Earwax is totally normal to have in your ears. It helps to protect your ear by trapping dust and debris that may cause harm to your eardrum and is produced by two glands found in the skin of the ear. Many times, earwax will build up in your ear can cause a sense of decreased hearing. Sometimes your wax may even have a foul odor.

There are several different reasons for smelly ears including:

  • Ear Infection: Most common cause of a foul smell from the ear.
  • Cholesteatoma: A growth in the middle ear which may cause destruction of the bones in the middle ear and skull bone.
  • Swimmer’s Ear: Bacterial infection from water being trapped inside the ear.
  • Earwax: Earwax may have an odor due to a chemical in it that repels insects. Some people have more of this chemical in their wax than others. Dead skin cells and bacteria in the wax may also cause a smell.
  • Cancer of the Ear: This is rare but may cause a bad odor to come from the ear.

To keep from having smelly earwax, it is important to keep your ears clean. The safest way to clean your ears at home is to use a flushing system. These can be bought at a drug store and will likely say “Ear Wax Removal Kit” on them. You can also buy these kits in any of our offices.


  • Ashlee McCloskey, Au.D.
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