Have you ever noticed that your healed piercings sometimes smell, well, awful?? It’s something between rotting food and smelly feet, and it’s enough to make even your pets run (or want to give you a bath!). Some people call it ear funk, ear cheese, piercing funk, ear stink, or just plain yuk!
So exactly what produces this worse than normal, even perfume won’t cover it up smell? Your body secretes a substance called sebum as part of its normal everyday work. Sebum is secreted by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It’s an oily secretion meant to lubricate the skin and make it waterproof. Mix sebum with some dead skin cells and a little bit of bacteria, and you get some really potent smelling piercings! The discharge is semi-solid and smells like stinky cheese. At its worst, you can even wipe this thick discharge off your plugs.
Is there anything you can do about the funky smell? First of all, make sure you remove your ear jewelry if at all possible (only for COMPLETELY healed piercings) when you shower. This will allow you to not only clean your piercings, but also take a good look at your jewelry. Wash your pierced areas last (after you wash your hair, face, and body) with clear glycerin soap and warm water and rinse well. Now, take an opportunity to clean your body jewelry as well. Remember to use appropriate methods of cleaning for your jewelry. Any metal jewelry can simply be washed with warm water and some glycerin soap suds. Natural jewelry should not be submerged in water. Wipe natural jewelry clean with a damp cloth, and apply a little Jojoba oil to condition them. Natural jewelry with inlays must be treated very gently!
You won’t be able to make the smell go away forever, but if you stick to a consistent cleaning routine for both your piercings and your jewelry, you should be able to keep the smell under control and much less noticeable. Some suggestions from customers also include: use a drop of tea tree oil or lavender oil on the piercing after you wash and dry the skin.
Want to see something kind of gross? Check out this YouTube video about a sebaceous cyst. The junk that comes out of the cyst is a build up of the oily/waxy secretion that causes ear funk.