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Odour Issues

Thursday, October 05, 2017

We’ve all been in that situation — we’re sweating (and stinking) through our deodorant. But, it isn’t always that your sweat smells absolutely repulsive. Khevna Pandit tells you about a few surprising reasons behind body odour

Thinking about stinky sweat makes us squirm in our seats. And why shouldn’t it? There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a closed room filling up with the smell of bad body odour and wondering what could be causing it. However, if you know a thing or two about body odour, you may also know that sweat isn’t always smelly. Of course, we can see why most people associate sweat with bad odours, but what most don’t realise is that sweat on its own has no odour. It is only at times that it smells bad and the bad odours occur when it mixes with bacteria. But what causes sweat to smell bad? Could it be the food you eat, your lifestyle or a genetic issue? Here we’re telling you what causes bad sweat odour and how to deal with it.

Overactive sweat glands

Different parts of the body have different types of sweat glands. And, some people have more sweat glands than normal. Also, when stress levels are high, people end up sweating more than usual and this kind of sweat generally carries a bad odour. Sweat glands also produce more sweat during menopause and puberty, which is when odoriferous sweat production increases. So, if you’re stressed out, keep a deodorant at hand.


Often, when nothing else can explain the cause, genetics is behind it, and this is the case with sweat odour as well. Our DNA is largely responsible for how we smell. Genetic conditions such as Bromhidrosis may be behind smelly sweat. Bromhidrosis is characterised by a foul stench that comes off your skin due to sweat glands not functioning as they are supposed to. Those who suffer from this condition, unfortunately, have a permanent odour to their skin. While there isn’t any solution for this, specially prescribed antiperspirants or special diets can be recommended by a doctor to help lessen the odour.

Bad diet

A poor diet can lead to various issues, and smelly sweat is one of them. We’ve all heard the warning to stay away from junk food, and there is a good reason for that. Junk food contains carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, which are digested and absorbed in our blood quickly. This type of sugar, when it ultimately gets into your blood stream, mixes with the bacteria on your skin, creating an unpleasant odour. If you’re eating a lot of junk food, cut back on it and eat more green leafy veggies. The chlorophyll in leafy greens is supposed to help balance out toxins, and it can also shut down your junk food cravings.

Poor hygiene habits

Quite a no-brainer, isn’t it? However, this is one of the most ignored causes of stinky sweat. Bad body odour can be caused by a build-up of bacteria due to poor hygiene. If you wear socks without washing them, skip a shower before bed on a humid night, or use dry shampoo instead of washing your hair, you could face the wrath of body odour. So, make sure you never wear unwashed clothes and improve your hygiene routine. If you sweat a lot, change into fresh clothes as soon as you’re back home to prevent body odour.


Certain medications cause you to sweat more and some can cause your body odour to change for a short while. Bupropion Hydrochloride is a chemical compound found in medicines that often leads to excess sweating. However, it is difficult to put a finger on which medications cause sweat to smell bad because people react differently to different medications. Bupropion Hydrochloride is commonly found in antidepressants, and the only way to get rid of the body odour associated with it is to be weaned off it.


Whether or not the factors that we’ve mentioned cause your body odour, here are a few foolproof ways to get rid of smelly sweat issues.

Take a warm shower every day: Never skip a shower. It kills the bacteria on your skin and keeps them from multiplying in pores.

Use an antibacterial soap: Antibacterial soap will get rid of odour causing bacteria. So, you can be sure that you’re using the right soap to help you stay odour-free.

Wear clean clothes: As we’ve mentioned, dirty clothes can harbour bacteria. Also, certain fabrics absorb perspiration, which can induce a greater stench.

Limit spicy food: Curries, garlic and certain types of chillies can cause your sweat to smell bad. Also, lay off red meat, which tends to make body odour worse.

Drink water: Drinking enough water through the day can dilute your sweat, so the odour is reduced.

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