Published in Mar 2021 / Updated in Apr 2021
This smelly affair called “ear cheese” comes with disgusting brownish-gray gunk that collects your earring backs, especially the clear plastic types. So, if you have been wondering why your ears smell like stinky cheese, this might be the problem.
For obvious reasons, women are affected the most by this problem. After all, 72 percent of all pierced people in the U.S. are women.
Considering that many people get pierced as kids, ear cheese should be a concern for practically all of society. It might be an embarrassing problem, but we have no option but to address it before things get out of hand.
What Does “Ear Cheese” Consist Of?
Ear cheese is the buildup of dead skin cells, sebum, hair, and beauty products you might be using behind your ear lobes. The deposit tends to turn into a greenish-brown paste with a characteristic bad smell due to bacterial buildup.
That is what makes it smell like stinky cheese.
You can find out if you have this problem by rubbing your finger behind your ear to see if it smells like cheese, sweat, or something else.
Bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections can also cause this kind of smell because they like warm and moist places. This can happen when you keep touching the area with dirty hands, wear sunglasses, or have an infectious discharge coming out of a recent piercing.
Usually, infections are accompanied by other symptoms such as itching or pain.
Earwax can also make its way to the skin behind the ear and cause this unpleasant smell. Similarly, conditions like dandruff, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and rashes can also make your ear lobes stink.
Why You Might Get Ear Cheese
Although ear cheese smells terrible, there is nothing particularly unusual about it. You can even think of it as a natural part of getting your ears pierced.
However, people who have just recently had their ears pierced are at a higher risk of getting ear-cheese than everyone else. Such people are usually still reacting to the procedure and producing additional skin cells.
Similarly, if you rarely take off your earrings, or if your piercings are stretching out, then you are more likely to encounter this problem.
As you know, the body replaces skin cells all the time, and when they build up, they will obviously not smell too good.
So, if you don’t clean up your ear properly, you can get ear cheese. However, poor hygiene is not entirely to blame since cleaning the ears is a little more complicated than washing the rest of the body.
When most people get in the shower, they forget about the ears. Unfortunately, ears also have sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and dead skin cells.
These secretions and deposits can leave your ears with an awful smell. The problem is worse for people with overactive glands and those more prone to acne.
Things that can worsen this problem include long hair, wearing scarves, putting on hats, using cosmetics, applying too much hair product, and wearing earmuffs.
How To Get Rid Of Ear Cheese
If you have been grappling with the ear cheese problem, today is your lucky day because there are lots of ways to get rid of this problem. Here are some of your options.
1. Remove Your Earrings Once In A While
The first step towards getting rid of ear cheese is removing your earring. Wearing your earrings for several weeks at a time can easily cause this problem.
Taking them off can give your ear some fresh air.
However, if you have just had your ears pierced, don’t take off the earrings before seeing an expert. It could be that you just need to disinfect the area with rubbing alcohol.
2. Clean Off The Ear Cheese And The Jewelry
Cleaning your ears to get rid of the cheese is also an option. All you need is a cloth and some gentle soap.
With gentle scrubbing, you should get rid of all the gunk and exfoliate the dead skin away. If your ears get irritated during the process, you can use some antibacterial ointment.
You should be very careful not to clean your ears excessively. If you damage the skin, you might make them highly vulnerable to infections, which means you will have an even bigger problem to deal with.
To stop the ear cheese from coming back, you have to keep the ears clean and healthy. This involves changing your sheets and pillowcases and washing and rinsing your hair regularly while also making sure no beauty products build upon your ears.
Cleaning your earrings is also important. You should clean them thoroughly and, if possible, disinfect them with rubbing alcohol.
3. Use Another Set Of Earrings
Although you have the option of cleaning your earrings, you can also swap them for a new set.
For an effective cleaning experience, you should use mild soap and a soft cloth to clean the metal. Obviously, you need to be careful about some jewelry pieces as they are a little delicate.
Otherwise, you might ruin substances like opal or pearl with aggressive cleaning.
If you discover you have this problem, you should avoid large and tight earrings, which are more likely to accumulate sweat and sebum. They also make it harder to clean the ears when taking a shower.
Some people also tend to be sensitive to certain materials used to make earrings, which could cause the skin to react by producing secretions or discharges due to itchiness and tenderness. In such cases, you should opt for hypoallergenic earrings, such as wooden earrings.
However, note that it is usually normal for new earrings to cause some redness and some crustiness.
4. Use Medicated Skin Creams
If you discover that cleaning and disinfection are not working as well as you had hoped, you can use medicated skin creams. Before you take this step, it might help to talk to your doctor so that you can get help deciding whether to get an antibacterial or antifungal cream.
5. Reduce Sweating
Excessive sweating might be the reason your ears are smelling. If you suspect this to be the issue, you can try using baby powder, antiperspirant, or a stick deodorant.
6. Use Ear Drops
If you think your ear cheese problem has something to do with excess earwax, then you should get ear drops and deal with the problem.
7. Treat The Infected Injury
An infected injury such as a cut, a pimple, or a scrape can happen behind the ear and result in swelling, pain, or discharge. The accumulation of this discharge can result in a foul odor.
You should see a doctor about such a problem, especially if it is accompanied by intense pain and discharge.
Even though many problems can cause ear cheese, it can also be solved in several ways. As we have just discovered, you might not be to blame for the smelly buildup behind your ears.
Fortunately, you can take steps to remove the odor and ensure your ears are free from the gross, stinky cheese smell.
For instance, you can avoid earrings with big plastic backs that are more likely to gather gunk.