The human ear is not just a flap of skin and cartilage, as many people believe, but it is nature’s skilful craftsmanship, delicately engineered for purpose of hearing sound. It also helps keep the equilibrium of our body. As with any other body organ, disorders of the ear are common, but in most cases they are not fatal. Foul smell emitted from the ear is commonly associated with ear infection, though it is not the only cause.A smelly ear may not have severe health repercussions, but it can definitely put a person in a compromising situation. You must clean your ears regularly and treat ear infection without neglecting it to prevent bad ear odor.
Why Does My Ear Smell Bad?
Even though foul smell from the ear is blamed on bacterial infection, there are several other contributing factors for a smelly ear. They are ear wax, Cholesteatoma, infections, unhygienic conditions and tumor.
- Ear Infection: The most common cause for foul smelling discharge is ear infection. Ear infection can be either bacterial or fungal in origin. In bacterial ear infection, there is a thick yellow foul smelling discharge from the ears. Sometimes the discharge becomes greenish yellow, especially if the infection turns chronic. Bacterial infection is usually common in the middle ear and the outer ear. Fungal infection can also cause smelly ears. The discharge during a fungal infection is thin and smelly with marked itching in the ear. Ear infection is common after an acute bout of cold and influenza. It can also be a result of ear drum perforation.
- Cholesteatoma: It is the destructive keratin (horny) growth or mass present in middle ear or in the mastoid process. Cholesteatoma may be present from birth or could be formed as a result of recurrent middle ear infection. Untreated Cholesteatoma can cause destruction of the small bones of middle ear and the skull bone. Strong offensive odor with purulent discharge is the characteristic of Cholesteatoma.
- Swimmer ear: It is a type of bacterial infection in the ear common in swimmers as a result of the water getting trapped in the ear passage. Foul smelling discharge from ears can be caused by swimmers ear.
- Ear wax: Secretion of ear wax is a normal physiological process. It protects the inner ear and the eardrum from injuries and invading organisms. Ear wax has a chemical that helps repel insects from entering the ear canal. Sometimes, because of the concentration of this chemical in the wax, the ear may emit a foul smell. Presence of dead cells or bacteria in the wax can also cause smelly ears.
- Bad hygiene: If you do not clean your ears regularly, there are chances of ear infection and foul smelling ear discharge. Ear funk or ear cheese caused by build-up of shampoo, soap, and some dead skin cells may produce the foul smelling odor in your ear.
- Cancer of the Ear: Though rare, it can cause ulceration and destruction of surrounding tissue leading to bad odor from the ears.
Treatment and Home Remedies for Foul Ear Smell
It is always important to know the cause of a foul smelling ear before you treat it. Here are some simple home remedies to get rid of bad ear smell:
- Clean ears regularly. It is the basic step in getting rid of the cheesy odor. You should gently wipe and clean your ears every day to avoid the buildup of dirt and sebum that could be a cause of bad smell later.
- Ear drops prepared from diluted white vinegar are effective in keeping the ear dry. It also acts as an antiseptic solution.
- The choice of antibiotic ear drops is always preferred when the infection is bacterial in origin. At times when the infection is substantially severe, your doctor may also prescribe oral anti-bacterial medications.
- Eating food with high nutritional value always helps boost your immunity. Maintain healthy immunity to ward off infections naturally.
- Make the ear wax soft and lose before you attempt to remove it. To do this, put a few drops of warm mineral oil in your ear passage and let it remain for few hours by plugging the ear with a simple and clean cotton ball.
- Dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and clean the outside ear canal once every week in a gentle manner. It helps clean the accumulated dirt and grime.