The main reason piercings smell is a buildup of dead skin cells around the piercing and jewelry. The dead skin cells mix with oil naturally produced by the body and form a semisolid discharge. This happens with either mature or healed piercings, and is not usually a sign of infection. Gauges and other large jewelry can add to the problem, because there is more surface area for the oil and skins cells to build up. It is important to be able to recognize the difference between this discharge and signs of a bigger problem.

Treat any piercing less than a year old as a new piercing. Handle your piercing gently, especially when changing jewelry.

Clean your piercing daily. Do not remove your jewelry, especially in the first four to eight weeks after piercing. Use an antibacterial soap with no added perfumes or dyes and rinse thoroughly.

If possible, remove the jewelry from your piercings every time you shower. This will allow you to clean your piercings properly. Wash them with clear glycerin soap after you have washed the rest of your body. Cleaning your piercings regularly will prevent discharge buildup.

It is not always possible to remove the jewelry from body piercings. Instead, use a saline solution to soak the area for five to 10 minutes before cleaning with gentle glycerin soap.

Clean your jewelry as well. For metal jewelry, clear glycerin soap and warm water will do the trick. Avoid submerging natural or wood jewelry in water. In fact, you should never get wooden jewelry wet. Use a cotton swab or a clean damp cloth instead and gently wipe them clean. Apply a drop of jojoba oil once they are clean to condition them.

Tips

Cartilage piercings such as labrets can be cleaned with the same method as ear piercings.