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  #1  
Old 07-21-2011, 02:18 PM
TheBaptiste TheBaptiste is offline
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Why does it smell like swiss cheese behind my ears?

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?
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  #2  
Old 07-21-2011, 03:44 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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If there are holes back there too, then it is time to worry.
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Old 07-21-2011, 03:52 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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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.
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  #4  
Old 07-21-2011, 04:23 PM
Stoid Stoid is offline
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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.
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  #5  
Old 07-21-2011, 04:25 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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Mine smells like Parmesan, I guess because I'm Italian.
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  #6  
Old 07-21-2011, 04:34 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Just be glad it's not Limburger.
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  #7  
Old 07-21-2011, 04:37 PM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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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, 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.
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  #8  
Old 07-21-2011, 04:45 PM
Crazyhorse Crazyhorse is online now
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You know the old saying: "Men smell like cheese, women smell like onions".

Wait, what?

Quote:
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.”
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  #9  
Old 07-21-2011, 07:49 PM
Ian D. Bergkamp Ian D. Bergkamp is offline
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I just tried this and got a chocolate smell for my ears. Nothing of note for the sides of my nose, though. Very odd.
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  #10  
Old 07-22-2011, 12:49 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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As long as we're on the subject, beginning-to-get-stinky feet smell like Fritos.
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  #11  
Old 07-22-2011, 12:58 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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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.
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  #12  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:10 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Are you turning into Shrek?
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  #13  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:40 PM
Stormcrow Stormcrow is offline
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So long as nothing else on you smells like pastrami or rye, you're probably safe.
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  #14  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:43 PM
Dolores Reborn Dolores Reborn is offline
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Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.
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  #15  
Old 07-22-2011, 01:52 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn View Post
Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.
Concur.




Betadine?
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  #16  
Old 07-22-2011, 02:15 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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And you know those fatty acids in Crazyhorse's link? They change with age so you have lots to look forward to.

The taste and smell of Swiss cheese owes much to its high amounts of acetate and propionic acid produced by a variety of bacteria, including Propionibacterium. Propionibacterium species thrive 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 smell).

Last edited by DSeid; 07-22-2011 at 02:17 PM.. Reason: Added stinky feet link
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  #17  
Old 07-22-2011, 02:46 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn View Post
Do you use a washcloth to wash behind your ears? You probably just need to exfoliate better.

Maybe use a grater.
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  #18  
Old 07-22-2011, 02:58 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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And there is this study too.

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 (but behind wall I think).
Quote:
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 ...
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  #19  
Old 07-22-2011, 04:17 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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I wash twice daily.

And it still smells cheesy.

Suggestions?
__________________
"The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer, and the vessel of state is driven between anarchy and despotism."
~~~~(Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821)
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  #20  
Old 07-22-2011, 04:43 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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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 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?

Last edited by DSeid; 07-22-2011 at 04:44 PM..
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  #21  
Old 07-22-2011, 05:10 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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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 would help.
Quote:
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.
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  #22  
Old 07-22-2011, 05:21 PM
Infoseeker Infoseeker is offline
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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.
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  #23  
Old 07-22-2011, 07:12 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
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.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 07-22-2011 at 07:12 PM..
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  #24  
Old 07-22-2011, 07:54 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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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...
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  #25  
Old 07-22-2011, 11:02 PM
Pyper Pyper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiemcgarry View Post
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...
How could you read this thread and not do a personal sniff test?

For the record, I have no detectable behind-the-ear odor.
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  #26  
Old 07-22-2011, 11:57 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiemcgarry View Post
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...
I tested myself. Smells pretty gouda.
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  #27  
Old 07-23-2011, 06:33 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
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>
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  #28  
Old 07-23-2011, 01:21 PM
Enola Straight Enola Straight is offline
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I have noticed the backs of my ears smell like Doritos
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  #29  
Old 07-23-2011, 01:44 PM
Meme Chose Meme Chose is offline
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Well, now we know who keeps passing out in the chip bowl...
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  #30  
Old 07-23-2011, 02:48 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Many thanks to DSeid for providing a most GQ-worthy answer.
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  #31  
Old 07-23-2011, 08:15 PM
Infoseeker Infoseeker is offline
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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

Last edited by Infoseeker; 07-23-2011 at 08:16 PM..
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  #32  
Old 07-23-2011, 08:41 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Dang, when I saw that Qadgop had posted, I was hoping that he'd give suggestions for crackers and wine to go with it.
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  #33  
Old 07-23-2011, 10:40 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enola Straight View Post
I have noticed the backs of my ears smell like Doritos
Well, 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.
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  #34  
Old 11-01-2011, 03:13 AM
Shiggity Shiggity is offline
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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.
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  #35  
Old 11-01-2011, 07:30 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiggity View Post
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.
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  #36  
Old 11-01-2011, 10:58 AM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiggity View Post
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?
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  #37  
Old 11-01-2011, 03:25 PM
BubbaDog BubbaDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiggity View Post
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.
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  #38  
Old 11-01-2011, 04:30 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaDog View Post
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.
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  #39  
Old 11-01-2011, 04:44 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I'm Not Dennis Bergkamp View Post
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.
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  #40  
Old 11-01-2011, 08:47 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaDog View Post
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.
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  #41  
Old 11-01-2011, 09:56 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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I have been told my natural aroma is like that of baking bread.
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  #42  
Old 12-19-2013, 10:39 PM
Heretohelp732 Heretohelp732 is offline
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How to stop the cheese smell from behind your ears

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.
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  #43  
Old 12-20-2013, 09:45 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Stop bobbing for bread chunks in the fondue pot.
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  #44  
Old 12-20-2013, 09:55 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heretohelp732 View Post
The solution is to wash behind your ear in the shower
Wait, so are you telling me my mom was right all along?
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  #45  
Old 12-20-2013, 10:59 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBaptiste View Post
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.
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  #46  
Old 01-06-2014, 03:23 PM
Shankly Shankly is offline
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Smell behind ear

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.
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  #47  
Old 01-06-2014, 03:38 PM
junglegrrl junglegrrl is offline
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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,
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  #48  
Old 01-06-2014, 03:56 PM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
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...
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  #49  
Old 01-06-2014, 03:58 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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What are you doing smelling dogs' feet?
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  #50  
Old 01-06-2014, 05:23 PM
MsBatt MsBatt is offline
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Interesting, it's only adult dogs' feet that smell of Fritos. While they're still puppies they don't have that smell.
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