5 Reasons Your Armpits Smell So Bad and What to Do About It

You might be thinking that you’re the only one with smelly armpits, but the truth is, nearly everyone has a certain smell emanating from their pits.

In fact, Cleveland Clinic says that body odor is “caused by the bacteria that live on our skin, and it’s completely normal to have a natural body odor.” (1)

However, certain things can make your body odor stronger.

If you notice that your armpits smell particularly bad, there might be an underlying reason.

Here are five reasons your armpits might smell bad and what you can do about it.

Let’s get started right away.

5 Reasons Your Armpits Smell So Bad and What to Do About It

1. Excess sweating

One of the most common reasons for foul underarm odor is simply excess sweating.

When your body temperature rises, your sweat glands are activated in an effort to cool you down.

However, some people produce more sweat than others, which can lead to an accumulation of moisture and bacteria.

This can cause a strong and unpleasant smell.

Although, some conditions can cause you to sweat more than normal.

For example, hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating and can be caused by certain medications, anxiety, menopause, and more. (2)

So how can you combat excessive sweating? 

First, try to identify any triggers that make you sweat more and avoid them if possible.

If that doesn’t work, you can try using an antiperspirant or deodorant to help control the sweat and odor.

Well, if you find that over-the-counter products aren’t helping, you might need a prescription-strength antiperspirant.

You can also try Botox injections, which have been shown to be an effective treatment for hyperhidrosis. (3)

2. Certain foods

Have you ever noticed that your armpits smell differently after you eat certain foods?

There are actually some foods that can make your armpits smellier. 


Some foods contain compounds that can be broken down into molecules that have a strong smell. 

In particular, foods that contain sulfur can make your armpits smell bad.

For example, foods like garlic, onion, broccoli, red meat, cauliflower, asparagus, and cabbage can cause armpits to have a foul scent.

But that’s not all!

Spices like curry, fenugreek, coriander, horseradish, and cumin can also make your underarms smell bad.

But wait, there’s even more!

Alcohol may cause your armpits to have a more pungent odor. (4)

What to do?

If you notice that your armpits smell bad after eating certain foods, you might want to try avoiding them.

Of course, this isn’t always possible or practical, so you can also try using a strong antiperspirant or deodorant to help mask the smell.

3. Hormonal changes

Another potential reason why your armpits may smell bad is hormonal changes.

When you go through puberty, your body starts to produce more sweat and oil.

This can cause your armpits to smell more than usual.

If you’re a woman, you may also notice that your armpits smell different during your menstrual cycle.

This is because of the changes in hormone levels that occur during this time.

Another time you may notice a change in how your armpits smell is during pregnancy.

This is due to the increased levels of progesterone in your body.

Progesterone is a hormone that helps to maintain pregnancy.

It also slows down the movement of food through your digestive system, leading to constipation and a build-up of bacteria in your gut.

This can cause your armpits to smell foul.

If you think your armpits are smelling bad because of hormonal changes, you can do a few things to lessen the odor.

Wash your armpits with an antibacterial soap.

This will help to kill the bacteria that are causing the bad odor.

You can also try using a deodorant or antiperspirant that contains aluminum chloride.  

This can help to reduce the amount of sweat you produce. (5)

4. Poor hygiene

If you don’t practice good hygiene, it can lead to a build-up of sweat and bacteria on your skin, which can cause your armpits to smell bad.

Be sure to wash your armpits every day with soap and water.

Also, make sure to wear clean clothes.

If you work out or play sports, be sure to shower afterward and change into clean clothes.

5. Medical conditions

Some medical conditions can cause your armpits to smell bad.

These include diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, infections, and hyperthyroidism. (6)

If you have any of these conditions, it’s important to see your doctor so they can treat the underlying condition and help to control the odor.

Is it worth seeing a doctor if you have smelly armpits?

Usually, smelly armpits are not a cause for concern and can be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter products.

However, if you find that your armpits continue to smell bad despite using these treatments, it’s worth seeing a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.