Got stinky armpits? We’ve all been there. The scent can hit you after a grueling workout or during a nerve-wracking presentation. Most people can swipe on some deodorant and call it a day.
But for the rest of us, no matter how much we perfume up or douse in deodorant, that pesky armpit odor just won't let up.
It's tough to feel confident when you're constantly trying to hide the stink. But don't fret – we're here to help! In this article, we'll explore how to get rid of armpit odor.
Jump straight to:
- Change Your daily Hygiene Routine
- Try Natural Remedies
- Make Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
- Choose Better Clothing
What Causes Armpit Odor
Contrary to popular belief, sweat by itself doesn’t smell. Armpit odor occurs when apocrine sweat interacts with the bacteria on your skin, producing that unmistakable armpit smell — also known as body odor or B.O.
While it can be a result of certain medical conditions that should be treated by a doctor, in most cases, armpit odor can be regulated with simple lifestyle changes.
Many factors affect body odor production, including high stress levels, personal hygiene habits, weight and diet. For example, eating spicy and sulfurous foods may cause you to emit a nasty odor through your pores.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE
Sweat and body odor are a natural part of being human. But if excessive sweat and body odor interfere with your daily life, it could indicate bromhidrosis or an underlying medical condition.
Consult your doctor if:
- You begin sweating during the night.
- You notice increased, unexplained sweating.
- You experience cold sweats.
- Your body emits an unusual scent. A fruity or bleach-like odor might be an early indication of conditions like diabetes, liver issues, or kidney disease.
Pro tip: Tell your doctor about any vitamins, herbal supplements, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription drugs you use. It's important to share this information because these substances can interact negatively. Understanding these possible interactions is vital before starting any treatments for body odor or excessive sweating.
11 Ways to Stay Fresh and Confident
Simple lifestyle changes and home remedies can help cure smelly armpits for many people. Here are 11 ways to deal with your embarrassing B.O.
CHANGE YOUR DAILY HYGIENE ROUTINE
If you’re dealing with bad armpit odor regularly, it might be time to take a good, hard look at your personal care routine. Practicing the following good hygiene habits can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your armpits.
- Shower more frequently
- Shave or trim underarm hair
- Wash your clothes regularly
- Use deodorant
- Shower More Frequently
Infrequent showering can cause bacteria to build up on your skin. Shower at least once daily (or every morning and night) and scrub your extra-sweaty areas with a scent-free, deodorant soap. Stay away from strongly scented soaps, which can make your armpits smell worse.
Benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in acne washes, doubles as an armpit odor killer. Try using it to wash your pits, but do it before shaving so your skin doesn't sting.
If you exercise often, shower right after every workout so bacteria don’t have a chance to multiply.
2. Shave or Trim Underarm Hair
Does armpit hair cause odor? Technically, no. However, underarm hair traps moisture and creates the perfect breeding environment for bacteria. Eliminating or keeping armpit hair short can make your antiperspirant more effective, reducing underarm sweat and the appearance of sweat marks.
While laser hair removal has grown in popularity in recent years, it has been widely reported that it may worsen smelly armpits, although the reasons behind this phenomenon are not entirely clear-cut.
Some experts propose that laser's heat can upset the balance of bacteria, leading to more odor-causing bacteria and microbiome disruption. To mitigate this effect, consider using prebiotic and probiotic skincare and opting for clinics with advanced lasers that minimize heat exposure.
It's worth noting that this side effect is not universally experienced, and further research is needed to understand its connection to laser hair removal fully.
3. Wash Your Clothes Regularly
Do you re-wear sweaty workout clothes between washes? Letting sweat sit on your shirts creates a breeding ground for sweat-causing bacteria. Wear a fresh shirt every time you go out or exercise, and wash your clothes immediately after a heavy sweat session.
4. Use Deodorant
Deodorant helps neutralize the smell of body odor. Deodorants contain fragrances that cover up unpleasant odors, providing a fresh scent. Additionally, they often have alcohol-based ingredients that create an acidic environment on the skin, which helps inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants—aren’t they the same thing? While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have important differences.
Deodorant is designed to mask or neutralize body odor, while antiperspirant aims to block or reduce sweat production, addressing different aspects of underarm hygiene.
Make sure you read labels carefully. To combine wetness and odor protection in one product, choose one labeled “Antiperspirant Deodorant” rather than one or the other.
What about natural deodorants? Natural deodorants are a gentle, healthy remedy for armpit odor. They’re a great alternative to standard deodorant options containing potentially harmful chemicals – just ensure you’re okay with some extra wetness.
Most natural deodorants are gentle on the skin and free of aluminum, parabens and phthalates. If regular deodorant makes your skin itch or burn, the natural deodorant route might be your best bet for fighting armpit odor.
TRY NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ARMPIT ODOR
“How do I stop my armpits from smelling without deodorant?” If you’re itching to mix something up in your kitchen, these home remedies for armpit odor can help combat armpit odor without breaking the bank or subjecting yourself to artificial ingredients. Most of these items are in your pantry or local grocery store.
5. Try Natural Remedies
- Baking soda and cornstarch: Cornstarch and baking soda are naturally water-absorbing agents. Mix two parts cornstarch and three parts baking soda to create a natural antiperspirant deodorant powder.
- Lemon juice: Rub half a lemon directly on your armpits daily to reduce skin pH and make it uninhabitable for bacteria. If you have sensitive skin, dilute the lemon juice with water.
- Apple cider vinegar: ACV is naturally acidic and antimicrobial, neutralizing the environment and preventing odor-causing bacteria. Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it to your underarms twice a day.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil acts as an astringent to combat sweat-causing bacteria. Soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and apply it to your underarms daily.
- Witch hazel: Use witch hazel on a cotton ball to contract skin tissues, reduce sweat production, and fight odor-causing bacteria. Apply after showering or bathing.
- Be careful when applying acidic home remedies like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and witch hazel, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- To avoid any burning or irritation, only apply to clean, dry skin.
- Never use them right after shaving or if you have any nicks or broken skin.
Discover more: 12 Deodorant Alternatives
MAKE DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Now that we’ve discussed external solutions, it’s time to consider some dietary and lifestyle changes that could impact your body odor level.
- Avoid odor-producing foods
- Hydrate – don’t wait!
- Manage stress
6. Avoid Odor-Producing Foods
Did you know that certain foods can intensify armpit odor? If you’re prone to bad B.O., try laying off these foods for a few days:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower contain sulfur, which your body absorbs and secretes through sweat. Eating these veggies can impact your underarm odor for one to six hours.
- Red meat: Meat is harder to digest than other foods, so your body has to work harder to process it. The amino acids in red meat leave a residue in your intestines. Your intestinal enzymes break down the residue during digestion, which mixes with bacteria on your skin and intensifies your body odor.
- Fish: Fish like tuna and salmon contain choline, a type of B vitamin that produces a pungent fishy smell. Some people who eat fish can secrete choline in their sweat for up to a day.
- Caffeine: Your cup of joe stimulates the central nervous system, raising your heart rate. Drinking hot coffee and tea can result in an elevated body temperature, which, in turn, can increase sweat and body odor.
Check out: 10+ Foods That Reduce Excessive Sweating
7. Hydrate – Don’t Wait!
Water cools you down, while calcium and potassium regulate the flow of fluids through your body. Stay hydrated with ample water and fluids to help maintain your body's temperature balance. Keeping a reusable water bottle within reach makes it easier to drink up throughout the day.
8. Manage Stress
Stress-induced sweating happens when your brain senses a threat and activates the fight-or-flight response. This stress signal revs up your sympathetic nervous system, getting you ready to react, increasing your heart rate, body temperature and often, body odor.
Managing stress has become a to-list item for many. When you’re in the grip of stress or anxiety, having some go-to ways to cope can curb an impending sweat event.
Here are a few ways to control stress sweat the next time it strikes:
- Drink water
- Focus on your breathing
- Identify and acknowledge your feelings
- Simplify your life with dependable routines
- Relax your muscles from head to toe
- Listen to relaxing music
CHOOSE BETTER CLOTHING
While you may not be able to wear shorts and flip flops year-round, choosing the right clothing helps keep your temperature regulated and B.O. at bay. Here are some ways that clothing can help with excessive armpit odor.
- Wear an anti-odor t-shirt
- Pick breathable fabrics
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing
9. Wear an Anti-Odor T-Shirt
Your clothing material affects how much sweat and odor your body generates. For an effective, non-synthetic solution to combat body odor, consider Thompson Tee's Premium Anti Odor Shirt, available in crewneck and V-neck styles.
This undershirt incorporates Odor Shield™ technology, a natural and non-toxic hydrogen peroxide-based solution that eliminates 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria within the fabric.
Learn more: What Is Anti-Odor Technology?
10. Pick Breathable Fabrics
Wearing cotton, wool, and silk fabrics can help reduce armpit odor because they allow skin to “breathe” and sweat to evaporate more efficiently. When sweat evaporates quickly, it reduces the moisture that bacteria thrive on, ultimately minimizing the production of body odor.
In contrast, synthetic materials like polyester can trap moisture, enabling bacteria to flourish and creating more pronounced odors.
11. Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothing
As mentioned above, tight clothes can trap sweat and moisture against your skin. When sweat cannot evaporate properly, it creates an ideal environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
On the other hand, loose-fitting clothing allows better air circulation and helps sweat evaporate faster. Opting for more relaxed and breathable attire can keep you feeling fresh and odor-free.
Try an Anti-Odor T-Shirt From Thompson Tee
What’s the best way to guarantee that your friends, family and colleagues never know you’re battling armpit odor? Wear the Thompson Tee Anti Odor T-Shirt!
This high-quality, anti-stink shirt is infused with our revolutionary Odor Shield™ technology, a natural, non-toxic hydrogen peroxide-based solution that eliminates 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria in the fabric. Odor Shield™ technology is designed for daily use and stays put for at least 70 wash cycles.