Body odor

Body Odour: Meaning, Causes, And How to Get Rid of It

by Lawal Jesutofunmi Mary

When body odour is mentioned, what comes to mind is an offensive smell. But in the real sense, body odour is not always bad.

It is a term that describes natural smells that emanate from humans.

However, changes in body odour may develop when influenced by puberty, genetic makeup, diet, poor hygiene, and some other factors.

Most people wonder if body odour is a normal occurrence. Yes, it is normal, given that everyone is bound to have body odour whether good or bad, especially an adolescent who has reached the puberty stage. 

Having a bad or unwanted body odour is a common occurrence and can be a result of various factors.

This article is set to help you discover the causes of body odour, types, and, preventative or control measures to get rid of body odour.

Parts of The Body That Produce Odour

Body odour emanates from certain parts of the body. Those parts include;

Read also: 10 Easy Tips to keep your body and mind glowing. 

Causes of Body Odour

As we grow older i.e during puberty, menopause, etc. we tend to sweat more often than usual due to the hormones behind sweat secretion or perspiration. Your sweat might produce a good odour or have no smell at all. 

Sweat is odourless and only starts to smell bad when it comes in contact with bacteria in your body. Below are some of the causes of body odour; 

  1. Hormonal changes

Constant changes in hormones can cause your body odour to smell. And these changes could be due to pregnancy, night sweats, your menstrual cycle, and hormonal fluctuations during menopause.

  1. Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is another factor that begets changes in body odour.

Practices like keeping excessive armpit hair, putting on dirty clothes, skipping baths, skipping teeth brushing, and wearing moist or damp undies give room for bacteria to feed on perspiration.

This in turn develops into a pungent body odour, mostly a smell like rotten eggs.

  1. Infections and diseases

Bad body odour happens to be a characteristic symptom of some infections and diseases.

The vagina for example, produces a pungent smell when affected by bacterial infections such as yeast infections and vaginosis.

Also, infections such as the Urinary tract infections will cause the urine to release an unpleasant smell.

Skin infections like erythrasma, candidiasis, intertrigo, and other bacterial infections may have negative effects on normal body odour. 

Also, diseases or medical conditions like diabetes, kidney or liver disease, cancer, gouty arthritis, and tuberculosis which cause foul-smelling breath, and some others can bring about changes in one’s normal body odour.

  1. Drugs

Certain drugs used for the control of some particular medical conditions or infection can influence changes in body odour, causing excessive sweating.

So also, drugs like anti-depressants, codeine, tramadol, and other drugs that trigger hot flashes are known to induce unpleasant body odour.

  1. Diet

The food we consume can influence a change in our body odour whether good or bad. 

Some foods are known for their smell. People who love onions, for instance, will experience a strong smell on their breath or urine. 

Consumption of garlic, locust beans, curry, and cummin in foods can also result in foul-smelling breath.

Some of the other foods that cause foul-smelling breath;

  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • High consumption of red meat 

Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are also known to trigger changes in normal body odor.

Read also: Top 10 Body-building foods in Nigeria.  

  1. Hot temperature

Another causal factor of bad odour is hot temperature. People living in some parts of Nigeria, for instance, the northern part experiences heat causing them to sweat excessively which might result in a bad body odour.

Other common factors that trigger unpleasant body odour includes;

  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Exercise
  • Anxiety
  • And sometimes, Genetics.

How to Get Rid of Body Odour

Body odour is nothing out of the ordinary. It can be treated by oneself at home. 

Change in body odour can be easily curbed by practicing good personal hygiene especially if you are someone who falls under the category of poor hygienic habits. The use of do-it-yourself treatments (DIY) also helps with unpleasant body odour.

  1. Good personal hygiene 

Washing the body thoroughly with the use of antibacterial soap to keep the skin clean and fresh daily. 

While doing this, focus more on the armpits, bellybutton, behind your ears, feet, and groin. 

You should also avoid keeping excessive armpit hair. Taking a shower more often also reduces the possibility of unpleasant body odour.

Do not wear clothes more than once, wash clothes regularly, and wear only clean and dry ones. It is advisable to wear clothing i.e bra, panties, and clothes made of cotton as this material allows the body to take in air.

Read also: Body Fitness: Tips to lose weight and have a flat tummy. 

  1. Use of deodorants and antiperspirant

Use deodorants and antiperspirants only on clean and dry skin. The active ingredient in most antiperspirants is aluminum. 

Use antiperspirant after showering or bathing and before bed.

It is advisable to use strong fragrances i.e perfumes with high longevity.

Take note that, covering up your body odour with deodorants while your skin remains uncared for will only complicate your condition. 

  1. Oral hygiene

This is also an important part of personal hygiene. 

Brushing your teeth twice a day, scraping your tongue, and changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months will reduce the possibility of foul-smelling breath.

  1. Watch your diet

Reduce or stop consuming smelly foods, alcohol, caffeine, red meat, and other foods that induce bad body odour.

  1. DIY treatments

Some Do-it-yourself treatments like lemon, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar work wonders on underarm odour.

Another easy way to get rid of body odour is to wipe the armpits with a towel already soaked in warm water, this will ensure the thorough cleansing of the pores on the armpits. 

 As a young person experiencing puberty, a change in your body odour is normal just practice good personal hygiene.

  1. Talk to an expert

The overall important step to getting rid of body odour is to speak out to either an expert in the area or a close pal you know can be confined in, covering up body odour to yourself can make this condition complicated. 

It is advisable for anyone experiencing overly excessive sweating, such as sweating while writing, sleeping, and frequently sweat-soaked clothing to see a doctor.


If the odour persists and becomes severe and unbearable then you should see a doctor as it may be due to a disease or an infection in the body. 

Fruity body odour is a sign of diabetes, you should see a doctor immediately.


As we have said in this article, body odour is present in all humans. But you should pay attention when you start to notice changes in your body odour, or when you sweat more than usual.

Hope this was helpful to you. Share your thoughts in the comments or join our conversations on Whatsapp.

About Author

Avatar of Lawal Jesutofunmi Mary
Lawal Jesutofunmi Mary
Lawal Jesutofunmi Mary is a Skin care expert, hair care consultant and content writer communicating helpful information on hair and skin care through writing. She is an avid reader who loves to broaden her horizons through reading. Writing reviews of books on personal growth and self development gives her joy.

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