Have you ever wondered who’s rocking the eye-watering body odor – only to figure out it’s you? We’ve all been there at some point, whether after a long workout, a big presentation, or just a hot, sticky, humid day. But you don’t have to leave the country in exile, never to be seen again – you can take a few simple steps to prevent and get rid of body odor when it rears its ugly head.
8 Ways to Get Rid of Body Odor
- 1. Wear Antiperspirant and Deodorant Daily
- 2. Shower with Antibacterial Soap
- 3. Freshen Up on the Go with Body Wipes
- 4. Control Your Body Hair
- 5. Wear Breathable Clothing
- 6. Focus on Four Key Odor Zones
- 7. Watch Your Diet
- 8. Reduce Your Stress
When asked what causes body odor, most people might tell you that it’s your sweat, but that’s only partly true. Keep reading for a few ideas you can try to keep yourself stink-free, even in the sweatiest of situations.
What Causes Body Odor?
Sweat itself doesn’t really have an odor – it’s when the moisture from your odorless sweat mixes with bacteria on your skin that the stink sets in. This added moisture makes a healthy, ideal environment for bacteria to multiply quickly, which leads to a foul odor – and your embarrassment.
Not all sweat is created equally. Some sweat is factory made to stink, while other sweat is mostly harmless on the odor front. So what’s the difference?
Your body has two types of sweat glands that produce different kinds of sweat. Sweat caused by exertion or physical activity is chemically different from sweat caused by anxiety, fear or stress. Stress sweat comes from your apocrine glands; it’s a fatty liquid that bacteria really love.
In contrast, the sweat that’s produced by your eccrine glands is mostly water and salt – these are the glands that are located over most of the surface of our bodies, while apocrine glands are housed in some of our more hairy or private areas – like armpits and groin.
It’s true, though, that not all body odor is directly related to sweat. Some people smell because they have poor hygiene habits, which allows bacteria to thrive on their skin. Others might suffer from a medical condition or take a specific kind of medication that leads to body odor. Certain foods in your diet can also contribute to a bad odor.
Can My Body Odor Change?
The science says yes. For example, rigorous study shows that many women experience body odor changes around the time they start going through menopause. Plus – a drop in estrogen can trigger both night sweats and hot flashes, which just means more sweat and more chance for odor, so the change may be even more noticeable than usual.
In addition, there’s some research that shows we might smell funkier as we get older – there’s an odor-related substance called 2-Nonenal in human sweat that increases as we age. It gives sweat an unpleasant odor – a grassy, greasy smell – and it’s usually detected only in the sweat of those who are ages 40 and above. Great – something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, sometimes there are more sinister reasons behind changes in body odor – diabetes, for example, causes some people’s body odor to have a sweet, fruity smell. If you notice this kind of change in body odor, make sure to talk with your doctor immediately to make sure you aren’t dealing with a serious health condition.
8 Ways to Get Rid of Body Odor
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can reduce your stink. You do have options. The following list is a good place to start if you’re wondering how to get rid of body odor.
1. Wear Antiperspirant and Deodorant Daily
Antiperspirants and deodorants can work together to keep you odor-free. While an antiperspirant is formulated to “plug” your sweat glands and stop sweat before it starts, a good deodorant can help fight the resulting odor once you do begin to sweat. Make sure you apply your antiperspirant at night so that it has the time while you sleep to fully go to work for you. Consider using a clinical strength antiperspirant like SweatBlock, especially if you suffer from an excessive sweating condition known as hyperhidrosis.
Applying your antiperspirant at night allows the active ingredient to work during a time when your sweat glands are typically the least active. You can use your antiperspirant twice a day if you need it – at night and then again in the morning. It’s a good idea to pair an antiperspirant with a deodorant, which is designed to reduce odor-causing bacteria, but won’t help stop your sweating. When you use them both together, you deliver a one-two punch to body odor.
2. Shower with Antibacterial Soap
It should go without saying that good hygiene, including showering regularly, can help you cut down on body odor. Taking it one step further and showering with an antibacterial soap is even more helpful. Because body odor is directly related to sweat mixing with your skin bacteria, using an antibacterial soap can reduce bacterial growth on your skin in the first place, which also reduces odor. With this move, you’re attacking body odor at its source.
If you’re worried about chemicals in antibacterial products, you can always go for natural products that feature essential oils for body odor – like tea tree oil, peppermint, oregano, and eucalyptus. These products contain bacteria-fighting and odor-fighting qualities that can help keep you smelling fresh.
In general, you should shower at least once a day, maybe more in especially hot weather or after a tough workout. And when you’re finished with your shower, make sure to dry off completely so you don’t leave behind a moist environment for bacteria to quickly repopulate.
3. Freshen Up on the Go with Body Wipes
When you’re on the go and need to freshen up quickly, body wipes can be your best friend and ally for fighting body odor. You can simply wipe down your most odor-prone areas to get rid of moisture and bacteria, and many body wipes on the market also offer a fresh, clean scent to replace your funk. They’re convenient and basically give you the same benefit of taking a full shower, without the extra time or trouble. You can keep them stashed in your car, your briefcase, or your desk to use after a lunch workout, before a big meeting or date, and when you’re traveling.
4. Control Your Body Hair
Extra body hair causes trouble in a couple of key ways – it can make you sweat excessively in the first place, and then it can trap moisture and bacteria in a festering pool of odor. If you’ll regularly trim hair – especially under your arms and in your groin area – you’ll rob bacteria of a place to hide and multiply, which will cut down on body odor.
5. Wear Breathable Clothing
Breathable, natural fabrics, including bamboo or cotton, are helpful in both preventing and fighting off sour body odor. Try to look for clothing that helps you minimize excessive sweating in the first place. The right material will pull sweat away from your body so it can evaporate rather than sit on your skin with the chance to mingle with your skin bacteria.
6. Focus on Four Key Odor Zones
While we all certainly sweat all over our bodies, there are four key zones that are the worst offenders when it comes to producing an unpleasant smell: sweaty armpits, feet, scalp, and sweaty groin. If you’ll focus on those four areas, you’ll help set yourself up for sweet smelling success.
Your groin and your armpits feature the majority of your body’s collection of apocrine sweat glands, which are responsible for your stinkiest sweat. And if you’re not wearing clothes that pull moisture away from your body, underarm sweat has a perfect environment for growing bacteria. It’s moist, with little airflow, and the same is true for your groin area.
While your feet don’t have the same power to get stinky on their own, if you’re wearing shoes and socks all day, you’re creating that same dark, damp, low-air environment that bacteria love – and that means stinky foot odor. But you can help cut down odors by using foot creams or powders – even baking soda – wearing shoes made of natural materials and going barefoot when you can to give your feet a chance to air dry.
You may be surprised that your scalp is listed as a key odor zone, but if you suffer from dandruff, that can also lead to odor as dead skin begins to decompose on your scalp. Yuck. A good dandruff shampoo and mild styling products can help you out here.
7. Watch Your Diet
The foods you eat can often affect your body chemistry and either increase or reduce body odor. Good choices include yogurt, pickles, kefir, fruits, and non-sulfurous vegetables and fresh sauerkraut. And some studies show that eating foods rich in magnesium and zinc like shellfish, pecans, tofu, oysters, and broccoli can be helpful.
On the other hand, spicy foods, processed foods, a high amount of red meat, excess alcohol or caffeine and foods cooked with garlic and onion can make your body raise up the stink factor. Sometimes our favorite spicy foods can crank up our sweat glands – so that alone can increase your chances for foul odor. And the aroma of garlic or onions can literally pass through to your sweat so that you smell like a garlicky, oniony, body odor cloud. Gross.
8. Reduce Your Stress
Because anxiety or fear sweat is generated by the apocrine glands and is often the most likely to cause odor, any way you can manage to reduce your level of stress will be helpful in fighting your body odor. Anxiety and stress activate our sweat glands at full-on survival mode, so relaxation techniques like meditation, biofeedback and yoga, a brisk walk outside or a variety of other calming activities may help get your anxiety – and in turn, your body odor – under control. It might sound impossible, but relaxation activities have historically proven successful for many people.
Get Rid of Body Odor
It stinks to stink. But you’re not alone and you’re not without options. Follow some of the guidelines here to help keep your excessive sweating and body odor under control. You can plan ahead for certain situations and make sure you’re well-armed with what you need to combat body odor – especially when you’re on the go.
If you’re experiencing changes in your sweating or your body odor that are hampering your ability to enjoy your life, check with your doctor to make sure you’re not dealing with a more serious health condition. Otherwise, wash and shower regularly, apply deodorant and antiperspirant, pack your wipes and get ready to smell great.