Underarm odor (and body odor, in general) is totally normal. Because of the way our bodies are set up, it’s bound to happen to everyone. But, unfortunately, some of us produce more than others and sometimes it becomes a problem.
If you are one of those people, like so many of us, who struggle with underarm odor (and body odor) that is louder than average, or you just don’t like it (even if it is mild), then here are a few things you can do to help.
Before We Get Into It… What Causes Underarm Odor
Remember that odor is caused when bacteria that build up under your arms and on your body react with sweat, dead skin cells and other debris on your skin.
Some people have more bacteria build-up than others, some sweat more than others, and some people have longer intervals between cleansing their skin and skincare (which is also totally fine as long as it works for you!).
Your diet and habits can also affect how you smell, so keep those in mind.
Related Article – Sweat & Odor Under Your Breasts- Causes & How to Handle
Tips To Help Manage Underarm Odor
1- Cleanse Regularly (Shower)
The easiest way to get excess sweat, dirt and odor-causing bacteria off your skin is to wash it off.
I recommend that you cleanse your body (shower) at least once every day. Focus on areas like your underarms that produce odor and ensure you are really getting in there.
Now, I’m not telling you to manhandle your skin. But just ensure that you are washing the area well.
Use a body wash or cleanser that is right for your skin type and that will not dry your skin out. Some people like to use antibacterial soaps and body washes for their underarms. These are great and will help to keep bacteria buildup under control.
Click here to read about the 12 Best Soaps For Body Odor (Natural & Medicated)
Related Article – How to Get Rid of Underarm Odor & Sweating Permanently
Exfoliating regularly is another great way to help manage underarm odor.
When I say regularly, however, I do not mean every day. Exfoliation is usually done about 1-3 times per week, depending on your skin type and how much you need it. This will differ for everyone.
Click here to read about How Often to Exfoliate or Scrub Underarms for Best Results.
However, exfoliating regularly will help to get rid of excess dead skin cells, trapped sweat, oil, bacteria and other gunk from out of your pores. This will help to keep your skin cleaner for longer and reduce odor.
Click here to read about How to Exfoliate Armpits – 6 Best DIY Easy Natural Scrubs.
3- Remove Those Hairs
There is nothing wrong with having hairy underarms (totally natural), but hair tends to trap more sweat, dirt and bacteria between them, which can worsen underarm odor.
So, if you struggle with underarm odor and you have hair pits, you might have to get rid of those hairs. You can use any method that is most suitable for you as long as you do not damage and irritate your skin.
An easy and traditional method is to shave. If you shaving irritates your skin and causes razor mumps and burns, you can try waxing or even a depilatory device.
If neither of these work for you, then you may have to consider having your hair lasered (this is expensive but well worth the investment if you can facilitate it).
Related Article – 10 Quick & Easy DIY Natural Remedies For Smelly Armpits
4- Practice Good Skincare
This may not seem too important in odor prevention, but healthy skin goes a long way in helping with the general condition of your underarms.
Having healthy underarm skin will not only prevent the risk of infections and pH imbalances (which can worsen odor), but it will also help you maintain clean pores, and make the most of the underarm products that you use to help with odor.
So, ensure that you are cleansing and moisturizing your underarms well (especially after exfoliating).
Your skincare for the pits does not have to be 100 steps, a chant and a sacrifice. It can be as simple as a good cleanser and a good, simple moisturizer to keep your lipid and moisture membranes healthy!
Click here to read more about Dry Armpits: How to Correctly Moisturize & What to Use
5- Use Antiperspirants and Deodorants
Antiperspirants and deodorants are really the gold standards when it comes to treating odor.
Remember that odor is caused when bacteria on the skin react with sweat on your skin. So, the less you sweat, the less you smell.
Many people use traditional antiperspirants (containing aluminum to block your sweat ducts) while others prefer to use deodorants that absorb sweat instead. These can be scented (to mask any odor) or unscented (usually preferred by people with sensitive skin).
Either way, if you are not allergic to these kinds of products, then don’t skip them in your daily routine. Other than showering, these are the products that will truly help to attack odor at the source.
Now you can choose your antiperspirant and/or deodorant based on your specific needs. Factors to consider will include:
- How much you sweat (during active hours and at rest)
- Your skin type and sensitivity
- How much odor you produce
- Whether you want to block sweating or just absorb sweat
- Can you use aluminum safely (are you allergic or sensitive to it)
- Your preference for either scented or unscented products
- Your preference for either a spray, solid, cream or liquid application
- Any experience with brands and your preference when it comes to specific brands
- How long you want the effects to last
Check these articles out to help you choose the best deodorants for you:
And be sure to check out our section on Deodorants & Antiperspirants where we talk about many different kinds.
6- Wear Loose Clothing
One of the easiest ways to reduce odor build-up is to let your underarms breathe.
I’m not saying you have to walk around in a tank top all day with your arms raised but avoid suffocating the area.
Wear clothes that are loose under the arms or that at least do not squeeze or plaster themselves to your pits and your skin.
These kinds of clothes trap heat, which makes you sweat more, and it also encourages more bacterial growth. Not to mention, the friction can seriously irritate your skin!
7- Wear Clean Clothes (and Wash Your Clothing Regularly)
Our clothes absorb sweat and odor! So, another simple way to help lessen underarm odor is to switch out your clothes for clean ones every day and to wash your clothes regularly.
While clean clothes will keep you fresh, washing the ones you have already worn as soon as possible after wearing them will get rid of trapped sweat, bacteria and odor from the fabric.
Many times, when we re-wear clothes that we have worn before, without washing them, we do not even realize that some of our odor is actually coming from the fabric!
Adequate hydration is another thing that might seem trivial but goes a long way in helping with odor prevention.
The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated your sweat is. When bacteria act on concentrated sweat, the smell is worse!
Drinking water regularly also helps to regulate your body’s temperature, so it cools you down, which prevents overheating and excessive sweating.
So, ensure that you are drinking enough water during the day, especially on hot days or days when you are more active.
9- Check Your Diet
Many people do not realize this, but our diet can hugely affect the way that we smell!
Some foods change the actual way you smell and others make you sweat more. The combination results in a strong (and pleasant) body odor.
For example, consuming things like chillies, onions, garlic, spices and other potent foods can make some people’s sweat more pungent. Eating lots of protein can change the way a person smells. Some kinds of spices (like cayenne, garlic, etc) can also make people sweat more.
So, if you find that you are doing all the right skincare and daily routine things but are still smelling unpleasant, then check on your diet to see if what you are eating every day could be making you sweat more or smell more strongly.
10- Manage Stress
I kid you not, but the International Hyperhidrosis Society says that the sweat your body produces when you are stressed out is smellier than the sweat it produces when you are relaxed or exercising!
This is because the kind of sweat glands that are most active when you are stressed is different from the ones that are most active when you are exercising or even at rest.
The sweat we produce when we exercise or are active is produced by our eccrine sweat glands and is mostly composed of water and salt. These sweat glands are located all over your body including your underarms.
On the other hand, the sweat we produce when stressed out is made in our apocrine sweat glands (also located in our underarms). The sweat from these glands is thicker and full of proteins and lipids which is heaven for odor-causing bacteria!
So try your best to lessen stress as much as you can. Get enough sleep, do some yoga, allocate some self-care or just relaxation time every day, do some exercise (any kind that is best for you), stay away from people, places and situations that stress you out, and basically live your best life.