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Proven Ways to Stop "Strange Odors" Coming From You

Six ways to help get rid of body odor. 

Body odor can happen to anyone and your scent can change for a number of reasons including the type of food you eat, hormones, medications or underlying health issues. "Bacteria on skin is the most common cause of body odor (and fungi to some extent, too). It feeds off of things in sweat, dead skin, grime, and more and kicks up a stink. Everyone has different bacteria on their skin based on their age, gender, upbringing, hygiene habits, stress, and of course, their diet," Dr. Joseph (JJ) Richardson, a PhD scientist with SWIFF & University of Tokyo tells Eat This, Not That! Health. If you've noticed a change in body odor, read on to find out how to stop bad odors and  to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Watch What You Eat

Slate plate with fresh garlic and onion on wooden table.

Janet Coleman, a registered dietitian with The Consumer Mag reveals, "You can experience an increase in sweat production by eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol—two things which tend to be a big part of celebrations. Try to avoid them when you think you'll be spending a lot of time in close quarters with your family and friends (or at least minimize how much you eat)."

The Cleveland Clinic states, "The saying, 'you are what you eat,' may apply to body odor. If you eat food rich in sulfur you may develop body odor. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs. When it's secreted from your body in your sweat, it can put off an unpleasant smell. Examples of sulfur-rich foods are:

  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Cabbage.
  • Broccoli.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Red meat.

Other common dietary triggers of bad body odor are:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Caffeine.
  • Spices like curry or cumin.
  • Hot sauce or other spicy food.
  • Alcohol.

Eliminating or reducing these triggers may help improve your body odor."


Stop Stressing!


Coleman says, "Life is filled with stressors like travel, crowded shopping centers, deadlines for work projects and family drama. All these things can cause your body to sweat as it's trying to cope with the extra pressure it's under. Try to relax and take deep breaths when you feel yourself begin to get stressed out. You can also try meditation or yoga exercises."

Harvard Health states, "People who sweat more than usual may be diagnosed with the condition hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis is a relatively rare condition that happens without a specific cause. Secondary hyperhidrosis is related to a medical problem, such as hot flashes with menopause, an infection, or an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Stress, certain medications, and alcohol use can also cause you to sweat more than usual."


Be Mindful of Your Clothes

african american woman looking through closet in bedroom at home

What you wear can make a difference when it comes to body odor and Harvard Health recommends, "Wear clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton, silk, or wool and wash clothes after each wear. For exercise, you may prefer to wear moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester or nylon. You might also consider shaving your armpit hair, which allows sweat to evaporate quickly, before it can produce an odor." 


Treat Ear Infections Immediately


Young woman have headache migraine stress or tinnitus

Mat Rezaei, Pharm.D., founder & CEO of Upguys explains, "An ear infection can lead to smelly ear wax which can be a sign of an infection. To prevent the smell you can mix baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, and glycerin and drip it into the ears, then a couple of days later spay warm water into the ears."


UTIs and Body Odor

woman drinking water

Rezaei says, "UTI, (Urinary tract infection), a common infection amongst women can cause a strong urinary odor because of the bacteria that intrude into the body. There is no way to prevent body odor when getting a UTI, however, drinking a lot of water will not just help reduce the infection but the strength of the smell as well." 


Take a Shower

Woman takes shower in the bathroom. Feminine hygiene rules concept

Coleman says, "This one is pretty obvious, but if you don't shower regularly, your skin will become home to more bacteria. The more you sweat, the more bacteria will grow between showers (especially if you're working out), so it's important to take care of washing yourself regularly to get rid of the buildup of bacteria."

Harvard Health also suggests a good shower, "The easiest way to eliminate body odor is by taking a bath or shower, which will remove bacteria from your skin. However, for many people a daily shower or bath may not be necessary. Showering a few times a week, especially after you exercise or do other activities that make you sweat, may be enough to rid you of body odor without drying out or irritating your skin. After your shower or bath, apply an antiperspirant and deodorant. Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that block your body's eccrine glands, preventing you from sweating. Deodorants repel the bacteria that cause odor, and may contain an additional fragrance. Some products combine an antiperspirant and a deodorant. If over-the-counter products don't control sweating and body odor, your doctor can prescribe a stronger prescription-strength antiperspirant/deodorant."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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