What Causes Body Odour?

I am sure that most of us can recognise a friend, lover, family member, or even pets by their scent. Whether we like it or not, everyone has their own unique scent. This scent can be subtle or strong, it can also be pleasant or, unfortunately, unpleasant. “What causes body odour then!” Don’t panic! We have gathered the top 4 causes of body odour that might just save noses.

What Causes Body Odour?

You may be asking yourself, what are the common contributing factors for body odour? Is it completely due to genetics or is it caused by other external factors? What about the foods I eat? Clothes I wear? If I am a woman, am I not supposed to have body odour?

Typically, the term “body odour” refers to an unpleasant scent. This unpleasant scent is primarily due to the breakdown of the secreted proteins from our apocrine glands by the bacteria on our skin. This breakdown process results in the production of a certain acid that emits an unpleasant smell.

Factors such as obesity, certain dietary habits, or specific medical conditions like diabetes and excessive sweating can contribute to body odour.


Common Contributing Factors for Body Odour

Body odour is not limited to man alone. It affects both genders and is also influenced by various factors. Although genetics play a minor role, common causes of body odour includes:

1. Excessive Sweating (a.k.a. Hyperhydrosis)

People with hyperhidrosis, characterised by excessive sweating, are more likely to have body odour. This is because of the high concentration of apocrine glands in areas like the armpit and groin. The presence of moisture provides an ideal environment for these odour causing bacteria to thrive in.

2. Clothing

They say a fresh set of clothes a day keeps body odour away. Wearing fresh, clean clothing regularly can help prevent body odour. This is because the bacteria on our skin can get transferred from our skin onto the clothing we wear.

Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon tend to trap odour more than natural fabrics due to their dense fibre structure. Regularly washing your clothes can help to prevent bacteria from colonising your clothes.

3. Hygiene

It goes without saying, if you have missed your shower for the day, you will very likely smell a little funkier. Maintaining good hygiene by showering regularly will reduce the likelihood of developing body odour.

Investing in an antibacterial wash can help to decrease the amount of bacteria on your skin, keeping that body odour at bay.

4. Diet

Yes, that’s right, your diet can affect your odour too! Foods such as hot peppers, spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can cause you to sweat more, thereby contributing to body odour.

Foods like onions and garlic can produce aromas that can be carried in your sweat, potentially exacerbating body odour. Being mindful of your dietary choices can help you to better manage body odour.


The More You Know!

“In my practice, patients will commonly come in with a combination of factors, and most will require some lifestyle adjustments and some, treatment to address their excessive sweating.” – Dr. Kwan Yuan Dong, M.D., Cheongdam Aesthetics Clinic.

Body odour can be caused by several contributing factors. It is important to know which are the causes of your body odour in order to address it. Having body odour can have several effects on people personally and socially. But there is no shame to having a natural odour. It is natural, and human. Body odour can be address through various measures. If you are struggling with body odour and can’t find a good fix, you can always consult a doctor or a medical professional for better advice.