Body Odour


Body odour happens when our sweat mixes with the bacteria on our skin. the sweat itself doesn’t have a smell, but when it mixes with the bacteria it can cause an odour  and sometimes this may not be very pleasant. 

Body odour can smell different and can vary from person to person. It can be sour, sweet, fishy, or sulfurous and you don’t necessarily even have to sweat a lot to have a body odour.

Sweating happens when the sweat glands secrete fluids onto the surface of our skin. Sweating is necessary to maintain our body temperature and to eliminate toxins from our bodies. The apocrine glands are the sweat glands that are responsible for causing body odour. These are the glands that are abundant amongst our hair follicles, and they only become active from puberty.

Certain medications or underlying health conditions can increase body odour.

If diabetics have raised levels of ketones in their body’s, they can develop a condition called diabetic-related ketoacidosis due to high levels of acidity. This causes a fruity body odour. If a person has liver or kidney disease the toxic build-up can cause them to have a bleach smelling odour. Any of these above conditions require medical attention.

There is also a rare condition called Trimethylaminuria that causes all body secretions to smell like rotten eggs or rotten fish. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this, but body odour can be managed with personal hygiene products.

Our body odour can change due to the foods we eat or due to infections or hormonal changes. The following foods can increase body odour: 

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Curry
  • Caffeine
  • MSG
  • Alcohol

Reducing consumption of or eliminating these foods can be helpful.

It is also important to maintain good personal hygiene and there are some natural household products that can be helpful to reduce the effect of the bacteria on the skin. These include:  

Bicarbonate of soda – bicarb helps to neutralize smells as it helps to balance the acidity. You can either dust it like powder on your armpits or anywhere else on your body or you can make a paste and apply it that way.

Apple cider vinegar – apple cider vinegar has natural antibacterial properties so you can mix it with water and put it in a spray bottle which can be sprayed on the skin as needed.

Lemon juice – lemon juice contains citric acid which helps to kill bacteria. Diluted lemon juice can also be sprayed on the skin to help prevent body odour.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 20 July 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am