poop smells like mothballs

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Poop's Mommy asks:

I have a 2-year old daughter and whenever she poops, it smells like moth balls! It is awful! I have only noticed it in the past month - does this signify that she is missing some vitamin or something in her diet ... or is she just a smelly pooper?

Dear Poop's Mommy,

NAPHTHLALENE and PARADICHLOROBENZENE are the two major chemicals used in the formulation of mothballs. Both are potentially very toxic. Paradichlorobenzene is also used in diaper pail deodorizer.

Babies and small children that are exposed to the fumes from these chemicals can be affected. Liver toxicity and seizures are a few of the more serious effects that can be caused by exposure.

Chickens that have been exposed to moth balls that have been placed around gardens have been known to produce eggs that are inedible due to them smelling or tasting like mothballs.

If your daughter has not been exposed to diaper pail chemicals, mothball contaminated chickens and/or their eggs, or clothing that has been stored in a container with actual moth balls that have not been washed before wearing, you can request that her pediatrician perform a simple blood test to determine if there are any vitamin deficiencies or other chemical imbalances. But chances are, she just stinks.

Thanks for asking Motherload!

Motherload is a Certified Nurse Assistant as well as an IBS

sufferer, which means she knows a lot about poop. Got a question for


HREF=http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?/"Doctor/index.html#ask">Ask it


121 Comments on "poop smells like mothballs"

marcienbassett's picture

Hey again!... well it's BAAAaaaack!!
Yep, I mean mothballs stinky feces!
and I am a bit constipated and I am losing weight all cause I am just not that hungry lately... now this time it is related to a lupus flare up... but the fecal moth ball smell? where does it come from?... maybe just from the change in diet, bowel habits change from that and voila... flora changes and the odor appears?!... who knows... just thought I'd check back and see if there were any magical 'cures' since last time I posted.... but *sigh* nope... not this time anyhow.... hopefully very soon!!!

fortherecord's picture

My 9 month old has had some BMs that smell like moth balls. With all the crazy stuff I hear about dog food and poison I started to get worried that maybe his baby cereal could have some dangerous chemical in it. After reading this thread it does not seem to be the case. But for the record...my son is breast fed (never had formula), I mostly make my own baby food from fresh fruits and veg (not all organic), he does eat commercial baby food (both Gerber and Natures Best Oatmeal and Mixed Grains.) If others have had a similar experience let me know so I can determine if it could be something in baby cereal. Thanks.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

If I had a child whose poop smelled like mothballs I would keep
her diaper pail in the closet with my woolens to protect them.

Eat chilies and feel the burn!!

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

MB pooper 2's picture

This is for 'Mommie Smells MB' who posted on 2.22.2008 (and for others who also mentioned constipation): I, too, have dealt with constipation my whole life, with the resulting moth ball smelling poop. I've tried stool softeners, lots of fluids, lots of fruits and veggies and even an herb tea (my kids called it 'Mom's Poop Tea') once prescribed by a chiropractor who swore it would end my constipation (it didn't). What I have found that works wonderfully is flax seed meal. If I eat it daily I have no constipation at all, and as a result, normal smelling poop! I sprinkle it on toast, cereal, or whatever I'm eating for breakfast. It is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and fiber, and keeps me happy and regular.

intestinalrevolt's picture

I am not sure if anyone is still checking up on this page, but if I can add a few symptoms I have noticed with my smelly stool. (Mind you, I actually prefer that smell over the regular poop smell.) I have been noticing for a year or so that my stool smells strange. I kept describing this as a tar smell, but found no information on this.

Today someone donated lots of old clothes to my job and I was instantly reminded of what moth balls smell like. Than I realized it is very similar to what I was describing as tar. So just to clarify, do mothballs and tar smell similar?

Anyway, I have a few more symptoms to add and some similarities to what has been discussed.

For two years or so, I have been dealing with not digesting much comfortably. I would get either constipated or loose stool. This started getting really bad about a year ago. Around the same time I was getting bad headaches, lacked energy, very tender in the abdominal area, and felt cloudy and unable to focus. I sometimes had this tarry smell to my stool.

Recently all these symptoms became unbearable and I noticed my stool was alternating between almost black and real real light. Light stool was loose and dark stool small and harder. Both smelled always smell like tar.

As an avid pepto bismol taker, I recognized the smell and the color from what my stool looks and acts like for a few days after I take pepto. However, I haven't taken any in a while so I new something was up.

I started having horrible muscle and joint pains, went to the doctor. Unfortunately I never thought to mention the smelly stool. I didn't think it was related. He ran some blood tests. He found my B12 levels were low, which seems to account for all those other symptoms.

This is now a few weeks later and taking daily B12 has changed my life tremendously. However the one thing that is still there is that smell. I also find it to be stronger. I really am wondering if there is a connection with the B12 and odor. I found since I began taking the B12 that I barely even think about needing to go to the bathroom anymore. It used to sort of run my life before. Since the B12, I noticed no stomach discomfort and it is so easy to go to the bathroom. I barely even pass gas anymore. It is also now regular normal poop color. There has to be a connection.

But, the smell is still there.

Now the other symptom I have had for a while that no one else has mentioned is that my urine also smells funny. It has had a chemical odor and is always very yellow despite the large amount of water I drink. That being said, I really believe this has something to do with my liver. B12 is related to the liver, so perhaps my levels were low because of something else going on, or perhaps the low B12 messed with my liver.

So, I wonder have any of you mothball smelling folks had your B12 levels tested?

As far as the commonalities, I too have the nasal drip and my sinuses are acting crazy. I also have been fighting a yeast infection for the longest time. I am seeing my doctor about this in fear it is not a yeast infection, and definitely plan on mentioning this odor issue.

I will definitely post if I find something out.

I really think this is a medical issue and am so surprised that all of us are wondering about it, but information about it is rare. I am leaning towards this being bacteria issue, a vitamin issue, or a absorption issue with the liver.

Maybe we need to figure out what the medical term for mothball smell is.

Anonymous Coward's picture

I can't believe this is truly a problem.For over a year my husbands daily poop smells like moth balls. Weird as he is he doesn't eat fish, milk, or eggs. He does eat alot of pears.He rather die before ever taking any antibiotics.He does have perioldontal disease.He may have developed bad flora like canditis from his 50 year daily pasta and bread diet Maybe the bacteria creeped in his intestinal track? My mother said before her friend died of colon cancer her poop smelled very bad.I wasn't gonna google mothball smellin poop for him because whatever the remedy hes to stuborn to take it.BUT TODAY I who is always constipated, but my sh-- never stinks.I who eats a well balanced diet. I who hides my toothbrush so theres never a mistake. I will not kiss him.At the beach today smelt this smell and realized this time it was coming from the mucus in my nose. I must have caught it fromm him. So I had to google it. This is an epidemic HELP!

Elana's picture

When you talk about thrush I am wondering if it is a candida yeast problem. Have any of you been on a lot of antibiotics? I have. I can agree about the post nasal drip, and the digestion issues. I wonder if they are a common denominator. Mine comes and goes. I do however take a lot of probiotics, but still have the issue on and off. I tend to be more constipated when this moth ball smell happens. It would be nice if the doctors actually knew something about this.

Mommy Worried about Stinky Poo's picture

My daughter has stinky moth ball poo again and she has thrush for the second time. Thank you for the help. I'm assuming that the first time she had it was the reason for the first round of moth ball poop. She is on diflucan and so am I. I hope there will never ever be moth ball poop in my life again.

Anonymous stinker's picture

I have researched this quite a bit and found that it is related to Camphor in that the smell is the same. The odors are the same and the antibiotic/flora responses are right on the money. When it occurs in the mouth it can be thrush caused by the same flora. It can also be caused in the bowels from consuming antacids or indigestion remedies. Acidophilus is a natural cure which is found in supplements and yogurt. To the Moms, check with the Dr. for the kids. Thrush can be seen as a white substance on the tongue.

Anonymous Coward's picture

I went on a date first last night with a guy who I think farted or it was the lady sitting directly behind me and it stank like moth balls. It could only have been a fart because it was a really strong smell, but then disappeared. Ew! I thought it may be Japanese food that causes it? Thank God for this site, and Google for helping me find it. There will be no second date by the way!

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

I just read an article that states paradichlorobenzene is often found in fish that have been caught in contaminated waters! It is also found in our drinking water more than it should be.

It's very possible that the fish you ate, transferred to your child via breastmilk, caused the smell.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

Mommy Worried about Stinky Poo's picture

OK, I too, am laughing that this entire page is about moth ball smelling poop. But it just goes to show how insanely wierd this whole thing is. My 5 month old has such a stench to her poo that my 3 year old says, "Mommy, I smell a Grandma," when she poops. So, here are the odd changes in our life that have happened recently that may help connect the dots.

1) She is breastfed primarily with one formula bottle per day - Enfamil Lipil. I asked me pediatrician and he said to try Gentlease, that it might be the cow proteins that she is having trouble with.

2) We just got back from the beach - maybe the water down there is different.

3) I am losing weight (but the baby is not). Each time post pregnancy that I begin to taper off breastfeeding, I begin to lose weight pretty rapidly.

4) I have eaten shrimp and fresh seafood more frequently (see previous reference to the beach).

5) I am on an anti-depressant (Lexapro) but have been for a few months and this smelly change is only a week and a half old.

6) Don't eat all that much in probiotic department

7) The baby and I both had a nasal drip from a cold - seems to be a common denominator, but my poop doesn't stink (like moth balls anyway).

Sure wish I knew.

babymothballpoomommy's picture

My 17 month old just started having unsupervised visitations with his father. He has not seen his "dada" since he was 4 months. After returning from his father's, every 1st and sometimes 2nd bm ALWAYS smells like "moth balls" and I, too, spoke with my pediatrician. He told me that the "sample" reaked of moth balls (even in 3 separate ziplock baggies). He assured me that it was just the change in diet, being shuffled back and forth, not getting enough fluids by dad, etc... I know that my "soon to be ex husband" is a finatic about air fresheners and that concerns me, but being in the medical field, the point about the bacteria increase in the GI tract due to stress makes perfect sense. Maybe stress causes babies to have the increase in bacteria, thus resulting in the smell?????

Everyone Poops's picture


This website about dichlorobenzenes might be helpful. It is one of the chemicals used in mothballs, and other deoderizers and can actually be found in the pesticides they use on fruits and veggies. It says that it can be expelled through poop, but only about 1-2% of the time.

Hope that is helpful.

baron von crapalot's picture
k 500+ points

Did I just fart?.... hope so!

I hope to god I've just sat in a Shepard's pie.

Elana's picture

Will someboday PAleeeeeeeeese figure out why poop smells like mothballs. I have it again. I do notice my stomach is not happy when I have it. I am not on antibiotics. I do have Celiac. I am not losing or gaining weight. I take Probiotics. I noticed it the first time after I had a nasty antibiotic. I think it really hurt my stomach. It was called Cifnidar or something similar. My Gastro had never heard of this, nor my GP. Surely if people are finding this site, there have to be a bunch of other people that have it that aren't going to come to the poop site :). Let us know if someone finds out what it is. I would also like to know what rare diseases are associated with that. Thanks

everybody poops's picture

Crazy that we would run into a fellow Washingtonian on a website devoted to poop- classic!

everyone poops's picture


Where did you find a good sunlight lamp? I have been thinking about getting one, but never seem to see them for sale anywhere. Strange, since living here you'd think you would see them all voer the place!

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Jeez. Thank you. I should have caught that, about the chemicals. And I live in Western Washington, (me too! pac nw rules) and my son suffers from the seasonal depression some people get due to a lack of sunlight. This year I bought him a sunlight lamp and St. John's Wort, and it helped tremendously. So, in a few months, we'll have what - a whopping 7 hours of night? Amazing that in December, the nights are almost 14 hours. Yes, it's weird up here.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

everyone poops's picture


I think it was determined back at the beginning of this thread that the two major chemicals in mothballs are NAPHTHLALENE and PARADICHLOROBENZENE . Unsure whether either can be produced by the body, but I am willing to bet that they can...

Oh, and thank you for your congratulations =) It is nice to get back into a healthy routine after a winter of feeling blue (I live in the Pac NW and the winter here is mild temperature-wise, but we don't see a lot of sunlight).

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

It has just occurred to me that since we know the "poop molecules" are skatole and indole, someone should be able to tell us what the "mothball smell" is, chemically.

Once we can label the chemical smell in mothballs, I bet a chemist would be able to tell us what makes it and how our body could make it.

Oh, and to "everyone poops", congrats on your weight loss. It's always a good feeling to drop unwanted pounds.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

everyone poops's picture

I just ran across this site and because I too, have experienced this smell in my own bm's recently. I recall as a child thinking that my father's poo sometimes smelled like mothballs, and occassionally now mine does too. I think some of your have some wonderful theories on this.

Background on me, I am a 26 year old female, have been actively losing weight for the past four months (approx 15 lbs so far), I exercise regularly, AND I am also on antibiotics. Have been for about 5 months now. I also have experience severe stomach pain on occassion, and I used to always get it after eating pasta, when not taking a daily fiber regimine. The pain started several months after I had two major abddominal surgeries in 3 months, and was usually associated with consipation.

Celiac disease was also one of my concerns when the pain was at it's worst and the Dr's didn't know why this was happening (the pain, not the smell).

Anonymous Coward's picture

Those of you who are taking yogurt for probiotics...you may need more bacteria than yogurt will provide, first of all, and second, if you are drinking tap water, the chlorine in your water may be killing the good bacteria in your yogurt. Something to think about...

Mom of 8yo mb pooper's picture

I have an 8yo son who has been dealing with constipation for a little over a year. I've noticed the mothball smell when he poops. He has not been exposed to mothballs, been ill, on antibiotics, etc.
He does take probiotics sometimes and eats yogurt often.
I am interested to know what the illnesses are that show this as a symptom.
I figured it was related to the stool sitting in the body for too long but would like to know the effects of toxins from it.
I could be blindfolded and tell you which of my kids is standing in front of me based on smell.

Poo Poo's picture

ok -- the other day I was in a salon and the lady beside me was getting a perm and it reaked real bad. That night when I went to the bathroom my poop smelled like the perm. Also during the day I get bad smells in my office and when I poop I still smell them after I get home. Is this normal?

mom of toddler mothballer's picture

To Mommie smells MB---please do you know the rare conditions that the doctor was talking about? Let us know. I looked on many med sites and didn't find a thing about this. My 2 year old daughter has had the mothball smell for about 3 weeks now. It is VERY strong, more so now than at the beginning. It took me about a week to place the smell. No contact with mothballs that I know of. She seems to be getting skinnier and her appetite isn't what it used to be. Diet hasn't changed and no medications.

Anonymous Coward's picture

Re: Anonymous Coward from 12.12.07

What you say makes total sense about the antibiotics and the post-nasal drip! I had not realized it, but I do remember that my embarrassing "mothball breath" got better while I was taking amoxicillin for a UTI! Unfortunately, however, it has progressively gotten worse since then, despite my constant tongue-brushing, gargling, expensive mouthwashing, and worrying! I know that I naturally produce a LOT of mucus, constantly, year-round. I would hate to ask for an antibiotic Rx just for that, but I can definitely try the saline/bicarbonate nasal irrigation. If that works, I will be so relieved! This "mothball breath" has made my life more difficult and I have been afraid I am just destined to live with it.

Thanks for your research and thanks for sharing what you found with the rest of us!

Mildewy But Hopeful,
Another Anonymous Coward

Elana's picture

There is a wonderful clinic for Celiac in Chicago. I went to the National Convention and the doctor was there. I'm sorry I took so long for this. I want to say I am not constipated and I still get the smell. When I get it I take massive doses of probiotics. One of them is Natrum Trinity and I also take pearls.
University of Chicago Celiac Center
Stefano Guandalini, MD
Do any of you use Teflon Pans to cook? I was wondering if there was a link there. I JUST don't know, Mine comes and goes. When I have the mothball smell, my stomach does hurt.
I would love an answer to this question and good luck with the Celiac. My life has dramatically changed for the better.

baron von crapalot's picture
k 500+ points

PD, absolutley! But when it gets to a Brie situation, usually a doctor is involved. - That stuff is nasty shit._______
like a constipated accountant- I worked it out with a pencil.

I hope to god I've just sat in a Shepard's pie.

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

BVC, when your balls become extra sharp cheddar, or possibly Stilton or Brie, it's time to shower.

baron von crapalot's picture
k 500+ points

SamDamit, you read my mind. But ask yourself this, what type of person would actually have the experience/knowledge of what moth balls smell like? I myself, have been know to get a bit funky in the bedroom department, and have balls of mild cheddar. But moth balls?? very strange, I bet there is a therapist out there somewhere.

like a constipated accountant- I worked it out with a pencil.

I hope to god I've just sat in a Shepard's pie.

Also Mothball smell's picture

Question for Elana, or anyone...Who is the good Celiac doctor in Chicago?

Thanks in advance for the help.

Also Mothball Smell's picture

I've been reading your comments about the mothball odor associated with stool and I sure do feel for the moms whose children are going through this. It's bad enough that I have a mothball odor...can't imagine how frustrating it would be to go through this with a child.

I have been sick for some time with an undiagnosed illness, and believe the new mothball odor I can smell has something to do with it. I've not noticed this odor when I have a bowel movement, but just smell it all the time. Hard to explain, but it must be in my blood or something...and I smell this when the blood goes through my nose. I've always been able to smell medicines given IV, even the saline rinse. Hope you'll take my word for it that this is not 'all in my head'.

My question is for the mother (Mommie smells MB)whose daughter's pediatrician said the mothball odor can sometimes be associated with certain diseases. By any chance do you know which diseases he was referring to? I've had no luck with finding info by doing Google searches.

The one thing that seems to be a common thread with this odor is constipation. Because of the severe pain associated with my undiagnosed disease (extreme pain in the pelvic/lower abdomin area) I take pain medicine, and this is very, very constipating. I wonder if this is bacteria or something that is growing out of control because of the fewer bowel movements.

I've also been talking with someone about Celiac disease. She had my sytmptoms for years and then was diagnosed with Celiac. She changed her diet and is fine now! So encouraging for me, that I might find a cure. I've been bed ridden off and on for years because of this.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. It helps somehow to talk with others who've had similar experience....and who won't assume I'm nuts!

marciebassett's picture

I have to join this convo... I too have mb smelly poop; have had it for almost a year now! what the heck!?
...and it is definitely a mothballs smell!!
I have to agree with the bacteria idea; an overgrowth or even just a growth of different kinds than we had in our colons because of a change in our life that we didn't even register at the time...whether is it dietary or a minor ailment; also adding fiber to my diet has helped turn it down a bit but not completely get rid of it ... I really hesitate to try antibiotics because of a smell! also because I need to take them often for other reasons and want them to be effective ...
Yogurt I eat a lot of and no changes from it so far anyhow; maybe there are other foods we can eat to help change our bacteria types.. I will look that up as I have lots of time to read and if I find anything helpful I will return with it for you all;
I do have systemic lupus but don't believe that is the issue, nor does my doctor...btw, I also got the shrug and "hmmm?!.. I don't know" from that corner
... I do believe after all my reading, here and other places, that it is a bacteria, a change in it for whatever reason... mine started up, my mb odor, when I was under a lot of stress and got sick in early May just before last summer... and it hss not quit since then; I raised 2 kids and have one baby grandson and I have never in my life prior to this, smelled mothball-poop!! unreal... hopefully someone else will follow up here and help us to find a definitive answer to ridding us of our 'smelly' poop!! LOL, I never thought I would write on a message board about this... too funny!!

Elana's picture

Hi again, I am the 56 year old female again. I would like to know what the rare conditions are that can cause moth ball smelling poop that the pediatrician in Chicago mentioned. I would also like to add I have Celiac Disease and the child who is constipated and not growing might need to be checked for Celiac. There is a great Doctor in Chicago and a big center for Celiac. That with the dairy problem are 3 symptoms of Celiac. I think I am adressing Mommie smells. I had this a couple of months ago also after being sick. I took ALOT of probiotics and it went away. I stopped my probiotics and it came back so of course I am back on them and I am getting better. Mine is also accompanied by pain in my stomach or intestines, not cramping. It still smells like mothballs but the pain is going away and hopefully soon so will the smell. I think this is so weird. It's not like nobody else has this problem. Someone should know what it is. Thanks again.

Mommie Smells MB's picture

My daughter, 35 months old, also has had MB smelling poop for almost a year. It is VERY strong. She has chronic constipation too. She is on daily stool softners which allow her to go infrequently and we also give her whole cans of pears when too may days have passed. Here's what we have learned after several trips to the Ped office.
1. The moth ball smell is caused by the stool sitting in the colon and basically getting old and smelly before leaving the body. Her poop is also extremely hard.
2. She loves strawberries and pears and doesn't like junk food or candy so techincally she shouldn't have chronic constipation based on her diet. Also her belly gets very bloated. She is very small everywhere else. She is a normal weight and short.
3. Ped. thinks it is milk related. Any time she doesn't go for 5 days she is off dairy until she poops that with the stool softner and pears (or other foods on the 'make you poop' list) will make her go within 48 hours.
4. Since she has been on a regiment of daily stool softener and a 'make you poop' diet for 6 weeks she is being sent to a Ped. Gastro. who she saw when she was about 14 months old and hadn't grown for months (she was 9 lbs at birth but basically did not grow from 6 months to 15 months (yes we wound up with 6-9 months clothes for all seasons). I'll repost once we go. Luckily we live in Chicago where there are Ped. Gastro. doctors, they are rare.
5. I'd say if you notice the smell more than a couple of times tell your Ped. especially if the stool is normal (no constipation) and if it's chronic definitely ask to be referred to a ped. gastro. Worst thing that will happen is they'll find nothing wrong. BTW she went yesterday to the Ped, again, for constipation (because she started running a fever and her belly was extremely bloated and red) and we saw the owner of the practice (large ped. pratice) and he said the moth ball smell is rare but does happen but should not happen if on treatment as long as she has been. He was named one of the top 10 peds. in Chicago a couple of years ago...He did say there are some rare conditions that moth ball poop is a symptom so it was worth pursuing with a specialist.

Hope this helps.

Janine's picture

My son is 1 and his poop started smelling like moth balls when he started drinking milk, could just be coincidence. everyone thinks I am crazy but it is as if you opened a box of moth balls it is that strong. No exposure to mothballs that I know of. I have no answers but I wanted to share. He is also very constipated,he strains a lot. He has a large head circumference 99% and just got a heart mur mur diagnosis that I have to follow up on. He also has eczema pretty bad. He has been sick on and off for months. Other than that he is a pretty normal kid. I think the woman who spoke about the bacteria has the right idea. I mean none of us have identical cases but our kids may all have this bacteria. And it makes sense. Please keep posting so we can learn more about this. Thank you

Elana's picture

That was an excellent comment on breath and very needed too. but please does anyone have an answer to the moth ball smelling poo question. Obviously it happens but no one seems to know why in the medical profession.
I have a question. Had anybody been on antibiotics shortly before having their child or themselves have moth ball smelling poop? Thanks a bunch. Elena

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Excellent advice, and thanks for sharing that with us!

I have heard that by kissing and sharing toothbrushes, these types of breath can be transmitted, also, but how cool is it to have someone tell us why?

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

Anonymous Coward's picture

i have a solution to the dreaded poop-mothball breath.

i've always been uber-paranoid about having such breath, which smells like a combination of mothballs and s**t. unfortunately, i fell in love with a man who, despite being absolutely wonderful in every way, is afflicted by this horrible breath. we've been together for a year and a half and i've managed to avoid having the poo breath myself up until recently. against my better judgement, i borrowed his toothbrush while we were on vacation. a week later, i felt swelling in my lymph nodes, started to have sinus issues and then got this terrible post-nasal drip that stank and tasted exactly like the poo-breath.

having researched this a bit, i discovered that the terrible fecal smell is due to the molecules indole and skatole, which are produced by bacteria. oral bacteria love to feast on mucus in the back of the throat and nasal cavities. several different strains of bacteria produce indole and skatole. because toothbrushes contain bacteria, i hypothesized that i'd infected myself with my man's stink-producing bacteria which were colonizing my throat, and that either the bacteria or an associated microbe (from the toothbrush) had also infected my tonsils, adenoids or nasal passages, causing the postnasal drip and immune-response symptoms which provided plenty of nasty mucous for the stinky bacteria (on my tongue and throat) to feast upon and produce their stench. the postnasal drip drains into lungs and is swallowed in the stomach, carrying the stench into these regions of the body and may even be excreted in feces as well. i was producing the smell from the back of my throat, nasal passages and lungs. i concluded that the poo-breath was bacterial in origin and that it could probably be eliminated by a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
i wasted no time in going to the doctor. the doctor determined i did have inflamed sinuses, tonsils and lymph nodes (no bronchitis) and gave me a prescription for amoxicillin.

when i purchased the antibiotic, i also bought a nasal irrigator with a pH balanced bicarbonate/saline solution and washed out my nasal and throat passages completely. i gargled the solution and spat it out. i did this several times and took the drugs as prescribed. after two days i have noticed that the poo-breath is completely gone! there is no more stinky smell or taste and my breath is fine once more.

i told my boyfriend to go to the doctor and get antibiotics. he is on his way to being poo-breath free as well. after my round of antibiotics is over, i will get a brand new toothbrush and make sure i never borrow my boyfriend's again.

my experience with this leads me to believe that the mysterious fecal/mothball breath is caused by indole and skatole-producing bacteria which can be killed by a commonly-prescribed antibiotic (amoxicillin) and nasal irrigation with pH-balanced saline/bicarbonate solution.

Elana's picture

I am a 56 year old female and I too have had my poop smell like mothballs. I have asked EVERYBODY. I evern asked the ER people when I had to go in. No one has a clue as to why. I did just get off of an antibiotic called omnicef or ceindir by Dava. I was wondering how many people that have had this had recently been on antibiotics. I am still in the process of having that odor. It is sooo weird. I thought of another thing. My ph is pretty acidic right now. I wonder if that goes along with the bacteria theory in the gut. So I typed in poop smells like mothballs and you guys came up :). Nice to know I'm not crazy. Not one medical site came up and no I have had no contact with mothballs :)

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Have you considered telling them you want second opinions from other colleagues and asking them for referrals themselves since they don't seem to have any answers? I've done this in the past and gotten results. See if you can get a labwork done, too.

Have you come across us by Googling mothball smell in poop?

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

Anonymous Coward's picture

I have 30 month old twin girls. They both had a stomach viris in mid Oct. Twin B has had moth ball smelling poops almost eight weeks now. It is a very intense smell. It's like opening a new box of moth balls. There is no normal smelling poo smell about it. Twin A had similar moth ball smelling poos a couple of times from Oct. to end of Nov., but they were intermitent. This last week, however, they have become more consistent in Twin A too.
I have talked to a friend who is a resident. She did a medical literature search for me and couldn't find anything. I spoke with her aunt, a neonatologist, she had never heard of anything like it but said she would ask some of her colleagues about it. I have also spoken to two pediatrician's at our doctor's office about it. From them I got blank, unbelieving stares and shoulder shrugs. The speculative consensus from them has been that when the girls got sick, the pH of their tummies changed which also causes the pH of the intestine to change. When the pH changes in the intestine, a new flora of bacteria can establish in your gut causing different smelling poo. It was suggested that I give them lots of yogurt and cultured food to help establish a more normal flora. I am discouraged, because they have eaten yogurt a lot since they were babies, and since they were sick. Why hasn't the moth ball producing flora been flushed out yet? If it is a bacteria producing naphlalene as a waste product, how much are my girls absorbing into their bodies? I don't use mothballs nor diaper pail deodorizer. I am really concerned due to the toxicity of naphthalene and I haven't gotten any helpful answers.

mum smells mothball poop's picture

hi.i have found this page and am very releived to hear that some other parents are having problems with poops smelling of mothballs.my nearly 2 year old found mothballs in the garden after i had cut the grass couple of months ago.they had been there for 2 months in the grass.i heard her cough and ran out to find her with mothballs in her hand and on the floor.stacked up.i smelt her mouth and it smelt like mothballs.i washed her hands mouth and freaked phoning the doc.s and then going to the hospital.thinking she might of just bit it or worse.no symptoms nothing.found a little white in her poop couple of days later.took her back to the hospital couple of days later cause poop smelt like mothballs.and a little black.no other symptoms.now every so often her poop smells like mothballs.can any be still in her body.she looked of colour today and she is a bad eater.am worried that she is getting poisened slowly as mothballs melt so slowly.hope someone can help out there.

Anonymous Coward's picture

I've been having the same problem the past couple weeks too. I have been losing weight too, but I was alarmed that it smelled like that. I kinda want to know what makes it smell like that!

lizrdsknz's picture

I am a nurse and have noticed this a LOT at work where we have a high geriatric population. I smell mothball odor in my own pooh, too, occasionally. Looks like reading through here hasn't answered my question on this matter...namely what the heck causes it?

The Shit Volcano's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorh 3000+ points

Sometimes rapid weight loss can cause temporary weird smells, Anonymous. This is probably your body getting rid of some toxins with the fat you are losing. I wouldn't worry about it too much unless you are having other bothersome symptoms. Sometimes going to a doctor and getting checked out can help for piece of mind if nothing else, though.

What if everyone farted at once?

I found Jesus! He was behind the sofa the whole time!

Anonymous Coward's picture

OK, so this is a weird site and topic... and I gotta wonder about people who visit this site on a regular basis. I wound up here b/c I have been sick for 3 weeks and tested for everything under the sun. The Dr. tells me to not worry it's a virus.

Well, I've lost 25 lbs (needed to lose 10-15 of them) and I have no appitite. It started out as a sore throat and flu like symptoms (I thought for sure it was strep, not). Then gave way to no appitite and extreme fatigue. So where does mothballs fit in to all this you ask?

I'm trying to eat solid food a little at a time. I had oatmeal with real honey this AM. I also took Tylenol PM last night. Today I had an extremly constipated like (little) poop that smelled of mothballs. I was hoping that maybe this was the answer once and for all of what the hell disease do I have. I am planning to go to an Infectious Disease Dr. soon if this does not get better.

Oh and since I am an anonymos Coward...Four days before the onset of this I had a sexual encounter with a Female (I am Male) complete with oral gratification for her. I did a round of antibiotics which I finished a week ago. I don't think she gave me anything, but can't be too careful. She has no symptoms or illness. So could somebody out their in poop world suggest what I have. I'm sure this is fodder for many of you and feel free...Thanks

Mother of Twins's picture

I have 3-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and my son's poop started smelling like mothballs about 3 days ago. They both have eaten the exact same things, but only my son's poop smells like mothballs, not my daughter's. My husband thought I was crazy, but it's good to hear it isn't just me who smells mothballs in poop! My son hasn't lost any weight, nor does he appear to be ill. He does cough a little at night, but both my kids have allergies, and a little night coughing is normal for them this time of year. I'd like to hear if anyone has had this happen to their kid and actually found out why--like if it was a deficiency of some sort, and if so, what?

Poop-poop-pee-doop's picture

And another thing... My dad has been a heavy, heavy smoker for many years. When I'm at my parents' house I notice that, if I go into the bathroom after my dad has been in there, there's a weird, strong, but not typical, smell.

It's almost as if the nicotene has come out the other end. It's sort of a stale smoke/poop smell. Anyone else ever experienced this? Blech!

My dad is 76, has emphysema, and refuses to stop smoking. Again--blech!

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