Underarm Odor Treatments
If changing your diet doesn't eliminate underarm odor, you might need to take more steps to get rid of the smell.
Start with practicing good hygiene to reduce underarm bacteria:
- Bathe daily using soap or a soapless cleanser; antibacterial products aren't any better than regular soap
- Always shower after working out
- Shave your underarms so the bacteria have fewer places to hide
Take a close look at your regular wardrobe, too. Choose clothing made from natural fibers, and work out in clothes designed to wick moisture away from your body to keep your skin dry, which helps deter bacteria growth. Remember to keep your clothes clean, and always avoid re-wearing clothes between washings, particularly those that you use for exercising.
Another at-home treatment option you can try is to practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation. This could reduce stress levels so that you might sweat less and give odor-causing bacteria little room to thrive [source: Mayo Clinic].
If these measures don't provide any relief, consult your physician, who might prescribe an aluminum chloride antiperspirant [source: Mayo Clinic]. These products work by forming a gel plug in the pores, which reduces the excess perspiration that leads to the smell and can be washed away [source: International Hyperhidrosis Society]. Injections of botulinum toxin type A, or Botox, can provide longer-term relief from excessive sweat [source: Clark].
Finally, there are surgical treatments for underarm odor, too. An outpatient surgical procedure called superficial liposuction curettage will remove sweat glands by suctioning out subcutaneous tissue through small cuts on the skin [source: Rehumus]. Options for open surgery include cutting or shaving the subcutaneous tissue through procedures that may or may not remove skin along with it. The open surgery methods require a longer healing time and have higher risks, but their results last longer than those of liposuction. In general, these procedures are used only as a last resort.
If you'd like to learn more about underarm odor and ways to prevent or eliminate it, look through some of the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Clark, Christine, PhD, FRPharmS. "Sweating and hyperhidrosis." The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol. 276. June 24, 2006. (Accessed Sept. 9, 2009)http://www.pharmj.com/pdf/cpd/pj_20060624_sweating.pdf
- Gottlieb, Bill. Alternative Cures. (New York: Ballatine Books, 2008.) (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=xquS2HK4l18C&pg=PA106&lpg=PA106&dq=body+odor,+chlorophyll&source=bl&ots=J8Af_nZ91J&sig=uavdBehrlCJMqdvX8_fGGd1Rj6w&hl=en&ei=6SPESsDaCtHP8QaJ7PU1&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAzgK#v=onepage&q=body%20odor%2C%20chlorophyll&f=false
- Havlicek, Jan; and Lenochova, Pavlina. "The Effect of Meat Consumption on Body Odor Attractiveness." Oxford University Press. July 13, 2006. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/bjl017v1
- International Hyperhidrosis Society. "Hyperhidrosis Treatments: Antiperspirants." (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.sweathelp.org/English/PFF_Treatment_Antiperspirants.asp
- Mayo Clinic. "Sweating and Body Odor." Dec. 9, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sweating-and-body-odor/DS00305
- Merck Manuals. "Bromhidrosis." (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec10/ch118/ch118b.html?qt=underarm%20odor&alt=sh
- New Zealand Dermatological Society. "Bromhidrosis." DermNet NZ. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://dermnetnz.org/hair-nails-sweat/bromhidrosis.html
- Rehumus, Wingfield; Carol E. Cheng; and Katherine Brown. "Bromhidrosis." eMedicine from WebMD. Oct. 16, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1072342-overview
- Seo, S.H.; Jang, B.S.; Oh, C.K.; Kwon, K.S.; Kim, M.B. "Tumescent superficial liposuction with curettage for treatment of axillary bromhidrosis." Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venerology. January 2008. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://pt.wkhealth.com/pt/re/jead/abstract.00042358-200801000-00006.htm;jsessionid=KG8RLbGZdnCWsVwtp5LzpL3tCnSXLp651x1S3RRnNlpsGJ5TM2xc!780237325!181195628!8091!-1
- Solan, Matthew. "Smell Talk: Conquering Body Odor." Men's Health. (Accessed Sept. 30, 2009)http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1608/is_5_19/ai_100545110/
- Svoboda, Elizabeth. "Scents and Sensibility." WebMD feature from Psychology Today. Feb. 1, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/scents-and-sensibility
- WebMD. "Body Odor? Home Remedies Can Help." July 13, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 29, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/body-odor-home-remedies-can-help