Why Do Armpits Smell?

Why Do Armpits Smell?

Everyone's armpits smell, but why do some smell more than others? What does this smell mean?
How to Prevent and Stop Nervous Sweating Reading Why Do Armpits Smell? 9 minutes

It’s no secret that everyone’s armpits smell sometimes. That’s why we shower after we go to the gym and use perfume or cologne. But what if the standard personal hygiene routine doesn’t seem to eliminate your body odor? You shower, you wash your hands, you give it your best effort, but you still, well, stink a bit. You may find yourself wondering, “Why do my armpits still smell?”

Don’t worry; this anxiety is normal and common. Nobody wants to be stinky. Everyone struggles with body odor, and some run into unique sweat problems, like hyperhidrosis. Armpit smell is a concern many of us share. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help prevent and treat armpit odor, or even stop armpit sweat if you feel very driven.

In this article, we’ll explain why our armpits stink sometimes and offer some solutions that can help you eliminate the problem.

Onion smell body odor is most common for women. | Social Citizen

Looking for clothes that can reduce your perspiration and prevent armpit smell? Try one of Social Citizen’s sweat-proof Social Tees, 100% guaranteed to stop sweat stains.

Why Do My Armpits Smell Like Onions?

If you ever raise your arm and think it smells vaguely onion-y, you’re not alone.

Your body is pretty much covered with sweat glands. And that’s actually pretty great because sweating is your body’s way of regulating temperature. When your temperature goes up on a hot day or due to vigorous exercise, your brain signals eccrine glands all over your body to release a clear, odorless liquid that cools you down. However, that liquid - what we call sweat - actually starts to smell bad once it interacts with the natural bacteria present on your skin. Your onion armpit smell is a product of bacteria breaking down your sweat into thioalcohols.

Can Women’s Armpits Smell Like Onions?

By studying the sulfur compounds and bacteria in sweat, researchers found that onion-like body odor is most common for women. Females in the study were found to have ten times the amount of onion-associated sweat compounds when compared to males.

Why Do My Armpits Smell Like Onions After a Shower?

Consider checking your body wash for antibacterial ingredients. The onion-like smell is a result of bacteria interacting with sweat on your skin. While you may feel clean after a shower, bacteria may still be present from before your shower. You can help to reduce bacterial odor with a different choice in soap!

Why Do My Armpits Smell Like Onions in the Morning?

When you wake up in the morning, the bacteria on your skin has had time to interact with sweat while you sleep. You may sweat in your sleep and not even notice! Bacteria love warm, damp and dark places, including your armpits under a blanket. It’s very common to wake up and feel the need to take a shower, even if you took a shower before going to bed.

Why Does My Sweat Smell Like Onions?

The onion armpit smell is a very common type of body odor! There are certain foods, drinks, and medications that can make eccrine sweat smell differently, but be aware, the onion-like smell is entirely natural and normal.

Why Do I Smell Like Vinegar When Sweating?

While some describe their subtle B.O. as onion-like, others describe a vinegar smell. Both smells are a byproduct of bacteria interacting with sweat on your skin. Others describe this smell as sulfur, meat, or other sour to umami odors.

And, again, all of the above is completely normal. But some of us have it even harder than others. For example, there’s a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is when you sweat excessively. This can make your armpits even smellier because your glands release more sweat, giving bacteria more food to turn into odor.

There’s also another chronic condition called bromhidrosis in which the skin emanates an excessive unpleasant odor. These have a variety of causes ranging from obesity to health conditions to medication side effects to simply genetics. This means that sometimes it’s treatable and sometimes it’s not.

How to Prevent Armpit Smell

Regardless of what may or may not be causing your body odor, there are several things you can do to try to prevent it. The main idea is to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin to stop the sweat from having something to interact with and create an odor in the first place.

Tips for preventing armpit smell include:

  • Shower regularly, at least once or even twice a day, especially after physically strenuous activities like going to the gym or taking a hike. Using antibacterial soap is especially effective.
  • Remove your underarm hair by shaving or waxing. This reduces body odor because soap, antiperspirant, and deodorant are more effective on hairless skin.
  • Choose your clothing wisely. Loose clothes in breathable fabrics allow you to stay cool, preventing you from getting too sweaty and stinky. You can gain the courage to even wear white when choosing the right shirt!
  • Learn stress-reduction techniques like meditation and breathing exercises in order to avoid nervous sweating through your apocrine glands.
  • Wash your clothing often so that they don’t breed extra bacteria to continue smelling worse and worse each time you wear them.


Why do armpits smell even with deodorant? | Social Citizen

How to Treat Armpit Smell

Sometimes you just can’t avoid sweating and creating body odor. But even if you do produce some B.O., you can still manage and treat it. Below, we offer some options for addressing armpit smell.

Why Do My Armpits Smell Even with Deodorant?

If you aren’t already, using antiperspirant and deodorant is a must. Antiperspirant prevents body odor by stopping you from sweating. It has aluminum as an active ingredient which works by clogging the sweat glands. If standard drugstore antiperspirant isn’t enough, you can purchase a clinical-strength antiperspirant or even ask your doctor to prescribe you a prescription-strength antiperspirant, which has a higher concentration of aluminum in it.

Just as important as using antiperspirant is to use antiperspirant correctly. Some tips for getting the most out of your antiperspirant include:

  • Apply the antiperspirant at night to give the active ingredient time to work.
  • Apply antiperspirant to clean, completely dry skin.
  • Wait a few minutes after applying antiperspirant before putting your shirt on.

In addition to antiperspirant, it’s also recommended to use deodorant. While this doesn’t stop you from sweating, it helps prevent your sweat from smelling bad by killing the bacteria in your underarms. It also usually comes in a variety of scents that you can choose from to mask any odors that do exist.

If you’re not interested in applying both of these products separately, you can even buy antiperspirant deodorant which combines both functions and is very common and easy to find in stores.

Natural Solutions to Armpit Onion Smell

If you’re opposed to store bought antiperspirants and deodorants but still want to try something, there are some home remedies that may or may not work for you. These include:

  • Witch hazel
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Homemade deodorant made of baking soda and arrowroot powder

Address Underlying Causes

If you suspect that you might have hyperhidrosis, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. They will be able to diagnose you as well as help you determine whether or not your hyperhidrosis has an underlying cause such as:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Pheochromocytoma (a small tumor of the adrenal gland)
  • Carcinoid syndrome (a rare disorder triggered by an altered immune system response)
  • Acromegaly (an abnormality of the pituitary gland producing too much growth hormone)
  • Anticholinesterases
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytic drug
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Depo-Provera birth control pills
  • Insulin
  • Methadone
  • Migraine medications
  • NSAIDs
  • Opioids
  • Testosterone
  • Thyroid-regulating drugs
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Fever
  • Infection (such as malaria or HIV)
  • Obesity
  • Toxicity from alcoholism or substance abuse

If your excess sweating - and armpit smell - is actually caused by one of the factors above, you might be able to stop it by treating the underlying cause. For example, you could change your medication, treat your hyperthyroidism, or try to lose weight.

Avoid These Foods

Did you know that there are certain foods that are thought to exacerbate body odor? Avoid the following foods to test if changing your diet will help:

  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, which contain foul-smelling sulfur that can be secreted through your sweat.
  • Red meat, which leaves a residue in your intestines that, when broken down by intestinal enzymes, intensifies body odor.
  • Fish like salmon and tuna, which contain choline that produces a pungent fishy smell.
  • Seafood in general, which can contain a chemical called trimethylamine that some people are unable to break down, causing an odor.

How Social Citizen Can Help You

One of the easiest ways to manage your body odor is to wear the right clothing. Social Citizen’s sweat-proof clothing comes with a hidden underarm pad that can absorb sweat. The pads are made with bamboo, which has natural antimicrobial properties, helping to eliminate armpit smell. This is a great natural alternative to deodorant, or can be used with antiperspirant and deodorant for extra odor-fighting power.

Social Citizen’s shirts come in a variety of cuts, colors, and sizes fitting both men and women - and all of them are stylish and discreet, fitting smoothly into your wardrobe without looking any different from a regular shirt. Try one today to stay cool, fresh, and confident all day.

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