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HomeHealth & FitnessWhy does my poop smell like burnt hair?

Why does my poop smell like burnt hair?

­People often ask” “why does my poop smell like burnt hair?” Poop smelling like burnt hair, iron, rubber or chemicals could be a matter of concern as it may happen due to an underlying health issue. However, it may be caused by your dietary habit or medication.  

Usually, smelly poop does not cause harm. But the unpleasant smell is irritating. It could be due to the foods you’re taking. Foul-smelling poops could be symptoms of bacterial infection, internal bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease.

In this article, we will talk about the reasons for smelly poop and why you should monitor your poop.

What the smelly poop says about your health


The colour, the smell and the consistency of your poop can provide some great information about your digestive tract and overall health.

Poop has a range of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). These compounds are microbial and metabolic by-products including methane, acetone, sulphur gas and benzaldehyde that gives off pungent smells and this is why poop gets distinct odour.

Evaluating VOCs for its compositions and concentrations can give you valuable insight into your digestive and overall metabolic health.

Different levels of VOCs are linked to potential health problems, including intestinal infection, irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

The World Journal of Gastroenterology published a report that claims, “Patterns of fecal VOCs, and thus patterns of smell, can be used to identify disease states.”

We will now discuss some common poop odours and their potential reasons.

Burnt Hair

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Stool smelling like burnt hair is usually linked to sulphur-containing VOCs. Onion, garlic and cruciferous vegetables are high in sulphur. Consuming these foods increases sulphur concentration in the digestive tract, giving a burnt hair smell to your poop.

Burnt-match fecal odours may also be caused by sulphur-rich drugs, including diuretics, diabetes medications and antibiotics.

There are evidences that mal-absorption could give you a solid answer to the question “why my poop smells like burnt hair”.

Digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease can interfere you’re your digestive functions and as a result, your body may find it difficult absorbing nutrients.

After undigested food enters the large bowel, intestinal microbes cause degradation and fermentation. The process releases a range of VOCs and offers an explanation why poop smelling like burnt hair could be a symptom of mal-absorption.

Burnt Popcorn


Urine and stool may smell like burnt popcorn. It could be a side effect of prescription drugs or uncontrolled diabetes.

Diabetes Care published a research that suggests that metformin is a popular anti-diabetic medication that eliminates excess blood sugar through the poop rather than urine.

Sugar, after entering the colon, causes bacterial fermentation and the process can release VOCs with a popcorn-like sweet smell.

Higher concentrations of sulphur gas, depending on the distinct composition of the microflora, may be released and it could cause your poop to smell like burnt popcorn.

Burnt Rubber or Chemicals

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Poop with a pungent chemical smell is linked to antibiotic drugs that can change the composition of dysbiosis, commonly known as gut bacteria.

Mercaptans are kind of VOC and have a burnt rubber smell. Parasitic infections and dysbiosis are also caused by higher concentrations of mercaptans in poop and it may explain why the smell of your poop is reminiscent of burnt tires or sulphur.


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We have already explained how certain foods and drugs can change the smell of your poop. Coffee contains different compounds that include aromatic components and volatile oils.

These can undergo several chemical changes in digestion process and may emit a coffee-like smell in your poop.

However, coffee-smelling stool is not bad. At least, you don’t need to worry about it. But if your poop gets a bad smell, you might feel like asking your doctor, “why does my poop smell like burnt hair or burnt popcorn”.

Consuming too many chocolaty coffee beans may also cause your stool to smell like coffee. Dark roast coffee also produces a burnt coffee odour.


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Iron has a distinct smell and taking iron-rich foods or iron supplements can make your stool smell blood-like or metallic.

Stools smelling of iron could be a symptom of gastrointestinal bleeding, which may be caused by different factors such as, intestinal ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease or haemorrhoids.


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Ammonia is a side product of protein metabolism and eliminated via kidneys. If your poop has a strong smell of ammonia, it means you consume too much protein or may have certain kidney or liver problems. It could also be a sign of dehydration.

Why you should monitor your poop

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Stool is not only a waste material. It can tell a lot about your health. While poop has a unique odour and day-to-day variations in its smell are not a concern, frequent changes or heavy changes could signal potential health problems.

Research published in Healthcare states, “Self-appraisal of stool frequency and consistency may be a simple but useful tool for informing about major chronic illnesses.”

Stools containing blood may be a symptom of some serious conditions like ulcers, intestinal inflammation, haemorrhoids or even colorectal cancer.

Your stools also tell a lot about your dietary habits and can signal if your body is unable to absorb nutrients well. It can also tell if you have a sluggish digestive system or a food allergy.

Pale-coloured poop usually highlights fat malabsorption and slow gallbladder functions. Smelly and hard poop can be a symptom of dehydration. It can happen even if you don’t have enough of dietary fibre.

When to visit a doctor

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If there is no possible explanation for a significant and sudden change in the smell of your stool, it could be a symptom of an underlying health problem.

You should consult an experienced medical professional if you have:

Ø  Prolonged bad-smelling poop

Ø  Blood in your urine

Ø  Sudden changes in your bowel movements

Ø  Stools abnormal in texture and/or colour

Ø  Persistent gastrointestinal problems

Ø  Persistent or recurrent abdominal pain

Your physician is likely to assess your symptoms physically and suggest blood and stool tests. Based on your medical reports, your doctor will give the answer to your question “why does my poop smell like burnt hair “ and prepare a personalized treatment plan.  


Why does my poop smell like burnt hair?

If the smell of your poop is reminiscent of burnt hair, it is because of your dietary habit. You consume sulphur-rich foods including onion, garlic and cruciferous vegetables.

Malabsorption is also linked to poops that smell like burnt hair. Intestinal bacteria degrade and ferment undigested food and generate foul-odour gasses.

Why does my poop smell like burnt matches?

It could be due to a higher concentration of sulphur gasses in your large intestine. Microbes living in the large bowel are responsible for fermenting organic matter. The fermentation process releases sulphur and other foul-odour compounds. Sulphur has a pungent smell, often compared to natural gas, rotten eggs or burnt matches.

Why does my poop smell like iron?

If your poop smells like iron, it indicates some serious health issues like intestinal bleeding, ulcers or haemorrhoids. You should immediately consult a doctor in case of blood-stained stools or any significant colour change in your stools.

Why does my poop smell metallic?

Poop that has metallic smell usually contains iron. This condition can be caused by iron supplements. However, some serious health issues like haemorrhoids, intestinal bleeding or ulcers may also cause the condition.

Why does my poop smell like burning sulphur?

Evidences support the fact that sulphur-rich foods and drugs (for example, diuretics, antibiotics and diabetes medications) as well as mal-absorption syndrome can cause more sulphur production in the large intestine, causing your poop to smell like burning sulphur.

Why does my poop smell weird suddenly?

If you notice sudden changes in poop smell, it could be related to your dietary choices or use of certain drugs. Smelly poop can also indicate some serious underlying health problems including bleeding, mal-absorption or intestinal infection. Make sure to closely monitor your poop if it suddenly gives off a different smell.

Does celiac poop have foul odour?

People suffering from Celiac disease are more or less diabetic, a condition medically called imbalanced intestinal microflora. The condition is caused by higher concentrations of pungent volatile organic compounds or VOC in the large bowels.

Additionally, a small amount of gluten can also cause bouts of diarrhea and smelly poop.

What does Giardia smell like?

Giardia is a physical condition described as foul-odour poop. In such a condition, poop smells like rotten eggs or sulphur. In addition, patients also suffer abdominal pain and cramping, which could be symptoms of serious infection.

Why does my poop smell like ammonia?

This condition could be due to dehydration, poor kidney functions or a high protein diet.

Summary: Stool culture is an important part of medical science. Your poop is an indicative of your health conditions. Though poop has a distinct smell and it’s not good at all, foul-smelling poops are often linked to

  • mal-absorption,
  • dehydration,
  • high protein intake,
  • poor kidney functions,
  • haemorrhoids,
  • internal bleeding,
  • ulcers
  • and even cancer.

If you see any significant and sudden change in colour, consistency and smell of your poop, consult a physician without any delay.

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