Baby's Ears Stink

Baby’s Ears Stink: (Smells like Feces, Fish, or Cheese – Here’s why)

Having your baby’s ears stink might be a call for health concern. Some Newborns may have stinky ear smells just as some have bad breath. For first-time parents especially, when their baby’s ears stink, they worry and start pondering over several questions. Although it might just be that your baby needs more hygienic care, other times, the smell of baby ears can be a sign of more serious health problems.

Some parents have reported that their child’s ears occasionally smell like feces, fish, or even cheese. While some said they observed their baby smelly ear after bath and sought to know why.

Despite the fact that baby’s ear stink may seem harmless, when do baby’s ears stink signal the presence of anything more serious? If you have detected an odd odor and are wondering why your baby’s ears stink, this article has the information you need.

Bacterial infections, cradle cap, milk spills, swimmer’s ear, yeast infections; these and other medical issues can make a baby’s ears stink. In addition, it is possible that wax is accumulating inside the ear canal. On the other hand, various odd odors can suggest different bacteria and diseases in your baby’s ears.

Attention to the nature and cause of the odor is essential in determining the appropriate course of action, whether it is to contact your baby’s pediatrician or whether you should simply wash your baby’s ears a bit more thoroughly.

Is Baby’s Ears Stink Normal?

Babies give off a wide range of strange odors—that seductive infant head smell and the eye-watering foul feces. Depending on the smell, you may not have to be concerned about the odor around your child’s ears.

A buildup of milk, dirt, and vomit may have accumulated behind your baby’s ears if you haven’t been paying attention at bath time. It is natural for parents to become alarmed when something is wrong with their baby, a strange smell is a sure sign that something is wrong with your infant, and it is understandable if you’re worried as a parent. Parents tend to think of the worst-case scenario when they detect an unusual odor, yet there is always a valid explanation for the odor. The majority of these problems can be remedied quickly and easily.

Having clean ears that nevertheless smell is abnormal and may indicate that your child has a medical condition that necessitates medical attention.

Why Do My Baby’s Ears Stink?

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the offensive smell of your baby’s ears. As we previously stated, fungal infections, bacterial ear infections, and Swimmer’s Ear are all possible causes of a baby’s ears stink. In addition, the odor may simply be the result of filthy ears and skin.

Baby's Ears Stink
Why Do My Baby’s Ears Stink?

Distinct ear infections have different odors; make sure that you can identify what the smell of your child’s ears is like by comparing it to that of something else. Do their ears have a cheesy odor to them? Or does it have a vomit-like smell? Or does your baby’s ear have a weirdly sweet smell?

Smells can tell you about a variety of various things, depending on what they are associated with. As a result, looking into the source and possible cause of this foul smell is necessary.

We’ve listed the many types of ear odors that could indicate that you should simply clean your baby’s ears more completely or take them to the pediatrician to assist you in finding a solution to the problem.

Cradle Cap Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

Inflammation of the baby’s scalp, known as crib cap, or cradle cap, is caused by infantile seborrheic dermatitis. The cradle cap can affect other parts of the body if sebum production is at its peak. Among these are the areas on the face, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the armpits and lower abdomen.

In addition to its typical oily and thick scale patches, cradle cap can produce redness, swelling, and other unpleasant symptoms in babies and young children. A cradle cap is not a sign of poor hygiene, allergies, or bacteria, despite the fact that it may appear. After the 9th month, it normally resolves itself on its own for newborns.

Even though cradle caps might look similar to other skin disorders and infections, parents should be on the lookout for them. When a baby’s crusty ear, scalp, face, or skin folds begin to feel warm, smell terrible, or create a watery discharge, they may already be infected and require treatment.

Earwax Build-up Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

The foul odor emanating from your baby’s ears may be due to an accumulation of earwax in the ear canal.

External ears secrete a waxy material known as earwax or cerumen. Cerumen preserves the ear canal’s epidermis, keeps it moisturized, and serves as a barrier against foreign items getting within.

Despite the fact that cerumen might build up to a certain level, it is easily removed from the ear’s surface by wiping it off. This system might occasionally malfunction and cause earwax to accumulate in the canal, and Cerumen impaction is another name for this buildup.

The following are some of the factors that can enhance the likelihood of cerumen impaction:

  • Anomalies of the ear’s structure
  • Ear canals with increased amounts of hairs
  • Using hearing protection such as earplugs or hearing aids
  • Cleaning the ear using cotton-tipped swabs

The condition affects approximately 10% of children and can cause the ear canal to become blocked or the eardrum to get compressed (tympanic membrane). These conditions can result in hearing difficulties, ear pain, and itching. The accumulation of cerumen may also lead to ear infections and inflammation, which may, in turn, be a source of bad odor.

Excess Moisture Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

A stinky ear can be caused by a buildup of moisture inside the ear canal and the skin folds surrounding it.

Normally, earwax acts as a lubricant to keep the skin inside the ear canal dry and free of infection. The normal smell of your baby’s ears may be altered and become more prone to scratching if there is more moisture from water or other bodily secretions.

In addition, pay attention to the creases and folds on the outside of the ear as well as the skin towards the rear of the ears. It is likely that earwax has become caught in these creases, and when it comes into contact with the skin’s natural oils and sweat, it will produce stinky ear wax in those regions as well.

Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

Approximately 80 percent of children will suffer from a middle ear infection at some point in their lives, with the majority of cases occurring between the ages of 6 and 24 months. Middle ear infections, medically known as otitis media, can result from bacteria or viruses that young children may contract during the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections. 

Purulent ear discharge is a symptom of middle ear infections that can occur. This foul-smelling ear discharge is coming out from the ear and is filled with pus, and it is possible that the ear discharge will be stained with blood.

Other warning signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Decline in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Irritability 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Pulling or tugging the ears
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Vomiting 

Otomycosis Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

Otomycosis, yeast, or fungal infection of the outer ear is another possibility for why your baby’s ears stink 1. Although rare in children, this fungal infection may produce symptoms like itching, discomfort, tingling, and even hearing loss. It is possible to see black, white, or cheese-like objects in the outer ear when it is examined, and the discharge may also have a beer or bread smell to it.

Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa) Can Make Your Baby’s Ears Stink

One of the most prevalent ear ailments among children is the swimmer’s ear, which is caused by swimming. Despite the fact that it mainly affects children over the age of two, it is possible for newborns and older kids to become infected.

The term “swimmer’s ear” was coined because of the high number of people who contract the illness after swimming in water. However, a swimmer’s ear does not require your baby to be in the water. The chance of their ears becoming infected may be increased by any moisture that is trapped inside the ear, even milk.

Ear discharge that is white or yellow and has a foul odor is a result of bacteria in the ear. Symptoms include pain in the outer ear, itching, swelling, and redness in the ear can accompany this condition. Infants who are unable to express their pain verbally may exhibit irritation or excessive crying.

Ear Infection Symptoms In Babies

An infected ear may smell bad because of the presence of bacteria, fungus, or other microorganisms 2. Distinct from typical ear wax, yellow or white fluid may be discharged by an infected or inflamed baby’s ears. Additionally, the baby’s ear canal may be stained with blood.

Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms if you discover that your baby’s ears stink:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Fever
  • Frequent crying
  • Hearing problems/inability to respond to noises or voices
  • Ear pulling & tugging

If your infant exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, but their ears do not stink, they may still be suffering from an ear infection that necessitates medical attention.

Should You Clean Behind Your Baby’s Ears? 

Yes. To minimize a buildup of dirt and odors behind your baby’s ears, it is vital to clean the area frequently. Doing so every day will help to keep a baby’s ears free of dirt and bacteria.

Doctors advise that you do not remove your baby’s earwax. Ear wax serves a protective function of keeping bacteria and unwanted things out of the ear canal. Thus, it is not necessary to remove it.

In the event you are worried about your baby’s ear wax, consult your doctor or schedule an appointment for your child to have it professionally removed.

Wrapping up

If your child is showing signs of an ear infection and has a stinky ear, you should see a pediatrician as soon as possible for treatment. Even though ear infections can cause the ears to smell, this does not always happen.

Ear infections can be extremely unpleasant for your baby, but he or she can’t tell you what’s wrong because he or she can’t speak. Always keep an eye on your child.

Verifiable References
  1. Alberta Health: Otomycosis in Children[]
  2. Johns Hopkins: Ear Infections in Babies and Toddlers[]
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