How to keep stretched piercings clean?
June 6, 2006 6:25 AM   Subscribe

Unpleasant piercing question: why are my flesh tunnels covered in mank, and how can I best clean them to get rid of the awful smell?

I've got fully healed 10mm stretched ear piercings, and swap between wearing steel tunnels and acrylic plugs. In the space of a few hours wear they get covered in what I'm assuming is lymph, and I tend to clean them and my piercings themselves with saline solution. This really isn't getting rid of the smell though - what can I use that will do a better job and won't irritate my piercings?
posted by girlwonder to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Use Satin Soap in the shower. It's a good way to keep cartilege piercings clean and nice-smelling.
posted by Mr. Six at 6:28 AM on June 6, 2006

Also try using Jojoba oil. Actually, to avoid buildup of the wonderful gunk, don't wear acrylic - get a nice set of wood plugs. The natural oils in the wood help with ear-crust maintenance.

You'll be able to find nice plugs, and a wealth of information about the wood here: Omerica Organic.
posted by jivadravya at 6:50 AM on June 6, 2006

The short answer is organic plugs. It's not just the wood oils but also the porousness. And it's probably good to leave your flesh tunnels out for a while--say, overnight--this has been the most effective strategy I've used to cut down on both smell and gunk. Let the piercing breathe and so forth--this seems to be especially important with large-gauge piercings.

If you're willing to go for something a little more radical, you could experiment with your diet. Loading up on fruits and vegetables, especially citrus ones, and staying away from red meat, strong spices, etc., will improve the smell of your ear gunk in the same way it'll improve the smell of your sweat, and the taste of your--well, let's keep this PG.

More good organic jewelry links (and, of course, BME has tons of information):
posted by box at 7:37 AM on June 6, 2006

I agree with the organic jewelry suggestions. I tend to generate more ear "funk" if I wear acrylic than if I wear organic jewelry. I have one friend who can't wear anything but organic - glass, acrylic, steel, you name it causes ridiculous amounts of ear goo for him. So, try wood or horn plugs.

For now, though, sleeping with the plugs out while they sit overnight in a saline solution and massaging your lobes after you shower with oil (I use a body oil with lavender in it, but jojoba and coconut oil are both good too) can help.
posted by bedhead at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2006

I can vouch for the dietary changes box suggested. I tend to lose my taste for meat for several weeks at a time. During those meat free times, the ear shmutz is significantly reduced, and it doesn't shtink so much.
posted by zerokey at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2006

Sea-salt water soak.
posted by radioamy at 10:06 AM on June 6, 2006's not "lymph". Bacteria are what create the smell.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:25 PM on June 7, 2006

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