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Why does my septum piercing smell? Here’s the way to fix it

Is there a smell that seems to follow you wherever you go? Perhaps there are notes of musty cheese, yeast, or feet in the air, and you can never seem to escape the scent. Well, if you have a septum piercing, that smell is likely just a sign that something has gotten trapped in your piercing or jewelry. But why do septum piercings smell?

smiling woman face with septum piercing
Image by Emiliano García Garrido via Pexels

Septum piercings develop bad smells when bacteria, dead skin cells, mucus, or other buildup accumulate in your piercing. However, there are other, less harmless reasons why your septum piercing may develop a bad smell.

In this article, we’ll explore the question: “Why do septum piercings smell bad?” Then, we’ll teach you how to get rid of the odor for good.

Your Nose, Your Rules: Nose Anatomy and Septum Piercings

Septum piercings are one of the few piercings that will never leave visible scars.

That’s because these body piercings go on the septum, the wall that divides your two nostrils.

The septum piercing is typically placed in the location between the tip and bridge of the nose, which most piercing artists commonly refer to as the “sweet spot.” This area is soft, unlike the hard nose tip and the bridge, offering an easy-to-pierce spot for your new jewelry.

Once placed, septum rings generally require little maintenance since the mucus of the nose keeps the site relatively clean.

What’s Going On With the Septum? The Real Deal on Septum Structure

So, where does the septum ring really go in terms of the nose? Let’s explore the anatomy of the nose and discuss why that matters when answering why do septum piercings smell bad.

The nose consists of a hard, bony bridge, also called the nasal root. It is from this root that the nostrils, the septal cartilage, and the major alar cartilage, or the nose tip, and the columella project.

When you get a septum piercing, the needle goes through the space between the septal cartilage and the columella. In this place between the nostrils, there is a softer gap that does not consist of hard cartilage – perfect for piercing!

Additionally, inside each of the nostrils, you can find many tiny hairs that function like filters to prevent dust and other debris from making their way into your respiratory tract. These hairs will help keep a septum piercing clean.

So, what does this all mean when it comes to getting a septum piercing? Let’s find out.

What Is a Septum Piercing, Really?

When you get your septum pierced, the piercing artist uses forceps to clamp the “sweet spot.”

They then pierce this section with a sterile surgical needle. After that, they place the jewelry, usually made of surgical steel, gold, or silver, into the new piercing.

During the piercing, it is normal for the recipient to tear up involuntarily due to the body’s natural response to flush the sinuses after someone puts pressure on the nose. This crying isn’t due to pain – just the pressure.

It takes approximately three to four months until the piercing heals, after which you can change your nose ring.

How Your Nose’s Anatomy Comes Into Play With Your Septum Piercing’s Smell

So, now that you know all about the anatomy of a nose and septum piercing, you’re likely still wondering: Why do septum piercings smell bad?

Unlike most piercings, the septum ring goes inside the nose, which can contribute to the development of what most people with septum piercings call “Septum Funk. ”

This odor is almost always a result of some sort of buildup on the piecing site or in the design of your jewelry. While most piercings develop this smell over time, it’s hard not to notice it when it’s directly inside your nose!

Additionally, the tiny hairs in your nose that filter out dust are still present around your septum piercing. Thus, as you breathe, you add more debris to your nose, which can get stuck in your piercing and develop a musty scent.

So, What Causes Septum Funk?

Whether your septum piercing smells like old cheese, stinky feet, or fresh bread, there are just a few reasons why this nose piercing is more likely to develop a foul odor than other body piercings.

So, let’s explore the question of why do septum piercings smell bad and talk about what you can do to fix each one.

Recovery Stinks: How Infections Can Derail the Healing Process

Because your nose contains those little hairs that filter out the bad stuff, septum rings rarely get infected. However, when infected, a septum ring is prone to smelling bad for a long period of time.

Still, don’t fret yet! If your new septum piercing smells bad, that’s completely normal. Fresh septum piercings may smell bad due to sebum (natural skin oil) buildup, which is a sign of a healthy healing process. The odor should go away within two or three weeks.

But if your septum piercing is swollen, painful, itchy, warm, or very red, you may have an infection on your hands. In this case, it’s best to disinfect the area with a gentle disinfectant like Bactine or a saline solution two to three times a day and consult a doctor.

Why Do Septum Piercings Smell? How Smoking Can Contribute to Bad Smells and Infections

Smoking can contribute to bad smells coming from your septum piercing, but it can also lead to an increased probability of infection.

Cigarette smoke can distribute ash, tar, and other cigarette residues inside your nostrils and inside your septum piercing, producing a foul smell. For that reason, many piercing artists recommend slowing down or avoiding smoking while a fresh septum piercing is healing.

Additionally, cigarette smoke irritates the nostrils, which can delay the process of healing.

Accumulation Station: Skin Cells, Bacteria, and Mucus

The most common reason why a septum piercing smells is the buildup of skin cells, sebum, bacteria, and mucus.

Our noses produce a lot of excess skin, oil, and mucus in a day, and that stuff can get trapped in a septum piercing. As these things accumulate, they can go sour, causing a bad smell. When this happens, there’s no need to worry.

Still, dead skin cells and mucus make a happy home for bacteria in our noses. These bacteria are usually harmless things such as yeast, but they can be nefarious bacteria such as strep or influenza. So, it’s critical to keep the septum piercing clean any time you start to notice a foul odor.

Janky Jewelry: How Your Jewelry Material Could Contribute to That Funky Smell

Lastly, allergic reactions to your jewelry may cause your septum piercing to smell.

In most cases, septum rings made from sterling silver, gold, titanium, or surgical steel won’t cause allergic reactions or bad-smelling issues.

However, nickel or other alloy jewelry can flake off in the septum piercing and cause irritation that leads to stinky smells. Additionally, many people are allergic to these alloys, which can cause even more irritation and worse odors.

Slay That Septum Smell: Septum Odor Prevention and Remedies

Now you have the answer to the question of why do septum piercings smell, let’s explore how to eliminate those odors!

Why Do Septum Piercings Smell? Stave Off the Stench With Proper Care

Caring for a septum ring doesn’t require any special solutions or antiseptics, but it does require vigilant care.

After receiving a septum piercing, it’s critical to clean the area with a saline solution two to three times a day. You may also use another gentle antiseptic like Bactine but never use dehydrating cleansers like isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Additionally, if you notice a smell coming from an older piercing, be sure to flush the area with a saline solution and consider taking out your jewelry for a deep clean.

Only the Best: Selecting Jewelry That Won’t Irritate Your Septum

While it may not seem that important, it is critical to ensure that your septum jewelry is high quality if you want to prevent your piercing from smelling bad.

Nickel jewelry and other alloy jewelry simply cause too many problems in people with metal allergies. Additionally, low-quality jewelry may degrade and crumble over time, leaving sharp, irritating edges and debris in your piercing.

Always opt for jewelry made from silver, gold, titanium, or surgical steel to avoid septum funk.

Stay In the Know: When To Call a Doctor About Your Septum Piercing

While infections are rare, sometimes a bad smell is a sign of something gone wrong.

If your piercing ever oozes white to green pus, swells excessively, doesn’t heal over the course of two to three months, is red or purple, or itches, it’s best to consult a doctor or professional piercing artist. When left untreated, infections can spread and worsen, causing a whole host of other issues.

Those with metal allergies and who smoke should be extra vigilant in detecting early signs of infections, as they are more likely to develop in these people.

Additionally, these people should be positive that they are following the proper aftercare procedure.

Takeaway: Septum piercings can smell bad due to improper cleaning, the natural healing process, smoking, and infection.

Why Do Septum Piercings smell FAQs

Why does my healed septum piercing smell?

Healed septum piercings develop a smell when bacteria, dead skin, mucus, or other buildup accumulate in your piercing or on your jewelry. Smoking and poor-quality jewelry may also cause odors to develop on a septum piercing.

Is it common for septum piercings to smell?

It is very common for septum piercings to smell. While most piercings develop smells over time due to buildup, the smell is often more recognizable with septum rings due to their placement inside the nose.

How do you get rid of smelly piercings?

To get rid of smelly piercings, remove the jewelry from the piercing site and clean both with either a saline solution or warm water. Rinse the site and jewelry and allow them to dry before replacing the jewelry.

Why do septum piercings smell?

A septum piercing smells because healthy discharge from the piercing can trap dead skin cells, bacteria, and other organic material, leading to a foul odor.”

Tags: smelly septum piercing, nose ring, sea salt