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How to Stop Body Odor

by 
author image Lori A. Selke
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.
How to Stop Body Odor
Deodorant can be helpful in the battle against body odor. Photo Credit: Ridofranz/iStock/GettyImages

If you go to the gym, chances are, you've worked out next to someone who smells like a middle school locker room. But whether you want to admit it or not, bad body odor is something that affects all of us. It can escape while sweating away on the treadmill or sneak out after a long day of work. While body odor is definitely embarrassing, figuring out why you smell so bad can be a bit tricky.

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Causes of Bad Body Odor

There are several causes of bad body odor. Some are caused by mistakes you're making in your hygiene protocol, while others may point to a more serious medical condition. Most body odor comes from your apocrine glands, which are found in the armpits, genital area, breasts and eyelids.

The most common cause of your smell is bacteria proliferating in sweat that pools under your arms or on other parts of your body. Other causes can include fungal skin infections. And occasionally, it's a symptom of a more serious medical condition, so if your body odor persists after home treatment, definitely see a doctor.

While you can't eliminate all smells, you can reduce the intensity of your body odor by practicing certain hygiene protocols.

Read more: 8 Myths About Hygiene That Are Totally Bogus

Bathe or Shower Daily

The first step to preventing bad body odor is to bathe or shower daily. You can use a deodorant or antibacterial soap. Make sure to scrub your skin with a soapy washcloth and pay special attention to your underarms, your feet, your groin area and the folds of your skin.

Once you are done scrubbing with soap, rinse your body off thoroughly. This will get rid of any leftover soap suds which can irritate your skin, and irritated skin can harbor fungal infections that will make body odor worse. Dry your skin thoroughly with a clean towel before getting dressed.

Take an extra shower after workouts or any extra-sweaty activity and put on clean clothes afterward. If antibacterial or deodorant soaps are too harsh on your skin, try washing your underarms and other odoriferous areas with apple cider vinegar instead.

Keep Your Clothes Clean

Wash your laundry with baking soda and vinegar. Add the baking soda at the beginning of the cycle and the vinegar during the rinse cycle. Add a second rinse to thoroughly remove the vinegar before drying. Body odor can be trapped in laundry and wearing clothes that have not been thoroughly laundered can enhance body odor issues.

It's also a good idea to wear natural, breathable fabrics as much as possible. This helps prevent sweat from getting trapped against your skin, giving odor-causing bacteria the perfect place to proliferate. Keeping your clothing loose will also help.

Use a Deodorant That Fits Your Needs

Choosing a deodorant that works for you takes some trial and error. But once you do find one that helps prevent odors, make sure to use it daily. You can use a regular over-the-counter product or a natural alternative.

If you're worried about any potential consequences to your health, you can skip the antiperspirant and opt for a more natural product instead. Just remember that deodorants alone do not help prevent sweating. If you want protection against sweat and odor, then you should use an antiperspirant.

Read more: 7 Creepy Locker Room DON'Ts

Investigate Your Diet

Your daily diet can be a major contributing factor to the smells your body produces. One of the first things you can do is consider what you eat on a regular basis, and if any of those foods cause odor, try swapping them out for other options.

Foods like onions, garlic, chili peppers, curry and fried/fatty foods can all cause your body to have a bad odor. Caffeine is also known to worsen body odor, and some people report that excessive consumption of sugar or red meat also results in an extra stink.

If you try all of these methods and your body odor persists, talk to your doctor about further medical options. These range from prescription-strength deodorants and anti-fungal agents to botox injections in the underarm and elsewhere to help stop excessive sweating. A fruity body odor, or one that smells of ammonia or bleach, could be a sign of a serious medical condition. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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