Phooooey, want to know why your child smells like poop even though he or she wipes themselves clean?

Now first of all, the assumption is that you are absolutely, positively sure that your child wipes himself clean – because you watch them and then check their wiped bottom yourself, and/or you yourself do the wiping and cleaning.

Yet despite that – and you’re positive you’re not imagining it – your little one stinks like poo.

There is more than one possible cause of a poopy odor about your child, according to Jacqueline Winkelmann, MD, who’s been a hospital-based pediatrician at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange County, CA, and is with CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

Not washing hands. If a young child is left to her own devices after a bowel movement, she is capable of getting fecal matter smeared on her hands or fingers – and not thoroughly washing her hands…if at all. This will generate a stink that her mother is sure to notice.

Wearing dirty underwear. Ask yourself if this is even remotely possible, and if so, take measures to prevent it.

Constipation. “Children with severe constipation (encopresis) will often have some ‘leakage’ of stool around a large stool mass and can smell like poop, even though they wipe themselves when they actually go to the bathroom,” says Dr. Winkelmann.

Foreign object. “Sometimes children can have really foul smell (as bad as poop) when they have severe infections (like strep throat), or even a foreign object that has been stuck in the nose or ear for a long time will have a foul smell,” says Dr. Winkelmann.

A child should not have a bad odor if they are bathing or being bathed when they should and wearing clean clothes and underpants.

If the odor persists, then more likely than not, the problem is extraneous in nature rather than from a medical condition, but of course, you’ll always want to have a doctor rule out a disease process for ANY kind of unusual odor.

Nevertheless, there is no illness that’s known to make a child smell like poo!

Dr. Winkelmann, known as Dr. Jacq, has a special interest in sports nutrition for young athletes, teen issues and the opioid epidemic, and baby and infant product consulting. She’s an award-winning pediatrician, national and international speaker and published author. 
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.