ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What's That Smell? Sweat and Body Odor

Updated on October 12, 2013

Body odor is an unpleasant fact of life. This article looks at common treatments, home remedies and lifestyle practices to reduce excessive sweating and body odor.

Body odor is an unpleasant fact of life.
Body odor is an unpleasant fact of life. | Source

Stinky Facts of Life

Do you struggle with excessive sweat and body odor? You are not alone. Everyone sweats to varying degrees, and everyone faces body odor from time to time.

Body odor is an unpleasant fact of life. Fortunately, you can remedy the problem with a few simple techniques.

There is little you can do to prevent perspiration; it is a normal, desirable function of the body. But sweating does not have to keep you on the sidelines of life, whether the problem is related to your health or personal hygiene.

Good hygiene and a healthy diet can eliminate, or at least minimize, your sweat-related body odor. And you can manage uncontrollable perspiration with prescription products and other treatments.

What is Body Odor?

Most people know that body odor is linked to sweat. But did you know that perspiration is virtually odorless? Sweat only turns foul-smelling when it comes into contact with bacteria. Sweat is a breeding ground for bacteria, which can multiply quickly.

Excessive sweating can indicate an underlying medical problem that requires treatment. Most people experience normal sweating, and various remedies can manage their symptoms.

The pungent smell of sweat mingled with bacteria has many different names. People often abbreviate body odor as "B.O." In the medical community, it may go by the name of bromhydrosis, bromidrosis, malodorous sweat, osmidrosis, ozochrotia or fetid sweat.

Physical exertion triggers perspiration.
Physical exertion triggers perspiration. | Source

What Triggers Sweat?

Wet skin, damp clothes and a sour smell are tell-tale signs of body odor. Various things can trigger perspiration on the skin.

The most common triggers are physical activity, hot weather, anxiety, stress and nervousness. Sweating under these conditions is healthy and natural.

Diet, mood, hormones, drugs, illness, medications and other factors can alter the natural smell of perspiration. It is not until sweat comes into contact with bacteria that offensive odors occur.

Sweating is a necessary biological process. It regulates body temperature, balances body chemicals, flushes out toxins and hydrates skin. The skin has two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands open onto the skin's surface throughout the body. Apocrine glands open into hair follicles on the armpits, scalp and groin.

A rise in body temperature stimulates the eccrine glands to secrete fluid (mainly water and salt) onto the skin to cool the body. The apocrine glands, on the other hand, secrete a fatty perspiration. The bacterial breakdown of this type of sweat is the primary cause of body odor.

Antiperspirants and deodorants can help.
Antiperspirants and deodorants can help. | Source

Common Solutions

How can you stop excessive sweating and body odor? For most people, the solution is simple: an antiperspirant or deodorant. These products are available over-the-counter (OTC) or by prescription.

Antiperspirants are aluminum-based products that block sweat pores to reduce sweating. Deodorants are alcohol-based products that discourage bacterial growth.

While they can't eliminate perspiration, deodorants contain fragrances that mask unpleasant odors. The most popular products combine an antiperspirant with a deodorant.

OTC products are usually effective for normal sweat and body odor. If they cannot manage your problem, prescription treatments are available.

Doctors usually prescribe aluminum chloride to control excessive sweating, but this solution is not without side effects. Prescription products may cause redness, swelling and itching skin.

Lifestyle Practices and Home Remedies

More than just a nuisance, body odor can cause a great deal of embarrassment. It can lead to feelings of shame, isolation, depression and low self-esteem. Certain lifestyle practices can help you manage excessive sweating and body odor, and many home remedies are also helpful. Here are a few suggestions.

Gillette Clinical Advanced Solid Ultimate Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant, 1.7 Ounce
Gillette Clinical Advanced Solid Ultimate Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant, 1.7 Ounce

This clinical strength OTC product is 34 percent better than most prescription antiperspirants.

Dial Body Wash, Spring Water with All Day Freshness, 21-Fluid Ounces (Pack of 3)
Dial Body Wash, Spring Water with All Day Freshness, 21-Fluid Ounces (Pack of 3)

This antibacterial body wash has light moisturizers and a clean, brisk scent.

Body Mint Sport for Active and Athletic Lifestyles 54 tabs
Body Mint Sport for Active and Athletic Lifestyles 54 tabs

These internal deodorizing tablets tackle body, breath and foot odor.

De Odor Works - Natural Deodorant Alternative
De Odor Works - Natural Deodorant Alternative

This portable stainless steel product is safe, natural and effective for removing body odor.

  • Bathe often. Regular baths and showers wash away odor-causing bacteria and keep new growth in check. Use a washcloth and antibacterial soap to scrub your whole body. Pay close attention to your armpits, feet and groin area. For serious odor, try soaking in an Epsom salt bath. Or add a few cups of tomato juice to your bathwater (a popular remedy for skunk smells).
  • Stay dry. Bacteria thrive in damp places near your groin, between your toes and in the folds of your skin. Use a clean towel to dry your body thoroughly after a bath or shower. Follow up with body powder, foot powder, cornstarch or baking soda to absorb sweat and stay dry.
  • Discourage bacteria. Apply an antiperspirant-deodorant to your armpits after bathing, and re-apply at bedtime. Or wipe apple cider vinegar, lime or lemon juice, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide under your arms, on your feet and on the palms of your hands. These natural remedies neutralize acid and discourage bacterial growth.
  • Wear natural fibers. Cotton, wool, silk and other natural fabrics absorb sweat and wick away moisture, giving your skin a chance to breathe. Shoes made from leather and other natural materials do the same thing for your feet. Change your clothes, socks and underwear at least twice a day.
  • Do your laundry. If you have excessive sweat and body odor problems, do your laundry often. Never wear clothing or use bath towels without washing them first, and avoid sleeping on dirty sheets and pillowcases. Change your bedding often.
  • Shave your hair. Body hair is a good place for bacterial growth. The apocrine sweat glands near hair follicles are responsible for much of your body odor. Consider shaving your armpits and pubic hair to keep from harboring bacteria.
  • Change your diet. A few dietary changes can help you manage excessive sweating and body odor. Eliminate foods and drinks that encourage perspiration, such as caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages. Avoid foods with strong odors like onion and garlic, and limit processed foods and refined sugar. Fruits, vegetables and water are your best choices.
  • Manage your stress. Stress and anxiety can trigger perspiration, increase body odor and cause more stress. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Nervous types can teach themselves to be "calm, cool, and collected."
  • Seek medical help. If you have uncontrollable perspiration, seek medical attention. Certain illnesses and medications may cause excessive sweating. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe the proper treatment.

Your Turn

How do you control body odor? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.

Reference Sources

Good hygiene and a healthy diet minimizes sweat-related body odor.
Good hygiene and a healthy diet minimizes sweat-related body odor. | Source

© 2011 Annette R. Smith


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      6 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Rockstarhobbo. I'm glad you found this information helpful. All the best, and happy hubbing!

    • Rockstarhobbo profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for this awesome article ! I've always been facing problems in this area, and hopefully this article will do me some help :)

    • Annette R. Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette R. Smith 

      7 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, Chris. It's good to meet you here!

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 

      7 years ago

      Good article.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)