.

Why are my earring holes black?

Having black ears or earring holes is usually a sign of bacteria or dead skin cells building up under the piercing. As you sleep or go about your daily activities, dirt, oil, and dead skin can accumulate in the piercing tract. Over time, this buildup turns dark as bacteria feeds on it. This bacterial biofilm becomes harder to remove as it grows, leading to discoloration.

Why are my earring holes crusty?

Crustiness around a piercing site is another tell-tale sign of bacterial buildup forming under the jewelry. The white or yellow crust you see at the piercing opening is dead skin cells and sebum that bacteria has been “feeding” on. This creates an ideal, moist environment for microorganisms to thrive. The lingering residue and flakes are from this multiplying microbial community.

Why do my earring holes hurt?

Tenderness or pain around new piercings is quite normal during the initial healing phase as your body adjusts to the foreign object. However, pain that lasts for more than a few days or worsens could indicate infection. Infected piercings usually hurt or throb due to swelling and increased blood flow to fight the invading bacteria. Be on the lookout for redness, warmth, and pus-like discharge as well.

How do I stop my piercings from smelling?

Use an antibacterial cleanser to gently clean your piercings 1-2 times daily. Look for products containing ingredients like tea tree oil or chamomile which have natural antibacterial properties. Sea salt soaks can also help draw out impurities. Avoid over-cleaning which can irritate still-healing piercings. Be sure to dry well afterwards to prevent moisture-loving bacteria from thriving. Change jewelry regularly with implant-grade materials.

Does the piercing smell ever go away

Does the piercing smell ever go away

For new piercings, occasional mild odors may persist for several weeks or months as the site fully heals. However, once healed, piercings generally should not emit any notable smells if well cared for. Lingering strong odors even after months could indicate deeper issues like infection that require medical attention from a piercer. With time and proper aftercare using antibacterial cleansers, most temporary new piercing scents will resolve.

How to get rid of smelly ear piercings?

Here are some effective strategies to eliminate odors from ear piercings:

  • Rinse piercings 1-2 times daily with an antibacterial cleanser like H2Ocean or Neal’s Yard Remedies piercing aftercare spray. Avoid over-cleaning.
  • Soak lobes in warm sea salt water solution for 5-10 minutes 1-2 times daily. The salt draws out impurities.
  • Gently wipe away any crusties or discharge using sterile gauze or paper towel after cleaning.
  • Make sure jewelry is implant-grade material like titanium, gold or glass and changed regularly.
  • Use tea tree oil on a cotton ball to dab on piercing. Its antibacterial properties help reduce bacteria.
  • Check for signs of infection like swelling, redness, heat or pus. See a piercer for treatment if infected.
  • Practice good hygiene and avoid excess touching, Movement or trauma to the piercing as it heals.

With diligent cleaning one to two times daily using antibacterial solutions and regular jewelry changes with implant-grade materials, smelly piercings should clear up within a few weeks. But see a professional if odors persist longer term or are accompanied by other infection symptoms. Their expertise can rule out any underlying skin or medical issues.

why does my ear piercing hole smell

The main reasons an earring hole may emit unpleasant odors include bacteria overgrowth, a buildup of dead skin cells and sebum, trauma or irritation to the piercing, and rarely – infection. As discussed above, normal healing processes can also cause temporary mild scents that tend to resolve on their own with proper aftercare. 

Factors like failing to clean piercings regularly, continuing to wear dirty jewelry, excess grime buildup under jewelry, and poor hygiene practices make odor issues much more likely due to lack of care for the wound site during the vital healing stage.

Is it normal for piercings to smell weird?

It is normal for newer piercings, especially unhealed ones, to produce minor temporary smells during the initial healing phase as the body adjusts to the new wound. However, strong, foul or putrid odors as well as green/yellow discharge are worrying signs that infection may be present and require medical attention. 

Mild scents that clear up within a few weeks of regular antibacterial cleaning are generally not a major concern. Persistent odors combined with swelling, warmth, tenderness or discolored skin could signal deeper problems, so it’s best to have the area examined if suspicious symptoms arise.

why does my earring holes smell like cheese

A rotten, sharp cheese-like smell is usually a tell-tale sign of staph infection affecting the ear piercing site. Staphylococcus or staph bacteria is a common culprit behind infected skin wounds of any kind, including piercings. They thrive in warm, dark places like the inner ear and produce geotrichum, the same microorganism found on various mold-ripened cheeses, as a byproduct. 

This unique microbial metabolite is responsible for the strong, unpleasant cheesy odor staph infections are known for. Seeking prompt medical treatment from a doctor is important if this distinct smell arises to prevent any further inflammation or complications.

why does my earring hole smell like poop

A feces-like odor coming from ear piercings could indicate the presence of bacterial vaginosis or a type of anaerobic bacteria. The class of bacteria normally found in gastrointestinal tracts produce odorous metabolic waste products like skatole and indole that give feces its characteristic smell. 

When such microbes invade and thrive in an ear piercing site, they may cause the skin around the wound to take on the offensive fecal scent. See a doctor to determine if infection is present and get the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Why do my fully healed piercings smell?

Even fully healed piercings can sometimes emit odors, usually due to a new onset of bacterial infection or trapped debris inside the piercing tract allowing microbes to multiply. Contributing factors may include wearing dirty or irritating jewelry material, excessive handling/manipulation of piercings exposing them to germs, long-term buildup of dead skin cells and sebum not properly removed, or other skin conditions promoting bacterial overgrowth in the area. Seek evaluation from a medical professional if cleaning fails to resolve the smell.

Why does my nose piercing smell even after I clean it?

Nostril piercings present a unique challenge for hygiene due to their location in an area filled with moisture, warmth, bacteria, and sebum production – an ideal breeding ground for germs. Thorough daily cleaning both inside and outside the piercing channels using a sterile saline spray and carefully drying the piercing site is crucial. 

Intranasal jewelry choices made of implant-grade materials also help reduce odor-causing irritation. See a piercer or doctor if odors persist despite diligent cleansing to rule out any localized or systemic health issues.


Why does my piercing smell?
It could be due to a buildup of dead skin cells, oil and bacteria during healing. Keep it clean to prevent smells.

When should I be concerned?
See a doctor if the smell is intense or paired with pain, swelling or discharge that doesn’t improve with regular cleaning.

How long does the smell last?
Mild smells may persist 4-8 weeks as healing occurs. Most piercings should be odor free within 6-12 weeks if cleaned daily.


While completely unavoidable, moderate to strong odors paired with discharge, swelling or pain indicate potential infection that requires prompt medical inspection and treatment. Mild transient scents during the initial 6-8 week piercing healing phase are considered normal assuming all appears well and cleaning practices are sound. 

With proper care including daily cleansing using saline or antibacterial cleansers until fully healed, sterile jewelry, avoiding trauma, and addressing any early signs of infection aggressively, most piercing smells should clear up on their own over time. But don’t hesitate to see an expert if persistent or improper odors raise concern for underlying causes. Regular hygiene is key to keeping piercings odor-free once established.

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