Understanding Body Odor: What’s That Smell?

Medically reviewed by | By

Update Date 09/08/2020 . 4 mins read
Share now

Self-confidence is key to achieving things that you want to do. If you do not believe in yourself and your abilities, you may find yourself feeling self-doubt and shame. Feeling good about yourself involves looking good and, of course, smelling good, too. If you suffer from excessive sweating and body odor, there is hope! Because there are numerous commercially available body odor treatments. 

Nothing ruins a good outfit or hair day like the presence of body odor. When you sweat too much, you may worry about what others may smell and think. On top of that, sweat marks can also form dark, wet patches on your clothes. Not a good fashion statement for any occasion.

Excessive sweating causes body odor, and everyone sweats regardless of age, sex, and gender. Learn more about the causes of body odor, and how you can say goodbye to stinky armpits for good.

The Science Behind Body Odor

Sweating and body odor often come hand-in-hand. If you are prone to sweating too much, then you may be more prone to having body odor. To understand body odor, you should know why a person sweats in the first place.

Sweating, or perspiration, occurs when the body releases fluid through the sweat glands located on the surface of the skin. There are two major types of sweat glands in the body, namely:

  • Eccrine Glands. The eccrine glands are sweat glands that are located directly on the surface of the skin.
  • Apocrine Glands. Apocrine glands are sweat glands found in areas of the body with the most hair follicles like the armpits, groin, and scalp.

Why Do We Sweat?

Sweat keeps the body from overheating. When your body sweats, the moisture found in certain areas of the body evaporates due to exposure to air, which creates a cooling effect. 

Sweat, however, has a major downside: odor. It is important to take note that sweat itself does not have a smell. However, when bacteria on the skin interacts with sweat, it causes body odor.

Also, around puberty, a sudden increase in body odor in females and males is normal. This is because hormones stimulate the apocrine glands that cause a person to sweat more. Aside from hormones, many factors also contribute to body odor. 

But sweating is a normal and healthy body function. 

body odor treatment

What Causes Body Odor?

Understanding why you sweat helps doctors determine what appropriate body odor treatment for you. A person perspires for several reasons, namely:


If you find yourself sweating too much, even if you have no reason to be sweating, then you may have a condition called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating in areas such as the armpits, soles of the feet, and even the palms. 

Hyperhidrosis is not fatal, but it can make a person extremely self-conscious or embarrassed, especially when accompanied by body odor. This condition has two types, namely:

Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis

Primary focal hyperhidrosis can occur to any healthy person, and there is excessive sweating in some areas of the body like the feet, palms, underarms, or face. 

This type of hyperhidrosis has no medical explanation. Doctors believe that overactive sweat glands cause this.

Secondary Hyperhidrosis

Secondary hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating linked to medical conditions like gout, diabetes, thyroid problems, nervous system disorders, etc. 

How Do I Prevent Body Odor?

Preventing body odor can be a matter of incorporating simple hygiene practices into your daily routine. If you would like to avoid body odor, make sure to:

  • Take a bath daily and make sure to wash all parts of your body with soap. If you live in a place where the weather is particularly humid, try to wash whenever you feel particularly sweaty.
  • Wear clean clothing, and, if possible, wear clothing appropriate to the weather. Also, try to buy clothes made from a breathable material like cotton.
  • Avoid spicy or pungent food.
  • If you are wondering how to get rid of armpit odor without deodorant, shave your armpits. If the underarm area has less hair, there are fewer chances of bacteria interacting with sweat.

What is Healthy, Normal Vaginal Odor?

How is Body Odor Treated?

Doctors can treat hyperhidrosis through medical interventions. However, body odor cannot be treated. Below are the possible treatments for excessive sweating that cause body odor:

  • Antiperspirants. The first course of action that a dermatologist may recommend for excessive sweating is an antiperspirant, which also doubles as a deodorant. Alternatives for body odor treatment like baking soda can also be an effective and natural option besides commercially produced antiperspirants.
  • Botulinum Toxin Injections. Botulinum toxin injections, also known as botox, can be used for those suffering from excessive sweating in the armpits. Doctors inject tiny amounts of botox into different areas of the armpits, and these prevent chemicals in the body from stimulating the sweat glands.
  • Medication. Your doctor may prescribe medication that can help prevent the sweat glands from perspiring. This type of treatment is not advisable for those who exercise or live in hot climates.
  • Surgery. If all else fails, your doctor may suggest surgery that involves removing some sweat glands or a sympathectomy. 

Sympathectomy is a surgical procedure that involves destroying nerves that send signals to the sweat glands. It is important to note that these surgeries have associated risks like infection or scarring. 

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, body odor can rob anyone of their confidence and make social situations awkward. Excessive sweating is usually the leading cause of body odor, which can be treated through medical interventions or hygiene practices. Try different body odor treatments to see which best suits you and gives you the best results. 

Learn more about Healthy Habits here

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy

You might also like

Most Common Causes of Diarrhea with Fever

We often experience fever and diarrhea separately, but what if they occur together? What are the most common causes of diarrhea with fever?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Diarrhea 24/11/2020 . 3 mins read

The Different Types of Cardiomyopathy

What are the different types of cardiomyopathy? Learn more about the different types of cardiomyopathy and their specific characteristics, here.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos
Cardiomyopathy 24/11/2020 . 3 mins read

Common Causes of Breakthrough Bleeding and Spotting

Women may experience bleeding whether or not they are taking birth control pills. What are the common causes of breakthrough bleeding and spotting?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Women's Health Issues 24/11/2020 . 3 mins read

Dementia Causes and Effects: How People Can Develop Dementia

The first step on how to prevent dementia is to first understand the what causes it, and what effects it has on the human brain.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease 24/11/2020 . 4 mins read

Recommended for you

effects of a caffeine crash

Effects of a Caffeine Crash and How to Avoid Them

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nicole G. Nera
Written by Stephanie Nicole G. Nera
Published on 26/11/2020 . 3 mins read
Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms

Seasonal Affective Disorder, Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 26/11/2020 . 4 mins read
what causes spinal pain

What Causes Spinal Pain? Find Out the Answer Here

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Published on 24/11/2020 . 3 mins read
signs of narcissistic personality disorder

Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 24/11/2020 . 4 mins read