How To Handle Body Odor

Weird body odor — it might not be a "sexy" topic, but that doesn't mean it's not a part of most of our lives at some point or another. And the good news is, there are definitely ways to get a handle on the most common causes of body odor, which can ultimately help improve our lives.

I once went through a period in my teens when I never took off my shoes in front of friends, and if I absolutely had to, I made sure I had a double layer of socks and could keep my sneakers far away from the general group. Basically, my feet stank. It was a plain and simple truth, and definitely not one my 14-year-old self was especially thrilled about. This was also in the age before literally everything you ever wanted to know about everything was online (yes, I'm just about that old), meaning the problem kind of just existed for a while, since it wasn't exactly life or death.

The experience taught me two things: one, you can be a pretty clean person and still have body odor issues, and , body odor — no matter what its form — can seriously affect our self-esteem and how comfortable we feel about ourselves. It's why knowing how to get it under control can be so incredibly life-changing.

If this is an issue you've been struggling with lately, here are 11 causes for weird body odor and what you can do about it.

1. Underarm Sweat

According to Best Health Magazine, the sweat we produce under our arms is different from the sweat we produce in many other parts of our body, as it can have a distinct odor. This is why antiperspirant (as opposed to plain deodorant) can be so helpful for odor caused by underarm sweat. And according to The Huffington Post, the absolute best way to apply antiperspirant is every 24 hours, before bed, right after a shower. That way the product can really absorb into your skin.

2. Hair In General

The same Best Health piece noted that sweat on our skin creates the perfect environment for smelly bacteria to grow, and body hair creates an even better environment for sweat and bacteria to stick. Consider removing as much body hair as possible to reduce potential odors.

3. Stress

According to George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in a piece for FOX Health, “stress-related odor will be normal odor on steroids.” This means that taking time for yourself to unwind each day and each week could be a big factor when it comes to reducing B.O.

4. Food

Preti also said that while there's not certifiable evidence that what we eat can affect our odor, it can absolutely affect our breath, which others can associate with body odor. For example, he noted that garlic stays on our breath for up to 48 hours after consumption. So keep this in mind if you want to smell super fresh!

5. Socks

According to the How Stuff Works Health section, the sweat from our feet — unlike the sweat under our arms — doesn't actually really have an odor of its own. However, our socks (kept in our dark shoes) are another perfect environment for bacteria to grow and create odor. Try changing your socks twice a day to reduce foot odor overall.

6. Your Lack Of Socks

Iif you don't wear socks at all, then you're definitely going to exacerbate the problem, since all that sweaty bacteria is going to be absorbed directly into your shoes — which are way, way harder to wash than socks. However, I've found that spraying the inside of my shoes with a bleach spray and allowing to dry by a window works major wonders.

7. Bacterial Vaginosis

OK, this one might not be fun to talk about, but according to the Mayo Clinic, if you're experiencing vaginal odor you may be suffering from this bacterial infection and you'll need a course of antibiotics to treat it.

8. Hormonal Fluctuations

According to the UC Berkley Wellness Center, another cause of specifically vaginal odor could just be your body's regular hormonal fluctuations. So if you've ruled out bacterial vaginosis and you notice that the odor fluctuates throughout the month, it could just be a totally natural (albeit kind of annoying) part of your body's routine.

9. Dehydration

According to, if you've noticed that your urine is smelling stronger than usual, the most probable reason is because you're dehydrated. If this is the case, drink a glass of water, stat!

10. Trimethylaminuria

The NIH says that trimethylaminuria is a condition in which your body is unable to break down a certain foul-smelling chemical, and this means that the chemical (trimethylamine) is sweated out through our pores. If you've been experiencing body odor your entire life and none of the above tips seems to be working, it may we worth getting tested by a doctor to rule out this particular disorder.

11. Diabetes

According to, if your body oder is slightly sweet or fruity, diabetes could be the culprit. See a doctor ASAP if this is something you've started to notice.

Body odor sucks — but it doesn't have to control our lives. Just be proactive about isolating the source, because that's the first step to the solution!

Images: Pexels (4), Nastya Polyakova, Chelsea Francis, Annie Spratt, Verne Ho, Sergey Zolkin, Eli DeFaria, Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes, Benjamin Child/Unsplash