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Men with Strong Underarm Odor
--- Top 7 Natural Remedies
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Last updated May 14, 2017, originally published September 3, 2016
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist
Did you know the average man has three to four million
sweat glands? But our sweat glands aren’t the real
problem – sweating is natural, and necessary. Sweating
does not cause the unpleasant underarm smell many men
are responsible for.
Body odor from the underarm is the unpleasant scent the
body gives off when bacteria on the skin break down
sweat (protein) into acids. Sweat itself does not smell, but
as bacteria multiply when you sweat it causes an odor. If
your underarm scent is having a negative effect on
coworkers, your spouse, and your family, what can you
do? How can you remedy this embarrassing problem the
Who Gets Strong Underarm Odor?
There are over 4 million sweat glands on your body of two
different types. Eccrine glands make up most of your
sweat glands and they produce an odorless liquid. The
other type are apocrine glands which produce a thick
liquid that, in combination with bacteria, produce body
The apocrine glands are located in the armpits and are
mainly responsible for underarm odor as they produce
sweat that is high in protein, and easily broken down by
A whiff from the underarms usually becomes evident as
you reach puberty – age 15-17 for men. If you are obese,
if you regularly eat spicy foods, or you have a medical
condition like diabetes, you are more prone to strong
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis – sweating too much –
you may have more odor from the underarms but it is not
necessarily true that sweating a lot automatically makes
Sometimes the level of salt in people who sweat a lot is too
high for bacteria to break it down.
The good news for some men is that two percent of
people carry an unusual form of a specific gene that means
their armpits never smell, according to a 2013 study from
the University of Bristol, England. In the study 117
subjects were found to have the gene which meant that
they never had to use deodorant.
But Don’t Worry; the Smell of Your Sweat Could Make
If you’re not one of the lucky two percent, it appears you
could still be doing the world some good with your sweat.
Researchers have found that we can detect happiness in
people’s sweat – and that this happiness could even be
A 2015 study from Utrecht University in the Netherlands
indicates that the state of happiness can be transferred to
others through the smell of sweat – “somebody who is
happy will infuse others in their vicinity with happiness. In
a way, happiness sweat is somewhat like smiling - it is
But this does apply only to the smell of sweat itself, and
not to the bacteria-produced odors that hardly any people
could claim make them happy.
Is Strong Underarm Odor the Sign of Something
In most cases of underarm odor you do not need to see
your doctor, and can usually remedy the problem yourself
But some medical conditions can change the way your
sweat smells – for example, liver disease, kidney disease,
and diabetes can change the way your sweat smells.
A fruity smell could signal diabetes, and a bleach-like smell
could be the sign of liver or kidney disease. See a doctor if
you notice strange and unusual aromas, or if you start
sweating more than you normally do for no good reason.
Strong Underarm Smells Could be Linked to Gonorrhea
A horrible underarm smell could also be the sign of a
sexually transmitted infection. A recent study shows that a
much higher percentage of men with an unpleasant smell,
which could be coming from the armpits, were found to
have gonorrhea as compared to men who did not smell.
The 2011 study from the Institute of Cytology and
Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia demonstrated that men
with gonorrhea tended to have a putrid smell, according to
the scent perception of women.
The researchers collected armpit samples and saliva from
16 healthy men, 13 men who had gonorrhea and 5 men
who had since recovered from gonorrhea. Females then
assessed the sweat samples for smell. The women
described the smell from men with gonorrhea as less
pleasant than the smell of men who had recovered or who
If you are otherwise healthy but still suffer from strong
underarm odor, try some of these natural remedies based
on current scientific research.
1. Do Perfumes and Fragrances Help Remove Strong
The first thing most men do when they sniff some
unwanted underarm smell is to spray on some deodorant
or splash on some cologne. But does it actually help beat
the odor? Men may be fooled, but women not so much. A
2009 study from the Monell Center in Philadelphia shows
that it is more difficult to hide underarm odor with scent
when women are doing the smelling.
Researchers think this is because females are more attuned
to the scent of underarm secretions as they need to sniff
out biologically relevant information in sweat that could
help them choose the right mate.
2. Use Baking Soda to Beat Bad Underarm Odor
Baking soda is said to help reduce sweat as it removes
moisture from the skin, and helps to kill bacteria. A 2008
study from PSG Hospitals, Peelamedu in India showed that
baking soda with activated charcoal helped to reduce the
odor associated with blistering skin disorders, so it could
be effective for the otherwise healthy underarms.
Mix baking soda with lemon juice and apply it to your
underarms, leave it for a couple of minutes and then rinse
off without scrubbing.
Or mix baking soda with cornstarch and apply it in a paste
to your underarms.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Clear Underarm Odor?
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be a potent
bacteria-fighting ingredient that can help to eliminate
underarm odor by killing bacteria, and also balancing the
PH of the skin.
A 2015 study from the University of Birmingham and the
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Surgical
Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre
(SRMRC) shows that highly diluted acetic acid, a
component of vinegar, is an effective solution to prevent
infection and kill bacteria in burn wounds.
Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and rub under your arms.
Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse off. Or add
some apple cider vinegar to a bath and soak in it for 10
4. Rosemary Essential Oil Helps Combat Strong Underarm
Rosemary essential oil has antimicrobial qualities, meaning
it tackles bacteria on the skin and can act as an antiseptic
(studies such as a 2004 report from Universidad
Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, have investigated this and
note that it has this strength).
Applying rosemary essential oil to the skin under the arms
could, in theory, reduce the amount of bacteria present
and therefore reduce the odor.
5. Wearing Antiperspirant Makes a Big Difference to Body
It’s the traditional answer to underarm odor yet new
studies show that wearing antiperspirant does truly have a
big effect on the bacteria that cause smells.
Antiperspirant blocks the sweat glands, meaning less
sweat and therefore less bacterial action.
A 2016 study by the North Carolina Museum of Natural
Sciences in Raleigh found that using antiperspirant and
deodorant completely rearranges the bacterial ecosystem
of the skin.
The study looked at 17 men and women, one group of
participants using antiperspirant, another group using
deodorant, and another not using anything.
Swabs were taken on each day of the study to see what
types and amounts of bacteria were growing.
When all participants were using an antiperspirant
deodorant, the researchers discovered very few bacteria in
the samples, and concluded that the product dramatically
reduced microbe growth.
6. Does Witch Hazel Work to Reduce Underarm Odor?
Witch hazel is astringent and anti-inflammatory, according
to studies such as a 1993 study from Ludwig-Maximilians-
Universität, München, Germany, which helps to reduce
sweating and also levels of bacteria on the skin.
The exact effectiveness of witch hazel as an odor-
reduction aid has not been proven, however.
7. Using Tea Tree Oil Can Kill Underarm Smells
Tea tree oil is an antibacterial oil that can kill many
bacteria, fungi, and viruses on contact. A 2000 study from
St Thomas' Hospital, London shows this, as do other
The oil from an Australian tea tree is antiseptic, and
applying it to your underarms could reduce levels of
bacteria and therefore eliminate bad smells.
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|Dermatitis is a common cause of under arm itching.
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