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Why Does My Nose Piercing Smell: Causes, Treatment & More

Of all the things that can happen to a nose piercing, a bad smell feels like the worst.

It’s right there in your nose, and for some people, it can make them really insecure.

What if other people can tell that your nose piercing smells? And more importantly, does it mean there’s an infection?

Female model with left nostril ring piercing

Here’s the good news: All body piercings can have a bad smell, even a fresh piercing.

In most cases, it’s nothing to worry about.

Let’s talk about why this happens and what you can do to prevent it. For a chronic nose piercing smell, you should seriously consider consulting with a doctor.

What causes the nose piercing smell?

One of the main reasons nose piercings can smell so bad is because of their location.

Think of all that snot or mucus that’s in your nose on a daily basis. Combine that with the dead skin cells, sebum, bacteria, sweat and grime, and you have yourself a very smelly situation.

Fortunately for you, it doesn’t mean you have an infection. It just means your piercing is going through the normal healing process.

All you have to do is be vigilant with your cleaning and you should be fine.

Old nose piercings can also expel smelly residue. This just means you aren’t cleaning it often enough.

It can also be a sign that the piercing site has been re-injured, and there’s some sort of healing going on.

Use the same aftercare techniques you did when you got the piercing. This should resolve the issue.

Should you be worried if your nose piercing smells bad?

Not necessarily. Once you take care of your nose piercing and clean it regularly, you should not have any problems.

The same applies to other body piercings, including ear piercings and navel piercings.

Genital piercings are more likely to smell because of where they are located.

Think of what happens if you don’t take a shower for one day. That area can reek!

Along with the body piercing itself, you should also be cleaning the jewelry.

If you take out your ear piercing and only clean the hole, the ear cheese will still be on the jewelry.

This defeats the purpose of cleaning, and the area will still end up having a smell because of the cheesy earrings.

Make cleaning your nose rings a part of your cleaning process.

If it still smells bad even after removing the dirty jewelry and cleaning the piercing site, then you might want to consider seeing a doctor.

This may be a sign of a serious infection.

Get rid of a nose piercing smell: Clean your nose

You should be cleaning your nose regularly, nose piercing or not. When you have a nose piercing, you’ll have to pay more attention to how you do it.

You’ll also need specific cleaning supplies besides your body wash.

The best way to clean a nose piercing is with a saline solution. Use a mixture of warm water and sea salt to flush the piercing thoroughly.

You can also use store-bought piercing cleansers. Make sure you wash your hands first, or else you’ll end up making it worse.

When cleaning a fresh piercing, you’ll want to avoid removing the jewelry.

It can be difficult to find the hole, and if left for an extended period, the hole can shrink.

Instead, spin the nose ring to disrupt any crusties and grime while cleaning.

Next, you’ll need to moisturize your piercing. Don’t use an antibiotic ointment.

Tea tree oil is a great option because it has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

You can also use a dab of coconut oil on a cotton swab. Just don’t overdo it.

Get rid of a nose piercing smell: Clean your jewelry

Next is your nose jewelry. Use antibacterial soap and rinse with warm water to remove buildup and kill bacteria.

If you’re in a pinch, you can use alcohol, but be sure to rinse it off with water before putting it back in.

Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can irritate the piercing and delay healing.

If you have an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, you can also use it to clean your nose jewelry.

Some people boil or steam their jewelry to sterilize it. This isn’t necessary unless there’s a huge buildup of gunk on it.

Otherwise, a bit of mild soap and warm water is just fine.

Just don’t overdo the cleaning…

Overcleaning is just as bad as undercleaning. Overcleaning a piercing can cause the area to become irritated and painful to the touch.

It can kill the good bacteria responsible for healing and slow down the process altogether.

This can sometimes lead to infection.

Get rid of a nose piercing smell: Change your jewelry

There could be a chance that the jewelry itself is the problem. If you have sensitive skin, the cause of the bad smell may be a reaction between your skin and the metal.

This is common with nickel-based jewelry, but it can also happen with “hypoallergenic” surgical steel.

The best way to tell what you’re allergic to is by seeing a doctor. You may also discover other allergens through the skin-patch allergy test.

Get rid of a nose piercing smell: Take out your piercing

If your nose piercing is causing you too many problems, and you can’t maintain it, consider taking out your piercing for good.

This doesn’t mean you won’t have to still clean the piercing site. It’s just one less issue to deal with.

Plus, it’s much easier to maintain this way since it can air out properly.

How to prevent a nose piercing smell from recurring

The best way to stop your nose piercing from smelling is by undertaking proper piercing hygiene.

You should clean the jewelry as well as the hole once a day. This doesn’t mean taking a shower and rinsing it off.

Follow the proper aftercare steps by cleaning your piercing on its own after you shower.

When clean, avoid touching it for the rest of the day with your dirty hands.

This only promotes the build-up of grime, which contributes to the bad smell.

Should you visit a doctor?

Nose piercings can take anywhere from 1-9 months depending on the type. Septum piercings heal relatively quickly, and you can change your septum rings after 1-3 months.

High nostril piercings take even longer, and ((linking to the article titled: ‘when can I change my nose piercing’ on anchor text ‘heal in 6-9 months’))

If your piercing doesn’t heal, this can be a sign of infection. Other signs of piercing infections include:

  • Redness around piercing
  • Painful to touch
  • Raised skin or bump around the piercing
  • Blood or pus
  • Fever or general unwellness

If you notice any signs of infection, go see a doctor right away.


How do I stop my nose piercing from smelling?

The best way to stop your nose piercing from smelling is by cleaning it properly.

Nose piercings smell because of a build-up of various materials including dead skin cells and bacteria.

Cleaning the nose piercing gets rid of the buildup.

How do I get rid of the smell of my piercing?

Get rid of a bad nose piercing smell by cleaning the piercing site along with the nose jewelry.

In some cases, you may have to change or remove the jewelry altogether.

Can people smell my nose ring?

Fortunately, this is very unlikely. They’d have to be very close to smell it, and by close, this means smelling your nose itself.

Even then, it might not be as noticeable as you think.

Is it normal for piercings to smell?

Yes, it is all part of the healing process. In some cases, however, this may be a sign of infection.

If you suspect an infection, the best way to deal with it is by visiting a doctor.