4 causes of undesirable body smell

Bad smell

Any unpleasant body smell is produced by bacteria on the skin that break down the acids in your sweat. The medical term is bromhidrosis.

Some causes of undesirable body smell include;

1. Smelly feet

smelly feet

People get smelly feet when the perspiration has nowhere to evaporate – but it is not the sweat that causes the foot odour. Bacteria on the skin break down sweat as it comes from the pores. A cheesy odour is released as the sweat decomposes.

Anyone can get sweaty feet, regardless of the temperature or time of year. But teenagers and pregnant women are especially prone because hormonal changes make them sweat more.

2. Bad breath

Bad breath

Bad breath is breath that has an unpleasant odour. It’s also known as halitosis. This odour can occur from time to time, or it can be long lasting, depending on the cause.

Millions of bacteria live in the mouth, particularly on the back of the tongue. In many people, they are the primary causes of bad breath. The mouth’s warm, moist conditions are ideal for the growth of these bacteria. Most bad breath is caused by something in the mouth.

3. Other parts of the body

smelly armpit

It is likely to occur in groin, armpits, genitals, pubic hair and other hair, belly button, anus,behind the ears

Anyone who has reached puberty can produce body odour, as this is when the apocrine sweat glands develop, which produce the sweat that bacteria can quickly break down. The armpits contain a large number of apocrine glands, which are responsible for producing body odour. Men are however, are more likely to have body odour, because they tend to sweat more than women.

4. Trimethylaminuria

unpleasant smell

Trimethylaminuria is an uncommon genetic disorder that causes a strong body odour usually described as like rotting fish, faeces or garbage.

The odour is created when the body isn’t able to process trimethylamine. This is a smelly chemical that’s produced in the gut, particularly when certain choline-rich foods are digested. Choline is important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels and maintaining a healthy metabolism. It is found in foods like eggs, liver, beef, salmon, cauliflower, and breast milk.

If you have trimethylaminuria, the chemical trimethylamine builds up in your body and you’ll give off a strong odour in your sweat, urine, saliva and vaginal fluids. There are usually no other symptoms.

Some people have a strong odour all the time but, in most cases, it varies in intensity over time. The smell usually first becomes apparent in childhood when children are weaned. This is because certain foods are responsible for the odour. However, it sometimes starts in adulthood.


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Beyond Borders Medtours team