How do I get rid of the stink around my 5 month old's ears?
March 28, 2006 7:01 PM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of the stink around my 5 month old's ears?

I am not sure if it is from inside or behind the ears, but we bathe him every night and we don't bathe him in I am not sure why there is a faint stink near his ears. We clean them every few days with baby sized Qtips, but they aren't dirty at all when we are finished. We do see a little wax (or whatever it is) on the Qtip when we clean around the outside of his ears (as in, not the ear canal, but the outer ear).

Any ideas? He smells baby fresh everywhere else.
posted by Chuck Cheeze to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
Are you using formula? Maybe you tip him back when you feed him and milk goes into his nose and ears and then spoils. I know that babies bottlefed formula have a higher likelihood of ear infections (since the milk may pool in the ears). So I'm just taking a wild guess.

Why not ask your community health nurse?
posted by acoutu at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2006

babies often have a cheesy smell around their necks and ears, it's from milk dribbling back there probably. i don't know. both my kids had it, it's not disgusting, part of the nice baby smell!

your baby is so cute!
posted by subatomiczoo at 7:10 PM on March 28, 2006

We actually have the same exact thing with our 4 month old. As far as we can tell, he has a little valley behind his ear that collects milk when it comes down from his mouth when laying back. It's fine right after we clean there, but before too long its funky again. Let me know if you find a solution!
posted by shinynewnick at 7:11 PM on March 28, 2006

our first baby had stink-ear (as we called it) and we never really figured it out. it went away on its own.
posted by joeblough at 7:25 PM on March 28, 2006

He's making cheese. When my second baby, oh-so fat, started reeking faintly of Gorgonzola in spite of daily ablutions, we started investigating really closely and found, no lie, a rashy fold in his rolypoly neck that was harboring a little breast milk cheese-to-be. NASTY. It was summer, he was moist and warm and had lots of hidey places for the milk that was flowing. Corn starch in folds helped but when he started walking (and stopped being interested in stopping to nurse or even to take a bottle with him), the cheese stink ended. (Your little Charlie looks like an adorable character.)
posted by eve harrington at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2006

Cute kid. Can't smell him from here so it can't be that bad. I doubt if it's ear infections - he'd be sick as well as smelling. I think it's probably the sugars in the milk he drinks (or rather doesn't drink and which collects in his neck creases) feeding a mild yeast infection. My kid smelt like best stilton for a few months and only stopped doing so when he was able to sit up and stretch his neck out a bit. The pure fresh air killed off the bugs. You could google for a solution or just tough it out til he grows out a bit. On preview - what eve harrington said.
posted by firstdrop at 7:56 PM on March 28, 2006

Yeast infections can fester in even the smallest crevices, i.e. the fold behind the ear, and give off a funk. A little swipe of clotrimazole (ask your doc) and some diaper cream once a day as needed ought to fix his social disease.
posted by docpops at 8:03 PM on March 28, 2006

Boy, do I feel your pain; my 6 month old son has folds under his neck that formula get trapped in and dries... I thought it was his ears originally but its the fat neck :) It seriously knocks your socks off if it is there for too long. I just run a soapy washcloth under there between baths and rinse; that usually works. I have also had success with putting a little of this powder under there too, just to make it a little drier.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 9:01 PM on March 28, 2006

Our community health nurse told us to wash the folds and then dry them with a cloth. Cornstarch and baby powder are no longer recommended, since they can cause damage if the particles are inhaled.
posted by acoutu at 9:05 PM on March 28, 2006

It is permissible if the poweder does not contain talc, as per my pediatrician.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 9:42 PM on March 28, 2006

(Wait, talcum powder is now BAD for babies? When did this happen?)
posted by Dasein at 12:30 AM on March 29, 2006

Could be an ear infection. Some kids show no outward signs like crying or rubbing their ears.
posted by Gungho at 4:27 AM on March 29, 2006

I concur with the cheese thesis. In my experience, formula cheese has a funkier smell than breastmilk cheese, tho maybe I tolerated the latter since I helped make it? Your baby probably doesn't smell as funky to other people, it's just that you're used to him and know what he's s'posed to smell like!

Dasein, when my eldest was born, I told my older relatives that talc was out, corn starch in. There was a little war between my grandmothers to see who was the best Nana that culminated with them presenting me with the biggest containers of corn starch powder they could find. I still have some, and said child just turned 11.
posted by Biblio at 6:57 AM on March 29, 2006

He's probably putting his finger in his mouth and then putting it in his ear. The bacteria in his saliva are making the stink. As far as what to do about it, I have no idea. Babies are constantly doing stuff like that.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:45 AM on March 29, 2006

Second what docpops said about clotrimazole. It's the same stuff in many athlete's foot creams (2%). Our doc told us to use it in the diaper area to fix a mindbogglingly painful-looking yeast infection of the scrotum. I have already told you more than you want to know. Call your pediatrician, and I bet the advice nurse can set you on the road away from stink.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2006

Inhalation of talc is dangerous. Just Google for it. But my community health nurse (and the handouts from the government) told me that cornstarch is dangerous because babies may inhale the fine particles. Babies breathe more rapidly so they inhale more in a shorter period than you would. It can cause lung and aspiration problems. An article from the University of Toronto says, "Cornstarch reduces friction and may absorb moisture. It does not absorb moisture to the extent that pastes do and it does not wick moisture away from the surface of the skin. It has been argued that it also serves as a culture medium for C. albicans, the organism responsible for candida diaper dermatitis. Aspiration of cornstarch may also lead to respiratory problems. All factors considered, the use of cornstarch should be avoided"1
posted by acoutu at 5:47 PM on March 29, 2006

can i just say its shocking how many people's kids get this cheese stink, i should ask my mother if i was one of these stink children..
posted by stilgar at 5:24 AM on March 30, 2006

I've got seven-month-old twins, and here are all the places that the cheesy formula nastiness hid from us untli we got the hang of this whole parenting thing:

1. Folds under the chin, very hard to clean on a squirmy baby, and you've got to keep 'em clean pretty much after every feed (use a little Aquaphor after you've cleaned with a dry cloth, if there's redness and irritation);

2. Creases behind the ears, you'll probably need to pull your child's ears outward to see/clean 'em, same thing with the aquaphor applies.

If you're sure that the neck and ear crevices aren't the cause (and remember, if it's red and irritable, the smell will persist for a day or two after the cleaning), take 'em to the doctor. Also, if you find "the spot" and it looks infected, call the doc.
posted by davejay at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2006

According to my pediatrition, many children put dried beans, peas, raisins etc.. up their noses. They swell up, get stuck and start stinking. The beans can even sprout.
posted by redhead at 6:33 PM on March 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yes, but at five months, I doubt he has the run of the pantry yet. Most probably the milk.
posted by cookie-k at 9:45 AM on April 16, 2006

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