Armpit Odor: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Armpit odor is a common problem that most of us have experienced. In the majority of the cases, the odor hits you after a grueling workout session or during an important presentation at the office. Some people are lucky enough to cover the bad odor with just a swipe of deodorant or a splash of perfume. But, many people have no such luck. Like smelly feet, the odor from your armpits can make you embarrassed. The stinking smell can keep others away from you. You cannot exude confidence with the body odor as you tend to keep your arms down to hide the evidence. If you are trying to deal with the problem and find success, then you are in the right place. Read ahead to know more about the problem. It will help you take the necessary steps to manage the odor and bring back your confidence.

Location Of Armpit Odor

As the name suggests, the odor emits from underarms. The humiliating odor can increase when you raise your arms. The stinky smell is a major turnoff. So, you tend to shower or douse yourself in perfume. The tricks may not work well for you. The foul smell makes you self-conscious and limits your hand movements. The conditions are also known as body odor. It is technically bromhidrosis, excessive sweating resulting in stinking smell. But, the condition is not life-threatening. You can manage malodorous armpits at home without any medical assistance.

Location Of Armpit Odor

In some cases, the excess sweat develops due to underlying health conditions. So, you need to address the health problem to get relief from the malodor. The condition can make you anxious. But, you never have to fret about it. You can take effective steps to minimize the problem. The lifestyle and home remedies can help you manage malodor easily. But, see a doctor when the methods fail to provide positive results.

Causes Of Armpit Odor

Ever wondered why your armpits smell? Different reasons can result in smelly armpits. The main causes of the condition are:

Normal Reaction

Your body has several sweat glands. It is essential to cool your body. The body can overheat due to different reasons like hormonal fluctuations or overexertion. In such cases, sweat can cool the body temperature. Your body is covered with sweat gland to serve the purpose. The essential function of these sweat glands is to cool the body and prevent any complications associated with it. Your body has two main kinds of sweat glands:

Normal Reaction

  • Eccrine glands open directly on your skin’s surface. The glands cover most areas of the body.
  • Apocrine glands occur in the areas of the body that contain several hair follicles. So, you can find them in your armpit and groin region. Unlike eccrine glands, the apocrine glands first empty into the hair follicle. It then opens up on your skin’s surface.

When your body heats up, the eccrine glands release sweat on the surface of your skin to cool the body. The sweat remains odorless until the bacteria in your skin breaks it down. Armpit odor occurs due to the apocrine glands. It mostly works under stress. It secrets an odorless fluid that starts to emit an odor when it comes in contact with the bacteria. The bacteria on the skin surface breaks down the fluid secreted by the apocrine glands and emits odor. Apocrine glands start working after your puberty. That is the reason why most people start noticing body odor after puberty.

Apocrine glands work primarily under stress, secreting an odorless fluid. This fluid begins to develop an odor when it comes into contact with bacteria on your skin. These glands don’t start working until puberty, which is why that’s usually the time we start to notice body odor.

Diet And Medication

Eccrine sweat starts to smell when you consume certain foods and drinks. Consuming the following food can increase the chances of stinking sweat:

  • Fish
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Curry
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot peppers
  • Red meat
  • Alcohol

Every person is different. So, the diet causing excess sweat or stinky sweat differs. You need to notice the changes in the body when you consume such food items. Noting it down will help you understand what exactly causes malodor. It can also smell due to the medication you take for underlying health problems.

Medical Condition

While secretion from the apocrine gland is a normal phenomenon, some people can sweat more than others. It may occur due to the underlying medical condition known as hyperhidrosis. People suffering from the condition can sweat excessively compared to others. They can sweat profusely from their armpits, hands, and feet. You need to see your doctor for confirming the condition. Several diagnostic tests can help the doctor confirm the diagnosis. You need medical treatment for managing smelly armpits due to hyperhidrosis.

Diagnosing Armpit Odor

Using deodorants and antiperspirants is the line of action to eliminate the stinking smell. If the home remedies or tips offer no relief, then you need medical attention. In some cases, underlying health problems can make you sweat more and result in smelly armpits. Therefore, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. The doctor can perform some tests to determine the exact health problem resulting in the condition. Your doctor can recommend stronger treatment for managing malodor from your armpits.

Physical Assessment

Your doctor conducts a physical examination and asks about your medical history to know the exact reason behind your smelly armpits. Based on the assessment, the medical professional suggest other tests.

Blood Tests

A sample of your blood is sent to the laboratory to check for infections. At times other health problems like diabetes or an overactive thyroid hormone can also result in smelly armpits.

Urine Tests

The urine sample is tested by the technician to detect the presence of infection or high blood sugar levels.

Based on the test results, the doctor can suggest remedies to manage the problem.

Treatment To Alleviate Armpit Odor

The treatment to manage smelly armpits depends on the severity and underlying health condition triggering the problem. In some cases, the problem can occur due to poor hygiene or not using the right products to manage the odor. You can manage the condition promptly with some simple treatment methods. If you have some underlying medical condition leads to the problem, then you need to get apt treatment for the problem.

Treating Underlying Health Condition

Conditions like hyperhidrosis or abnormal thyroid levels can trigger the problem. In such cases, you need treatment to address the issues. Once you manage the condition, your profuse sweating will reduce. So, you can prevent stinky smelling armpits.

Antiperspirant

Antiperspirant contains aluminum-based ingredients. It temporarily blocks your sweat pores. So, it reduces the sweat produced by the pores. When you sweat less, the chances of the fluid coming to the surface reduces. It decreases the breaking down of sweat by the bacteria. The result is less odor. As the first line of action, you can use over-the-counter antiperspirants to see changes. You have to try different products to find the right one that works perfectly. You need to apply the product at night and after a shower in the morning. Applying at night ensures better results.

Antiperspirant

Some people cannot get relief from smelly armpits using the OTC antiperspirants. In such cases, the doctor can prescribe stronger antiperspirants. The stronger antiperspirants contain aluminum chloride as its ingredient. It is effective in reducing your sweating. But, a stronger solution can irritate your skin. Using it can cause itchy, red, and swollen skin. So, wash the antiperspirant off in the morning if you experience irritation.

Deodorants

Deodorants are not capable to stop the sweat production under your arms. But, they help in preventing the sweat from smelling. You can use the over-the-counter deodorant daily to prevent armpit odor. The deodorant works on the bacteria on your skin surface and stops the bad smell from escaping the pits. In normal cases, the bacteria digest the proteins and fat in the sweat. It results in an unpleasant odor that can make you feel self-conscious. Deodorants are alcohol-based products. It turns the skin under your armpit acidic. An acidic environment prevents bacteria formation. So, deodorants can prevent your sweat from smelling. In most cases, the skincare product contains perfume fragrances. Therefore, it can mask the malodor.

Deodorants

You can select from the different types of deodorant available in the market. Several brands are available that keeps you fresh all day. You can opt from the sprays, stick or roll-ons. It is important to apply is immediately after a shower to keep sweat smells away. If OTC deodorant is not as effective as your requirement, then talk to your doctor. Your doctor can suggest prescription-strength deodorant to neutralize the odor.

Some people need to use deodorant and antiperspirant combo. Deodorant only masks the smell while antiperspirants block the sweat. You need to check the label to see if the product contains both deodorant and antiperspirant. It blocks the sweat and keeps you feeling fresh.

Botox

Botox

You may have heard about Botox. It is mostly linked with cosmetic procedures. It is popular among people due to its ability to smoothen facial wrinkles. But, the other practical application of Botox is not so popular. Reducing sweat is one of the other application of the product. Botulinum Toxin A injection is administered under the arm to block the sweat glands. It decreases your sweating as well as the odor caused by it. It is the common treatment suggested by doctors for people experiencing hyperhidrosis. But, it is not a permanent solution. The effects of the injection last only for a few months. So, you need to repeat it as per your necessity.

Home Remedies For Armpit Odor

You can try some effective home remedies to eliminate the stinky odor from your armpits. Home remedies cause no side effects. So, you can try them and use the one that works best for you.

Apply Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is known as a natural astringent. It can contract the tissues in your skin and reduce sweat production. You can apply it under your arms after showering using a cotton ball. Several commercial witch hazel extracts are available. These products contain rubbing alcohol in it. So, it helps fight the bacteria causing odor. Applying it can kill the bacteria hanging out in your armpits. You can fight back the malodor by rubbing it underarms after showering or bathing. It is one of the easy-to-apply home remedies for getting rid of smelly armpits.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

By now you may have heard about the magical cures of apple cider vinegar. The acidic nature of the product makes it a good option to remove odor from underarms. It also microbial properties that are effective in killing the bacteria causing the malodor. You can apply ACV under your arms twice a day. It neutralizes the environment under your arms and destroys the bacteria causing the stinky smell. Using it regularly can prevent the bacteria from accumulating in your armpits. Try the remedy at home to see results within no time.

Lemon Juice Mixture

Lemon juice has acidic properties. So, you can use it as a home remedy to get rid of smelly armpits. The lemon juice can reduce the pH of the skin. So, it makes the area under the arms uninhabitable for the bacteria. With the reduction in bacteria, your sweat will not smell. You can rub half of a lemon directly under your armpits. You can use it once every day to see improvement in odor from your underarms. Some people are sensitive to lemon juice. So, you use a mixture of lemon juice and water to apply under your arms. The diluted mixture may not irritate.

The above-mentioned remedies have a strong acidic nature. So, before applying it directly, you need to dilute it. To avoid irritation or burning, you have to apply the remedies on clean and dry skin. Never apply it immediately after shaving as your skin can have nicks. Avoid using the products on broken skin as it can cause a burning sensation.

Lifestyle Changes For Managing Armpit Odor

You can make some changes to your lifestyle. It will effectively prevent the malodor under your arms. The simple yet powerful methods reduce sweating and subsequent smell. So, you can follow the suggestions:

Bath Daily

Good hygiene is important to prevent the stinky smell coming from your armpits. So, regular bathing with antibacterial soap can prevent armpit odor. The anti-bacterial soap can reduce the bacterial growth on your skin. So, it prevents the breaking down of sweat.

Wear Appropriate Clothes

You need to choose clothing that perfectly suits the activity you perform. If you are exercising, then wear synthetic fabrics. It can wick the moisture away from your skin and prevent body odor. Similarly, opt for natural fabrics for daily wear. Cotton, silk, and wool clothes allow your skin to breathe properly. It also promotes air circulation. So, it can reduce sweating.

Manage Stress

Most of the people sweat profusely when they experience a stressful situation. Stress and anxiety can overheat your body. So, you tend to sweat more to cool off. Therefore, try to manage stress with relaxation techniques. You can practice the following techniques to control the triggers leading to profuse perspiration:

Diet Change

Some food items can make you sweat more compared to others. It can also result in having a strong body odor than usual. So, try to eliminate the following foods:

  • Spicy foods
  • Strong smelling foods (like curries and onions)
  • Caffeinated beverages

Such changes can show effect after some time. So, you can manage the sweating and stinky smell with the steps suggested.

Prevent Armpit Odor

You can prevent the condition from making you embarrassed. If you follow the steps suggested below, it can help you control the smelly armpits and the social stigma associated with it.

Good Hygiene

You need to maintain good hygiene. It will eliminate body odor and keeps you fresh. Shower daily with antibacterial soap. You need to take a shower after strenuous activities like playing sports or working out. The activities can make you sweat more. Bathing using soap can help you get rid of the bacteria causing a foul odor.

Stay Cooler

You need to stay cool by wearing appropriate clothes. Loose-fitting clothes of breathable fabrics like silk, linen, cotton, and moisture-wicking combination. If you have a health condition, making you sweat a lot, then you need to keep your body cool. Constricting clothes made from non-breathable fabrics can worsen the malodor.

Trim Your Armpits

Several studies have suggested that waxing, shaving or trimming the armpit hair can reduce the odor. Removing the hair can reduce the hiding places for the bacteria. Cleansing is also more effected on waxed or shaved skin.

Stress Management

Stress can trigger a physiological response in your body. So, you tend to sweat more, which results in foul odor. So, you need to learn stress management techniques that will reduce your anxiety and the body’s response to the negative reaction. You can modulate your reaction stress using the technique and prevent stinky armpits.

Stay Hydrated

You need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Consuming food with high water content can also keep your body cool. So, you can prevent excessive sweating due to overheating of your body. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Change And Wash Clothes Regularly

If you wear the same dress continuously for two or more days, then no wonder you experience stinky armpits. So, you need to wash your clothes after wearing them. Avoid wearing the same article of clothing for more than two days in a row. You may tend to opt the same clothing due to its comfort factor. But, it only triggers a bad smell. It is also important to take extra care with workout clothes. Dirty and moist clothing articles are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, wash your gym clothes after every single workout.

Conclusion

Armpit odor can make you feel self-conscious. It is a common problem with no serious consequences. You can handle the problem with simple steps. You can adopt the preventive measure and home remedies suggested here to manage smelly armpits. The condition may not require medical intervention. But, when some health condition triggers the problem, you need medical assistance to deal with it effectively. You can try the useful hacks suggested here to smell and feel fresh all day long.

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