What’s to know about body odor?

A large concentration of apocrine glands is present in the armpits, making that area susceptible to the rapid development of body odor.

The following steps may help control armpit odor:

1) Keep the armpits clean: Wash them regularly using anti-bacterial soap, and the number of bacteria will be kept low, resulting in less body odor.

2) Hair: When armpits have hair, it slows down the evaporation of sweat, giving the bacteria more time to break it down into smelly substances. Shaving the armpits regularly has been found to help body odor control in that area. Reusable razors are available to purchase online.

3) Deodorant or antiperspirant: Deodorants make the skin more acidic, making it more difficult for bacteria to thrive. An antiperspirant blocks the sweating action of the glands, resulting in less sweating. Some studies, however, have indicated that antiperspirants may be linked to breast cancer or prostate cancer risk.

This study suggests that current research is inconclusive on the risks of antiperspirant sprays.

Deodorants and antiperspirants with natural ingredients are available to purchase online.

Tips on preventing foot odor

Smelly feet are less of a problem socially than underarm B.O. because the unpleasant odor is usually contained by shoes and socks.

However, the smell may become obvious if the person with smelly feet visits a home where shoes are taken off before entering, as is the custom in various countries and homes.

The following steps may help control foot odor:

1) Wash your feet at least once a day: Warm water is better at killing bacteria than cold water. Make sure you dry your feet thoroughly afterward, including in between your toes.

2) Socks: They must allow the sweat to evaporate. The best socks are those made of a combination of man-made fibers and wool. Wear a clean pair of socks each day.

3) Shoes: If you wear trainers or shoes with plastic linings make sure it is not for long. A leather lining is better for sweat evaporation. If you have a problem with sweaty feet, do not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Shoes do not completely dry overnight.

4) Pumice stone: Bacteria thrive on dead skin. If the soles of your feet have patches of dead skin remove them with a pumice stone. These are available to buy online.

5) Deodorants and antiperspirants: Ask your pharmacist for special foot deodorants and antiperspirants. If you have athlete’s foot, you should not use deodorants or antiperspirants. Treat the fungal infection with appropriate medication.

6) Walk around barefoot: Whenever you can, walk around barefoot, or at least slip out of your shoes regularly.

What Causes Body Odor and How Can I Treat It?

The appropriate treatment approaches for bromhidrosis are based on the severity of the condition. In some cases, preventive measures are enough. In more serious cases, removal of the offending sweat glands may be the answer. Your treatment options include:


Botulinum toxin A (Botox), which works by blocking nerve impulses to the muscles, can be injected into the underarm to block nerve impulses to the sweat glands. The downside of Botox treatment is that it wears off after a while, so you may need it a few times a year. Botox is also used for sweaty hands and feet.


One way to cut down on apocrine sweat is to remove the sweat glands themselves. You may have heard about liposuction in relation to removing fat from your midsection or elsewhere in the body. Special tubes are carefully inserted into the body, and fat is extracted.

The same concept can be applied to sweat glands under your arms. A very small suction tube, called a cannula, is inserted just under the skin. It’s then grazed along the underside of your skin, removing sweat glands as it goes. This process may leave some glands in place that can continue to cause excessive sweating.

In some cases, early positive results of less sweating and odor are the result of damaged nerves. When the nerves stunned during liposuction repair themselves, the same problems can return.

There is some encouraging progress in the use of ultrasonic liposuction, which uses vibrating energy to better remove the targeted sweat glands.


A more invasive way of removing sweat glands or the nerves that trigger sweating is through surgery. A procedure called endoscopic sympathectomy uses small incisions and special tools to destroy the nerves in the chest that lead to the underarm sweat glands. The procedure is effective for 5 to 10 years.

Another minimally invasive treatment is called electrosurgery. It’s done with tiny insulated needles. Over a period of several treatments, a doctor can use the needles to remove the sweat glands.

A surgeon can also remove the sweat glands themselves through a more traditional operation. This starts with an incision in the underarm. It allows the surgeon to see clearly where the glands are located. This type of surgery is called a skin resection, and it does leave some scarring on the surface of your skin. It tends to be used with people who also have hidradenitis, a chronic skin condition that leaves you with lumps in the armpits and elsewhere in the body.

Home remedies

Before any invasive procedure is attempted, you should try some basic hygiene strategies. These can help reduce the number of bacteria interacting with your sweat. These life hacks for beating BO are a great place to start.

Because bromhidrosis is triggered by the action of bacteria on the skin, frequent washing may be enough to neutralize the bacteria. Washing at least daily with soap and water may help. If the smell is localized to the armpits, for example, you can focus your cleansing efforts there.

An antiseptic soap and antibacterial creams containing erythromycin and clindamycin may also help.

A strong deodorant or antiperspirant can play a key role in minimizing odor. Trimming the hair in your underarms is also recommended.

You should also wash your clothes regularly and remove clothes that are sweaty as soon as you can. While some clothes can be worn more than once before washing as a general rule, if you have bromhidrosis, you may need to wash after every wear. An undershirt may help keep odor from reaching your outer layers of clothing.

The Bacteria That Causes Body Odor

Corbis Images

Going beast mode in the gym feels amazing; there’s something so satisfying about finishing a workout drenched in sweat. But while we love seeing the (damp) evidence of all our hard work, we don’t love the smell. Thankfully now scientists have identified the culprit for making our stink, a bacteria called Staphylococcus hominis.

Contrary to popular belief, sweat itself doesn’t have a smell. That post-workout stench doesn’t happen until the sweat gets digested by bacteria that live on our skin, particularly in our pits. When the bacteria break down the sweat molecules they release an odor that the University of York researchers describe as sulfurous, onion-y, or even meaty. (Not yummy.) Do You Smell? 9 Sneaky Sources of Body Odor.

“They’re very very pungent,” Dan Bawdon, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of York in England, and lead author of the study told NPR. “We work with them at relatively low concentrations so they don’t escape into the whole of the lab but … yes, they do smell. So we’re not that popular,” he admits.

But the sacrifice of their social lives was worth it, say the researchers, since pinpointing the stinkiest bacteria can help develop better, more effective deodorants. They’re hoping deodorant companies can take this information and use it to make products that target only the smelly bacteria and leave the good stuff alone, without clogging pores or irritating skin. Bonus: Ditching the aluminum that is the main ingredient of most products now means no more yellow pit stains on your favorite white tee! (Did you know some smells have health perks? Here are The Best Smells for Your Health.)

Less gym funk and cleaner laundry: This is definitely some science we can get behind, er, under.

  • By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Aug 19, 2010

The causes and possible cures for body odor

Body odor, often abbreviated and called B.O., is not an easy topic of discussion even among close friends and relatives especially when it is bad. What causes B.O? Tonight on Healthy Living, we take a closer look at sweat and body odor…the possible causes and cures.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

With the hot humid days in Belize, it’s very easy to work up a sweat. In fact it’s almost unavoidable once we’re spending time outdoors. Most people fear the body odor that may occur with excessive sweating. Dermatologist, Dr. Jorge Lopez, helps us to understand the origin of this unfavorable body aroma by first explaining the two main sources of sweat.

Dr. Jorge Lopez, Dermatologist

“There are two different types of glands that are associated with excretion of liquid. The first one and the one we have basically on the entire surface of our body are called the eccrine glands which are the sweat glands properly. They’re function is to help our body to cool off. So whenever, there’s a raise in the thermostat that we have inside of our brains then a signal is given for us to start sweating. When the sweat comes into the skin and it evaporates then it helps us to cool off. But then you have another type of gland that are only located around the auxillas around the breast in women and chest in men and on the genital area so these ones respond basically to stimuli that have to do with emotional states and also they are related to the pheromones production.”

Both the eccrine & apocrine glands produce sweat made up mostly of water. The apocrine sweat though also consists of oil, this gland does not activate until the hormonal changes of puberty – which is also the time we start using deodorants and antiperspirants. The sweat itself, though, is not what causes the ‘stink’ that may develop.

Dr. Jorge Lopez

“The sweat has no odor by itself. What happens is that once it gets in contact with your skin then we have a lot of bacteria on our skin. Those are supposed to be there. Those are normal and they are necessary for our health. But when you do not take the appropriate measures for example you do not take a shower everyday or you don’t change your clothes when you’re sweaty. What happens is that there is an overgrowth of this bacteria and then whenever the bacteria breaks down the apocrine oily substance then it creates this body smell. A deodorant is nothing else than a substance that tries to mask the odor. It changes the odor you have and tries to hide it. So basically a deodorant is a substance that is designed to try to mask an odor. An antiperspirant on the contrary usually has as its main component, aluminum salts and what it does is that this basically clogs the sweat glands so to speak and in that way it prevents the person from sweating as much.”

The odor is not contagious as is often the belief but simply pungent enough to get trapped and transferred on clothing. As for the Belizean tradition of using lime, while it may be effective it should be used with caution.

Dr. Jorge Lopez

“Theoretically it could work because what it is doing with the lime is your changing the PH of the skin and by that reducing the amount of bacteria. But the danger in this is that if you do not use the proper dilution then you would have an allergic contact dermatitis in other words you would burn your skin.”

Dr. Lopez also confirms that men do sweat more than women and race does influence sweat production as does our diet; but, excessive sweating may also be a symptom of other serious medical conditions.

Dr. Jorge Lopez

“In some countries the stronger your body odor, the more appealing you re. In the western world it is actually the opposite. In terms of races we know that darker skin tends to produce more apocrine sweat than lighter skin. We also know that East Asians tend to have less sweating than the other races. Sometimes there are several factors like diet for example in some cultures they tend to eat a lot of spices, curry, hot pepper, even alcohol orcaffeine can give you a distinct body odor even if you have a good hygiene. Some type of cancers for example would give you sweating mostly during the night and this has nothing to do with your body being hot or feeling hot, this has to do with the cancer itself.”

Some people do have a condition called hyperhidrosis which is excessive sweating. Treatment options include prescription topical medication and in some cases Botox injections are used to decrease sweat production. Each person though has their own sweating pattern and good hygiene is the most effective barrier to developing the unwanted aroma.

Dr. Jorge Lopez

“If you take a shower everyday if you get your feet to get some air. You use antibacterial soap for the areas like the armpits and genital area then you would be on the safe side. Now if you were to experience any sudden changes in your amount of sweat or body odor it’ always a good idea to consult with your doctor because there are medical conditions that could cause this so it could be a warning sign for this.”

It’s something no one likes to talk about, but that’s hard to ignore: those terrible smells that come with eating certain foods, or doing certain things.

You certainly notice them when they’re coming from other people.

But do you wonder sometimes, “Do I smell?

Those odors can pop up in places you’d never expect and for reasons you might never have thought about.

But on The Early Show Saturday Edition, Prevention magazine Beauty Director Rebekah George explained some of the causes of and some cures for those unpleasant odors coming from people!


It could be as simple as how quickly you get dressed in the morning, or whether you snore. They could all cause body and mouth odors you never would have thought of.


Believe it or not, dandruff isn’t the biggest problem. It’s that hiatus from hair washing that makes your scalp smell. Many people think that dandruff is a result of a too-dry scalp, which causes them to wash their hair less. But that’s a myth. Dandruff is caused by an oily scalp. That lack of washing combined with an irritated scalp is a breeding ground for bacteria, and, therefore, for odor.

What’s the fix?

Washing your hair with shampoo regularly may help get the flakes in check. If you’re worried about dandruff, wash with an over the counter dandruff shampoo. But look for ones with zinc pyrithione, an antifungal/antibacterial agent that can de-germ your scalp. It’s found in Head & Shoulders and Selsun Salon. That de-germing will keep odors away.


Check your medicine cabinet to make sure your white stick contains antiperspirant, too. Deodorants only temporarily mask your BO, they don’t prevent your body from releasing sweat. Antiperspirants actually plug your sweat glands, which stops you from excreting sweat. You really need only an antiperspirant, but if you want that ocean breeze scent, at least pick a product that has both deodorant and antiperspirant. If you’re a big-time sweater, especially in sticky summer months, apply it before you go to sleep. You perspire less at night, so more of the antiperspirant’s aluminum-based active ingredient is pulled into sweat glands. The effect can last 24 hours or longer, even if you shower in the morning. If this doesn’t help, ask your doctor about prescription-strength antiperspirants, such as Drysol or Xerac, which contain aluminum chloride.


A speedy post-shower rubdown may end up causing problems later on. That’s because moisture can get trapped between folds of skin, like below your breasts, under your love handles or even between your toes. It’s easier for bacteria and fungi to multiply and mix with sweat, causing odor and irritation.

How do we fix that?

After you dry off, set a blow dryer to cool and wave it over your belly, groin, feet, anywhere that gets uncomfortably sweaty. You can also sprinkle an absorbent powder with antifungal properties onto your skin or in your shoes. Try Zeabsorb-AF, available at drugstores.


Foods with pungent ingredients, such as curry, garlic, and other spices, can not only cause bad breath, but also a bit of a body odor. After these foods are digested, they’re absorbed into the bloodstream and released through your lungs and pores, an effect that can last for a few hours or more.

How do we fix that?

You can temporarily mask bad breath with mouthwash or by chewing a bit of fresh parsley, mint or fennel seeds, but you’ll have to wait until your body is done digesting before all the odor is completely gone. Sit down to a spicy meal in good company; it’s tough to smell it on others if you all eat the same thing. And avoid garlic-rich chow in the hours before an important meeting or date.


Ditch those form-fitting clothes for a less-smelly gym session. Tight, synthetic fabrics, like spandex, rub against skin and can trap sweat. This may cause extra odor, as well as skin irritation, like folliculitis (inflammation around hair follicles) and acne-like eruptions.

The fix?

Wear loose-fitting cotton t-shirts and shorts, or choose moisture-wicking fabrics that better absorb sweat. They even make workout gear treated with anti-microbial properties or made of anti-microbial materials which is a good choice for people who have odor issues and work out a lot. In the winter, skiers and other outdoors-people may find it useful to know that wood is naturally odor-repellent.


If your office has a no-sandals policy, do you slip your bare feet into pumps? You could have an odor problem at the end of the day. Closed shoes can act as a bacterial breeding ground, trapping moisture and causing that stinky feet stench. When you skip out on socks, there’s nothing to absorb the sweat your feet produce.

The fix?

You can rub an antiperspirant on the bottom of your feet and between the toes. It’s also a good idea to dab your feet with an antifungal powder, which will help keep your tootsies dry. At night, dunk feet in a bacteria-killing bath of one part vinegar and two parts water. You could also try a black tea soak for about 30 minutes. The tannins kill bacteria and close up pores, which keep your feet dryer, longer. You’ll see results in a few days to a week.

For much more on this, from Prevention, .

What’s Sweat?

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You’re biking up a hill, pedaling as hard as you can. You’re almost there and — what’s this? Your back is all wet and so is your face. Don’t sweat it — it’s only sweat!

Your body works best when its temperature is about 98.6ºF (37ºC). When your body gets hotter than that, your brain doesn’t like it — it wants your body to stay cool and comfortable. So the part of your brain that controls temperature, called the hypothalamus (say: hi-po-THAL-uh-mus), sends a message to your body, telling it to sweat.

Then special glands in your skin called — what else? — sweat glands start making sweat. Sweat is also known as perspiration (say: pur-spuh-RAY-shun), and it is made almost completely of water, with tiny amounts of other chemicals like ammonia (say: uh-MOWN-yuh), urea (say: yoo-REE-uh), salts, and sugar. (Ammonia and urea are left over when your body breaks down protein.)

The sweat leaves your skin through tiny holes called pores. When the sweat hits the air, the air makes it evaporate (this means it turns from a liquid to a vapor). As the sweat evaporates off your skin, you cool down.

Sweat is a great cooling system, but if you’re sweating a lot on a hot day or after playing hard you could be losing too much water through your skin. Then you need to put liquid back in your body by drinking plenty of water so you won’t get dehydrated (say: dee-HI-drayt-ed).

Why Does Sweat Smell?

Sweat isn’t just wet — it can be kind of stinky, too. But the next time you get a whiff of yourself after running around outside and want to blame your sweat glands, hold on!

Sweat by itself doesn’t smell at all. It’s the bacteria that live on your skin that mix with the sweat and give it a stinky smell. And when you reach puberty, special hormones affect the glands in your armpits — these glands make sweat that can really smell.

Luckily, regular washing with soap and water can usually keep stinky sweat under control. Many teens and adults also find that wearing deodorant (say: dee-OH-der-ent) or antiperspirant (say: an-tee-PUR-sper-ent) helps.

So don’t worry about a little sweat — it’s totally normal and everybody sweats. Sometimes too much sweating can be a sign that there is something wrong in the body, but this is rare in kids. If you notice more sweat, it’s usually just a sign that it’s time to start using a deodorant or antiperspirant. But if you think you have a sweat problem, talk to your parent or your doctor about it.


Human sweat is capable of warding off more than potential friends and lovers.

Researchers at Eberhard-Karls University in Tübingen, Germany, have isolated a new antibiotic, dubbed dermcidin, which is secreted in sweat and may serve as a first line of defence against microbial pathogens.

Dermcidin’s structure differs from known antibiotics and may kill micro-organisms by a different mechanism. The work has been published in the online edition of Nature Immunology ( in advance of the print edition.

Dr Birgit Schittek and her colleagues from the university’s departments of oncological dermatology, immunology, molecular biology, and genetics stumbled serendipitously on the dermcidin gene while screening DNA libraries from melanoma and naevus cell lines. They found a previously unidentified gene sequence among the clones and decided to characterise it. The scientists localised the gene to chromosome 12 and found it coded for a peptide whose expression was limited to the skin.

Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridisation techniques showed that expression is preferentially restricted to eccrine sweat glands and is found in mucous cells of the sweat gland coil as well as in the secretory granules in Golgi’s complex.

These findings suggested that the protein is secreted in sweat, so the team tested perspiration for dermcidin’s presence. They isolated sweat protein fractions taken from four volunteers and sequenced the resultant fractions. Among the proteins isolated was a 47 kilodalton processed form of the dermcidin peptide.

As the size of the protein was similar to that of defensins, another group of peptides secreted by skin cells that exhibit antimicrobial activity, the researchers tested whether dermcidin also possessed such properties. It turned out to be active against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria as well as some against yeast species.

Dermcidin killed Escherichia coli , Enterococcus faecalis , Staphylococcus aureus , and Candida albicans . It was active at high salt concentrations and the acidity range of human sweat, where it was present at concentrations of 1-10 m g/ml. It was active against E coli and E faecalis at a minimum inhibitory concentration of 1 m g/ml and against S aureus and C albicans at 10 m g/ml. Incubation at this concentration killed all of the S aureus colonies in only four hours. Bactericidal activity increased with dermcidin concentration and time.

The team showed that dermcidin was killing the bacteria by testing the other protein fractions derived from the sweat as controls. They found that these components lacked antibiotic properties.

Dermcidin’s structure differs from known antibiotics and may represent a previously unknown family of proteins with antimicrobial activity. Unlike the defensins, which are made by keratinocytes in response to inflammation, dermcidin is produced all the time and seems to be secreted constantly in sweat. Moreover, the peptide has a negative charge whereas many known antibiotics are positively charged and produce their antimicrobial effect by punching pores into bacterial cell membranes.

Dr Schittek acknowledged that her team does not yet know how dermcidin works. She suggested that “it probably plays a key role in the innate immune responses of the skin” and speculated that differing levels of dermcidin expression may have a role in patients with skin disorders such as eczema and atopic dermatitis, as these patients get frequent skin infections. The group plans to test dermcidin against various viruses to see if it also has antiviral activity.

What Is Bromhidrosis? Causes, Treatments and Prevention of Excessive Body Odor

Dealing with constant sweat is a daily struggle, but at least others can only see the problem. When you have chronic body odor or bromhidrosis, people can smell it. So what is bromhidrosis? And why do you get it? We’re here to lift the veil on this silent but deadly confidence killer.

What Is Bromhidrosis?

Bromhidrosis is a chronic medical condition characterized by extreme body odor. It happens when the bacteria on your skin breaks down sweat and produces an abnormally offensive smell — one that’s more pungent and persistent than regular B.O.

Bromhidrosis stems from the decomposition of both apocrine and eccrine gland sweat.

Like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), you cannot control bromhidrosis. It’s a devastating condition that can cause embarrassment, frustration and psychological distress.

Apocrine vs. Eccrine Bromhidrosis

There are two types of bromhidrosis: apocrine and eccrine. Both occur when sweat, bacteria and skin mix. The difference between the two conditions depends on how these three variables interact.

Apocrine Bromhidrosis

Apocrine bromhidrosis is the most common type of bromhidrosis. When you have apocrine bromhidrosis, body odor is the byproduct of lipid-rich apocrine gland sweat mixing with skin bacteria. When these two ingredients come together, they produce thioalcohols — compounds that smell like sulfur, onions or raw meat .

Eccrine Bromhidrosis

Eccrine bromhidrosis is the rarer form of bromhidrosis. It happens when sweat from your eccrine glands softens the keratin on your skin. The softer the keratin is, the easier it is for bacteria to break down. This break-down process produces as stenchy odor .

But what’s the difference between bromhidrosis and regular old B.O. and how do you know that you have it?

The Difference Between Regular Body Odor and Bromhidrosis

It’s easy to keep natural body odor under control with good hygiene habits and over-the-counter treatments like antiperspirant deodorant. But when you have bromhidrosis, simple solutions don’t work.

In other words, bromhidrosis isn’t an “I smell bad when I forget deodorant” problem. It’s an “I stink most of the time,no matter how many times I reapply deodorant” problem.

Here are a few more examples of what it’s like to have normal body odor versus bromhidrosis.

Anti-Stink Tactic Normal Body Odor Result Bromhidrosis Result
Shower Eliminates B.O. completely Does not reduce B.O. significantly
Apply deodorant once per day Keeps B.O. away most of the day Keeps B.O. away for a few hours
Apply extra-strength antiperspirant deodorant Eliminates B.O. for extended periods Reduces B.O. for very short periods

Signs You Have Bromhidrosis

Most of the time, you can detect bromhidrosis from its distinct scent. The most common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Constant (but not overpowering) body odor
  • Body odor within 30 minutes of showering or bathing
  • A cheese or meat-like smell coming from your underarms or groin
  • A garlic or onion-like smell coming from your breasts, underarms or groin
  • Social anxiety due to body odor

Doctors can diagnose bromhidrosis by swabbing and testing the bacteria on your skin. Excessive amounts of Corynebacterium, Propionibacterium, Staphylococcus and Micrococcus usually indicate chronic body odor. Staphylococcus is typically the strongest-smelling bacteria.

Being able to spot the signs of bromhidrosis is a helpful first step in overcoming chronic body odor. But to solve the problem, you also need to understand the underlying cause of your condition.

Causes Of Bromhidrosis

Whether you have apocrine or eccrine bromhidrosis, stink happens because of bacteria and sweat. But other factors cause bromhidrosis including genetics, the consumption of certain foods and other medical conditions.


If chronic body odor runs in your family, you have a stronger chance of having the condition as well. Studies show that there is a strong correlation between the ABCC11 gene and bromhidrosis. This same gene is present in individuals with wet ear wax. So believe it or not, if you have wet ear wax, you’re more likely to have bromhidrosis.


Having large amounts of excess fat on your body makes more likely to suffer from bromhidrosis.

Excess fat creates skin folds. These warm, dark crevices are the perfect environment for sweat and bacteria to mix and produce an odor. Because these areas can be challenging to clean, you may neglect them when it comes time to bathe or shower. Failing to cleanse and exfoliate these areas allows bacteria and sweat to fester and create a pervasive odor.


Sometimes bromhidrosis can be mistaken for a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis which can occur if you have untreated diabetes. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate your metabolism. As a result, it starts to break down fat which causes acids to build up in your bloodstream. This process can result in body odor and bad breath.


Intertrigo is a rash caused by trapped moisture and sweat. Although the most common form of intertrigo is infant diaper rash, adults can also get it from lack of air circulation to their skin.

When intertrigo goes untreated, it allows bacteria to thrive in moist, friction-prone areas which can lead to chronic body odor.


Erythrasma is a bacterial infection caused by humid, tropical climates that manifests as a pink skin rash. The bacteria that causes this rash, Corynebacterium, naturally occurs on your skin. It’s also one of the bacteria that exists in excess on the epidermis of people with chronic body odor.


You already know that bacteria and sweat are key ingredients of bromhidrosis. Therefore, the more you have of either, the more likely you are to have chronic body odor. When you have hyperhidrosis, sweat is a constant struggle. If you also have the type of skin bacteria that promotes B.O., you may also deal with continual stink.

If you think sweat or hyperhidrosis are contributing to your bromhidrosis, it’s important to note that you must treat hyperhidrosis first to eliminate your body odor issue.

For tips on excessive sweating treatments, check out our article: The Complete List of Axillary Hyperhidrosis Treatments. If natural solutions are more your style, check out our list of the best Home Remedies for Hyperhidrosis.

Consuming Certain Foods, Liquids and Drugs

Your diet and oral medications can affect the way byproducts secreted in your sweat smell. When the byproducts of pungent foods like garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables and red meat blend with sweat and bacteria, it can cause chronic body odor.

Other foods and medications that promote stink include:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Fish
  • Asparagus
  • Curry
  • Penicillin
  • Bromides

Bromhidrosis Treatments

Thankfully, bromhidrosis is treatable. Here are some ways to fight the funk and rid yourself of embarrassing body odor:

Take Measures To Reduce Your Skin Bacteria

There are several ways to decrease your skin bacteria.

  • Adjust your soap: Try antibacterial or germicidal soap, avoid scented products that can worsen body odor, use gentle cleansers and choose liquid and cream body washes over solid soaps.
  • Shave excess body hair: Hair traps bacteria and sweat, which aggravates bromhidrosis.
  • Remove sweaty clothes immediately : This gives bacteria less time to break down sweat.
  • Shower and bathe more often : Two times per day is the minimum for bromhidrosis victims.
  • Wear garments with silver or copper : These materials resist bacteria to reduce the B.O. stink.
  • Use extra-strength or prescription deodorant : Old Spice might not cut it. Consult a dermatologist to explore more powerful deodorants and solutions.
  • Try home remedies for body odor.

Change Your Diet

Avoid foods that promote odiferous sweat secretions to reduce the effects of chronic body odor. Instead, add odor-fighting foods to your diet like:

  • Lemons, oranges and grapefruits
  • Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach
  • Fresh herbs
  • Whole grains

Keep Your Skin As Dry As Possible

The more sweat that bacteria have to feed off, the worse the body odor. You must treat heavy sweating and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) to cure bromhidrosis.

Medical and Treatments for Bromhidrosis

Bromhidrosis is also treatable with antibiotics, laser hair removal and sweat gland removal surgery. To find out more about each of these options, check out our complete list of bromhidrosis solutions.

Wear a Sweat Proof Undershirt

Is your bromhidrosis particularly severe in the underarm area? Try the Thompson Tee. This patented sweat proof undershirt absorbs sweat and releases it into the air as vapor, keeping you dry and stink-free throughout the day. As a bonus, take 20% off today with code TEES20.

If you’re not worried about sweat, try the fitted Premium Undershirts made with 50% Supima cotton, 50% MicroModal blend, and infused with revolutionary Odor Shield™ technology. Designed for daily use, the Odor Shield™ technology stays put for at least 70 wash cycles.


Why Has My Body Odor Suddenly Changed?

Your environment, the things you eat, medications you take, shifts in hormone levels, or underlying disorders may all be behind a sudden change in body odor.

Changes in body odor can be a normal part of development, such as when an adolescent is going through puberty. During puberty, sweat glands and hormones become more active, which can cause BO.

If you’ve been working out, excessive sweat may be the culprit. If you don’t wear antiperspirant or practice healthy hygiene habits, sweat can mix with bacteria, causing an unpleasant smell.

If body odor is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms, it may be something else.


The foods you eat can sometimes cause a sudden, temporary change in body odor. For instance, many people experience a sudden, strong smell from their urine after eating asparagus. The smell will go away once the food is metabolized, unless it’s eaten daily.

Certain foods can also cause you to produce more gas, which may lead to belching or flatulence. Depending on the foods you eat, and how much gas you produce, this could create a foul smell.

Some foods that may cause smelly gas include:

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • bok choy
  • asparagus

If you have a food intolerance or sensitivity, the foods you’re sensitive to can also cause extra gas.

Your overall diet can also affect body odor. Some research has found that males who had a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables had better-smelling sweat, no matter how much they sweat.

On the other hand, self-reports showed that high carb intake was associated with less pleasant smelling sweat.

Other research suggested that high meat consumption may have a negative effect on body odor, compared to a plant-based diet.

Bad breath can easily occur due to consuming certain foods, especially strong flavors such as spices, garlic, onions, or radish. Smoking tobacco products can also cause bad breath.


Stress and anxiety can occasionally cause you to sweat more, leading to a stronger body odor.

If you have hyperhidrosis disorder, you sweat excessively and uncontrollably, sometimes for no apparent reason. Some people develop this disorder due to genetics, an underlying health condition, or while taking certain medications.

According to 2016 research, hyperhidrosis and stress are connected. Many people who develop this condition experience stress, especially if the excess sweating affects their self-esteem or confidence.

Hyperhidrosis is often diagnosed in people with mental health conditions, such as social anxiety, which may influence its onset.

Diabetes (diabetic ketoacidosis)

Diabetes mellitus is a condition that occurs when your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t effectively use what it makes. It leads to high blood sugar.

If blood sugar levels get very high, a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can occur. Ketones build up to dangerous levels in the body and are secreted into the blood and urine. Additionally, DKA causes your breath to have a fruity odor.

Medical Emergency

If you have diabetes and experience a sudden fruity smell in your breath accompanied by frequent urination and a very high blood glucose level, see a doctor immediately. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency.

Menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy

Have you ever thought you might smell different during your period? Research has found that women at high fertility within their menstrual cycle actually put out a different, perceived to be more attractive, scent to men than those at low fertility in their cycle.

This scent was even suggested to influence women’s interactions with other women, as fertility apparently smells good to everyone.

Other times, hormone fluctuations may cause a change in body odor or vaginal odor. This may not necessarily be unpleasant — just different. A subtle smell isn’t cause for concern, and instead may be due to pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation.

Vaginal infections

Several vaginal infections, such as a vaginal parasite infection or bacterial vaginosis, may cause a sudden change in vaginal odor. Other types of infections that occur outside of the vagina may also cause a change in body odor in the affected area.

Vaginal yeast infections usually don’t cause vaginal odor. However, they’re typically accompanied by itching, redness, or burning.

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age and often produces a fishy odor. Its other symptoms are similar to those of a yeast infection.

Trichomoniasis, a type of parasitic sexually transmitted infection, often has no symptoms but may change vaginal odor. Discharge can smell bad, change color, or become frothy.

Skin infections

If your skin develops an infection, either new or due to a preexisting condition, you may experience a sudden smell at the site of the infection.

Some types of skin infections or conditions that might cause a smell include:

  • trichomycosis axillaris, a bacterial infection of underarm hair follicles
  • erythrasma, a superficial bacterial skin infection
  • intertrigo, a rash in a skinfold that can become odorous in the presence of a superimposed, secondary infection such as candidiasis (yeast infection)

Athlete’s foot

If your feet are suddenly starting to smell bad and itch, you may have developed a common fungal infection called athlete’s foot.

Fungus thrives in the warm, moist environment of your shoes and socks. If you don’t practice healthy foot hygiene habits, you may be more likely to develop it.


Can cancer smell? Some people with advanced cancer have reported unpleasant body odors, but they’re typically due to infected cancer-related wounds. These wounds occur in around 5 percent of people with cancer.

Some people with gynecological tumors do complain of unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge. This results from certain acids that occur, which can be reduced by using the antibiotic metronidazole.

Vitamins or supplements

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (when you don’t get enough vitamins or minerals in your diet) or malabsorption (when your body can’t absorb the nutrients in what you eat) can sometimes cause body odor, or a smell to occur in your stool or urine.

For instance, scurvy — vitamin C deficiency — can cause sweat to smell putrid.

Other causes

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI). A bacterial UTI occurs when bacteria enter your urinary tract and multiply. This type of infection can cause your urine to produce a strong odor, along with affecting the sensation, frequency, urgency, and appearance of your urine.
  • Pneumonia. This is a lung infection that sometimes causes foul-smelling breath and sputum.
  • Tuberculosis (TB). This is a bacterial infection that occurs in the lungs, throat, and neck, causing breath to have a foul smell. Swelling in ulcerated lymph nodes may also produce a smell of stale beer.
  • Toxin poisoning. If you ingest certain toxins, your body odor may be affected. For instance, ingesting cyanide can cause breath to smell like bitter almond. Arsenic and certain insecticides can create an intense garlic-like odor. Poisoning by turpentine makes urine smell like violets.
  • Uremia. This is a sign of kidney failure. It can cause breath to smell of ammonia or urine.
  • Intestinal obstructions. If intestines become obstructed, some people may vomit the contents of their stomach, causing them to have fecal-smelling breath.
  • Belly button infection. Although hygiene is usually the cause of a smelly navel, if your belly button starts to have an offensive smell, it may be infected. If infected, other symptoms may include discharge, redness, itchiness, swelling, and even bleeding.
  • Ear infection. While earwax is normal and healthy, smelly earwax may indicate a problem or infection. Other symptoms can include redness, itching, pain, balance issues, hearing issues, and pus.

What does your body odour say about your health?

Body odour is one of those embarrassing conditions that most people go out of their way to mask. But they’re not always successful — anyone who’s found themselves face-to-pit with a smelly straphanger on the subway can attest to that.

But sometimes, the type of odour or a change in odour can reveal an underlying health condition.

Before you rush to analyze the kind of scent emanating from your body, keep in mind that body odour is completely natural and is the result of bacteria on the body breaking down protein into certain acids.

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“Body odour becomes stronger over time as more bacteria and sweat build up on the skin, and they interact with each other,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said to Allure. “This is not harmful, as healthy bacteria live symbiotically on our bodies.”

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When should you be concerned about your smell

There are some rare conditions that can lead to excessive body odour and that can be hard to control. Trimethylaminuria, also known as fish odour syndrome, is a disorder that causes the sufferer’s urine, breath and sweat to smell like fish due to the body’s inability to metabolize trimethylamine, a gut compound. It’s a very rare condition and it’s unknown exactly how many people suffer from it, however, anecdotal evidence suggests it can be managed by avoiding consumption of fish, showering and changing clothing frequently, with antibiotics to control gut bacteria and with activated charcoal.

Some chronic conditions can also cause an unpleasant smell. Liver disease, diabetes and kidney issues are often accompanied by strong-smelling breath or body odour, and while the scents usually follow a diagnosis of these conditions, in some rare cases, doctors may use them as a guide to zeroing in on the disease.

“There are groups looking to fund research with dogs as detectors because dogs can pick up the odour in people, particularly children who are not properly regulating themselves,” George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre, said to

In the case of liver disease, sufferers can experience excessive sweating and a foul-smelling odour that’s been likened to rotten eggs; diabetic ketoacidosis, which is the result of a blood-sugar spike, causes both fruity-smelling breath and a pungent body odour; and excessive sweat and odour can occur in people with kidney failure due to their overactive parathyroid gland.

READ MORE: How to switch to natural deodorant and other ways to detox your beauty routine

Stress stinks

Some people may find that they smell perfectly normal after a long run, but the minute their stress levels spike — whether it’s at work or at the dinner table with their in-laws — it can start to take on a pungent odour.

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As it turns out, that’s because the sweat that’s secreted during exercise or when you’re in a hot environment comes from the eccrine glands, which are all over your body and work to release sweat to help cool you down. Your armpit, however, houses apocrine glands that kick into high gear when stress mounts.

Unlike the sweat that comes out of the eccrine glands, which is mostly water, the apocrine glands release a higher concentration of fat, lipids, and proteins resulting in a much stronger odour.

“When you’re feeling anxiety, the sympathetic system causes your hands, feet, and underarms to perspire,” Dr. Ramsey Markus, associate professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said to Refinery29. “That’s priming you for action under the fight-or-flight response.”

You might be able to smell a person’s mood

Although it’s still a nascent field, some studies have been conducted on how moods like happiness, fear and disgust can actually be communicated through body odour. The message is carried through what’s called chemical signals or “chemosignals.”

READ MORE: Does deodorant cause cancer? Looking into the decades-long debate

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that the sweat secreted by test subjects when exposed to fear-inducing or disgust-inducing movies was able to elicit the same emotional responses in neutral subjects who smelled their sweat.

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“If you were able to analyze the chemical composition, the biochemical signature of the odour, the types of things you could do with that are quite unlimited,” lead researcher Gün Semin said to The Globe & Mail. “Imagine that I give you a soap or a perfume that has the same biochemical composition as a happy sweat — I would be a rich man, probably.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Washing hands thoroughly with soap and running water can help you avoid staph skin infections.

Many people carry staph bacteria either on the surface of their skin or in their nose, and in most cases it does not cause any problems. A staph infection occurs when the staphylococcus bacteria gets inside the body and affects the skin.

Symptoms of staph skin infection

The symptoms of these types of staph infections can range from mild to serious.

Wound infection

Any wound, such as a cut or a graze, might become infected with staph bacteria. Your wound may be infected with staph if it is:

  • red, swollen and painful
  • discharging pus or liquid which may be honey coloured and crusty
  • healing slower than usual
  • has an unpleasant smell

Read more about wound care here.


Cellulitis is a spreading inflammation of the skin and the tissues directly beneath it. It needs to be treated with antibiotics. You may have cellulitis if you have nausea, shivers and chills, along with skin which is:

  • red
  • painful to touch
  • hot
  • swollen
  • tender

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS)

SSSS is the most serious staph skin infection. It usually affects babies and children under the age of 5, and occurs when the staph bacteria release a poison that damages the skin. This makes the skin look like it has been burned with boiling water.

Your child may have SSSS if they are feeling unwell with:

  • a temperature over 38°C
  • skin which is painful to touch
  • skin that has a burnt appearance or is peeling off


Impetigo is also known as ‘school sores’ and is a very contagious skin infection that affects children and infants.

Your child may have impetigo if they have itchy sores or blisters which have a yellow or brown crust after they rupture.

The impetigo rash can be anywhere on the body but is quite common around the nose and mouth.

Read more about impetigo here.

The impetigo rash can often be found on the face near the mouth and nose.

Treatment of staph skin infections

Most staph skin infections are treated with a course of antibiotics.

Simple ones can be treated at home. Serious ones need to be treated in hospital with intravenous antibiotics and other treatments.

It is important to make sure that staph infections are not spread to others.

How do I avoid getting a staph skin infection?

In most cases you can avoid developing a staph skin infection through basic hygiene. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water and dry them with a clean towel, or disposable paper towel.

If you live with someone who has a staph skin infection you may be able to avoid developing the condition by not sharing any personal items with them such as toothbrushes, towels, clothes and linen, washing their towels and bed linen every day, and washing your hands immediately if you come into contact with them.

Children with impetigo should not go to school or pre-school for 48 hours after they have started antibiotics and then only if all the sores are covered with watertight dressings.

When should I get help?

If you suspect that you have a staph skin infection, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Severe staph skin infections, like staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS), may need to be treated in hospital.

If you are concerned that your child has symptoms of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS), take them to your doctor as soon as possible or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Staphylococcal infections

The symptoms of staphylococcal infections vary depending on the type of infection you have.

Staphylococcal skin infections

Staph infections most commonly affect the skin. Symptoms for the most common types of staphylococcal skin infections are outlined below.


A boil is a red, painful, lump on the skin that usually develops on the neck, face, armpit or buttocks. When a boil first forms, it appears as a swollen, painful red lump. As it grows, yellowish-white pus builds up at the centre of the boil.

As tempting as it may be, it is important not to squeeze a boil because it can lead to complications.

In most cases, the boil will eventually burst within a few weeks and the pus will drain away, leaving the skin to heal.

Read more about the symptoms of boils.

Skin abscess

An abscess is a painful collection of pus that may appear as a lump under the surface of the skin or an open break in the skin.

The abscess may get larger and more painful as the infection continues and more pus is produced.
Staphylococcal infections can cause skin abscesses on the head and neck, limbs, underarms and torso.

Read more about the symptoms of a skin abscess.


A hair follicle is a small sac in the skin that a hair grows out of. If a hair follicle becomes infected with staphylococcus bacteria then itchy, white bumps filled with pus can appear.

If the infection is deep in the skin, the infected hair follicle may develop into a boil (see above) and become more painful.

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that mainly affects children. It does not affect the deeper skin layers. There are two types of impetigo:

  • non-bullous impetigo – which causes sores that quickly rupture, leaving a yellow-brown crust
  • bullous impetigo – which causes large, painless, fluid-filled blisters (bullae)

The sores and blisters caused by both types of impetigo are usually very itchy. However, you should avoid scratching them because it can spread the infection to other parts of your body and the bacteria easily spread through close contact.

Read more about symptoms of impetigo.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layer of the skin (dermis) and the layer of fat and soft tissues (the subcutaneous tissues) that lie underneath the skin.

Cellulitis causes your skin to become:

  • red
  • painful
  • hot
  • swollen
  • tender
  • blistered

Cellulitis can make you feel generally unwell and cause you to feel sick (nausea) or have shivers and chills.

Read more about the symptoms of cellulitis.

Any wound has the potential to become infected, including cuts and grazes or surgical wounds.

Symptoms include:

  • redness, swelling and pain at the site of the wound
  • a discharge of pus or liquid from the wound
  • the wound healing much slower than would usually be expected
  • an unpleasant smell coming from the site of the wound

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome

Probably the most serious type of staphylococcal skin infection is staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS), which most commonly affects babies and young children under five.

In this type of infection, the staphylococcal bacteria release a toxin (poison) that damages the skin, leading to extensive blistering which looks like the skin has been scalded by boiling water.

Other symptoms of SSSS include:

  • painful skin
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • large areas of skin peeling off or falling away
  • redness of the skin which usually spreads across the entire body

Invasive staphylococcal infections

Invasive staph infections are uncommon but potentially serious. Some of the types and their symptoms are described below.

Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is a condition where a joint becomes infected with the S. aureus bacteria. Symptoms of septic arthritis include:

  • joint pain and swelling
  • red and tender skin around the joint
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above

Read more about septic arthritis.

Septic bursitis

In septic bursitis, the bursa becomes infected. A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac which forms under the skin, usually over the joints and between tendons and bones.

Symptoms of septic bursitis include:

  • pain, swelling and tenderness in the affected body part which feels warm to the touch
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • chills

Read more about the symptoms of septic bursitis.


Pyomyositis is an infection of the muscles used to move and support the bones of the skeleton. It is more common in tropical areas of the world.

Symptoms of pyomyositis include:

  • a very high temperature, which can be as high as 40C (104F)
  • chills
  • pain and swelling in the affected muscles
  • the muscles feel soft and spongy to the touch due to the presence of pus


Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. One of the larger leg bones is usually affected.

Symptoms of osteomyelitis include:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • bone pain, which can often be severe
  • swelling, redness and warmth at the site of the infection
  • a general sense of feeling unwell
  • the affected body part is tender to touch
  • a restricted range of movement in the affected body part

Read more about the symptoms of osteomyelitis.


Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • difficulty breathing – your breathing may be rapid and shallow and you may feel breathless, even when you are resting
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • feeling generally unwell
  • pain in your chest

Read more about the symptoms of pneumonia.

Toxic shock syndrome

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare condition caused when S. aureus bacteria enter the bloodstream and begin to release toxins (poisons). Most people are immune to the effects of the toxins, however in some people, the toxins can cause a drop in blood pressure and organ and tissue damage. The S. aureus can be found in a small wound, or associated with periods and using tampons.

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • vomiting
  • a skin rash that looks like sunburn
  • diarrhoea
  • fainting or feeling faint
  • muscle aches
  • confusion

Read more about the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome.


Endocarditis is an infection of the inner layer of the heart, particularly affecting the heart valves. The symptoms of endocarditis can sometimes develop gradually over many weeks or quickly over a few days.

Symptoms of endocarditis, caused by a staphylococcal infection, include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • chills and shivers
  • muscular aches and pains
  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • weakness and fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • headache
  • shortness of breath

Read more about the symptoms of endocarditis.


Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, can be due to any bacteria. The symptoms usually develop quickly and include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • fast heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • fast breathing
  • low blood pressure (hypotension), which causes you to feel dizzy when you stand up
  • a change in mental behaviour, such as confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of consciousness

Sepsis is a medical emergency. Request an ambulance if you suspect that you or someone in your care is experiencing sepsis.

Read more about sepsis.

Staphylococcal food poisoning

The symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning develop quickly after eating contaminated food (usually within 30 minutes to six hours). They include:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhoea

These symptoms should pass within one to three days. However, if your symptoms persist beyond this time, or if they worsen rapidly, you should contact your doctor for advice.

Read more about the symptoms of food poisoning.

Sweat and bacteria are the main causes of

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