My Septum Piercing Smells! How Do I Fix It? - Psycho Tats (2023)

There’s nothing worse than when your septum piercing begins to smell. It can be super off putting to smell your piercing when you’re just trying to go about your day and do things.

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As it happens though, it’s pretty common for your septum piercing to smell.

When you get your piercing done, your nose needs to go through a healing process.

As this happens, the sebum will come out of the skin – this is an oily, almost pus like liquid that is made by the sebaceous glands in the body.

It helps to moisturize the skin and keep it protected from damage.

The substance doesn’t actually smell of anything on its own, but if you combine it with other things such as dried blood, bacteria and dead skin, then it can make the area start to smell in the process.

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This wonderfully pungent substance is sometimes referred to as ‘septum funk’. If you aren’t very fond of it then you also need not worry – it will eventually go away.

With that in mind, here’s some things that you need to know in order to say goodbye to the septum funk.

Ways To Prevent Septum Piercing Smells

If a slightly funky smell comes from your septum piercing, don’t panic. If you’ve ever had a septum piercing before then you will know that this is a very common occurrence, and it’s a natural one at that.

In reality, it’s very closely linked to the healing process of your piercing.

If you clean the piercing on a regular schedule then you can minimize the chances of having a smelly septum piercing and get rid of any smells that are currently present.

If your piercing is still in the middle of the healing process, then it’s vital that you wash the location of the piercing often.

All you need in order to do this in most cases is some clear glycerin soap and a little bit of warm water.

It’s possible that you may also have been given an antiseptic soap when you had the piercing done too.

It’s important that you use this since it will help to ensure that you don’t get an infection, which will make the piercing smell even more. Make sure that you are using this soap as directed by your piercer.

In some cases you may not have actually been given an antiseptic soap.

If this is the situation for you, then get some warm soapy water and add a little sea salt to it in order to stave off infections and thus bad smells.

If you are trying to clean the jewelry, then all you need is a cotton swab or a q tip and then dip it into some warm soapy water.

If your piercing is still in the process of healing then don’t take the jewelry out yet.

This can be very bad for you, since the hole could end up closing and then you’ll need to get the piercing done again. Your wallet isn’t going to like you for that!

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There’s no need to remove the septum piercing in reality. All you need to do is clean the vast majority of the surface by rotating the piercing in both directions and then cleaning it that way.

It’s a good idea to pay special attention to the part of the piercing that’s actually in the skin of your nose.

If there’s still a strong smell and you can’t get rid of it, and your piercing has healed already, take the jewelry off and then allow it to soak in some warm soapy water.

Then give it a bit of a scrub. An even better option is to get a jewelry cleaner that’s designed for septum piercings and clean the piercing using that.

When the soaking process is done, put a little bit of tea tree oil into the bucket of water.

This is a good idea since the oil is known to be an antimicrobial agent, and it will help to ensure that the bacteria that is creating the odors doesn’t build up on the piercing.

How Long Will My Piercing Smell?

This is a difficult thing to answer, since it can vary depending on the length of time that it takes for the piercing to actually heal entirely.

In most cases though you can expect that it will take from around 2 to 3 months for your piercing to heal completely.

When the piercing is healing sebum is going to keep being produced too.

If sebum is being produced and there are dead skin cells around the piercing, then there’s always a chance that the odor will stick around unfortunately.

The truth is though that the amount of time that it takes for your piercing to heal is going to vary depending on you too. Every person has a different healing process.

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There are some people that will tell you that it only took a week for their piercing to heal, and pain and odor simply weren’t part of their vocabulary during that time.

Some people on the other hand may take even as long as 3 months for their piercing to completely heal.

In almost every case though the healing process will be much smoother if you ensure that you clean and properly take care of the piercing.

Infections can often happen if you don’t take care of the piercing properly, and these are going to cause your piercing to smell a significant amount.

If three months have passed and you still haven’t seen any signs of healing in your piercing, or if you notice that it’s smelling and still painful then it is a good idea to go back to your piercer for more advice.

If it still hasn’t healed by the three month mark then there’s a possibility that your piercing has ended up getting infected, in which case you are going to need a topical antibiotic in order to treat it.

Unusual smells, redness and pain are big signs that an infection may have gotten into your piercing.

This means that a lot of bad bacteria has ended up getting into the piercing, and this can make it a breeding ground for smells.

If your piercing has been smelling for quite a long time then try not to worry too much.

You don’t need to assume that it’s infected just because it has been smelling for a long time, in most cases it’s pretty normal for it to smell for a while.

Septum piercings may also not smell straight away, and may begin to smell later in the healing process.

This is also quite normal. It’s one of those things that can come and go as your piercing is starting to heal.

Should I Use Alcohol For My Septum Piercing?

So is it a good idea to use something like rubbing alcohol in order to clean a septum piercing? The short answer is definitely not, unless there’s an infection brewing.

The problem with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide is that they can actually prolong the healing process.

This is because they can dry out the skin and destroy all of the new cells building on your skin.

Instead, you should avoid putting things on the piercing that you wouldn’t even dream of putting into your eye. It seems obvious, but you don’t want anything that may burn or dry out the piercing.

Oh, on that topic – did we mention that rubbing alcohol on open wounds can hurt a lot? Yes, alcohol is often used to clean wounds, but it certainly does burn in the process.

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You should try to avoid putting extra pain on your wounds, especially when it’s completely unnecessary to do so. The process of getting a piercing hurts enough, give yourself a break!

Alcohol can sometimes be helpful for cleaning the piercing in the event that you get an infection, but you shouldn’t apply a lot of it.

In most cases it should only be used once on a piercing that has become infected.

Using it regularly can mean that it doesn’t heal as quickly since the skin dries out, and the skin can end up becoming infected. The better thing to do is to use warm water and sea salt to treat the infection instead.

If the infection ends up getting worse then it’s a good idea to speak with your general practitioner or to speak to your piercer.

What about cleaning the jewelry? Again, hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol should not be used to clean jewelry.

If you have jewelry made out of low quality materials like coated metals then the alcohol can be far too harsh for the jewelry.

Materials like stainless steel that are higher quality don’t need to be cleaned by harsh alcohols either – soap and water is more than sufficient to clean them quite thoroughly.

Materials For Piercings

If you want to minimize the chances of things like infections, pain and irritation then you should stay away from jewelry like coated metals.

They aren’t a good quality, and the coating will erode away with time.

This coating could end up getting into your wound, causing potentially disastrous consequences since the alloy base can get into it.

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Ultimately, you will end up causing yourself a lot more pain and infection if you choose this material for your jewelry.

You could potentially go for materials that are totally organic like bamboo or wood.

They don’t have a smell but the problem is that they can be incredibly difficult to clean. Glass would be a better alternative since it’s much easier to clean and the smell doesn’t build up in the piercing.

Silicon is another option – it’s porous and keeps any nasty smells at bay. You will need to clean the piercings a little more often though.

This will help to ensure that there’s no chance for the odors to develop.

The problem is that you generally won’t be offered any of these options when you get a starter piercing.

When you need to buy more piercings in the future though, they are a great choice.

Just don’t change the jewelry straight away – allow the piercing to heal first and allow it to get to a point where there isn’t a risk of the hole of the piercing closing up.

If you are getting a septum piercing then it’s imperative that you stay away from sterling silver jewelry. This is because the material can oxidize really easily, and this is very bad for piercings.

It can begin to rust, and this can cause all sorts of problems for the piercing as it is trying to heal. It can be scratched very easily too, meaning that there’s a risk that it will get damaged.

If the metal does end up getting scratched then the metal can start to flake away and then get stuck inside of the piercing.

It can be challenging to clean this and it puts you at risk of a bacterial infection too.

If you are going to get a septum piercing then the best thing to do is to use low carbon surgical stainless steel.

You can acquire this rather easily, and it has antibacterial characteristics which helps to keep your piercing safe.

It is worth noting that there are reactive alloys in all stainless steel, but because the alloys are protected during the electroplating chemical process, you don’t need to worry about it.

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The material is generally hypoallergenic too, which is ideal if you have allergies to certain kinds of metals.

You could also go for other metals too. For instance, 14k gold, titanium, niobium and platinum are all pretty good choices for your piercing.

In most cases piercings tend to be made out of titanium, since it’s a hypoallergenic material that’s very affordable.

Niobium is a lot like titanium but it costs more money and it’s slightly heavier. You can make it into whatever color you want too since it can be anodized.

If you have a lot more money, then you are going to be spending the most money on materials like 14k gold and platinum.

Again, these are hypoallergenic. You will need to get a professional service for 14k gold every few months because it scratches pretty easily.

If you are getting a new piercing then don’t get 14k gold white piercings that contain nickel though since this material can end up causing bad smells if you react badly to it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Septum Piercing Smell Like Fish?

In most cases, this will occur because the sebum produced by your skin has mixed with the dead skin cells and blood produced by the piercing.

Make sure that you are taking care of your piercing properly in order to minimize the chances of smells.

How Is The Septum Pierced?

Most of the time, you can get a septum pierced by using a hollow needle and a receiving tube.

What Is The Most Painful Piercing?

Most data suggests that getting an industrial ear piercing is the most painful of all. Make sure you’re prepared if you are planning on having one!

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Max Peters

Hi, my name is Max Peters, and I am a tattoo artist. I’ve been a tattoo artist for the last 7 years, and it is a job I still love dearly. Art has always been a passion of mine, and when I had my first tattoo at 18, I was instantly hooked. It’s definitely not a myth when people say that tattooing can be addictive — but in the best possible way!

From here, I decided to take my love and appreciation for tattoos and train as a tattooist. I recently decided to set up this blog, Psycho Tats, as an extension of my business. I want to help educate others on everything they need to know about tattoos, from different tattoo meanings, to symbolism.

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