Hygiene & GroomingClothingHairFashion IndustryFragrancesMakeupSkinFashion Accessories

7 Causes of Chronic Body Odor Even After Bathing

Updated on August 29, 2017

Even famous Hollywood stars have suffered legendarily bad breath and battled body odor, so you are not alone if your natural state smells a little bit more "natural" than your friends would prefer. This article will help you understand what may be causing the smell and what you can do about it.

Causes of Smelling Bad After a Shower

Cause
Description
Treatment
Trimethylaminuria (TMAU)
A genetic disorder that inhibits your body's enzymes from breaking down trimethtylamine (TMA), a fishy-smelling compound found in choline-rich foods.
Remove or reduce choline-rich foods in your diet. These foods include milk, eggs, saltwater fish, and legumes.
Diet heavy in cruciferous vegetables, sulfur-rich foods, or heavy spices
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage are high in sulfur, which when broken down, make your sweat smell like rotten eggs. Strong smelling herbs can also be secreted through sweat when broken down in your body.
Avoid eating these foods. Cooking cruciferous vegetables will also reduce sulfur compounds, but retain the nutrients.
Stress, Anxiety, or Depression
Sweat produced when feeling anxiety or depression contains fat that bacteria present on your skin love to feast on. When bacteria break down this fat, a stinky acid is produced.
Avoid stressful situations or try meditation to calm your nerves. If stress is unavoidable, use a clinical-strength antiperspirant or deodorant to prevent sweating or to mask the smell.
Athlete's foot
A fungal infection that is a result of feet that are confined to a warm, dark, and sweaty environment.
Most cases can be treated with an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream. If problems persist, your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength medication.
Consuming copious amounts of alcohol
Excess alcohol that is not processed by the liver escapes through your pores.
Drink in moderation.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
A condition in which there is a buildup of ketones, which produces a smell that is described as fruity, sweet, or similar to nail polish. This is caused by extremely low levels of insulin.
Seek immediate medical attention. This condition could lead to death.

1. Trimethylaminuria (TMAU)

Findings in the American Journal of Medicine show that one-third of people who report unexplained, persistent body odor suffer from an inherited metabolic disorder called trimethylaminuria.1

This hereditary disorder prevents your body's enzymes from breaking down trimethtylamine (TMA), a fishy-smelling compound found in choline-rich foods.2 Because your body is unable to digest TMA, the excess is released through your sweat, breath, and urine, and causes you to stink. In severe cases, a "rotting fish" odor emanates from your body, but in low concentrations, TMA is described as smelling "garbage-like."3

Treatment

  • While there is no cure, you can reduce odor by limiting the amount of choline-rich foods in your diet. These foods include milk from wheat-fed cows, eggs, saltwater fish, organ meats (livers, brains, hearts), peanuts, and certain legumes (soy beans, chick peas, and split peas).
  • Low doses of antibiotics can reduce production of TMA in your intestine.
  • Taking riboflavin (vitamin B2) encourages existing FMO3 enzyme activity (the enzyme that breaks down TMA).
  • Laxatives or detoxifying herbs or supplements can remove TMA from your body, reducing the amount of time it remains in your system.

Fish and eggs are high in choline.
Fish and eggs are high in choline.

2. Consuming Foods High in Sulfur

Do you have smelly armpits even after showering? When you eat cabbage, broccoli, and other sulfur-rich foods, the sulfur is broken down into compounds that smell like rotten-eggs and are later secreted through your pores. So no matter how much you clean your underarms, the smell will still seep through. Garlic and onions also contain volatile sulfurous substances.4

Treatment

  • Avoid eating garlic, onions, leeks, chives, protein-rich foods, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, turnips, and kale.
  • You can also try cooking cruciferous vegetables. Cooking reduces the sulfur compounds but retains the nutrients.

These vegetables contain high amounts of sulfur.
These vegetables contain high amounts of sulfur.

3. Anxiety, Depression, or Stress

When you feel stressed, your body produces more sweat from the apocrine glands.5 These glands are located in areas where you grow the most hair, like your armpits and groin, and they secrete sweat containing 20% fat. The bacteria that is normally present on your skin breaks down the fat in your sweat and turns it into acids. This process produces chemicals that have a stinky smell.6

Treatment

  • Try to avoid stressful situations.
  • Doing yoga or meditation may hep reduce anxiety.
  • If you find it hard to minimize sweating by reducing stress or depression, an antiperspirant or deodorant will either block sweat or neutralize the odor caused by bacteria.

4. Athlete's Foot

If you've played sports, then you are probably familiar with this condition. Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that is caused when warm, sweaty feet are confined to tight socks and shoes, with little air circulation. Most over-the-counter creams can effectively treat this problem, but if the smell and itching persists, ask your doctor for a prescription medication.

Treatment

  • There are a myriad of drugstore anti-fungal creams designed specifically to treat athlete's foot.
  • If you need something stronger, your doctor can prescribe a medicated ointment.
  • Some home remedies you can try include applying tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or yogurt. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-fugal ointment, apple cider vinegar is beneficial against yeast and fungus, and the probiotic in yogurt contains beneficial yeast that can fight pathogenic species of fungi.

5. Drinking Alcohol

If you drink in moderation, the smell of alcohol can only be detected in your breath. However, an alcoholic or anyone who overdoses on a night out will reek. This is because the liver can only process about a drink an hour, so excess alcohol that runs through your blood will escape the body in other ways, mainly via your pores and urine. Yes, you can sweat alcohol, and it will stink!7

Treatment

  • Drink in moderation and drink water in between servings of alcohol.

Rum
Rum

6. Diabetic Ketoacidosis

It's possible that the unpleasant scent you are smelling is emanating from your breath and not your body. Diabetics who have extremely low levels of insulin may report smelling like nail polish. When the body does not have enough insulin to break down sugar for energy, it releases hormones to break down fat for fuel, which produces acids called ketones. A buildup of ketones produces a smell that is described as fruity, sweet, or similar to nail polish.8

Treatment

This condition is extremely dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. If you experience these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

What Causes Body Odor?

  • Body odor, or B.O. as it is colloquially abbreviated, is referred to in medicine as bromhidrosis.
  • Your skin produces two different kinds of sweat from two different types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.
  • Eccrine glands are present all over your body. They secrete fluid not only in response to heat and humidity, but also to stress, anger, nervousness, sexual excitement, or certain foods. This fluid is composed of mainly water and salt, and is virtually odorless.
  • The apocrine glands are located in areas where you grow the most hair, like your armpits and groin. The fluid secreted from these glands consists of protein, lipid, carbohydrate, and ammonium. Bacteria that are normally present in these areas break down the protein and fats in our sweat and turn them into acids, thereby releasing stinky chemicals.9

Ways to Prevent Body Odor

  1. Maintain high levels of personal hygiene by taking frequent showers using a scrubber or loofah, along with an antibacterial soap.
  2. Dry yourself well after baths.
  3. Wear clean clothes and make sure they are washed well to get rid of the odor. Never wear unwashed clothes.
  4. Use clinical- or industrial-strength deodorants and antiperspirants.

Home Remedies for Body Odor

  • Sage: You can use it as a power, mix it in with your body wash, or drink it as a tea.
  • Rosemary: You can grind the dried herb and use it as a body powder, or you can drink it as a tea.
  • Fennel: Include this spice in your meals or drink a cup of fennel tea each day.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Mix it with water to use as a body spray, or mix it with baking soda to use as an underarm powder.
  • Witch Hazel: Soak a cotton ball and apply directly to your underarms.
  • Baking Soda: Apply directly to your armpits to neutralize odor and absorb excess sweat and moisture.
  • Lemon or Lime: Rub a wedge of lemon or lime directly to your armpits, or mix a few drops of lemon/lime juice with baking soda and apply as a paste.

1. Sage (Salvia Officinalis)

Source

Compounds found in sage can dry up perspiration, while the oils contained in sage are antiseptic and antibiotic. Use it on your skin to help lessen body odor caused by perspiration or by infectious agents. You can use sage as a body powder, body wash, and tea.

  • Body Powder: Crush dried sage and apply it to your skin.
  • Body Wash: Brew some sage tea. Steep 2 teaspoons of dried sage in 1/4 liters of hot water for 5 minutes. You can then use the sage tea externally as a body wash. It helps reduce excessive sweating. Apply to underarms in the shower —avoid using the body wash on your face or genitals.
  • Sage Tea: Drink small amounts as needed rather than drinking it routinely. Caution: Prolonged use can cause dizziness, hot flushes, and seizures. Do not take internally if pregnant or breastfeeding.

2. Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)

This aromatic culinary herb contains agents that are antiseptic and antibiotic, and the piney scent is also refreshing.

  • Similar to sage, you can grind the dried herb and use it as a body powder.
  • You can also make a tea to use as body wash by steeping 1/4 cup of dried rosemary in 1/2 liter (2 cups) of water. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.

3. Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)

Source

As early as the 10th century A.D., the mystic Hildegard of Bingen recommended fennel seed as treatment for body odor. In some Indian restaurants, fennel seeds are offered instead of after-dinner mints. This is because fennel seeds not only improve digestion, but can also reduce bad breath and body odor that originate in the intestines. Eat whole seeds after a meal or drink one cup of tea per day.

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a potent substance that kills fungi and bacteria. It may be too harsh on the skin if used alone, so mix it with either baking soda or water.

To Use:

  • Mix equal parts water and tea tree oil. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the mixture under your arms.
  • Combine baking soda with a few drops of the oil. Apply the powder to your armpits after showering.

5. Witch Hazel

The bacteria on our skin needs a high level of pH in order to survive. Witch hazel lowers the pH, making it impossible for odor-producing bacteria to thrive.

To Use:

Soak a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply directly to your underarms.

6. Baking Soda

Basking soda absorbs sweat but also kills bacteria. You can apply the powder directly to your armpits or mix some baking soda with lemon juice to form a paste for application.

7. Lemon or Lime

The acid in lemons and limes fights against odor-producing bacteria and also lowers the pH level of your skin, which helps prevent bacterial growth.

To Use:

Rub a wedge of lemon or lime directly to your armpits or mix the juice with either baking soda or cornstarch to form a paste.

Sweet-Smelling Body Powder Recipe

You can use this powder under the arms or wherever odor originates by mixing the following ingredients together.

  • 35 grams cornflour
  • 35 grams bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon ground rosemary

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      eli101 5 months ago

      This kind of helped me. First it's good to have a change in diet. Cutting out dairy and meat as much as possible. Next incorporating more vegetables helped some. I then tried a product from Renew Life, called Intestinew powder (and pills). I tried the powder. I didn't notice a great change when I did all these but it was a start. I tried not stressing, (which can be difficult, and I also prayed). Watching things on tv/internet that make you laugh is a positive in healing your insides I think. Then I tried several things including lemon juice, baking soda, garlic and organic apple cider vinegar (not all at once). I tried baking soda with lemon juice (1 spoonful in water each, about 15-30 min. apart) first and I didn't notice any great results. I then tried, smashing/cutting 1 good size clove of garlic with 6-8 oz. of water in the morning before eating anything (then either oatmeal or something else about 30 minutes after). At night 1-2 hours after dinner, I used 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar mixed in with about 6-8 oz. of water. Did this for a while (maybe 1 or 2 months) and started noticing the "nose scratchers" didn't scratch as often. I experimented not showering for one day and even working out the next day(sweating use to be bad) and people didn't react the way they normally would. So far so good. I'm still using garlic and apple cider vinegar, just in case, and don't want to go back to my usual eating habits either. Maybe this will help you. If you can see a doctor (a good one, not one that'll dismiss you as crazy) they might prescribe something for your particular situation.

      I don't know if the intestinew was of any help. maybe it repaired some damage in the guts. Maybe not, but i'm mentioning it just in case. (some other dude said he had taken the pills in double/triple douses but I wouldn't recommend that, as people can have various reactions to taking too much.) I know garlic was on the list of problem "foods" but it seemed to help me. Good luck. (don't despair,) Peace.

    • profile image

      Christine 5 months ago

      So it started over a year ago and then summer past and i started going to school and i noticed it was gone but then it came back a week later and it gives me axiety i dont like sitting by people and i just wanna know why it stopped then came back

    • profile image

      Mary Hadley 8 months ago

      Our food supply is being changed and is not being labeled as such. The very genes have been altered and it is reaking havoc on our digestive systems causing skin problems, allergies, leaky gut etc. etc.b It is not a overnight problem. It is a cumalative effect. Want to know more https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b8qvskYvnH8

    • profile image

      Gh Akwesi 10 months ago

      I smell and I Dont know why even if i make my bath ten times a day I still smells and I have used many duodorant but but still have this problem please help me..

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 11 months ago from Kuwait

      Great hub! Learned a lot of things. Very informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing. God bless you! ☺

    • profile image

      Help 15 months ago

      Cheese or milk can cause a sour milk smell, from any part of your body. Sometimes, odors can be caused by zinc, iron or vitamin b6 or b12 deficiencies. Yeast or canadi overgrowth as well as parasites, lung, or kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes. Eating lots of sweets or too much bread ( which causes yeast overgrowth). Unknown food allergies to nuts, dairy, milk and undigested redmeat. I would try taking Miralax if I spelled it right. Dail, has come out with a new odor control soap, and you can buy odor neutralizing deodorants, that hunters use. I found some on Walmart.com. I'm sure, you can find it in-stores too. I would try something for constipation, because backed up toxins causes very bad odors. Also, I would increase my water in take and try a couple squirts of lemon juice in a glass or 2 of water a day. That will help kill internal body odors. Don't try it if your allergic to lemons of course. I would try buying mint leaves or cucumbers in my water too, if not allergic. Let them sit, in the water for a an hour or more. Also, a doctor maybe able to prescribe you something or you maybe can try, stuff from the vitamin section. Yeast away, Canadian away. Good luck, I hope it helps. Please, let us know what does, if anything. Thanks

    • profile image

      Mike 17 months ago

      Bret, Chlorophyll is a great natural odor nuetralizer. I believe youll see some great results. Try buying natural organic tee tree oil. I have found it works on a myriad of things. Apllying it on the skin can help kill any bacterial growths.

    • profile image

      Bret 17 months ago

      I also suffer from terrible body odor. I live a normal life up into 2015 when my world turn upside down. I was going through alot stress from work every single day. All this stress slowly started to weaken my immune system. Once my immune system was weaken it cause my body to be over run by candida. All started to noticed that my deodorant wasn't working anymore. So I kept buying different antiperspirant and deodorant and nothing work. Then like a month later my hair started to smell like sour milk. So I tried all different kinds of shampoo but nothing work. Then on top of that my skin pores started to give off a odor I couldn't smell but others could. I was forced to quit my job because I couldn't deal with all the name calling and being made fun of. I was to the point that I wanted to kill myself. I am slowly starting to recover from this physically and mentally. I been talking lots of probiotics and Diflucan to kill the candida. My odor problem is not as bad as before. But I heard it take up to a full year for the immune system to recover from the candida. I am also going to start taking chlorophyll which help in fighting candida and body odor. I hope this post can help anyone who is suffering from odor problems.

    • profile image

      Help 18 months ago

      Hi, try Scent away soap. Or Scent away Max. I found it on Walmart.com. In the hunters section, sports. I ordered mines online. I'm sure sport stores will have it too

    • profile image

      Victori 19 months ago

      There is a lady I take care of. Say on Saturday I could give her a shower, then comes Sunday and she still has a strong odor. Is there anything at the drug store maybe that would eliminate that? I am desperate.

    • profile image

      Danielle 2 years ago

      I never had a problem with sweat before

      .i was just recently diagnosed with gallbladder disease . High liver enzymes. And constant fevers . Can this be why i jist can not seem to not smell fresh?

    • Zoraya Nash profile image

      Zoryana 2 years ago from Ukraine

      Brenda Parker, I think you should change a towel more often. It usually stinks if it stays wet for a very long time.

      Dear author!

      I find your rticle really very useful and interesting. I thought why my groupmate always smelt rely very bad. For she is a girl and takes a shower everyday...

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Brenda Parker 3 years ago

      my husband does not have body odor during the day. But after he showers, he uses lots of soap and when he gets out and uses his towel it smells like a rotten skunk. I believe it's around his neck and head. When he goes to bed his pillows stinks so bad I can hardly stand them. What can I do about the two problems? Please help

    • profile image

      cbarbar 3 years ago

      I didn't realize that one's diet can affect body odor--helpful information and definitely important!

    • profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago

      I've finally found the 1 thing that works for my horrible, cat urine smelling armpits after trying tons of things over the years. Dial Gold Antibacterial soap! I use it under my arms in the shower every day- sometimes twice a day and it has helped so much. It comes as a hand soap, body wash, or bars of soap. I'm telling you if you're having smelly issues, you have to try this. I tried rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and tons of other things and none have worked except for the Dial Gold. After your shower, immediately apply deodorant. I also clean the armpit area on my shirts with the soap and then put them in the washer. I'm happy to say that I'm not embarrassed by my smell anymore.

    • Cheuax profile image

      Will-I-Am II 3 years ago

      My worry is, how do you tell a friend that he/she has an unpleasant BO?Should I anonymously send him this article?

    • profile image

      Kay 3 years ago

      My husband's boss, and his spouse, both had such strong body odor that you could smell them entering the Machine Shop with all of its oil and funky factory smells. Even outdoors, the aroma was there and powerful. The Ad Min found super strong blueberry candles at Walmart that were lit at first sign of their car in the parking lot. It helped a lot and they never questioned why candles during the day.

    • profile image

      af 3 years ago

      urself

    • profile image

      Wow! 3 years ago

      Wow! Thank you so much! great help!

    • profile image

      roman22 3 years ago

      I been having this odor. I haven taken the antibotics and have finished but the odor still there. My doctor told me that it was just my ph and i would go away quickly. Well the problem is still here plz tell me what to do about this embarrasing smell.

    • profile image

      Erin 3 years ago

      My sweat glads for whatever reason always leak the "bad" sweat.. I've always smelled bad for as long as I can remember. One thing that helps me is using a half vinegar half water mix and lettingit air dry.. Yeah you might smell a bit like a pickle but you can hide that smell better then nothing at all.

    • profile image

      Anthony kuni 3 years ago

      I am dealing with ASU a body odor it doesn't smell like b.o but I can smell ass and everyone keeps telling me that i don't stink but I can smell it and is very uncomfortable and it makes me feel like I don't even wanna live anymore I take excessive baths and use bottle in a bottle of Cologne to cover it up

      have tried everything I possibly can to get rid of this but can't I take at least 10 showers a day and nothing seems to help what can I do to get rid of this please will someone help me

    • profile image

      Jake 3 years ago

      I eliminated gluten, dairy, and eggs from my diet and had virtually no BO or foot odor. My entire family tried this and had the same results. Different people are sensitive to different foods. Depending on what the food is, (most common is usually gluten and dairy), the elimination of that food from the diet will help to get rid of body odor.

    • profile image

      adi0slip 3 years ago

      Go aheac try and bleach your body see what happens smart one. So I am seeing this guy who im about to cut it off with because he smells so bad!!! you leave my room smelling bad my bed smiley awful and he sweats all over his entire body. And its not a BO smell as much as the smell of ass or death or sour nastyness. It just makes me want to throw up. He showers everyday but that doesn't help. He doesn't wear cologne and need some badly! And I just started dating the guy why should I have to buy him all this stuff and spend all that money I really don't even have no way. He wears an all natural deodorant and that doesn't smell good. I am at my wits end even his clothes reak! I did mention to him how he needs to get some body spray and new deodorant. He hasn't done it. Even his leggs arms hands neck chest everything just sweats like he has an internal waterfall its sick.

    • profile image

      teann 3 years ago

      What about bleach baths?

    • profile image

      Double-R 3 years ago

      My husband had a terrible body odor that permeated his bedding and his bathroom. When he did a gluten free diet the odor went away. to say the least I was amazed at the difference. Please give this a try to see if you can achieve the same results. It was one of the biggest changes from the gluten free diet. Our food has been so affected by GMO's and there are people that have a sensitivity to the wheat that has been crossed bred to make it grow faster and bigger. If you try this do some research on the gluten free diet and give it a try for at least two weeks and see how it does with you. Good luck and I wish you the best.

    • profile image

      Mickey 4 years ago

      Hi! Great article, you cannot find a lot of really professional stuff about this subject on the internet. Most of the forums give you the same answers: take a shower, change your deo, wash your clothes. I really think there are a lot of people who have this body odor from totally different reasons. I am also fighting with this condition for at least 5 years, it started very slowly, then the armpit smell became stronger and stronger. I went to dermatologists, neurologists, endocrinologists and could not find a solution. They say my body is working ok, I don't have problems with my thyroid, everything is just fine. I tried thousand of deodorants, antiperspirants, no help. Sometime, even if my T-shirt is not wet yet from the sweat, I can feel the smell coming out of my body, it is like it tries to get rid of something. I quit smoking, drinking alcohol, but I observed that it did not help. Once I did an elimination diet, and I saw after 3-4 days that the smell went down with 70-80%. But on other occasions (2-3 times in the last year) the smell went down almost completely for a few days and without a diet. After that it came back. I really don't know what to do, I cannot find the cause of the smell and I am sure that my body wants to tell me something, I am just too stupid to figure it out :) Do you have some ideas? Could it be an allergy to some food category? Maybe gluten or dairy? Or maybe my liver cannot clean my organism from oily or greasy foods? Sometimes I have some rash on my body, it is like my organism is rejecting something. Sorry for this long comment, I could really use some advice from you if you have. Thanks a lot! M

    • profile image

      Lenny Rinen 6 years ago

      Hi Michelle, thanks for appreciating. Really i am fired up on writing again. I hope you well and yes, don't worry i am tagging along with you pls. don't mind me just can't help following. cheers my friend

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This struck me today, "Body Odor is the smell of bacteria growing in your body and not the sweat from perspiration." Gee...I think all along I thought it's the sweat...now I know better! Thanks for this tips.