What Causes a Sour Body Odor When Sleeping?

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It isn't uncommon to experience some level of body odor while sleeping. Most people only apply antiperspirant or deodorant in the morning. Throughout the day, it wears off. And as they sleep and sweat through the night, it isn't enough to retard perspiration and odor, resulting in a foul smell upon waking.

Night sweating can cause body odor.
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Bacteria and Perspiration

Close up of bacteria.
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The sour body odor you're experiencing after sleeping is most likely a result of bacteria and perspiration. Everyone has bacteria that naturally occur on the skin. When these bacteria come into contact with your sweat, they break down the perspiration, according to the National Institutes of Health. During this process, body odor is formed. To combat this sour body odor, you can often start by reducing the temperature of the bedroom as well as removing some of the coverings. Even night sweats and subsequent body odor can result from an elevation in body temperature caused by warm rooms and too many blankets. You may also want to change the type of clothing you're wearing to bed, opting for breathable fabrics like cotton or even silk. Showering before bed as well as applying deodorant and antiperspirant may also help reduce sour body odor.


Garlic and onions.
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Sour body odor can also be a result of dietary habits. Some of the more common culprits are garlic, onions and caffeinated beverages. However, you may find that other foods are problematic and exacerbating body odor. To determine if your diet is causing the sour body odor while sleeping, keep a food diary and then compare the smell of your body odor to your meals from the day before. Something you're eating could be contributing to the sour smell.

Other Conditions

Discuss conditions with doctor.
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If self-care methods and dietary changes fail to provide results, make an appointment with your family physician. Sometimes, sweating and sour body odor from sleeping is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hypoglycemia or hyperthyroidism. Proper treatment of the disorder can reduce the perspiration and accompanying body odor. When your doctor has ruled out blood or thyroid disorder as the cause of body odor, he can then prescribe a prescription antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride. This type of antiperspirant is applied to problematic areas before bed, which reduces the sweating and helps to eliminate sour body odor. The prescription is washed off in the morning, and you simply apply your regular deodorant or antiperspirant after showering.

Is This an Emergency?

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections, it is best to call your doctor before leaving the house if you are experiencing a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom.
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