Top 10 Tips for Preventing Underarm Odor

Top 10 Tips for Preventing Underarm Odor

If all else fails, call a doctor.
If all else fails, call a doctor.
James Braund/Getty Images

Persistently bad underarm odor may call for medical help. Body odor can be a sign of various medical conditions including liver and kidney disease [source: White]. Persistent body odor, however, can be a warning sign that needs a doctor's attention.

If the problem is the sweat/bacteria interaction on the skin, dermatologists can often help. If excessive sweating -- hyperhidrosis -- is contributing to the bad smell, dermatologists can prescribe prescription-strength antiperspirants. They also may prescribe pills to reduce sweating. In cases of severe hyperhidrosis, surgery may be used to remove the sweat glands or the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands.

Botox injections, which reduce the activity of muscles and overactive glands, also are used to fight armpit odor [source: Feldman].

Another approach is iontophoresis, in which a mild electric current is passed through the skin while it's submerged in water. This method disrupts the production of sweat [source: Rehmus].

A more common solution is to reduce the bacteria that cause the odor. Dermatologists may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics. Researchers are finding that some medications commonly prescribed to treat acne also help with underarm odor [source: Feldman].

There's help available for those noxious odors at the drugstore, around your home or in a doctor's office. Raise your hand high if you know the best solution!

Related Articles


  • Arm & Hammer. "What is the deal with ARM & Hammer Baking Soda and pH?" (Sept. 10, 2009)
  • Baker, Donald J., M.D., and Warren R. Heymann, M.D. "Eccrine and Apocrine Glands." (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Columbia University. "Go Ask Alice: Body Aroma." (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Columbia University. "Go Ask Alice: What can I do about my strong body odor?" (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Discovery "Moisture Wicking Clothing."
  • Duke, James A. "The Green Pharmacy." Rodale. 1997.
  • Feldman, Steven R., M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Dermatology, Pathology and Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C. Personal interview. Sept. 9, 2009.
  • "Gillette's Guide to Body Shaving." (Feb. 9, 2012.)
  • Health2009. "Can zinc or magnesium stop body odor?" (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Hyperhidrosisweb. Eliminate Underarm Odor -- Naturally!" (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Main, Emily. "Why "Anti-Odor" Clothes Stink." Rodale News. March 11, 2010. (Feb. 9, 2012.),0
  • Mayo Clinic. "Hyperhidrosis: Hyperhidrosis Surgery." (Sept. 11, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Strong Body Odor Can Often Be Diagnosed and Treated." (Sept. 5, 2009)
  • Niering, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead. "Witch Hazel." National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers: Eastern Region. Knopf. 1979.
  • Pyatt, Jamie. "Thrill rides cause a stink." The Sun. (Sept.10, 2009)
  • Rehmus, Wingfield, Katherine Brown and Nelly Rubeiz. "Bromhidrosis: Treatment & Medication." eMedicine Dermatology. (Sept. 10, 2009)
  • Saad, Gad, Ph.D. "You want to smell better? Don't eat red meat!" Psychology Today. February 22, 2010.
  • Segelken, Roger. "Armpit effect distinguishes kin from strangers." Cornell Chronicle.
  • Shortsleeve, Cassie. "Should you groom your armpits? Men's Health. January 12, 2012.
  • Shosteck, Robert. "Witch Hazel." Flowers and Plants: An International Lexicon With Biographical Notes. Quadrangle. 1974.
  • "Strong Body Odor Can Be Diagnosed and Treated." Medical Edge, August 28, 2008.
  • Swain, Liz and Rebecca Frey. "Witch Hazel." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Gale. 2005.
  • The People's Pharmacy. "Stopping Underarm Odor Without Antiperspirant." (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Unilever. "Degree Women Dare to Feel." (Sept. 3, 2009)
  • Weil, Andrew. "Natural Health, Natural Medicine." Houghton Mifflin. 2004.
  • White, Linda B., Steven Foster and the staff of "Herbs for Health." "The Herbal Drugstore." Rodale. 2000.


How do deodorants keep you from stinking?

How do deodorants keep you from stinking?

Humans have tried for centuries to mask the scent emanating from their bodies, so what do deodorants do differently?