What Are the Common Causes of a Change in Body Odor?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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A change in body odor is not always as serious as may be presumed. It may be the result of something as simple as improper bathing or the body's reaction to emotional or hormonal changes. A person's diet may affect the way that he smells. An altering of body odor may also be caused by a medical condition or the drugs used to treat it.

Anyone who notices a change in body odor may want to first consider some of the possibilities that are easiest to rectify. These include changes in habits, such as the cleaning of a person's clothes or personal grooming. A change in laundry detergent or deodorant may not be working well and may cause an individual to believe that his body odor is what has changed. It is also possible that a person simply may not be bathing adequately. These problems are usually resolvable simply by changing the products a person uses or his personal care techniques.


Many people are unaware that a person's emotional or psychological state can prompt a change in body odor. Sweating is a normal human activity, and body odor often results when bacteria breaks down that sweat. There is research that suggests that when people are overly emotional, under pressure, or stressed, they can perspire more heavily and the resulting odor may become stronger than it would be under normal conditions. Hormonal changes are another potential cause of change in a person's smell. A woman may note this during menopause when her estrogen levels drop, or a male may smell differently during puberty when his testosterone levels rise.

A person's diet is believed to have the ability to change personal scent for the better or for worse. One type of food in particular that reportedly has negative effects on body odor is red meat. Processed foods that are rich in sugars, oils, and preservatives are also suspected culprits. On the other hand, it is believed that increasing consumption of vegetables and herbs can help to positively alter a person's natural scent.

There is also a possibility that a change in body odor may be an indication of a medical condition. It may be a minor problem, such as the buildup of toxins, which a person may resolve by embarking on a detoxification program. Examples of other conditions that could affect an individual's personal smell and may require medical attention are vaginal infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and diabetes.

When odor change is caused by a medical condition, it is often eliminated once the problem is diagnosed and a person begins treatment. It is important to note that the treatment of a condition may be the cause of an odor problem. Some medications have been noted to alter body odor. For example, there has been evidence to suggest that cholesterol medications can have this effect.


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