Health for All

Body Odour Causes and Prevention

body odour

Body odour is the smell produced from your body. It can be an unpleasant smell produced by bacteria on the skin. The medical term for this is bromhidrosis.


Anyone can produce body odour when the apocrine (meaning sweat glands) develop and then these produce the sweat that bacteria can quickly break down. So men often have a higher likelihood of having body odour because they tend to sweat more than women. There are also things that can increase body odour such as being overweight or consuming richer, spicy food and drinks. These include garlic or spices and even some types of medications such as antidepressants.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Certain medical conditions can cause a fruity smell which can sometimes be a sign of diabetes. A bleach like smell may indicate liver or kidney disease. Hyperhidrosis is a condition where a person sweats in extreme amounts. For example, a person sweats much more than needed by the body to regulate the temperature. Therefore, if you have hyperhidrosis you may also have that smelly feet. Smelly feet can be due to wearing shoes and socks that prevent sweat from evaporating or being absorbed. This can attract the bacteria and then when you sweat it may be causing you distress or you may notice a change in your body odour. In this case you should consult your doctor because excessive sweating and body odour is an unpleasant issue that can affect a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

Treatment and Prevention

Body odour is a problem that can generally be handled through getting rid of excess skin bacteria. This means that you are responsible for this smell and keeping the skin in the affected area clean and dry. Your own armpits contain a large number of apocrine glands that are responsible for producing body odour. It is always good to keep your armpits clean and free of bacteria. It is recommended that you take a warm bath or shower every day and wash your armpits thoroughly. Do make sure that you regularly shave your armpits and wear clean clothes. Further to that, you can also limit the amount of spicy foods that you eat.

Types of Deodorant

Do note that the active ingredients in tea are different from those in antiperspirant and deodorants. You can use perfumes to mask the smell of sweat. These perfumes may contain aluminum chloride which reduces the amount of sweat produced by your body. The use of roll-on types and tin restraint types are best for heavily sweat people as they tend to be more effective. Aluminum chloride is the active ingredient in most nutrients so it helps prevent the production of sweat. If this in itself does not improve your body odour, you might want to consider a stronger form of antiperspirant which contains more aluminum chloride.

You may consult your pharmacist or doctor for the appropriate product. Aluminum chloride solutions can be applied every night before bed and washed off in the morning. This is so because you stop sweating while sleeping so the solution can seep into your sweat glands and block them. This can help in reducing how much you sweat the following day. As the solution begins to take effect you can reduce the use gradually, like every other night or once or twice a week.


The last solution if these home remedies do no work is surgery. This may be recommended for severe cases of body odour. Normally when cannot be treated at home through remedies and over the counter products. One type of surgery involves the removing of small area of the skin from your armpit and the tissue just under it. This gets rid of the most bothersome sweat glands. It may also be possible for the static lines to be taken out from the deeper layer of skin using liposuction.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy

Another form of surgery is called Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (also known as ETS). This surgery involves destroying the nerves that control the sweating. Surgeons would make two or three small incisions with a tiny camera (known as the endoscope). Camera will be inserted and the surgeon can see the inside of the armpit on a monitor. Then a small surgical tool can be used to allow them to cut that nerve. Alternatively the Surgeon may use a thin electrode that emits an electric current and destroy the nerves. There are some risk factors associated with this that include the damage of the nearby areas of the body. So you should fully discuss these factors with the surgeon before going for this kind of surgery.


Botulinum (referred more commonly as Botox) which is a possible treatment for people with the excessive underarm sweating. It is a powerful poison that can be used safely too. In several doses of between 12 and 20 injections on affected area. Example, the body parts such as the feet and face. The toxin works by blocking the signals from your brain to the sweat glands. This in turn reduces the amount of sweat produced. This procedure takes 30 to 40 minutes and the effects of Botox usually last for between 2 and 8 months. After this, further treatment will be needed. The availability of a treatment depends on the variety of clinics or the hospitals. You may need to consult the cosmetic surgeons or Doctors for this treatment.

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