Do You Smell That?

Cheese is great. I’ve hardly met anyone, even my lactose intolerant brother-in-law, who isn’t a sucker for cheese. But, if you have stretched ears or a septum piercing (for some any piercing at all) cheese might bring up another thought aside from the beloved dairy product. This smell can come around if you stretch your ears to a certain point, for me it was at 9 mm, and when you get a septum piercing you’re often told you’re in for a new cheese experience. The smell I’m referring to comes from the gathering of dead skin during the healing process, or when you get lazy changing your jewelry, and is oftentimes referred to as ‘cheese.’

When I went in to get my septum pierced at A1 Tattoo in Gladstone, MO, Richie noticed my ears were stretched. He mentioned it was possible the same smell I was familiar with from stretching and healing may make an appearance in my nose after a few months. Not everyone who gets their septum pierced will smell it, he said, but it turns out I was one of those lucky few who did. Not to fear, no one else can smell the ‘cheese’ but what can we do to prevent, or at least limit its visitation? It all comes down to patience and a bit of hygiene.

Hygiene is something we’ve been taught since we were toddlers is important. Body modification aftercare is no exception. For stretched ears, and some regular piercings, going too long without changing and/or cleaning the jewelry can be a problem. Dead skin, and dirt builds up on the jewelry. Along with being a germ haven, leaving dead skin and dirt on the backs of earrings, plugs and tunnels invites that unwanted smell. Washing the jewelry with antibacterial soap and disinfecting with a warm salt soak is a simple but effective solution. Then, there’s the material to consider. Some jewelry, like bone plugs and silicone eyelets, are more prone to collect bacteria. This is why they shouldn’t be used on a fresh stretch and should be cleaned often to prevent adhesion, infection and dead skin buildup.

For me, it took patience and thorough cleaning for the smell in my nose to hit the road. That’s one more waiting game as you sit through months of healing. It’s understandable if some of us get lazy after the suggested time for a new piercing to heal, but it’s a bad habit. For your health, and to preserve the image of a delicious dairy product when you hear cheese, remember to clean your jewelry and piercing sites often.