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View Full Version : Why does it smell like swiss cheese behind my ears?


TheBaptiste
07-21-2011, 03:18 PM
If I swipe my finger behind my ear and then smell it, it smells just like swiss. Even within hours of a shower. The sides of my nose have a similar scent.

Is this normal or a sign of impending doom?

njtt
07-21-2011, 04:44 PM
If there are holes back there too, then it is time to worry.

Shagnasty
07-21-2011, 04:52 PM
I have noticed a cheesy smell behind my ears as well although I don't think it is Swiss. There are a few parts of the body that start to smell like cheese after a few days of not bathing. The technical term for a body cheese smell is called Fumunacheese or at least that is what we called it when I was younger. I knew a guy once whose whole head smelled like cheese all the time. His nickname was (wait for it) - Cheese. I got into a fight with him once and I couldn't get the cheese smell off my hands and arms for two days. You could have it worse than you do now.

Stoid
07-21-2011, 05:23 PM
From the locations I would guess it is sebum. Which smells pretty damn nasty, although it's actually bacterial activity, not the sebum itself. Try using a hardcore antiseptic wash after your shower, like Betadine.

Revtim
07-21-2011, 05:25 PM
Mine smells like Parmesan, I guess because I'm Italian.

panache45
07-21-2011, 05:34 PM
Just be glad it's not Limburger.

Washoe
07-21-2011, 05:37 PM
Mine smells like bleu cheese. It started about 30 years ago and never went away completely. It smells worse when it is associated with a slight flaking that sometimes occurs. My theory is that it is infection with the same fungus that causes onychomycosis ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toenail_fungus), because it smells the same and regular use of Nizoral shampoo ameliorates it completely, including the flaking. As soon as I discontinue the shampoo, it comes right back.

Crazyhorse
07-21-2011, 05:45 PM
You know the old saying: "Men smell like cheese, women smell like onions".

Wait, what (http://telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/4378948/Men-smell-of-cheese-women-smell-of-onion.html)?


Men however sweat in a different way - scientists found high levels of an odourless fatty acid which released a cheesy smell when exposed to enzymes produced by bacteria in the armpits.

Christian Starkenmann, who led the study, said: “Men smell of cheese, and women of grapefruit or onion.”

Ian D. Bergkamp
07-21-2011, 08:49 PM
I just tried this and got a chocolate smell for my ears. Nothing of note for the sides of my nose, though. Very odd.

Leo Bloom
07-22-2011, 01:49 PM
As long as we're on the subject, beginning-to-get-stinky feet smell like Fritos.

Maastricht
07-22-2011, 01:58 PM
Have you tried scrubbing all the crevices behind your ear with an old soft toothbrush? Sometimes just showering doesn't do the trick. I learned that from the crevices behind my toddlers' sons ears.

Sunspace
07-22-2011, 02:10 PM
Are you turning into Shrek?

Stormcrow
07-22-2011, 02:40 PM
So long as nothing else on you smells like pastrami or rye, you're probably safe.

Dolores Reborn
07-22-2011, 02:43 PM
Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.

KneadToKnow
07-22-2011, 02:52 PM
Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.

Concur.




Betadine?

DSeid
07-22-2011, 03:15 PM
And you know those fatty acids in Crazyhorse's link? They change with age (http://nature.com/jid/journal/v116/n4/abs/5601027a.html) so you have lots to look forward to.

The taste and smell of Swiss cheese (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_cheese) owes much to its high amounts of acetate and propionic acid produced by a variety of bacteria, including Propionibacterium. Propionibacterium species thrive (http://jcm.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/5/672) in areas of the skin that have more sebaceous glands, like the face and scalp. (That study looking at Propionibacterium acnes populations but applies to others as well.) Behind the ears is an area that sebum collects no matter how good you are at washing.

I am betting you are smelling the propionic acid and acetate produced by the Propionibacterium species. Much better than the isovaleric acid produced by some Staph species (that's the classic bad foot odor (http://nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/w05-130) smell).

Mangetout
07-22-2011, 03:46 PM
Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.


Maybe use a grater.

DSeid
07-22-2011, 03:58 PM
And there is this study too (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbdv.200690015/abstract).

So what fatty acids an individual's skin produces varies from individual site to site and with intra-individual age, likely by arousal state, and inter-individual as well, including by gender. Which bacteria are colonized where (producing which enzymes to produce which products from those fatty acids) also has variation between sites likely with age, and between individuals, including by gender.

More on the bacteria of the skin (http://sciencemag.org/content/324/5931/1190.full) (but behind wall I think). We characterized the topographical and temporal diversity of the human skin microbiome with the use of 16S rRNA gene phylotyping, and generated 112,283 near-full-length bacterial 16S gene sequences from samples of 20 diverse skin sites on each of 10 healthy humans (7) (fig. S1 and table S1). Nineteen bacterial phyla were detected, but most sequences were assigned to four phyla: Actinobacteria (51.8%), Firmicutes (24.4%), Proteobacteria (16.5%), and Bacteroidetes (6.3%). Of the 205 identified genera represented by at least five sequences, three were associated with more than 62% of the sequences: Corynebacteria (22.8%; Actinobacteria), Propionibacteria (23.0%; Actinobacteria), and Staphylococci (16.8%; Firmicutes). At the species level, we observed greater diversity than revealed by culture-based methods (2). ...

... Propionibacteria species and Staphylococci species predominated in sebaceous sites (Fig. 1A). Corynebacteria species predominated in moist sites, although Staphylococci species were also represented (Fig. 1B). A mixed population of bacteria resided in dry sites, with a greater prevalence of β-Proteobacteria and Flavobacteriales (Fig. 1C). ... In general, sebaceous sites were less diverse, less even, and less rich than moist and dry sites ...

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
07-22-2011, 05:17 PM
I wash twice daily.

And it still smells cheesy.

Suggestions?

DSeid
07-22-2011, 05:43 PM
Well you can't change the fatty acids in your sebum. And I doubt that harsher washing or Betadine or an over the counter antibiotic cream would alter the balance or numbers all that much. I'd wonder if one of the topical antibiotics aimed for Propionibacterium acnes (for acne) such as a topical clindamycin (http://drugs.com/pro/clindamycin-topical.html) applied to the areas twice daily would do it though. Does the smell bother you or those who get that close to you enough to bother doing it though?

DSeid
07-22-2011, 06:10 PM
Alternatively, that stinky feet study found that several compounds, including gerinol, inhibited the isovaleric acid production that cause stinky feet, so maybe eating some of this candy (http://paulpenders.com/ppblog/?p=12883) would help.A rose fragrance is released through the skin once the candy is eaten.

The ingredient that causes the smell is geraniol, a colorless liquid found in plants such as rose, lavender and vanilla. Once the natural antioxidant geraniol is consumed in candy form it is leaving the body through the skin pores, creating a naturally sweet smell that lasts for hours. The effect seems similar to the pungent garlic that transmits odor through the skin pores as well.:)

Infoseeker
07-22-2011, 06:21 PM
You may have one of those smelly cyst-like pimples behind your ears. If you do, they are removed by a doctor; not through over-the-counter topical treatments.

Shagnasty
07-22-2011, 08:12 PM
I wash twice daily.

And it still smells cheesy.

Suggestions?

Are you sure that is really soap you are using? Block Velveeta cheese can easily be confused with some types of fancy soap and will cause that problem.

Ambivalid
07-22-2011, 08:54 PM
I just wanted to say, I get grossed out every time I see this thread title come up when someone posts in it. :( And now I have this irrepressible urge to scratch'n'sniff behind my ears now...:smack:

Pyper
07-23-2011, 12:02 AM
I just wanted to say, I get grossed out every time I see this thread title come up when someone posts in it. :( And now I have this irrepressible urge to scratch'n'sniff behind my ears now...:smack:

How could you read this thread and not do a personal sniff test?

For the record, I have no detectable behind-the-ear odor.

Shagnasty
07-23-2011, 12:57 AM
I just wanted to say, I get grossed out every time I see this thread title come up when someone posts in it. :( And now I have this irrepressible urge to scratch'n'sniff behind my ears now...:smack:

I tested myself. Smells pretty gouda.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
07-23-2011, 07:33 AM
Are you sure that is really soap you are using? Block Velveeta cheese can easily be confused with some types of fancy soap and will cause that problem.


<WASHES Shagnasty OVER THE HEAD WITH A WET TROUT>

Enola Straight
07-23-2011, 02:21 PM
I have noticed the backs of my ears smell like Doritos :o

Meme Chose
07-23-2011, 02:44 PM
Well, now we know who keeps passing out in the chip bowl...

Qadgop the Mercotan
07-23-2011, 03:48 PM
Many thanks to DSeid for providing a most GQ-worthy answer.

Infoseeker
07-23-2011, 09:15 PM
I would have given a better answer if I could edit my original post. Nevertheless!

Cyst like blemishes stink very badly; described as 'feet-like', etc. The location you mention is also a common problem area for them.
For more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebaceous_cyst

Chronos
07-23-2011, 09:41 PM
Dang, when I saw that Qadgop had posted, I was hoping that he'd give suggestions for crackers and wine to go with it.

Leo Bloom
07-23-2011, 11:40 PM
I have noticed the backs of my ears smell like Doritos :oWell, your ears should meet my Fritos feet, and we'd dip them in OP's nose.
Crazyhorse will invite some women over to meet OP for another style of onion dip. For desert, we'll have chocolate from Not Dennis.
The roses on the table will be set by Seid.

Shiggity
11-01-2011, 04:13 AM
I like how I have to wade through pages of stupid jokes to get a real answer. It's like the Where's Waldo of crap.

Qadgop the Mercotan
11-01-2011, 08:30 AM
I like how I have to wade through pages of stupid jokes to get a real answer. It's like the Where's Waldo of crap.
Yeah, and the actual scholarly answer courtesy of DSeid gets pretty much ignored, too.

It's what GQ has come to, all too often.

KneadToKnow
11-01-2011, 11:58 AM
I like how I have to wade through pages of stupid jokes to get a real answer. It's like the Where's Waldo of crap.

33 posts makes "pages" for you?

BubbaDog
11-01-2011, 04:25 PM
I like how I have to wade through pages of stupid jokes to get a real answer. It's like the Where's Waldo of crap.

Yes, there was this guy named Cecil who would provide factual answers to peoples questions but he had a horrible tendency to interject humor into his replies. Very annoying.

Revtim
11-01-2011, 05:30 PM
Yes, there was this guy named Cecil who would provide factual answers to peoples questions but he had a horrible tendency to interject humor into his replies. Very annoying.Yeah, I'm glad that guy hardly posts anymore. I'm here for dry answers and facts, not entertainment.

John Mace
11-01-2011, 05:44 PM
I just tried this and got a chocolate smell for my ears. Nothing of note for the sides of my nose, though. Very odd.

Mine has aromas of dark berry, some plum, chocolate and long finish of smokey coffee bean. Very approachable.

DSeid
11-01-2011, 09:47 PM
Yes, there was this guy named Cecil who would provide factual answers to peoples questions but he had a horrible tendency to interject humor into his replies. Very annoying.
Do note however that the great old Cecil answers actually answered the questions ... with humor.

The complaint was about the plethora of posts that only make jokes.

Why he's complaining about it over three months later, I don't know.

Fear Itself
11-01-2011, 10:56 PM
I have been told my natural aroma is like that of baking bread.

Heretohelp732
12-19-2013, 11:39 PM
Here is how I stopped the smell from behind my ears:
First, I've tried everything! Alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, lotions, listerine, vinegar, etc. The yeasty smell like cheese kept coming back behind my ear and alot of times it felt damp when I ran my finger behind my ear. The solution is to wash behind your ear in the shower (as normal), BUT when you get out of the shower make sure you dry around and behind the ear thoroughly!!! Final step, take a bottle of Gold Bond extra strength and dip your finger in it or a qtip and wipe it behind your ear very generously before going to bed. Yes, it will be powdery at night, but you wont notice it when you leave for work.
You can swipe behind your ear the next day and it will not have that awful cheese cheddar smell.

Chefguy
12-20-2013, 10:45 AM
Stop bobbing for bread chunks in the fondue pot.

Dewey Finn
12-20-2013, 10:55 AM
The solution is to wash behind your ear in the shower
Wait, so are you telling me my mom was right all along?

Clothahump
12-20-2013, 11:59 AM
If I swipe my finger behind my ear and then smell it, it smells just like swiss. Even within hours of a shower. The sides of my nose have a similar scent.

Is this normal or a sign of impending doom?

It means you were born in Wisconsin.

Shankly
01-06-2014, 04:23 PM
I also had,the,same problem of the cheesy smell behind my ears. Tried,lots of,things as was mentioned on here as,well as other forums, but without any success. Then i decided to try Aloe from the Aloe plant. We have about five different Aloe plant species in our garden. I washed and cleaned behind my ears as part of my daily regime, broke a piece,of Aloe of one of our plants broke it open and wiped the clear liquid at the back of my ears. Eureka! It works like a bomb. It cost,nothing,and as i am writing this 3 days have passed,without any smell. I reapply it, every two days,and so far so good. Aloe is also wonderful for,burns, break off a piece and apply,to the affected area...if,the,burn is severe slice the aloe leaves open and apply it on the,area with gauze or bandage. I burned my fingers on the,stove...applied,Aloe and did not even get any blisters!!! Just remember to hold the,burnt,area under running cold water,first.

junglegrrl
01-06-2014, 04:38 PM
who could have known how much activity cheesy ears could inspire!! HAHAHA!!! I advise a little olive oil back there with a soft toothbrush followed by soap, there is a gunk that can build up back there on my kids, doesn;t smell on them, but maybe cause i bathee them regularly.. at any rate the antiseptic is a good idea too,

LawMonkey
01-06-2014, 04:56 PM
As long as we're on the subject, beginning-to-get-stinky feet smell like Fritos.

Dogs' feet smell like that all the time. Mmmm... doggie feets...

Dewey Finn
01-06-2014, 04:58 PM
What are you doing smelling dogs' feet?

MsBatt
01-06-2014, 06:23 PM
Interesting, it's only adult dogs' feet that smell of Fritos. While they're still puppies they don't have that smell.

madrabbitwoman
01-06-2014, 09:20 PM
Rabbit farts smell like corn chips

curious11
11-10-2014, 02:31 PM
I had a similar issue and realized that if I disinfected behind my ears, I would re-infect when I put on my sunglasses.

The only way I was successful in permanently getting rid of the smell was to wipe behind my ears with alchohol wipes and at the same time wipe down my ear pads of my over-ear headphones, and the arms of my eye glasses.

Since then the smell has "gone away."

(I conducted an experiment where I was curious about the stinky feet smell and had a theroy that the smell was bacterial in nature. If that was true, then I could transfer the bacteria, and smell, to behind my right ear. Turns out I was right. Of course then my right ear smelled of stinky feet. Good news, I was right! Bad news, my right ear has a stinky feet oder!)

bobalazs
11-10-2014, 03:17 PM
I have the same problem as the poster, that cheesy smell comes on an hour after showering. My solution, though temporary, is to put antiperspirant (the one you use for armpits) on it. It lasts for hours without any after effects.

BaldDudePeekskill
11-11-2014, 01:48 PM
Does the OP wear Earrings? I noticed a gross smell from the buildup of sebum and shaving cream, etc., on the posts of my earrings. Cleaned them in alcohol and the smell disappeared.

Shiggity
06-07-2015, 06:06 PM
Academic Pursuits Message Board: 99 and 44/100% joke answers.

Cabin_Fever
06-07-2015, 06:12 PM
Are you sure that is really soap you are using? Block Velveeta cheese can easily be confused with some types of fancy soap and will cause that problem.

You owe me a new keyboard and a fresh Diet Coke. :)

Cabin_Fever
06-07-2015, 06:23 PM
Rabbit farts smell like corn chips
Rabbit farts. I am laughing uncontrollably.

I am assuming you know this first-hand. I am just wondering how one knows how rabbit farts differ from Kellogg's Corn Flakes and General Mills Cheerios.
Fighting Ignorance and all that.
(Pretty soon Google will index "rabbit farts", then this planet will vaporize in a cloud of flaming death).

OffByOne
06-08-2015, 09:29 AM
WARNING: TMI!

I had a sebaceous cyst behind my left ear for a while, a hemispherical nodule about an inch in diameter. I got into the habit of rubbing it and smelling my fingers. (Yes, some of us have disgusting habits. Get over it.) One day while rubbing it, I was assaulted by a fierce stench, easily a hundred times worse than the smell I was used to. Somehow, the thing had sprung a leak!

Over the next few days, I managed to drain the thing into copious amounts of tissues. The area is now flat, but when I rub the general area now, I can still smell it on my fingers. The right side of my neck behind the ear does not have the same odor.

A few years later, I noticed another cyst on the back of my left shoulder, just far enough back that I could barely reach it. One morning after my shower, I was fiddling with it, watching myself in the mirror. I gave it an exploratory squeeze and was rewarded (?) with the sight of a thin stream of pus flying through the air like Silly String (TM). After cleaning off the mirror, counter, and lavatory, I drained the pus by squeezing it into a tissue over the next few days.

Both spots still retain the odor.

Leo Bloom
06-08-2015, 09:17 PM
Shiggity, let me get this straight. You registered in SD in 11/21, and on the first day you joined this thread--your first post?--to threadshit:

I like how I have to wade through pages of stupid jokes to get a real answer. It's like the Where's Waldo of crap.

And you resurrect it after seven months to threadshit again?
Academic Pursuits Message Board: 99 and 44/100% joke answers.

Why are we so lucky?

sich_hinaufwinden
06-08-2015, 11:40 PM
Shiggity, let me get this straight. You registered in SD in 11/21, and on the first day you joined this thread--your first post?--to threadshit:



And you resurrect it after seven months to threadshit again?


Why are we so lucky?

I noticed that as well but your time frame is way off. His first post in 2011 was 3-1/2 years ago - not 7 months ago.

ETA: Oh - I see what you meant. I think it it's weird he came back to the thread after more than 3 years, even though it's only been 7 months since anyone else posted.

sich_hinaufwinden
06-08-2015, 11:54 PM
from 1 of his 5 posts on this board:

...Perhaps a good set of rules to follow for all forums should be:

1.) Don't post on old threads unless you really have something useful to contribute, and a mod deletes those comments that aren't useful...

And back on topic, the skin behind my ears has no detectable scent to me. So I got that going for me.

Gothic
06-09-2015, 08:58 AM
I wonder if dogs would be popular if they had feet. I never saw the attraction.

TheManLikeJohn
02-04-2016, 03:23 PM
My suggestion is stop eating so much cheese as you obviously do. Your sweat is odorless but can carry the smell of what you eat and drink every day. Dairy products are well known for unleashing their odors straight out of your sweat glands, and the strong blue cheeses are by far the worst. If I have eaten strong cheese and I rub my fingers behind the back of my ears or stick my fingers up my nose a few hours later (or even days later for that matter), I can then sniff my fingers and smell the odors from the actual cheese I have consumed. The feet are pretty bad for it too after taking your socks off as you may have noticed. If you smell someone's feet are unpleasantly cheesy, then that's proof that they must eat lots of dairy products and most probably lots of cheese. Feet don't always smell of cheese however and neither do your armpits or the backs of your ears etc. This is just were most of the sweat glands are on your body. If you only ate vegetables for a week and took your socks off on a hot sunny day after running a mile you would then smell rotting vegetables. Babies can smell a lot of milk when they perspire, many Indian people smell a lot like curry, alcoholics always smell of booze and so on. You are what you eat/drink and the odors come out in your sweat and grease. Vile I know, but 100% true.

pattyjw
08-31-2016, 08:24 PM
I have had a horrible day and was very depressed. I too have the cheese behind the ear thing, and that's how I found this forum. To all of you smarta**es who posted the comical answers ("Try a grater." "Velveta cheese is often mistaken for soap." Priceless!!) I would just like to say, THANK YOU! Reading your comments made me laugh out loud, and lifted my spirits. I really needed that. God bless you.:D

Sicks Ate
08-31-2016, 11:42 PM
"Swiss Cheese" is my favorite kind of Stewart Sandwich.

Nelson Pike
09-01-2016, 09:39 PM
Cleansing with rubbing alcohol works for me- keeps the odor away for about 2 days.

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