Why Does My Nose Piercing Smell?

Nose piercings can be a great way to express yourself. Whether you have a subtle nostril piercing, a more noticeable septum piercing, or something in between, trying out new jewelry styles can be a lot of fun!

That said, if you start to notice a bad smell coming from your piercing, it can put a damper on things. Why does my nose piercing smell? In most cases, an unpleasant smell isn’t a sign of something serious, but it’s still a good idea to deal with it quickly!

Are Bad-Smelling Nose Piercings Common?

It’s usually nothing to worry about. From time to time, just about any piercing can start to smell. Bacteria, dead skin cells, and skin oil (called sebum) can build up around jewelry.

When this happens, all you need to do is clean your piercing more thoroughly and/or more often.

When Should You See a Doctor?

However, if you notice redness, swelling, pain, or a greenish discharge, you may have an infection. In this case, seeing a doctor is a good idea.

Does the Smell Go Away Naturally?

No, whatever you do, don’t just wait and hope the smell goes away! If you don’t clean a piercing, you’ll probably just experience more buildup around it. As bacteria and skin cells continue to build up, the smell just gets worse.

Why Does My Nose Piercing Smell? Common Reasons

Nose piercings are much easier for you to smell than other piercings, so if they start to smell bad, you’ll want to fix the issue as soon as possible! But to do that, you’ll need to identify where the smell is coming from.

1. It Just Needs to Be Cleaned

If you have an older piercing that shows no signs of irritation, you probably just have a buildup of sweat, bacteria, and skin oil. It might not seem like there’s much space for buildup in a nose piercing, but even a little bit of buildup can smell surprisingly bad!

If the piercing just needs to be cleaned, you’ll probably notice a strong, cheesy odor. The best way to get rid of the smell and stop it from reoccurring is to clean the piercing regularly and thoroughly.

2. Allergic Reactions or Irritation to Unsafe Materials

In some cases, a piercing will become inflamed and irritated due to a metal allergy. In this case, you might notice symptoms like these:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Skin pulling away from the jewelry
  • Clear fluid discharge

If you notice these symptoms after switching to a new piece of jewelry, you may have a metal allergy. If you notice them right after applying a cleaning solution, you might be allergic to the solution itself.

Allergic reactions don’t always smell, but you might start to notice an unpleasant odor along with the symptoms.

Source: Lalo Piert.

3. Infection

If your nose piercing is relatively new, an infection might be causing the bad smell. Look out for these telltale signs of infection:

  • Oozing pus (mild infections usually ooze whitish pus, while more severe ones will ooze green or yellow pus)
  • New or increasing pain at the piercing site
  • New or increased redness around the piercing site
  • An inflamed bump or ring around the piercing

If you have mild symptoms, you might be able to successfully treat the infection at home. Here are a couple of things to try:

  • Sea salt solution: mix about 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and apply to the infection a few times per day.
  • Warm compress: Soak a clean cloth in warm water and gently apply it to the piercing a few times per day.
  • If you see signs of infection, you can also use antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.

If the infection doesn’t improve in a day or two, or if you have a fever and green or yellow discharge, make an appointment with your doctor. Severe infections will sometimes need to be treated with an antibiotic.

4. Wrong Jewelry Size

Nose piercings are often 16G; however, different types of nose piercings require different gauges and lengths.

Getting the right size of nose jewelry is essential, as too-tight jewelry increases your risk of infection and rejection, which can lead to a bad smell.

How to Stop a Nose Piercing From Smelling?

Nobody wants to deal with a smelly piercing! But the good news is that in most cases, it’s easy to get rid of the smell quickly. Here are a few steps to take if you want to stop or prevent your nose piercing from smelling.

1. Clean It Regularly

Lots of people think that a quick rinse in the shower is all you need to keep a piercing from smelling. This isn’t enough to remove built-up sweat, bacteria, and oil. Thorough cleaning is important if you want to prevent your piercing from smelling bad!

If you have a new nose piercing, regular cleaning is essential to prevent infection. Most piercers will suggest using a saline solution on the inside and outside of the piercing at least twice per day.

Here are the procedures:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Make a salt/saline solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with one cup of water. Stir the solution until it dissolves. As an alternative, you can buy ready-to-use piercing aftercare sprays.
  3. If you see signs of infection, you can also use antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and dab it around the piercing site. Don’t remove the jewelry!
  5. Take clean gauze or tissue and pat the area dry.

If you have an older piercing, removing it to clean it at least once daily will help you prevent any smell from even starting.

When you remove the jewelry, soak it in either jewelry cleaner or a saline solution. If the smell is especially strong, you can even use soap and water! Make sure you use a saline solution to clean the piercing itself, too.

2. Choose Safer Materials

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Irritation isn’t the most common cause of a smelly piercing, but it’s still something you want to avoid. Choose high-quality jewelry made of metals that won’t cause allergic reactions or other types of irritation.

Titanium and niobium are ideal for starter jewelry, as they are the least likely to cause reactions. Once the piercing heals, surgical steel, K gold, and even glass are all good options.

3. Watch Out for Infection

The sooner you catch an infection, the easier it will be to treat. Stay vigilant, especially with newer piercings! Home remedies will sometimes clear up an infection, but always see a doctor if the situation doesn’t improve.

4. See a Doctor

If you clean your piercing thoroughly and follow your piercer’s instructions, you’ll likely have a smooth, painless healing process.

However, if you sense the smell is too bad or there is any sign of infection, making an appointment with a doctor is always recommended, as severe infections will sometimes need to be treated with an antibiotic.

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