Ear stretching has been practiced for hundreds of years by indigenous people for various rituals in countries like Africa, Europe, and most recently exploding in North America and Europe. Ear stretching is essentially widening a healed hole in the ear lobe and placing a plug or tunnel in the pierced hole. Choosing to stretch your ears gives you a personal responsibility to take proper care of your piercing. Stinky ear plugs, commonly known as ear cheese, is caused by dead skin cells forming inside the stretched earlobe and compiling on the plug. Ear cheese is a combination of dead skin cells and shampoo/soap products coming together to form a disgusting and smelly discharge. Once this happens, you will need to take the following steps to rid your ears of this horrendous stank.
Step 1- Cleaning Your Plugs
Take your plugs out and wash carefully in a sink with warm water. Use mild liquid soap to wash all sides and clean the jewelry thoroughly. When finished, use a paper towel to dry and keep covered. Make sure you do not leave in shower or sink as possible recontamination can occur. For organic plugs like wood, special oils like JoJoba can assist in properly cleaning special materials.
Step 2- Cleaning Earlobes
First, lather both hands together with warm water and clean with anti-bacterial soap. Then in a circular motion, use one finger to rub the inside of your stretched lobe. Make sure to rub and clean all dead skin cells in earlobe with plenty of anti bacterial soap and water. If your lobes are not big enough for your finger, then try using a Q-tip to clean inside. Make sure to completely dry lobes inside and out with a new, clean paper towel to prevent trapping bacteria.
Step 3- Re-inserting your Plugs
Once the inside of the lobes has been cleaned and dried, immediately insert plugs back into your stretched lobes. Recently cleaned plugs and ear jewelry can easily pick up bacteria while air drying in sinks or showers, so it’ important to do this quick. Wipe all remaining water surrounding your piercing with a clean cloth or paper towel. If your lobes need lubrication when re-inserting plugs, try massaging vitamin E oil on them.
Many cleaning agents like alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can provide to be too harsh for ear piercing and stretching. We recommend soaking piercings and plugs 1-2 times daily in mild saline solution with warm water and non-iodized sea salt. Following these easy-to-do steps on a daily basis can prevent stinky stretched ears and stop ear cheese.