While we tend to believe that this is because of our sweat, the truth is that sweat by itself doesn’t smell. When the moisture of your sweat glands interacts with the bacteria on your skin, it produces that distinct odor known as BO. Body odor can sometimes be caused by a medical condition and chronic armpit odor is also known as bromhidrosis.
However, while foul underarm smell can be a big challenge, it is certainly not unavoidable or untreatable. Simple lifestyle changes can also help you cure smelly armpits. Here are a few tips and tricks to help keep your underarm region fresh and odor-free.
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1. Change your personal hygiene routine
One of the first steps you should do to tackle your armpit odor is to make changes in your personal hygiene routine. Good hygiene can definitely help reduce the number of bacteria in your armpits.
For starters, daily showering and bathing should be a must. The more dead skin, dirt, sweat, and oil you remove from your skin the better chances you have of preventing bacterial growth in your armpits. Shower multiple times per day if necessary, especially if you live in a hot or humid area. Taking a shower right after you exercise is advisable, too, as it won’t give a chance for the bacteria to spread. Furthermore, use a scent-free antibacterial soap to scrub your extra-sweaty areas. Strongly scented soaps can make your armpit odor worse.
Also, once you are out of the shower, make sure that you dry your armpits quickly. A damp, wet, and warm armpit is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Trimming or shaving your armpits frequently can be a good idea, too. The hair in that region is a conducive environment for bacteria to thrive. Thus, shaving or trimming your armpit hair regularly will ensure that it is always clean and the foul smell remains under control.
2. Diet change
If your armpit odor is really intense and refuses to go away, then perhaps monitoring what you eat and drink would be helpful. Sometimes, the food we eat can contribute to our smelly pits, and making changes in the diet can help.
Foods you should avoid:
Excessive consumption of red meat, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, spicy food, overly processed foods is often the culprit that contributes to your smelly pits. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain sulfur, which our body can absorb and discharge through sweat. Red meat has amino acids that leave a residue in your intestines. This residue is broken down during digestion by our intestinal enzymes which mixes with bacteria on the skin and can intensify your body odor.
Smelly foods like garlic and onions can pass the smell directly through your perspiration, too. Fish like tuna and salmon contain choline. It is a type of B-vitamin that produces a sharp fishy smell and many people tend to secrete it through their sweat.
Foods you should try:
You can try opting for a variety of different food items to help prevent sweaty pits. Adding cheese, yogurt and milk will help reach your daily intake of calcium which is an important mineral to help your body maintain its ideal temperature, and will thus lead to less sweating.
Eating melon, strawberries, cucumber, lettuce, and courgette will help keep your body hydrated and cool and hence stop sweat.
People that sweat a lot tend to have lower levels of magnesium. Hence, adding spinach, almonds, and pumpkin seeds will help in that regard as they are magnesium-rich foods.
Water helps, too, and drinking enough water can help regulate your body temperature.
3. Home remedies
Certain home remedies can be quite useful in tackling underarm odor.
Apple cider vinegar has strong anti-microbial properties that help in killing the odor-causing bacteria in the underarms. You can dab it on your underarms twice a day to test its effectiveness.
Lavender oil is known for its pleasant smell and can certainly suppress armpit odor. It also has anti-bacterial properties that can get rid of the bacteria present in the area. Dip a cotton ball in a small bowl of lavender oil and apply it to your underarms twice a day. You can even make a mixture of the liquid and put in a spray bottle that you can spray on your underarms.
Witch hazel is an efficient and inexpensive natural substitute for aluminum-based deodorants. It has antibacterial properties and is a superb astringent, which can help in removing excess oil and moisture from your skin. Moreover, it constricts tissue to which it is applied and reduces the production of sweat. Get hold of witch hazel toners from the supermarket or drugstore and rub it on your underarms with a cotton ball after taking a shower.
If none of these prove effective, you can even try rubbing a mixture of lemon juice and water in the region once a day. Lemon juice is a highly acidic ingredient that is a good home remedy for body odor. It will help reduce the pH of your skin and hence make it inhospitable for bacteria.
Bear in mind, however, that if you have sensitive skin then strong acidic home remedies like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and witch hazel may not be good for you. Always apply these remedies to clean and dry skin and never use them right after shaving or if you have any cuts in the area.
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4. Use a natural deodorant
If regular deodorant makes your skin itch or burn, try going for a natural deodorant to fight armpit odor. They are easily available on the market these days and you can choose one based on the type of skin you have. Natural deodorants are gentle on the skin and are generally free of aluminum, parabens, and phthalates. They will thus prove to be a terrific alternative to standard deodorants that contain potentially harmful chemicals.
Apart from not having any synthetic and artificial ingredients, natural deodorants are generally composed of coconut oil and tea tree oil that have antibacterial properties and essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, or bergamot that provide a pleasant scent. They also have naturally absorbent ingredients like baking soda, arrowroot, or cornstarch to counter moisture.
Do remember that natural deodorants will take more time than traditional deodorants to deliver results. It can sometimes take a few days or weeks for your underarms to restore the balance of the skin microbiome.
Antiperspirants can be very useful in fighting bad armpit odor since they can help reduce the amount of sweat your underarms. While deodorants protect against odor, antiperspirants reduce sweat and thus block odor. The active ingredients in antiperspirants usually include aluminum-based compounds that briefly block sweat pores. So, basically, the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin will also be reduced by using antiperspirants. Consequently, you can eliminate much of the odor-causing bacteria.
You can choose any of the over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirants that are easily available these days. However, if they don’t work you can even try prescription antiperspirants.
6. Wear a sweat-proof undershirt
Whether you use antiperspirants, natural deodorants, or home remedies, stopping armpit odor can be difficult when you are outside for a long time. For those people, using sweat-proof undershirts might be pretty beneficial.
Sweat-proof undershirts are a great way to keep sweating in check. They are free of chemicals, are non-invasive, and also prevent sweat stains naturally. Many of these undershirts use a technology that totally absorbs moisture and armpit odor and sweat marks from reaching the outer layers of clothing. These sweat-proof undershirts also use natural, non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide-based solutions to help keep your underarms fresh all day.
7. Reduce stress levels
Not many of you might know that anxiety and stress can lead to smelly sweat. In fact, research suggests that your underarms secrete approximately 30 times more sweat when you're under stress than when at rest. Sweat from your apocrine glands is generally thicker and richer in proteins and lipids. When the fats and nutrients in this type of sweat combine with the bacteria that live on your skin, it results in body odor.
Thus, by managing stress and learning to relax, you can certainly help reduce your armpit odor. Meditation, mindfulness, deep-breathing techniques, visualization, or even behavioral therapy can help relax your body and mind.
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