Why Does The Back Of My Ear Smell?

Why Does The Back Of My Ear Smell

Have you ever been perplexed by an odd smell emanating from the back of your ear? This peculiar smell can range from slightly musty to downright foul and can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort. While it is not a medical emergency, it is still important to understand the underlying causes of why the back of your ear smells, so you can find the right solution to get rid of the smell. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of smelly ears and provide some solutions to help you get rid of the smell. From dirt and sweat to earwax buildup and infection, we will uncover the mystery of why the back of your ear smells so you can get back to feeling confident and comfortable.

Why Does The Back Of My Ear Smell?

The first thing to note is that it’s normal for there to be some kind of smell coming from behind your ear. This is because behind your ear is an area where sweat and bacteria can accumulate, and bacteria naturally produce an odor. 

What Causes The Back Of My Ear To Smell?

Earwax Buildup

One of the most common reasons why your ears smell is earwax buildup. Over time, earwax gets harder and dries out, which can cause it to become brittle and crack. As these pieces break off and become embedded in the ear canal, they can cause an odor. If this happens, you’re not alone. By some estimates, over 50% of the population has some degree of wax build-up in their ears. This can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. The good news is that cleaning out earwax is relatively easy to do at home. The best way to remove dried earwax is with a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild soap, like hand soap or a baby ear cleaning solution. Earwax is designed to protect your ears from infections, so rubbing it away with a cotton swab can actually damage these protective layers and lead to greater problems. Instead of using a cotton swab, it’s better to just let water and soap do all the work.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are another common reason why your ears smell. They are caused by bacteria or fungi growing in the ear canal, sometimes leading to an infection of the surrounding tissues. Ear infections are particularly common in children, but they can affect adults as well. If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, you should see a doctor. An ear infection should never be ignored, as it can quickly turn into a more serious condition. While antibiotics are the most common treatment for ear infections, they can also cause some of the odors associated with ear infections. Some common ear infections that can cause odors to include otitis media, cholesteatoma, and swimmers ear. Luckily, there are some easy ways to prevent and treat ear infections. One of the easiest ways to prevent ear infections is to keep your ears clean. By cleaning your ears regularly, you can avoid many of the common causes of ear infections, which include excess earwax, dust, and bacteria. You can also decrease your risk of developing an ear infection by keeping your hands away from your ears.

Bacterial Overgrowth

A bacterial overgrowth, or an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, can also cause your ears to smell. Bacterial overgrowth can be common in people who have diabetes or who have recently had surgery or an infection in the ears. Like ear infections, bacterial overgrowth can be treated with antibiotics, but it can also be avoided with proper hygiene. Proper ear hygiene can include using a mild solution of water and soap to clean your ears and using a small net to remove earwax. It can also include avoiding touching your ears and making sure you wash your hands frequently.

Sweat and Moisture

Sweat and moisture in the ears can cause a lot of different odors, including the smell of “old” or “moldy” foods. The best way to reduce the amount of moisture in your ears is to avoid covering them, especially in warm and humid conditions. You should also avoid wearing headphones that cover the ears as often as possible, especially in warm weather. It’s also important to keep your ears dry by using a cotton ball or swab to gently remove excess moisture every day. While moisture is a common cause of odors, it may also be a sign of an infection, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in color or a foul smell. You should see a doctor if your ears are unusually moist. It’s best to keep your ears as dry as possible while avoiding the use of cotton swabs, which can push the moisture further into the ear.

Poor Hygiene

Finally, poor hygiene can cause your ears to smell. This can happen if you don’t clean your ears well enough, or you don’t clean them at all. It can also happen if you go too long between cleanings and allow the earwax to become hardened. While everyone’s ears are different, it’s best to clean your ears at least once a week. Using a mild solution of water and soap, you can clean the outside of your ears and remove the earwax from the openings to your ear canals. You can also use a cotton swab with soap and water to clean the ear canal itself. However, it’s important to avoid using cotton swabs too often, as they can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal and cause it to harden. For best results, make sure you’re cleaning your ears properly. You should be able to see the opening to your ear canal while you clean it, but it should not hurt. If it hurts, you might be cleaning your ears too aggressively.

What Are The Solutions To Get Rid Of The Smell?

  • If you are experiencing a bad smell coming from the back of your ear, there are a few things you can do to get rid of the smell. First, clean your ear using a cotton bud dipped in an ear-cleaning solution. 
  • You can also use a syringe without a needle to clean the ear. If you have excess earwax, you can use medication to remove the wax.
  • If you have an ear infection, you should get it treated with antibiotics. If you are wearing earrings, remove them as they can trap dirt and cause your ears to smell. 
  • If you find the smell is not going away, visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist. 
  • Your ENT doctor may conduct a few tests, such as a culture and a swab, to understand the underlying cause of the bad smell.

Tips To Keep Your Ears Smelling Fresh

  1. Ear Piercing – If you have recently pierced your ear, it is important to keep the earring clean. Otherwise, the piercing may get infected and lead to inflammation. Wearing an earring with a clip will help prevent the ear piercing from getting infected. 
  2. Ear Cleaning – You can clean your ears with an ear-cleaning solution. However, avoid putting cotton swabs in your ears because this can push the earwax further inwards, causing a foul smell. 
  3. Good Hygiene – Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hands regularly and cleaning your ears with a clean cloth. Avoid sharing earrings if someone in your family has an ear infection.

When To See A Doctor? 

  • If the smell from the back of your ear has not gone away after trying the above solutions, it is important to visit an ENT doctor. Here are a few scenarios that require you to visit an ENT doctor.
  • If the smell is accompanied by pain, redness, and swelling in the ear. If the smell is accompanied by fever and chills.
  • If the smell is accompanied by a discharge from the ear. If the smell is accompanied by dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. If the smell is accompanied by hearing loss.


The back of your ear may smell for a variety of reasons. You can prevent this by maintaining good hygiene and regularly cleaning your ears. If the back of your ear smells, visit an ENT doctor to get advice on how to treat the infection and keep the smell away.

Randall Willis

Randall Willis is a news blogger who likes to write about the latest events happening in the world. He is always up for a good debate, and loves to hear people's opinions on current topics. Randall is an avid reader, and loves to learn new things.

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