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The development of smelly secretions anywhere on the body is common in both humans and animals. Skin folds and protrusions around and behind the ears are typical places for odor to develop. There are several possible reasons for this type of odor and some simple tips for countering it as well. For any chronic odor condition, it is advisable to consult with your health practitioner.

Function of Pores

Pores are found all over the body and one of their many jobs is to excrete toxins. Because ears protrude, it is easy for these secreted toxins to build up behind the ears along with ear wax, dirt and oil. This environmental depositary is a perfect place for bacterial microbes to multiply, causing a chronic smelly odor that will persist and increase without proper grooming habits.

Significance of Oil

The body produces oil to keep hair and skin supple and healthy. This highly evolved function prevents cracking, so that microbial intruders are kept at bay. However, some people create excessive amounts of oil which can build up, causing odor. Body oil production can be stabilized by a process of "like treats like." Pressing scant amounts of extra virgin olive oil onto the face and behind the ears actually tells the body to produce less oil, which may decrease smelly secretions resulting from excessive body oil.

Infantile Ear Odor

Babies are well known and loved for their soft skin, chubby cheeks and engaging features, but odor is a common companion in any nursery. Smelly secretions may develop behind an infant's ears due to breast or bottle milk dribbling behind the ears during feeding or from scant amounts of spit-up accumulation. Carefully cleaning an infant's ears with a cotton ball and a small amount of sweet almond oil can reduce the likelihood of chronic smell and bacterial build up. If your infant or child has a chronic smelly secretion, consult with your doctor to rule out infection or possible foreign body.


Regular bathing and grooming habits with special attention to places on the tiny folds and creases of the ears may decrease the likelihood of secretion buildup behind the ears. Never stick anything inside the ear, due to risk of perforation and ear canal damage. Utilizing the antimicrobial power of essential oils like lavender, tea tree, clary sage and rose may also prevent recurrent odor. Always dilute essential oils with an appropriate carrier oil and keep away from pets and children unless advised by your health care practitioner.


Smelly secretions behind the ears do not only affect humans. Dogs, cats, ferrets and other critters may have offensive odors as well. While many creatures will benefit from regular grooming and cleansing, smelly ear odor may also indicate infection which should be assessed and treated by your veterinarian.