You don’t even have mothballs in the house, so what makes your child’s poop stink like mothballs?

“Foul smelling stool is a byproduct of gut inflammation and dysbiosis [a state of imbalance in the gut’s natural bacterial population],” says Joel Gator Warsh, MD, of Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine, Studio City, CA, and part of the pediatric staff of Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

“If your child’s poop smells like mothballs, I would consider a food sensitivity or allergy.

“The inflammation in the gut and the undigested food particles can make your child’s bowel movement be very foul smelling.

“One description of this smell is a musty ‘mothball’ odor. The most common allergies leading to this smell are gluten/wheat and dairy, so I would consider removing those from the diet and see if the smell changes.”

This means if a loaf of gluten-containing bread was on a cutting board, do NOT use that cutting board to cut up something that’s gluten-free such as fresh vegetables.

Even one crumb of gluten, in someone with a gluten sensitivity, can mess things up.

“You can also be lactose intolerant and that causes abdominal pain, bloating, severe flatulence and foul smelling, mothball stools,” says Dr. Warsh.

Give your child lactose-free milk (if they already drink milk) and see what happens.

“I would also consider having stool tested for bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens.

“An infection in the gut can lead to changes in stool consistency, smell and size.

“Infections with parasites can be particularly worrisome and can create distinctive, odd odors.”

The parent’s subjective interpretation of the odor can resemble that of mothballs.

Dr. Warsh and his Studio City, Los Angeles clinic treat a wide array of common pediatric issues using holistic and conventional treatments. He works with nutritionists, naturopaths, Ayurvedic practitioners, acupuncturists and more.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/Anatoliy Karlyuk