Are Your Underarms Smelling Like Onions? Here’s Why

Have you ever lifted your arm and caught a whiff of something reminiscent of onions? If you’re nodding in agreement, know that you’re not alone. Underarm odor that smells like onions is a common phenomenon. Before we discuss the specific onion-like scent, let’s get a basic knowledge of underarm odor:

  • Sweat Glands: Your underarms have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands create sweat to cool the body, while apocrine glands, active after puberty, are responsible for body odor.
  • Bacteria: The sweat from apocrine glands is rich in proteins and fatty acids, making it the perfect feast for bacteria on your skin. The breakdown of these substances by bacteria leads to body odor.
  • Genetics: Your genes can influence your body odor. Some people naturally have stronger body odor than others.

Why the Onion-like Smell in Underarms?

Now, let’s focus on why underarm odor sometimes smells like onions:

  1. Diet: Just like garlic and spices, onions can influence your body odor. Consuming a lot of onions can lead to a noticeable change in your sweat scent.
  2. Bacterial Composition: The specific types of bacteria in your underarms can affect the odor. Certain bacteria break down sweat into sulfur-like compounds, which have an onion-like smell.
  3. Stress: Stress sweat, which comes from the apocrine glands, tends to be smellier. If you’re stressed, you might notice a stronger, more onion-like odor.
  4. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can intensify body odor due to changes in sweat composition.

Addressing Onion-Like Underarm Odor

Here are some tips to manage and reduce onion-like underarm odor:

  • Hygiene: Regular washing with antibacterial soap can reduce the bacteria count in your underarms, lessening odor.
  • Dietary Adjustments: If you notice a correlation between your diet and body odor, consider reducing foods known to affect scent, like onions.
  • Deodorants and Antiperspirants: Deodorants mask odor, while antiperspirants reduce sweating. Choose products that work well for your body.
  • Stress Control: Engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or regular exercise can decrease stress-related sweating.
  • Natural Remedies: Applying natural substances like apple cider vinegar or witch hazel can alter the skin’s pH and reduce bacterial growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can underarm odor be a sign of a health problem? In most cases, the underarm odor is normal and not a sign of a health issue. However, sudden changes in body odor can sometimes indicate medical conditions, so it’s wise to consult a healthcare provider if you notice unusual changes.

Does shaving underarms reduce odor? Shaving can help reduce underarm odor. Hair traps sweat and bacteria, so removing it can keep the area cleaner and less odorous.

Are natural remedies effective for underarm odor? Natural remedies, like applying baking soda or apple cider vinegar, may help some individuals. However, their effectiveness varies from person to person.

Remember, underarm odor, even when it smells like onions, is a common and natural phenomenon. With good hygiene practices and some lifestyle adjustments, you can effectively manage it. If you’re concerned about persistent or sudden changes in body odor, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.


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