Body Odour: How To Fix Smelly Feet, Armpits, Hair And More

man with hyperhidrosis sweating ...
man with hyperhidrosis sweating ...

Get a whiff of this: If you’re cursed with bad body odour, you’re not alone. Many men and women are ill-fated with pits, private parts, even hair that stink. And the stench tends to worsen during the summertime, when you’re more likely to sweat.

The good news? With most cases of bad-smelling body parts, there’s an easy fix; however, in certain situations, your body odour could be signaling that it’s time to see a doctor. Don’t be the “smelly kid” — get to the root of your problem so you can banish body odour for good.

How To Fix Stinky Body Parts

Funky Feet:

When your feet sweat or get wet, bacteria build up and cause odour, says Kelly Geoghan, DPM, a podiatrist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The best solution? Keep your tootsies as moisture-free as possible. Dry them well after every shower and be sure to wipe in between your toes. If sweat’s your problem, spray your feet with an antiperspirant from the deodorant aisle of the drugstore, Dr. Geoghan suggests. An excess of foot sweat can even lead the dry skin between your toes to ball up into another icky foot issue: toe jam.

Avoid wearing socks and heavy shoes outside in the heat if you can help it. If these methods don’t get rid of the stench, says Geoghan, a prescription-strength roll-on made for body odour can probably kick it.

Smelly Armpits:

Do you wash your underarms and use an over-the-counter deodorant? Good — this should keep armpit odour in check. But some people still seem to have a problem with smelly pits, no matter how strictly they adhere to hygiene rules. If you’re one of them, you may be an excessive sweater and need a prescription antiperspirant from your doctor, says Dana Simpler, MD, a physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. In extreme-sweat situations, Botox treatments under the arms can help: It puts a stop to excessive sweating and the resulting body odour.

Are you anti-antiperspirant? Dr. Simpler tells her patients who prefer not to use a deodorant to soak a cosmetic pad with rubbing alcohol and apply it under their arms. (Beware: Doing this right after shaving your armpits will sting!). The alcohol kills the bacteria that lead to body odour. You’ll still sweat, but wearing loose-fitting clothing should keep sweating down, she says.

Bad-Breath Blasters:

The most common cause of stinky breath? Your diet, says David M. Leader, DMD, an assistant clinical professor at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. Spices, garlic, and onions are known to make your breath smell for hours after you eat them, Dr. Leader says. Fortunately, you can fix this right up by brushing and flossing.

But if your toothbrush isn’t doing the trick, you could have halitosis, which can be caused by bad dental hygiene (bits of food get stuck between your teeth and gums and begin to emit foul odours). Gum disease, dry mouth, and other dental health problems could also be at root, so it’s important to talk to your dentist.

Smelly Hair Syndrome:

Most women deal with stinky breath and smelly feet — but what about hair that reeks? According to cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski, “smelly hair syndrome” is a condition that results in a pungent stench from the hair and scalp. What does smelly hair smell like? Romanowski said people with the condition have “compared the smell to ‘sour milk, wet dog, moldy hay, potatoes, an old shoe or dirty socks, a jacket that's never been to the dry cleaner, and an oily smell mixed with vomit.’”

Researchers haven’t pinpointed a cause for smelly hair syndrome, but Romanowski recommends treating it with Dial antibacterial liquid body wash and soaps that contain sulfur.

Help For Down Below:

For the most part, your vagina shouldn’t have a naturally bad odour — but sweating “down there” can cause a stench (just as it does on other parts of your body). Wash your vagina daily with warm water and a mild non-drying soap (but skip the soap on the thin tissues of the inner vulva or vaginal opening). And keep the area dry — change your undies as needed if you get really sweaty — and opt for fabrics which breathe, like cotton.

If you do have vaginal odour — and it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re perspiration-prone — it could mean harmful bacteria in your vagina has caused bacterial vaginosis. In addition to an unpleasant smell, bacterial infections can also cause discharge, pain, itching, or burning. If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor for treatment.

You may be able to avoid some vaginal infections by keeping your blood sugar levels low, Simpler says — at the first sign of a possible infection, cut out sweets, sugar, and soda.

Fight Gas:

Beans, bananas, and onions will make anyone gassy — and most people are uniquely sensitive to other foods, too. If you’re a gas-passing offender, one of the best things to do is to take Pepto-Bismol. Gas-reducing supplements like Beano can also help, but be sure to take them while eating the offending food item.

It may sound silly, but you also should be paying attention to your bowel movements. Why? If you’re not moving your bowels regularly, the build-up can lead to excessive gas. To stay regular, be sure you’re getting more fiber and less white flour in your diet and head to the bathroom at your first urge to go because you might get the signal to move your bowels only once a day, Simpler says.

But if gas is a persistent problem for you, it could be a sign of gallbladder disease (other signs include frequent burping and abdominal pain, especially after eating greasy foods). Check in with your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms.