Stretched ears and the stink?

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Saturday November 15th, 2008 @ 3:04 PM

Filed under: Ear

I’ve had my ears stretched for a while now and I keep getting this build up on the tunnels I have in. I try and keep my ears clean but they also give off a slight smell. Is this common? What can i do about it? Thanks.


That build-up you get is a collection of skin oils and dead skin cells that collect on your jewelry. Just like the skin cells die and slough off the rest of you body, they do the same thing with stretched ears. Generally the bigger the lobes, the more build-up because there is more surface area of skin. The smell that goes with that build-up is normal…albeit potentially gross.

You have a few options:

The easiest is to simply wash your lobes and your jewelry (assuming it’s steel, titanium or stone) each day. It doesn’t take much effort or much time.

Another option would be to change to some sort of a natural jewelry, such as horn, bone, wood, bamboo etc. These material are more porous than steel, titanium acrylic, glass or stone and will therefore absorb some of the oils and skin cells, reducing the amount of build-up and the therefore the smell.

Depending upon the size of your lobes, and how well they stay stretched, you could try not wearing jewelry while you sleep. This will allow the tissue to breath and dry out at night, helping to reduce the build-up.

You could try massaging your lobes with something like Emu Oil or Holey Buttr stretched lobe creme. These types of products can help increase the overall health of your stretched lobes, which will often reduce the amount of build-up you get.

Best of luck!


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29 Responses to “Stretched ears and the stink?”

  1. I generally clean my plugs at least once a week while I’m showering as part of my normal getting clean routine. All I do is pull them out, make sure they’re clean of all gunk, try and get all the gunk off my ears, then pop them back in. Simple, and it takes two minutes tops!

    sixums on November 16th, 2008 at 6:30 pm
  2. Once a week? I usually clean mine everyday! Mind you, I suppose it might be to do with the fact I take them out to sleep, so it only makes sense to clean them before I switch to another set the next day. And ye, I can second the fact that taking them out over night helps prevent the build up of gunk.

    Hammy on November 19th, 2008 at 2:58 pm
  3. i get less ear ick now that my ears are 0s, and i got a LOT with smaller gauges like 8s and 6s o_o

    im weird? lol

    rawr on November 26th, 2008 at 6:55 pm
  4. My ears are 1″ currently, and every time I shower, I take my plugs out and wash them. Shampoo your hair, grab some antibacterial soap, and you’re good to go. I also try to massage some ointment like what the author suggests when I get out. I shower almost daily, and I have no problem with smell or build up. I have been stretching my ears for about 7 years, and even though taking out your plugs can be kind of inconvenient at times, it is worth it. :) Good luck to everyone, and excellent advice!

    G on December 7th, 2008 at 12:10 am
  5. i agree with G. it’s definitely worth it to take the time and clean those suckers. your significant other does NOT find the smell attractive, i promise.

    sambone on October 21st, 2009 at 2:03 am
  6. My ears are only at a 5mm and when I used to wear tapers the smell was terrible, but now I’m wearing plugs it’s fine! The only thing I do to keep them clean is take them out at night and when I’m in the shower just give them a clean. By the way - does anyone know at what size does the hole no longer cover back over naturally because I desperately want to go bigger, thanks!

    qwerty on February 8th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
  7. it is supposed to be 8mm ‘qwerty’

    biggie on June 8th, 2011 at 11:34 pm
  8. Quick message.
    My ears at a 12mm, And the best way to get rid of the rank smell is simple. Clean it! Use salt water on it if its bad, take it out when you sleep, it needs air to it otherwise it will stink! if all that fails then take it out and leave it to heal and clean it everyday with salt water until its healed then start stretching again :-) because you probably went wrong and skipped sizes/rushed. Any questions just ask aka email me! :’) oh and I know a few have said it but seriously listen DO NOT RUSH!! Its bad lol :-)

    daniel on October 24th, 2011 at 9:28 pm
  9. Try using a product called Funk-Off. It is a substance that is applied to a body piercing to affect the rotten smell associated with the bacterial break down of dead skin cells. It’s easy for people to say just take your jewellery out daily and wash your piercings, but we all know that busy lives, an active lifestyle or just plain laziness is the reason most of just don’t thoroughly clean our holes every day. I use this product daily, sometimes every other day. I have no cheesy build up in my 00G Acrylic or Steel tunnels anymore. Even if you think your own ears don’t stink, ask a best friend or girlfriend/boyfriend to take sniff of your lobes. I bet they disagree. The smell is embarrassing and often times its the reason people stop wearing plugs or tunnels. If you take the time to buy tooth paste to control the bacteria that builds up and causes bad breath and an unhealthy environment in your mouth, do the same for your piercings.

    Pierced Parts on February 20th, 2012 at 11:05 am
  10. The size that will shrink back is size 0 but I believe you can go to size 00 but any bigger it will not shrink back :/

    Breanna on April 19th, 2012 at 6:14 pm
  11. The size it actually 10 mm I went to the tattoo shop and thats what the tattoist told me

    Captainnoodlezz on April 21st, 2012 at 2:25 pm
  12. ive had 1″ ears for over 4 years now and my old buddy whose a body piercer told me that yogurt,salt and water on a cotton bud applied to the inside of your lobes once a week keep that funky gunk away
    worked for me for 4 years and they never smelled even if i wear my titanium plugs

    W.I.N. on July 4th, 2012 at 5:10 am
  13. I’ve had my ears streched for about 3 years now. I just started to notice the smell getting worse. I’m cleaning them daily just like my navel piercing. I’m just using sea salt and warm water and it seams to be working. My husband hasn’t said anything about the smell since. Hope this helps someone.

    Tiny on July 15th, 2012 at 1:03 pm
  14. My lobes are stretched to 14mm and it gets really bad ha Taking them out daily to clean keeps on top of it though, many people leave them out over night, I can’t though because mine literally shrink over night O.o I must have good skin or something haha.

    Nikki on August 15th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
  15. my ears are sureently 0g, i had more gunk and such when i was at a smaller size like 8g&6g. i dont know if this is normal but my ears dont smell at all, i clean my ears with salt and warm water every day atleast 1 time. then i moisturize them with any kind of cream or moisturizer that has a good smell, this helps them not smell what so ever. i dont know if this helped but? mine dont smell.

    Kaitlyn on January 3rd, 2013 at 3:13 pm
  16. My ears are at 00g and I have had stretched ears for 6 years. I never had a problem with smaller gauges, but my lobes are seriously icked out all the time! I wash my ears and the plugs I’m currently wearing with regular soap and water every day and apply scented lotion to my lobes and the plugs throughout the day. I also soak all of my plugs in hydrogen peroxide once a month, followed by boiling water. You can temporarily clean and kill the smell, but it’s an ongoing process. So worth it though, I love body mods!

    Jess on January 4th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
  17. hi there, the gunk your getting could be one of two things:
    1: possible minor infection, if the skin has been pinched or broken and you have not noticed, a small wound unattended can develop an infection. if its painful and swollen, this might be the case. then id suggest bathing in saline 3 times a day for 3 days and if you have no improvement make an appointment at your doctors.
    2: in a well healed piercing you body produces an oil called sebum, its a thick creamy oily substance. there is no way to prevent it as its required and beneficial to your hole! however wearing good quality wooden jewellery will allow your ear to breath and even absorb some of the execs oil, preventing the smell. wearing metal and glass makes things worse.
    happy healing :D

    nici wilson on January 5th, 2013 at 5:53 pm
  18. i have a 12mm and they nsmell horrible even if i dont clean them for 2 days, i wear acrylic and they are the worst. tapers dont make it any easier. best thing to do is pop em out, wash your ears with luke warm water and sea salt and then pop em back in but avoid acrylic plugs they stink the stretchers even more

    riri on January 14th, 2013 at 2:00 pm
  19. i don’t want to offend anyone but i don’t like this new fad - perhaps it’s generational. from what i know, in general, an individual who has good hygiene habits should not in general have problems with body odour which leads me to the conclusion that if one participates in the practice of ear stretching, they should realize (as we have suspected for centuries), that odour is not good. as we have well known for centuries: odour is not good - odour means infection/danger/somthing’s wrong!! like just MAYBE i should reconsider what i’m doing duh!!! geesh, sorry but just thinking about it make me really feel the need to vomit!!

    deborah on February 16th, 2013 at 2:23 am
  20. @deborah
    If if offends you so much, what are you doing on this site? People come here to find solutions to their problems. Clearly this is not a problem you are having, so what brought you here? Maybe you should use your time more wisely… ie. trying to fix your own body odour issues.

    Good day.

    Beth on February 20th, 2013 at 5:06 am
  21. Curious if Deborah has her ears pierced? Most females do, and guess what? “Normal” (16, 18, 20 gauges) stink too. It’s a hole…in your body…with a foreign object in it.

    shiloh on March 16th, 2013 at 10:49 pm
  22. I’m at 2inches an my ears do not stink at all but I use bio oil 2 or 3 times a day take them out at night an don’t put them back in until a few hours after I wake up an I always massage them an take them out every liek 2 hours for 15minutes mine do not stink at all an I love my body modifications I really need to know if bio oil is good for septums cause I have my septum stretched to a 0

    Rblunt on April 22nd, 2013 at 2:51 pm
  23. It’s simple your body will never get use to having a foreign hole in your ears. All sizes of gauges put off that horrible smell typically when you have glass, titanium, steel, stone, even the silicon gauges. Crocodile wood or bamboo wood is the best way to good you have your ears gauged bigger then a 0g. They help soak up the oils the your body naturally produces and helps with the skin cells trying to grow back. Cleaning them daily will always help with any type of gauges too. I’m at 3/4in and headed to a 2in. Hope I helped Anyone out some :)

    MissAmandaBeth on April 22nd, 2013 at 3:39 pm
  24. @deborah
    Being odor free is a relatively new thing. Up until the 1900’s, bathing even twice a week was not practical as the infrastructure for the delivery of potable water wasn’t available. Everything and everyone smelled.

    Speaking of centuries, ear stretching has been around for millenniums. Buddha, king tut, and mayan leaders all had stretched ears! So before you start questioning an ancient practice. Do your research!

    Azan on April 24th, 2013 at 10:24 pm
  25. I just stretched my ears to a 0 today and I used regular plastic ones. Only time I’ve had metal ones were when I started at an 8. Then I went to plastic tapers to a 6. After that I skipped and went right to a 2 with plastic tapers as well, and I’ve noticed they smell!! It’s so annoying. When my ears heal I’m deffs gunna start to wash them.

    CanadianCutie on May 4th, 2013 at 1:54 am
  26. using breathable jewelry and sea salt and that stuff is all fine and good but seriously you just have to shower people!! some people act like they’re just way too busy like oh i have to buy ear deodorant or special perfumed lotions. like are you seriously too busy to shower every once in a while? like all you gotta do is pop out the jewelry, rub some antibacterial soap (pretty much any fucking soap) in and around the piercing, rinse it out, wipe the gunk off your jewelry (like you seriously don’t even have to use soap and water if you’re really that busy that you can’t spare 3 minutes to thoroughly clean the jewelry) and pop the jewelry back in. boom. you’re done, smell gone. all those lotions and creams are gonna do is add layers of basically useless shit to block your pores and trap the gunk and smell even more. and oh my god i have heard of people mentioning peroxide and rubbing alcohol, that is like stretched piercing sin number one. it would just dry the shit out of your skin, soo unnecessary. i’m telling you guys soap and water, it’s all you really need. i don’t mean to come off as sarcastic but i really just don’t get it. i’ve had my ears stretched for maybe 5 years and i’ve been through so many sizes (currently at 41mm) and stretched ear stinkiness has never been an issue for me though i hear sooo many people complain about it. for me ‘my ears are smelly i need to clean them’ has become synonymous with ‘i really need to fucking shower’.

    wut on May 11th, 2013 at 3:36 am
  27. Unless just going to the next gauge up plug should be taken out and washed during shower or sometime though out the day . I have found it easy for the hole to stay open longer with the larger the gauge . I’m at 25mm which is one inch I can leave them out for 2 to 3 days . Things like tea tree oil is good to once in a while it helps anti bacteiacally and funglly and salt water helps to dry out as well . If someone doesn’t keep their ears clean you will get rotting infected lobes .

    StacyAnn on June 5th, 2013 at 11:35 am
  28. My routine is to take out my plugs (antler and stones) and soak them in salt water while I shower, I rub water on my lobes and when the shower’s off I rub a thorough amount of manuka honey on the front and back of my lobes. I usually leave the honey on while I go make breakfast or whatever (I also clean my face with honey so it’s fairly simple). The longer the honey is left on the better, but when I’m short for time I leave my plugs in during my shower and rinse with honey. Simple morning sink shower for me would mean was my face/ears with honey, rinse and pat dry.

    meg on June 30th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
  29. i clean my ears every day and the smell is just natural and for anyone still stretching your ears depending on how good your healing process is you can get to around 20mm and your ears will go back into shape, ive stretched my ear lobes various times to 18mm and theyve always went back into shape with no problems. but normally take your time, 2mm per month is what i would recommend.

    markdickson on July 7th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

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