Dermatology Community
53.6k Members
Avatar universal

Smelly oily T-Zone areas on face

I have very oily skin.  My T-zone areas are especially oily.  I've noticed that underneath my chin, my cheeks, around my nose and mouth, my skin produces a strong rancid cheese type smell.  It's especially prominent after eating anything fried or greasy.  As a result I have drastically stop consuming fried foods.  The odor still remains though.  

Not matter how many times I wash my face, the odor is still there.  My skin is oily but "clear."  No black heads, white heads or pimples.  Essentially no skin infections.  No other part of my body smells this way.  I've searched high and low on the internet for answers.  I have come across only a handful of people with complaints of the same condition.

Two people suggested milk thistle as a "cure" for this condition.  Their logic was that it was a "liver" issue.  Well, my liver is working properly.  I've had labs drawn and my GP says all is fine.  Not everyone that has oily skin has this rancid cheese odor on their T-zone areas.  I don't have a skin infection to my knowledge; my skin is clear without any redness or infection.

Any thoughts or suggestions.  I don't eat junk foods anymore.  I've had this condition for quite sometime now.  I remember when I was a tween, that underneath my chin smelled of cheese if I rubbed it with my fingers.  That was years ago; now it's my T-zone area.
6 Responses
563773 tn?1374250139
In oily skin, the oil producing sebaceous glands are overactive and produce more oil than is needed. The oil oozes and gives the skin a greasy shine. It can be caused by heredity, diet, hormone levels, pregnancy, birth control pills and hot and humid weather. Oily skin needs special cleansing with plenty of hot water and soap to prevent the pores from being clogged. Avoid harsh products that strip your skin of oil and encourage flakiness. They can cause a reaction known as reactive seborrhoea, where the oil glands work overtime to compensate for the loss of natural oils.

Avoid skincare products that leave your skin feeling taut and dehydrated. You can use cetaphil and make sure that the rest of the times you wash your face with fresh water. Avoid heavy greasy moisturizers and take a diet rich in proteins but restricted in sugar, fluids and salt. Drink plenty of quality water to keep the skin hydrated and flush out toxins.
If the symptoms persist then please get it examined from a dermatologist.

It is very difficult to precisely confirm a diagnosis without examination and investigations and the answer is based on the medical information provided. For exact diagnosis, you are requested to consult your doctor. I sincerely hope that helps. Take care and please do keep me posted on how you are doing.

If I rub my hand on my forehead I get a horrible cheesy smell but only from my left side iv tried all sorts but cant find anything to stop it
If I rub my hand on my forehead I get a horrible cheesy smell but only from my left side iv tried all sorts but cant find anything to stop it
Avatar universal
Thoroughly wash your face, eyelash follicles, crevices around your nose, and around your nostrils twice a day with Dial Antibacterial Soap.  After a month of this you can just do it occasionally as a preventative measure.  I had the same problem and tried to resolve it with antifungals, antibiotics, cortizone, peroxide, and so forth - all with no success. My eye doctor discovered the bacteria living on my face and told me he could prescribe benzethonium chloride or I could just wash with Dial Antibacterial Soap.  It worked.  Cringeworthy thought: Did the doctor notice this visually or did he smell it on my face?
Thanks ! A bacteria causing the odor makes perfect sens. Just like between your those...It smells like cheese. Its the same type of bacteria. I have that smell only in the crack of my chin and in the back of my left ear and although I use a brush to clean my face, the smell comes back. I notice that if I squeeze the skin to empty the pores...What comes out is cheesy smelly. Burk ! I'll ask the pharmacist. Thanks again.
BTW - I switched to a store brand (CVS/Topcare) of antibacterial soap and it did not work at all.  Only the Dial (pump) antibacterial soap works.  Maybe it's a different kind of medicine or maybe the company that manufactures the store brands "works on the cheap."
Avatar universal
I've had a similar problem for quite some time.  Quite embarassing especially during kissing. I've tried the suggestions from the Internet like facial cleansers, milk thistle and avoiding sugars.

I don't smoke and just drinks occasionally.

Recently, we changed diet after hearing from the radio the best way to eat fruits due to its health benefits. On an empty stomach and not after or during meals. (The radio host also said not to drink cold drinks when eating oily and fatty foods. Better to drink hot or warm soup).

The fruits in season now here in the Philippines are banana, papaya, lanzones or langsat (Lansium domesticum) and rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum, related to lychee but with a bright red hairy shell).

Upon waking up, I drink 2 glasses of water then eat a portion of each fruit after 15 minutes. Regular breakfast after 30 minutes. Morning snacks around 10am means some fruits and water again.

15 minutes before lunch, fruits and water again.  Then regular lunch meal.

Afternoon snacks around 3-4pm, fruits and water again.

15 minutes before dinner, fruits and water again.  Then regular dinner meal.

Late evening snacks mean fruits and water again.

In just 3 short days, I feel different.  The best result is that the smell coming from the pores on my nose and the sides are gone! I didn't know it would solve that problem! We just wanted to eat fruits at the best time for its health benefits!

Now, I'm doing marketing for fruits every 3 or 4 days for a 4-member household. 4 papayas of 1kg each, 3kgs banana, 2kgs lanzones, 3kgs rambutan. I spend around 12USD for all.

We are also adding more veggies in the menu. Stir fried mixed veggies or mixed veggies in a shrimp broth. We just make sure that the veggies are still crisp.

This is also making a big difference for my 78yo Mom.

Please try the fruit diet. Never thought my smelly nose and facial pores would be resolved.

Another result is that our poops are no longer smelly. :-)
I have always had oily skin but for the past 3 years I started to get a very bad smell around from the crease in my chin. I would wash my face 2 times a day with an antibacterial/acne face wash and it would not go away. Sometimes I would smell it 5-10 minutes after I washed my face and/or right after drinking coffee in the morning. I eat healthy, do not smoke, and only drink alcohol occasionally/socially. My husband was repulsed by the smell and I was extremely self conscious by it, so I washed my face regularly (morning, right after work and before bed). I would often do a chin skin smell test before getting close to him. It was really getting me depressed by why my skin all of a sudden started smelling like this only in those 2 areas on my face. I read a bit online and ordered milk thistle (I have been taking it twice a day) and the smell has completely gone away! I am so happy (as is my husband). It makes me think that it must have been something going on with my liver. But last time I checked my liver was fine.  Either way, I am going to keep taking milk thistle and drink lots of water. I just hope taking it long term will not change the effect it has had on my skin so far. No more stinky chin and I can kiss to that!
Has anyone found a cure for this ? The sides of my nose smells bad ... So does my chin. Can it be a skin infection ? Although I have no visible symptoms of a skin infection. I am very embarrassed by the smell. I don't want to get to close to people. My family members don't seem to smell anything but I do smell it. I bought milk thistle 175 mg, took it 3 times a day for a week and still no luck :/ someone please help !!!! ( this all happened all of a sudden) To my knowledge my face has never had a smell.
The cause is from a sluggish/blocked up liver. I have dealt with acne, oily skin, and cheesy smell on my chin during my teenage years and most of my adult life. When the liver is not functioning properly, toxins are excreted through the skin. With poor digestion, the issues get amplified. The cure - a liver cleanse, specifically Dr. Hulda Clark's Liver cleanse. A coffee enema is effective too but that's a bit invasive for most people. The liver cleanse pills are not as effective and take much longer to see any results. The first time I did Dr. Hulda Clark's liver cleanse, I expelled a bunch of hardened gallstones which was blocking the flow of bile from my liver. The odor went away and my digestion improved greatly but after a couple of days, symptoms reappeared. I went through another 5 cleanses, each of which had less gallstones and eventually my symptoms completely vanished. To this date, have not had any acne, oily skin, or odors.
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
This is similar to a yeast infection will you have going on  on your face if you can find some dead seat salt or any sea salt wash your face with a warm compress to get the pores open then use a mixture of sea salt and Warm water and and apply it to your face in those areas do this twice a day after you are done use a cooler compress to close back up the pores and rinse the salt residue off your face after 2 days you should notice a difference
Avatar universal
It is definitely yeast/fungal infection.  My husband smellled like that and it would turn me off from kissing him. It was putrid smelling.   I had him use an athlete’s foot powder on his oily areas after washing.  Within days, the antifungal in the athletes foot powder got rid of the smell.  
Have an Answer?
Top Dermatology Answerers
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Learn to identify and prevent bites from summer’s most common pests.
Doctors argue for legislation to curb this dangerous teen trend in the latest Missouri Medicine report.
10 ways to keep your skin healthy all winter long
How to get rid of lumpy fat on your arms, hips, thighs and bottom
Diet “do’s” and “don’ts” for healthy, radiant skin.
Images of rashes caused by common skin conditions