Ear gauges smell bad because of a buildup of oil, sweat and dead skin cells, according to Arka Shop. Larger sizes have more buildup, resulting in a worse smell. This buildup is visible on the jewelry as an oily, thick substance.
Organic jewelry is less likely to result in an obvious smell, because these materials let the piercing breathe better. Regular washing of both the jewelry and the stretched ear reduces buildup and smell. Antibacterial soap and salt water solutions are commonly used to keep gauges clean, and regularly massaging the area with moisturizing skin oil improves the health of the piercing.