Have you ever caught someone -or yourself- doing the infamous pit check? You catch a whiff of something foul in the air and wonder… hmmm is that stinky armpit aroma coming from me? Sniff… sniff…
Few things rival the toe-curling stench that comes from sweaty, smelly armpits. If you feel like you need to lock yourself inside a meat locker to survive the long, hot summer with your armpits intact, fear no more. While smelly armpits are a challenge, they’re not unavoidable or untreatable. Here’s a few tips and tricks to keep your underarms smelling fresh and funk free.
7 Tips for Taming Armpit Odor
- 1. Master the Art of Cleanliness
- 2. Stop Stinky Sweat with Antiperspirant
- 3. Mask Body Odor with Deodorant
- 4. Groom Your Underarm Area
- 5. Reduce Stress Levels
- 6. Wear Clothing that Breathes
- 7. Monitor What You Eat… and Drink
Smelly armpit causes are all over the map – they’re genetic, they’re environmental and they’re frustrating. Let’s start with the basics for how to stop smelly armpits.
Why Do Armpits Stink?
First, let’s talk about sweat. Excessive underarm sweating is called axillary hyperhidrosis. This condition on its own is frustrating and can greatly affect people’s confidence in social situations. When you throw in the chance for eye-watering body odor on top of the pit stains and rings, things get really serious.
You might think it’s the sweat itself that causes your smelly armpits, but that’s only partly true. Interestingly enough, sweat by itself really doesn’t smell like anything. It’s when the moisture of your sweat glands combines with the bacteria on your skin that invites odor to your armpit party.
Our underarms provide the right environment for a perfect storm of stench. The area is more naturally prone to bacterial growth, and our sweat provides the right kind of moisture for skin bacteria to thrive. It’s a private, closed-off environment that doesn’t usually get a lot of air. Our sweat and our skin bacteria mix it up until the folks around us smell the effect.
The type of sweat glands our body uses also makes a big difference. We have two different types of sweat glands throughout our bodies: eccrine and apocrine. When we’re working out or sweating in the hot sun, the resulting sweat is typically a product of our eccrine glands. It’s mostly water and salt and is produced all over our bodies. This kind of sweat doesn’t generally contribute much to odor. It’s our apocrine glands, on the other hand, that can really cause a stink.
Apocrine sweat glands are more likely triggered by stress response – anything that makes our body think we’re in a fight-or-flight situation. A first date, a big presentation at work, a near-wreck on the highway – all of these can trigger our apocrine sweat glands to raise the temperature and start the perspiration. This sweat is a little nastier. It has higher fatty acids content, and bacteria absolutely love it, which is why they like to hang out, party and reproduce in it – which causes your armpits to become a smelly cesspool. Unfortunately, our apocrine glands tend to be concentrated in our armpits and groin.
Other complications can lead to underarm odor, too – things like certain medical conditions (diabetes, for example), some medications, and even your diet can influence how your sweat might smell. If you have poor hygiene habits, like not showering regularly or not washing with soap, that makes smelly underarms even more likely.
7 Tips for Taming Armpit Odor
There are several things you can do to anticipate, prevent and eliminate really smelly armpits and body odor – keep reading to find out more about how to stop armpit sweat and how to smell good even when the heat is on.
1. Master the Art of Cleanliness
If you’re worried about smelly armpits, take your daily hygiene seriously. Daily showering and bathing is a must.
Removing dead skin, dirt, sweat, and oil will prevent bacteria growth in your armpits.
Use antibacterial soap and warm water to get rid of odor-causing bacteria in your underarms.
You might even find it necessary to shower multiple times per day… especially if you live in a hot/humid climate or have an active career.
It’s important to keep your armpits dry after you shower. Bacteria loves a damp, wet, warm armpit. Dry your underarms completely after bathing or you’ll risk undoing any good your shower may have done.
If you don’t have access or time for a shower, carry body wipes or shower wipes for on-the-go cleansing. A quick wipe down of your armpits will keep them fresh and bacteria free. Less bacteria means less armpit odor. Even better, grab some exfoliating shower wipes that help remove dead skin, stubborn dirt and sweat.
2. Stop Stinky Sweat with Antiperspirant
Antiperspirant can be one of your best allies in fighting bad armpit odor – largely because it can help reduce the amount of sweat your underarms produce in the first place.
Most antiperspirants contain some form of aluminum. Aluminum is the active ingredient that does the sweat blocking.
It’s pretty simple: remove sweat from the equation and you can eliminate much of the odor-causing bacteria.
If supermarket antiperspirants like Dove, Degree, and Old Spice aren’t getting the job done, try a prescription or clinical strength antiperspirant. You can find over-the-counter clinical antiperspirants at your local drugstore or on the interwebs.
3. Mask Armpit Odor with Deodorant
While antiperspirants are formulated to stop sweat before it starts, deodorants concentrate solely on eliminating odor.
The best deodorant for smelly armpits is the one that works best for you. Fragrance, body chemistry and other factors can determine how effective a deodorant is in taming your armpit odor.
Using a deodorant with an antiperspirant gives you added protection for sweat and odor.
When it comes to deodorant vs. antiperspirant, it’s easy to get confused. Just keep in mind that deodorants are designed for odor control, not preventing your underarm sweat.
4. Groom Your Underarm Area
Controlling underarm hair can also help control odor. Hairy pits are more likely to sweat, and once the sweat has started, hair follicles provide an ideal environment to trap that moisture. This encourages the growth of – you guessed it – odor-causing bacteria.
Shaving your armpits can help keep the underarm area clean and also helps your antiperspirant form a better sweat block.
5. Reduce Stress Levels
As you know, anxiety and stress can lead to smelly sweat. By managing stress you can reduce this type of stinky stress sweat.
Some people report success from using meditation, deep-breathing techniques, visualization, or even behavioral therapy. It may sound counterintuitive, but a lot of people also report that exercise can help them cut down on their pit sweat – because exercise releases endorphins that counter stress.
So, while you might sweat a lot during a workout, regular exercise can help you manage your day-to-day stress response. Staying calm in stressful situations can go a long way toward preventing underarm odor.
6. Wear Clothing That Breathes
Once your body has started to produce sweat, your number one concern is how to remove it from your body. That’s when modern garment technology becomes your best friend.
Wear moisture-wicking fabrics that are light and breathable – like bamboo and cotton, for example. This allows sweat to properly evaporate off the surface of your skin, rather than becoming trapped with all of your skin bacteria.
You may even want to wear a sweat-resistant undershirt designed specifically to absorb moisture and pull it away from your skin before it has a chance to mix with underarm bacteria.
7. Monitor What You Eat & Drink
Sometimes the food you eat may contribute to your smelly pits. The culprits are often excessive red meat, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, spicy food, overly processed foods.
Smelly foods like garlic and onions not only affect your breath – they can pass the smell directly through your perspiration, too. On the other hand, you can also use food to help prevent sweaty pits – choices like broccoli, yogurt, fruit, pecans, tofu, and even shellfish have been shown to help keep body odor on the down-low.
Water helps, too – ironically, dehydration can lead to more sweating, and drinking enough water can help regulate your body temperature.
Say Goodbye to Armpit Odor
Smelly armpits aren’t a sentence for lifetime solitary confinement. While they’re a nuisance and certainly take time and effort to manage, you have a lot of choices when it comes to helping you find solutions for smelly armpits.
Practice good hygiene and work to eliminate day-to-day stress. Arm yourself with a clinical-strength antiperspirant like SweatBlock and pair with a crystal deodorant spray to smell fresh throughout the day.
With some forethought and advance planning, you can master how to stop sweating and make sure your pits stay as fresh and dry as possible. So, raise your hands in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care.