Body odor is an unpleasant and frustrating condition. It has affected enough people to make way for a large market for perfumes, deodorants, and antiperspirants. And, armpit odor is something that most of us go through.
Although it might seem like something you’ve been cursed with, a few simple steps can help you eliminate armpit odor. But, before we get to the ways by which you can do that, it’s important to shed light on what causes it in the first place.
What Causes Armpit Odor?
Armpit odor is caused when bacteria on the skin break down the acids in your sweat. This condition is common after puberty because it leads to the development of the apocrine sweat glands.
Women have 75% more aprocine glands in their armpits than men. However, the latter are more likely to have body odor since they have larger and more active aprocrine glands. They also sweat more, hence promoting bacterial growth.1 Causes of armpit odor include
- Food habits: Studies link the consumption of garlic, onion, spicy foods, red meat, curry, and alcohol to body odor.2
- Excessive sweating: This condition is called hyperhidrosis and occurs when a person sweats excessively, more than what’s required to regulate body temperature.3
- Trimethylaminuria: This disorder is caused when the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a chemical compound that has a pungent odor. This leads to a strong odor during sweating, breathing, or urinating.4
- Diabetes: This condition causes a fruity smell during sweating.
- Liver or kidney disease: This condition causes a bleach-like smell.
Ways To Eliminate Armpit Odor
1. Bathe Regularly
Although this might seem like generic advice, bathing with warm water and an antibacterial soap can eliminate bacteria on the skin. On hot days, you might need to shower twice a day to keep armpit odor at bay.7
2. Try An Antiperspirant
The easiest and quickest way to eliminate armpit odor is with an antiperspirant. Studies state that when applied regularly, they lead to a significant decline in bacterial density. Furthermore, they contain aluminum chloride, which reduces the amount of sweat produced by the body.8
If you tend to sweat a lot, opt for roll-on antiperspirants. While you could apply an antiperspirant right after you take a bath, if you have a stubborn underarm odor, you could also try using an aluminum chloride solution separately.
Apply this solution in the night and wash it off in the morning. Since one doesn’t sweat at night, the solution has ample time to seep in and block sweating the following morning. However, be sure to consult a medical professional before you try this remedy.9
3. Change Your Diet
Since the consumption of garlic, onion, spicy foods, red meat, curry, and alcohol is linked to body odor, eliminating them from your diet should help reduce body odor. Furthermore, studies show that switching to a plant-based diet leads to a more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense body odor.10 Research also indicates that greater fruit and vegetable intake is associated with more pleasant, floral, fruity, and sweet smell. So, try and switch your diet for a few months to see if it helps reduce armpit odor.11
4. Wear Loose Clothes
Eliminating armpit odor might require a slight wardrobe change. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes and synthetic fabrics. They don’t let the skin breathe and lead to excessive sweating. Opt for natural fibers such as wool, silk, or cotton instead. They let your skin breathe, and help sweat evaporate quickly.12
5. Shave Your Underarms
If you tend to let hair in your underarms grow out, then shaving might help eliminate odor. This helps sweat evaporate quickly, giving bacteria lesser time to break it down. Studies show that regular shaving helps effectively reduces armpit odor. So, if you’ve been stressed about your underarm odor, shaving is a good start towards eliminating the odor.13
6. Try Natural Antiperspirants
If you’re suspicious about anything that’s commercial, then you could try all natural remedies. Studies show that sage extract reduces body odor. Tea tree oil with its antibacterial properties might also reduce armpit odor. But, it’s important to consult a professional and try a patch test before you try any natural remedy since they might cause allergies and adverse skin reactions.14 15
7. Consider Botox
If you’ve got persistent body odor, you could talk to your doctor about getting botox. Botulinum toxin (Botox) blocks signals from the brain to the sweat glands, hence reducing the amount of sweat produced. One treatment lasts for about 2–8 months.16
Identifying the cause of armpit odor is the first step to eliminate it. Often, certain health conditions are behind odor and treating them is essential to the process of reducing odor. Sometimes you might need surgery as well. Start with the simple steps and if your body odor persists, consult a professional. By incorporating these steps and the advice of your doctor into your daily life, you’re sure to have stink-free armpits in no time.
|↑1||Troccaz, Myriam, Nadia Gaïa, Sabine Beccucci, Jacques Schrenzel, Isabelle Cayeux, Christian Starkenmann, and Vladimir Lazarevic. “Mapping axillary microbiota responsible for body odours using a culture-independent approach.” Microbiome 3, no. 1 (2015): 3.|
|↑2||Senol, M., and P. Fireman. “Body odor in dermatologic diagnosis.” Cutis 63, no. 2 (1999): 107-111.|
|↑3||Hyperhidrosis. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑4||Trimethylaminuria. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑5||Body odour. National Health Service, England.|
|↑6||Czarnowski, D. A. R. I. U. S. Z., and J. Gorski. “Sweat ammonia excretion during submaximal cycling exercise.” Journal of Applied Physiology 70, no. 1 (1991): 371-374.|
|↑7, ↑9||Body odour. National Health Service, England.|
|↑8||Urban, Julie, Daniel J. Fergus, Amy M. Savage, Megan Ehlers, Holly L. Menninger, Robert R. Dunn, and Julie E. Horvath. “The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome.” PeerJ 4 (2016): e1605.|
|↑10||Havlicek, Jan, and Pavlina Lenochova. “The effect of meat consumption on body odor attractiveness.” Chemical senses 31, no. 8 (2006): 747-752.|
|↑11||Zuniga, Andrea, Richard J. Stevenson, Mehmut K. Mahmut, and Ian D. Stephen. “Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor.” Evolution and Human Behavior 38, no. 1 (2017): 136-143.|
|↑12||Odor. University of California, Davis.|
|↑13||Lanzalaco, Anthony, Kristina Vanoosthuyze, Cynthia Stark, David Swaile, Heather Rocchetta, and Russell Spruell. “A comparative clinical study of different hair removal procedures and their impact on axillary odor reduction in men.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 15, no. 1 (2016): 58-65.|
|↑14||Shahtalebi, Mohammad Ali, Mustafa Ghanadian, Ali Farzan, Niloufar Shiri, Dariush Shokri, and Syed Ali Fatemi. “Deodorant effects of a sage extract stick: Antibacterial activity and sensory evaluation of axillary deodorancy.” Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 18, no. 10 (2013): 833.|
|↑15||Orchard, Ané, and Sandy van Vuuren. “Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017 (2017).|
|↑16||Body odour. National Health Service, England.|