Some scientists who study volatile organic compounds confirmed that every person has a distinct odor, just like they have fingerprints. However, some body odors can affect your health and relationships. Many sufferers are oblivious that they have a problem and live blissfully unaware that they are offending people. Sometimes it may be the duty of a family member or best friend to drop hints to try and raise awareness.

Body odor also known medically as bromhidrosis, is the unpleasant smell or foul odor produced as a result of skin glands excretions and bacterial activity. The two types of acid commonly present when there is body odor are:

  • Propionic acid (propanoic acid) is commonly found in sweat. The bacteria called propionibacteriathat lives in the ducts of the sebaceous glands of adult and adolescents, breaks down amino acids into propionic acid. Some people may identify a vinegar-like smell with propionic acid, because it is similar to acetic acid, which gives vinegar its sour taste and pungent smell.
  • Isovaleric acid(3-methyl butanoic acid) causes body odor as a result of actions the bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis which are said to be present in several strong cheese types.


The chances of developing body odor increases at puberty between age 14-16 for females and 15-17 for males. Men are more likely to have body odour, because they tend to sweat more than women.

Body odor is most likely to occur in;

  • our feet groin
  • armpits
  • genitals
  • pubic hair and other hair
  • belly button
  • Anus
  • behind the ears
  • To some (lesser) extent on the rest of our skin.


Causes of body odor

Body odor can be influenced by

  • Lifestyles
  • Genetics
  • Medication.



Ways to Prevent body odor

  • Maintain good healthy personal or body hygiene
  • Use antibacterial soap
  • Towel off thoroughly
  • Use deodorants or antipersperants
  • Keep your wadrobe clean and tidy
  • Reduce intake of offensive food or drinks


Treatment options for body odor

  1. Keep the armpits clean by:
  • Washing them regularly using antibacterial soap to keep the number of bacteria low.
  • Regularly shave the hair under the armpits. It slows down the evaporation of sweat, giving the bacteria more time to break it down into smelly substances
  1. Use Deodorant or antiperspirant to make the skin more acidic, making the environment more difficult for bacteria to thrive. An antiperspirant blocks the sweating action of the glands, resulting in less sweating.
  2. Use of botulinum toxin that works by blocking signals from your brain to the sweat glands and reducing the amount of sweat produced.
  3. Warm bath or shower every dayto kill the bacteria on your skin. On hot days, you may need to have a bath or shower twice a day.
  4. Use natural fibers clothing to allow your skin breathe, resulting in better evaporation of sweat. Examples are: wool, silk or cotton.
  5. Limit the amount of spicy foods you eat, for example, curry or garlic. They can make your sweat, evidence also suggests that eating a lot of red meat tends to make body odour worse.
  6. Suitable products containing aluminum chloride may be prescribed by your doctor.



Article by: eDokita Team.


  1. Christian Nordqvist. ‘Body Odor: Causes, Prevention, Treatments’. Medical News Today. 2016. Web
  2. Lundström, Johan N.; Olsson, Mats J. (2010). “Functional Neuronal Processing of Human Body Odors”.Pheromones. Academic Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-12-381516-3.
  3. Preti, George; Leyden, James J (2010). “Genetic Influences on Human Body Odor: From Genes to the Axillae”.Journal of Investigative Dermatology.130(2): 344–346.Doi:10.1038/jid.2009.396.PMID 20081888.
  4. Body Odor. 2016.

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