Most people don’t pay much attention to the area behind their ears. Still, some people may notice an odor coming from this area. Sometimes poor hygiene can be the cause of this smell, but minor infections are also a common cause. Since you can’t see the area behind your ears, you don’t necessarily think about washing it or checking for skin irritation or signs of infection.

Many relatively minor problems can cause odor behind the ears. These include:

seborrheic dermatitis, a type of eczema
poor hygiene
piercing infections
yeast infections
infections from cuts or wounds

In most cases, an odor behind the ears is not a sign of a serious problem. Finding the right treatment and paying a little more attention to this area usually helps to fix it.
There are also many effective prevention methods, which we also discuss in this article.

seborrheic dermatitis

Some types of dermatitis can retain sweat and odor. Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of eczema that can cause scaly, scaly skin. It can affect any area of ​​the body, including the back of the ears. In some cases, fungi living on the skin cause seborrheic dermatitis. This condition usually does not cause a bad odor. However, the oily dander it produces can trap sweat and odor. Also, the condition can sometimes be painful, which can cause people to avoid washing thoroughly behind the ears. The use of antifungal treatments generally makes it possible to make the symptoms disappear. Many people with seborrheic dermatitis on the skin also have this condition on the scalp, so washing the scalp with an antifungal shampoo may help. Many antifungal shampoos are available online.

poor hygiene

The area of ​​skin directly behind the ears can trap sweat and oils very easily. The back of the ear can retain residue from skin and hair care products. Having long hair can also make it easier to build up oil and other residue. The area behind the ears is also impossible to see without a mirror, which is why most people don’t pay much attention to it. They may not wash this area much or they may not pay enough attention to it when they do. Therefore, if the area doesn’t hurt and just smells bad, the easiest solution is to wash it thoroughly with warm water and soap.

infected ear piercings

Maintaining good hygiene with ear piercings can help prevent infections. An ear piercing is an open wound until fully healed. This is why it is easy for bacteria to enter the wound. Bacteria can also infect healed ear piercings, especially if the piercing is not clean. Infected ear piercings sometimes smell bad. Pus, dead skin, and other discharge from the infection may adhere to the studs and backs of the earrings. A bad odor may then persist. It may help to clean the ears and earrings with rubbing alcohol or a special ear piercing solution. This solution can be purchased online. If the infection is painful, there is a fever or swollen lymph nodes, or if home treatment does not work, see a doctor. Like other infections, those from ear piercings can spread to other parts of the body and become potentially very serious. It is advisable to consult a doctor if the infection is located in the cartilage of the ear. These infections can be harder to treat and require stronger antibiotics.

yeast infection

Candidiasis, which people tend to call a yeast infection, is an infection with the fungus Candida albicans. Yeast tends to grow in warm, moist places. Therefore, people who sweat a lot or those who do not regularly clean the area behind their ears can develop a yeast infection. Yeast infections tend to be itchy and may smell like beer or bread. In rare cases, a person can develop a serious yeast infection that doctors call invasive candidiasis. This happens when yeast enters the bloodstream and spreads through the body. In this case, the person may show signs of yeast infection in several parts of the body.

People with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV or AIDS, are more vulnerable to this infection. Most yeast infections respond well to antifungal remedies. If the infection is severe, if a person with a weakened immune system develops a yeast infection, a doctor may prescribe a pill or cream to clear the infection.

Sometimes yeast or other fungi infect the inside of the ear, usually in the outermost part. Doctors then speak of otomycosis. This infection can become invasive and spread deep into the ear and even into the bone. Otomycosis can cause severe pain and itching in the ear. A doctor can prescribe medication to treat it.

Infected wounds

Infected wounds sometimes give off an unpleasant smell. You may not notice an injury behind your ear, such as a cut, scrape, or pimple, until it becomes infected.
If there is swelling, pain, or discharge, the infection likely requires antibiotics. If the pain is minor, try cleaning the wound with soap and water and apply triple antibiotic ointment. Consult a doctor if the symptoms do not disappear within one to two days.

In case of fever or intense pain, or if the wound is very red, consult a doctor immediately.


People with sensitive skin can keep it clean by using mild soaps. To avoid bad odors behind the ear, it is usually sufficient to keep the area clean. Good hygiene can also help prevent infections and skin irritations.

People can try the following strategies to prevent odor from appearing behind their ears:

Wash the area behind the ears with every bath or shower. People with sensitive skin or eczema should use soap for sensitive skin.

After intense physical activity, wipe the area behind the ears with a warm, damp washcloth.

Keep piercings clean. Rotate the piercings in a circle several times a day. Do not remove new posts until at least 6 weeks after piercing. Children too young to clean their ears should be assisted by an adult.

Gently exfoliate the area behind the ears once or twice a week. This prevents the accumulation of dead skin. An exfoliating cleanser or a rough washcloth can help with this task.

People with skin conditions should consult a doctor before trying exfoliation.

Don’t ignore a bad smell, even if you don’t feel any pain. A bad odor could be a sign of an infection or other problem, so it’s best to see a doctor.

To remember

Noticing a bad smell behind the ears can be alarming. Finding the right treatment can help eliminate the odor and resolve the underlying cause. In many cases, the treatment is simply taking the time to wash this often overlooked area. Even when an infection or other serious problem is the cause, a doctor can usually prescribe a fast-acting treatment. Talking about unusual body odor can be uncomfortable, but don’t be afraid to seek help from a healthcare professional. They will be able to reassure you that the problem is common and show you the way to get relief quickly.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.