Almost all adults have experienced smelly armpits at least once in their lives. This is a common issue.
Smelly armpits are also known as body odour, shortly B.O.
It is totally normal and in most cases doesn’t point out a medical problem. However, it can be embarrassing if happens when you are in close contact with people.
So, you probably want to avoid a pungent scent that can occur in your armpits as much as possible.
In this article, we will look at 7 simple and natural ways to prevent or at least minimise unpleasant underarm odour.
In a survey conducted with 2000 people in Britain, one in third of the participants revealed that the fear of smelling unpleasant prevented them from hugging someone and left them feeling unhappy, (1).
Although smelly armpits (in most cases) are not an indication of a medical problem, they can make you self-conscious, thus impacting your social relationships, especially if happens very often.
However, you may want to take a natural route to deal with unpleasant armpit odour. If so, you are in the right place!
Below, you will see 7 natural methods– which consist of some simple lifestyle changes – that may help you prevent smelly armpits.
Bear in mind, the below-given methods don’t include anything that you apply to your underarms topically. For this reason, we call ” simple and natural ” ways to prevent stinky armpits.
7 Natural Ways to Combat Smelly Armpits
1-) Shave or wax armpits regularly
2-) Shower frequently
3-) Wear breathable fabric
4-) Try to reduce stress
5-) Avoid odour-causing foods
6-) Limit alcohol consumption
7-) Wash your clothes regularly
Below, we will share with you the details of these natural prevention methods. Before that, let’s find out what causes smelly armpits.
After all, the most effective way to overcome a problem is to find its causes.
Sweat Isn’t the Only Factor For Smelly Armpits!
Most people tend to think that sweat causes unpleasant body odour. But, it might be slightly different than that!
What Causes Smelly Armpits?
There are two main types of sweat glands in the human body; these are eccrine and apocrine.
Eccrine sweat glands are found almost all over the human body, while apocrine sweat glands are present in areas with hair, such as underarms or groin, according to the Mayo Clinic (7).
Bacteria that live on the skin break down the acid that presents in the sweat, leading to a distinctive body odour (11).
“Apocrine sweat by itself does not have an odour, but when the bacteria that live on our skin mixes with apocrine secretions, it can produce a foul-smelling odour,” says Adele Haimovic, MD, a surgical and cosmetic dermatologist (4).
One thing is clear now; sweat itself doesn’t cause smelly armpits! In order for the smelly armpits to occur, the bacteria need to break down certain proteins in the sweat into acids (12).
The Details of the Above-given Prevention Methods
It is now evident that not only sweat but also armpit bacteria are responsible for smelly armpits.
So, lowering the amount of bacteria living in the armpits or reducing underarm sweat or doing both should help you prevent smelly armpits!
Above, we mentioned 7 simple and natural ways to combat unpleasant underarm odour.
In this section, we will go into further details about these prevention methods and explain why they might help you prevent smelly armpits and how you can incorporate them into your life.
Besides, we will try to prove the effectiveness of these natural prevention methods by providing scientific evidence.
1- Shave or Wax Your Underarms Regularly
Shaving or waxing underarms may help individuals prevent unpleasant underarm odour, studies suggest so…
A 1953 experimental study – published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – found that shaving underarms reduced unpleasant armpit odour.
In a more recent study (2016) – published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology – it was found that shaving and waxing underarm hair reduced armpit odour in men and this effect persisted for the following 24 hours.
Researchers of this study revealed that shaving underarms increased the effectiveness of cleansing products such as soap, thus, significantly improving axillary odour.
Try to keep your underarms free of hair to better deal with armpit odour.
2- Shower Frequently
Above, we mentioned that bacteria that are present on the skin is responsible for the unpleasant body odour.
So, the remedy is simple, reduce the amount of bacteria that cause smelly armpits.
Showering regularly is a simple but very effective way to avoid smelly armpits as it prevents odour-causing underarm bacteria from thriving and multiplying.
If you involve in strenuous physical activities that cause you to sweat, do take a shower after each sweat-inducing activity.
Note that taking a shower with antibacterial soap can further reduce the number of bacteria on armpits, thus, helping prevent smelly armpits.
3- Wear Breathable Fabric
The fabric that you are wearing may play a key role in preventing smelly armpits.
If you usually wear man-made fabric such as spandex and polyester, you should know you are increasing the risk of having smelly armpits. Because man-made fabrics (synthetic fabrics) are so tightly woven and that prevents sweat to escape (16).
Trapped sweat makes an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply and that bring about stinky armpits.
So, you may want to consider wearing clothes made of breathable fabrics!
Breathable fabrics absorb some of the moisture under the armpits, thus, helping the armpits stay drier. That, in turn, helps prevent bacteria from multiplying on underarms.
A 2014 Study – published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology – found that synthetic fabrics can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
Fabrics to Avoid :
- Synthetic Fibers
- 100% Polyester
Fabrics to Opt:
4- Try to Reduce Stress
“What can stress have to do with bad armpit odour?” you may want to ask.
Well, everything that can cause you to sweat excessively can also make your armpits stinky.
Applying some stress-lowering techniques can help you lower your stress, which, in turn, help control excessive sweating.
5- Avoid Odour – causing Foods
Almost all of these foods are beneficial and might be an inseparable part of your diet. We just wanted you to know that these healthy foods may give you an unpleasant body odour.
6- Limit Alcohol Consumption
It is up to you how much alcohol you consume. But, you should know that more than one glass of alcohol can lead to body odour, which in turn make you self-conscious.
When you drink too much alcohol, your liver turns excess alcohol into acid and that acid can come out of your pores, causing body odour (23).
7- Wash Your Clothes Regularly
To avoid smelly armpits, make sure you wash your clothes regularly.
When used clothes aren’t washed properly, bacteria can easily accumulate and multiple, causing unpleasant body odour.
See Your Dermatologist
In most cases, it is possible to manage body odour with simple home remedies. Nevertheless, sometimes home remedies and natural methods may not be enough to combat smelly armpits.
See your dermatologist:
- If you have hyperhidrosis – a condition that causes excessive sweating that’s not necessarily related to heat, exercise or stress – talk to your dermatologist to find the best treatment.
- If you think unpleasant body odour is affecting your social life, thus, leading you to depression, you should consider talking with your dermatologist. Your dermatologist will implement the best treatment to prevent smelly armpits.
- If your body odour has changed suddenly without a reason, then again it is best for you to check with your dermatologist because a medical condition might be the underlying cause.
There are multiple ways people used to prevent smelly armpits, these include cosmetic products, topical application of some foods such as potatoes, or even botox.
In this article, we focused only on simple and natural ways that can help you prevent armpit odour.
These methods may help you deal with underarm odour.
Remember sweating is perfectly normal and everyone may have smelly armpits from time to time.
Personal hygiene in most cases is enough to prevent sweat from getting stinky.
Tarkan is an experienced medical writer ( currently more than 600 medical articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.