What Are the Common Causes of Underarm Body Odor?

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  • Written By: Donna Tinus
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2020
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Underarm body odor, or any type of body odor, occurs when the body sweats and the perspiration comes in contact with bacteria on the skin. Keeping skin clean with a daily bath or shower and applying underarm deodorant is usually sufficient to keep underarm body odor from occurring. Excessive sweating beyond what is normally expected is called hyperhidrosis. Teenage body odor is usually a symptom of changing hormone levels. Occasionally, a person's reoccurring body odor may be caused by a medical condition the person may not be aware of.

There is no discernible cause for excessive underarm body odor, called primary hyperhidrosis. This often-embarrassing condition can also affect the feet and hands, often causing the hands to drip with sweat. Secondary hyperhidrosis is associated with medical causes such as diabetes, cancer, anxiety disorders, and some medications. An overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, can cause excessive underarm body odor, as can lung disease and a stroke. Another serious, but rare, condition that can cause primary hyperhidrosis is acromegaly, a disorder that causes excessive overgrowth of the face, feet, and hands.


To deal with underarm body odor, one should wash under the arms at least once a day, and dry the skin well. Hydrogen peroxide applied to the underarm area with a cotton ball will further reduce bacteria that causes underarm body odor. After the armpits are completely dry, the person should apply an antiperspirant that contains bauxite crystal in addition to a deodorant to prevent sweating and help to curtail odor should sweating occur. Shaving under the arms will also help prevent excessive odor from occurring. Workout clothing should be kept clean to prevent odor-causing bacteria from breeding.

Changing the diet can help eliminate offensive body odor. Garlic, onions, some spices, alcohol, and coffee should be avoided, or taken in moderation for anyone who is experiencing body odor problems. Tobacco can also cause a strong body odor because the tobacco excretes through the pores in the skin. Chlorophyll supplements, in addition to chewing parsley or alfalfa, may help deodorize the skin. Zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B all help to reduce secretions that may cause offensive odor.

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar have been touted for their ability to relieve body odor. Both vinegars have been known to reduce the skin's pH level, thus reducing the growth of bacteria. Baby powder, when applied over antiperspirant, can help reduce odor-causing moisture.


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