Why Do My Earrings Smell? | The Reasons & How to Get Rid of the Funky Odor

Owning a nice pair of earrings can be exciting, but it can also have side effects like an unpleasant smell. The foul smell of the earrings can be awful.

Have you noticed a foul odor coming from your earrings? It smells like stinky cheese or smelly feet. Most women experience this, so it’s totally normal. 

Ear piercings can develop a bad smell for several reasons, affecting the quality of your earrings and your motivation to wear them. Earrings may smell bad because of the piercings that often harbor bacteria. 

Lack of proper hygiene and cleaning behind your ears each day results in the spot of your earrings turning into a cause for unusual odors.

a woman with long hair walking outdoors

So, What are the Main Reasons for Smelly Earrings?

The piercing of the ear is a fresh wound to your body. There are two main reasons for the bad smell due to ear piercings: 

Production of Dead Skin Cells and Sebum

The sebaceous glands in the skin produce sebum. Sebum is the oily fluid that lubricates and waterproofs your dermis. Your skin is constantly shedding dead cells from the ear pierced. Bacteria may penetrate the dermis when cleaning the ear from dead cells and sebum.

Around your ear, sebum and slow skin cell build-up can create a cheesy smell. The stink is due to a combination of dirt and oils.

Bacterial infection

A germ within the body is susceptible to infection, and this is usually the Streptococcus species of microbe. The presence of the germ is mainly if the smell is accompanied by drainage from the point of infection.

portrait of a woman with closed eyes

What Are the Reasons Why Ear Piercings Smell Bad?

Physical Barriers and Pollution

Items like hair stuff, dust, dirty water, automobile fuels, and other pollution can stick in your piercing. This various stuff may develop behind your ears and trap body secretions. These accumulations. They provide perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and can also obstruct the back ear pores, which later generate unpleasant smells. 

Other Infections

Fungi, yeast, and viruses prefer warm places behind your ears. The yeast, fungi, and germ reach your derm when you wear eyeglasses constantly, scratch your ears with untidy hands, or the infection discharged from the ear piercing. 

These discharges make the piercings smell bad. The fungi and yeast accelerate cuticle infections caused by the bacteria, which can worsen when there is a moist condition.

Poor Hygiene

When taking a shower, it is possible to neglect the dermis behind your ears. Sweat secretions do accumulate in these hidden parts of the body. The accumulation provides a perfect breeding ground for yeast. Sweat will start producing a foul odor when this goes on for a while.


Injuries can result from cuts, scrapes, or pimples on the earring hole. When these fresh wounds from cuts are not taken care of on time, they cause infections. The secretions from these infections cause a foul smell in the earrings.

How to Get Rid of the Funky Smell

Ensure your ear piercings are clean

Regularly wash your earrings and piercings with soap and water, and the cleaning helps avoid the accumulation of dirt on the back of the earrings. The use of warm water is essential in killing the existing bacteria and other fungal and yeast infections. Also worth mentioning is that you store your earrings properly, which will help them last longer.

Select Your Metal Jewelry With Care

Earring accessories like studs capture dead cells inside the piercing and trigger an infection. It is a prevention mechanism that protects the ear from bacteria. There is room for mobility, so the microbes are inactive for a long time.

Know your skin’s allergies to jewelry. It protects the piercing from any allergic reaction—some metals like nickel cause allergic reactions in many people, leading to itching that comes with skin redness. Avoid such jewelry. You can opt for sterling silver earrings that are well coated and easy to clean.

various pieces of jewelry

Avoid Over-Cleaning of the Ear

Over cleaning sounds hygienic in preventing microbes, but do you know it hurts the skin? The skin around the earlobes is delicate and requires sharp handling. Some antibacterial soaps contain harsh chemicals that deteriorate sensitive ears. When cleaning the ears, use soap and water.

Changing Your Bedsheets Frequently

Grimy, dirty bed sheets can cause infections to your piercings. You must be mindful when you have a wound on your ear, and changing clean bedsheets will ensure no infections. 

Ensure that when you wear earrings, they fit perfectly, not loose or too tight.

Avoid Sharing of the Earrings

Earrings are personal items that are strictly for personal use. When you share the same pair of earrings, infections from other persons can cause a foul smell to the earrings. Avoid sharing the pair of earrings to prevent other body infections. There are different home remedies for taking care of smelling earrings.

earrings and bracelets in the jewelry box

Remedies for Cleaning Ear Piercings that Have a Funky Smell

Earring odor can be due to constant contact with your skin. To get rid of this bad smell, you must ensure that the piercing is in good condition. Here are some home remedies for getting rid of the earring smell:

Tea Tree Oil: Oils from tea trees contain antimicrobial and antibacterial features that treat ear-piercing smells. You may apply tea tree oil when you have an infection on your piercing. The oil has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe skin irritation or inflammation.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is widely known for its medical attributes. These attributes include soothing inflamed skin and irritation. The aloe vera gel also contains antibacterial features that prevent bacterial growth in ear piercing

aloe vera and a small glass jar

Neem: Like aloe vera, the neem plant also has various medical benefits. Neem contains antibacterials that destroy the germ in the infection. You can use the neem stick to the new piercing or apply neem paste to the old piercing if they start itching. Neem is also essential as it removes pus from the infected area and keeps the piercings clean.

Turmeric: Turmeric holds some healing attributes. These healing attributes can ensure your piercing is in good condition. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has antiviral and antibacterial features for treating the infection. The antiseptic qualities of turmeric will keep your piercings clean and prevent bad smells from developing.

Clove Oil: Clove is very effective in preventing earrings from smelling. The oil extracted from clove has antifungal and antibacterial features. It heals and treats infected areas of the ear piercing by eliminating the infection.

a bottle of clove oil

Saltwater: Saltwater is one of the safest ways to remove a bad smell. The saltwater holds antimicrobial features that inhibit dangerous microbial growth. Lack of microbial growth prevents the development of infections and initiates the healing process. The saltwater contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities that soothe the ear piercing. This feature keeps the earpiece clean and removes the bad smell.

To keep your earrings from having a bad smell, you have to keep these things in mind:

  • Ensure you keep your piercings clean.
  • Avoid squeezing alcohol over infected areas when sanitizing.
  • Maintain the earring and the ear dry.
  • Give the wound treatment while allowing it to heal.
  • Sterilize the jewelry ahead of wearing it to prevent infections.
  • Ensure that your hair is clean and your hair product does not cause fungi growth.

If the smell of the earrings persists despite applying these remedies, it is recommended that you consult a healthcare provider.

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