We all get plagued with body odor from time to time, but if it's just coming from your armpits after a sweaty day at the gym, it's likely harmless. However, there are a number of different body odors you should never ignore, as they could be symptoms of other bigger issues. Stinky body parts aren't exactly a glamorous topic, so many of us aren't aware of what's normal and what warrants a trip to the doctor. But becoming knowledgable on irregular body odors can help keep your health and wellbeing in check, even if it freaks you out.
"We all have a very distinct and unique natural scent," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. "Some of the odors emitted by our bodies are simply just a part of our natural body chemistry. However, there are certain unmistakable clear-cut changes to how we smell that should be recognized if they arise. It is important to be familiar with your own individual natural scent, so that appropriate medical care may be sought out if there is ever a concerning change."
Here are seven body odors you should never ignore — because they could be a sign that something is off in your body.
Foul smelling, cloudy urine may be a sign that you have a urinary tract infection. "If you also experience additional symptoms of fever, chills, pain or burning with urination, you must see your doctor so that the infection may be treated with the appropriate antibiotic," says Okeke-Igbokwe.
2Fishy Scent From The Vagina
Everyone has different vaginal odor, and it can even change during different times of the month, but if you notice a persistent fishy smell, you should go see a doctor for treatment. "A fishy vaginal odor could indicate a condition called Bacterial Vaginosis that is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that occurs naturally in the vagina," says Dr. Jennifer Caudle over email. "Often, women will have a discharge with this as well."
3Cuts Or Wounds With Drainage That Smell Funny
"This could indicate that you have an infection at your wound site," says Caudle. "This really can occur anywhere in the body. The big thing here is to pay attention to whether wounds smell funny or have drainage that is foul-smelling. Definitely check in with your doctor if this is the case."
4Persistent Bad Breath
We all get back breath at certain times, but if you feel you have bad breath more often than not, you should consider heading to the doctor. "There are certain conditions (other than poor oral hygiene) that can cause bad breath such as gum disease, cavities, sinus infections, or other nose problems," says Caudle.
"Foot hygiene is essential, as improper foot care may potentially contribute to a common fungal infection of the feet known as tinea pedis," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "This condition can be treated with anti-fungal medications. Treatment of tinea pedis is important because when left untreated, there is the possibility of a bacterial superinfection of the region."
6Dark, Tarry & Foul-Smelling Stool
"If your stool has an unusual highly repugnant odor and is also black and tarry in color, you may be experiencing a gastrointestinal bleed," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "Episodes of melena absolutely warrant immediate medical evaluation."
7Fishy Smelling Sweat & Other Fluids
If your urine, sweat, or other bodily fluids smell like fish, you may have a rare genetic condition called Trimethylaminuria. "This is a very rare genetic condition in which trimethylamine isn't able to be broken down and converted into trimethylamine N-oxide," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "Trimethylamine is the compound that gives fish a very bad smell."