Home Personal Wellness Why Do The Back Of My Ears Smell

Why Do The Back Of My Ears Smell

by Lyndon Langley
Why Do The Back Of My Ears Smell

Why Do The Back Of My Ears Smell

The back of your ears are often ignored, but they’re actually quite sensitive to the touch, and even more so when it comes to their ability to detect smells.
Your outer ear consists of three parts – the pinna, which is what appears as a little round piece at the top; cartilage, which forms the contours of each side; and the antihelix, which is on the bottom of the ear where there’s no bone or cartilage, just skin covering the ear canal.
When you put two of your fingers behind the earlobe, along the sides of the pinna, and press down, you’ll feel how soft the ear tissue is. This is due to all the fat cells contained within the ear. These fat cells are not only in the ear itself, but also in the tiny hair follicles located around the perimeter of the ear. When these hairs grow out from the follicle, they form the “hairs” we call lanugo. Lanugo usually starts developing during the third trimester of pregnancy and continues until about four months after birth. In fact, babies with excessive amounts of lanugo have been shown to be at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
While lanugo may seem like nothing more than an unsightly nuisance, its presence indicates that our bodies produce oil, or sebum, which lubricates the skin and provides nutrients for growth, development and healing. Sebum is produced by glands called apocrine sweat glands, found mostly in areas of high body temperature such as the armpits and groin area, but also in the axillae (armpits) and groins. It is then carried through ducts to the exterior surface where it evaporates off into the air. But if we don’t wash those areas regularly, the oil can build up and start smelling.
If the oil becomes hardened and begins to smell, it will begin to coat the hair shaft and make the hair stiffer and duller looking. If this happens enough times, the hair will break off and curl downward, forming ingrown hairs. After a while, the oil can become rancid, resulting in a foul odor. This odor can be caused by bacteria, parasites, fungus, yeast, pollution, cigarette smoke, stress, medication, poor hygiene, etc., and can range from mild to very stinky.
In order to prevent excess buildup of oil, it is important to keep your ears clean. Earwax collects inside the ear canal, and when it combines with moisture to create debris, it can block the ear opening. A blocked ear canal means less room for sound waves to travel, thus affecting hearing. Excess earwax can also cause infection. Fortunately, most people naturally produce enough earwax to keep the ear openings clear without any help from us. However, if the amount of earwax produced isn’t sufficient, some people experience chronic infections. People who suffer from allergies or asthma are particularly prone to having problems with earwax.
Earwax is composed primarily of cholesterol and fatty acids. Cholesterol is essential for normal cell membranes and hormone production, as well as healthy blood flow and circulation. Fatty acids play a crucial role in the proper functioning of nerve endings. Without them, nerves cannot properly communicate, causing pain and other symptoms. Although we think of cholesterol and fats as being good for us, too much of either can lead to health problems. Therefore, eating foods rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids can help reduce levels of inflammatory agents. Inflammation is one of the leading causes of many illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and hypertension.
Because our ears are exposed to airborne pollutants, it is especially important to take care of our ears. Pollutants include chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone gas, sulfur oxides, chlorine gas and smog, as well as metals, such as mercury vapor, cadmium sulfide and nickel compounds. Exposure to these substances can irritate the skin and mucous membrane linings of the nose, throat, lungs, mouth, stomach, bladder, liver and kidneys, among others.
It is recommended that we wear earplugs whenever possible, since they filter out noise and protect us from harmful environmental factors. If wearing earplugs seems impractical, consider wearing a pair of cotton ear mufflers over both ears. Cotton absorbs odors rather than releasing them into the air. Also, avoid using scented products on your ears because they react with the oils in the ear and increase the odor. Instead, use perfumed shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers. Don’t use deodorant sprays, antiperspirants, antibacterial soap, alcohol, hot water, dry shampoo, saltwater rinses, chemical peels, or anything with hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, ammonia, menthol, eucalyptus oil, camphor oil, tea tree oil, methyl chloride, chlorophyll, iodine, vitamin B12, etc.
A number of medications, including antibiotics, diuretics, barbiturates, tranquilizers, antipyretics, sedatives, hypnotic drugs, hormones and cortisone preparations, aspirin, vitamins, narcotics, hallucinogenic drugs and nicotine, can cause or aggravate the unpleasant smell coming from the ear.

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