5 Hidden Causes of Body Odor

5 Hidden Causes of Body Odor

Body odor can be a turnoff. Most times it is just plain old stinky bacteria but sometimes body odor can be caused by other things like a biological condition or the release of pheromones the natural scent that some believe can attract a mate.

These 5 hidden causes of body odor may surprise you. Little problems easily fixed or some reasons for body odor you never even imagined. School yourself to see if you might need an odor adjustment. 

Watch Your Meds

If you are experiencing chronic body odor and not just a bad hygiene day, side-effects of medications should be ruled out first before determining other culprits. The main list of meds (and some non-meds) that have been linked as odor causing includes:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-allergy
  • Diet medications
  • Certain vitamins
  • Some herbal supplements
  • Certain birth control medications 

If body odor is an issue and it is possible, discontinue your meds or supplements for a few weeks to see if your scent improves. Always check with your doctor or holistic practitioner first. 

Fear Sweat

Your body has many built-in sensors that can immediately be triggered. One trigger is stress, resulting is one systemic response; sweat. When one experiences stress a reaction known as ‘chemo-signaling’ can occur. 

Research published PLoS One titled ‘Rapid Stress System Drives Chemical Transfer of Fear from Sender to Receiver’ reported,

“The apocrine sweat glands in the armpit that are responsible for chemosignal production contain receptors for adrenalin. We therefore expected that the release of adrenalin through activation of the rapid stress response system (i.e., the sympathetic-adrenal medullary system) is what drives the release of fear sweat,..sweat was sampled while eight participants prepared for a speech. Participants had higher heart rates and produced more armpit sweat in the fast stress condition, compared to baseline and the slow stress condition.”

If bacteria is present “fear sweat” could not only cause wetness but also intense body odor. If you  find yourself sweating from stress add a layer such as a t-shirt to act as barrier so it does not show (and smell) through your shirt. Some people will carry a small deodorant for extra application when this occurs. 

Underarm Deodorant/Anti-perspirant

Those who struggle with body odor, particularly underarm smell, may never realize it could be coming from the thing they trust the most, a deodorant or anti-perspirant. This is because some of the compounds in these products could actually react to your body chemistry resulting in feeding and multiplying odor causing bacteria.

A study published in the journal Peer J titled, ‘The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome’ stated,

“Here, we find that the composition of the armpit microbiome is highly predictable, being dominated by Staphylococcaceae and Corynebacterium [odor causing bacterias], and strongly influenced by product use…Our work clearly demonstrates that antiperspirant use strikingly alters armpit bacterial communities, making them more species rich.”

Wash your armpits with soap and water. Try all-natural deodorants and stay away from anti-perspirants. 

Synthetic Clothes

Your clothing could be a cause of body odor. Synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon trap bacteria and create odor buildup. 

Research on clothing and odor posted by the American Society for Microbiology in the journal ‘Applied and Environmental Microbiology’ stated that,

“This research indicated that enrichment of micrococci [a spherical bacterium found on dead or decaying organic matter] occurred on polyester and, in general, on synthetic clothing textiles. Micrococci were frequently isolated, identified by means of DGGE [denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis] fingerprinting, and enriched by an in-vitro [lab culture] growth experiment on these textiles. The odor of the synthetic textiles was perceived as remarkably less pleasant after an intensive sport session.”  

Stick to natural fibers (cleaned regularly) to avoid body odor, which include:

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Hemp
  • Linen (made from flax)

Sign of Disease

Body odor could be a clue that your system is struggling with a disease or condition you may not know about. This is particularly true for diabetes. When your body depletes the natural amount of insulin you usually need, it begins to crave fuel (food). The system begins to produce ketones, packed energy molecules derived from fatty acids, which fills the fuel craving. 

Ketones are linked to creating a strong body odor when one sweats. Another odor associated with diabetes is fruity scented breath or urine. If you are experiencing any of these signs it is probably best to mention it to your physician. 

These 5 hidden causes of body odor are a reminder that sometimes your body is trying to tell you something. Stay in tune to your physical clues and treat your body right with good hygiene, clean natural foods, and plenty of activity.