What Causes Body Odor and How Can I Get Rid of It Naturally?

By Laurie Fanelli in Naturals Products

Body odor is a universal side effect of the human condition. It's a reality we all deal with, but there are some day-to-day best practices and other natural ways to help combat this off-putting olfactory nuisance.

What Causes Body Odor?

Determining what causes body odor is the first step toward naturally mitigating it. Bacteria found in the armpits is the main culprit behind BO's unwanted aroma. According to the American Society for Microbiology, "Body odor is primarily caused by apocrine sweat glands." While sweat is almost odorless, the microbes that metabolize sweat near these glands produce byproducts that lead to body odor.

Different people produce different smells, and your signature scent may vary at different points in your life. The Cleveland Clinic points out that men and people assigned male at birth tend to have more hair and, as a result, they often deal with more body odor. Several medical conditions—including diabetes, gout, menopause, liver disease, and more—are also associated with body odor changes. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during ovulation, can switch up your scent, too.

Your diet may also affect your body odor. Foods such as onions, garlic, cabbage, and red meat are known to be rich in sulfur, which can exasperate body odor. Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are some other potential contributors.

A woman in sunglasses drinking coffee at an outdoor table.

Reducing Body Odor Naturally

Knowing how to remove body odor naturally at home starts with reducing bacteria. Taking regular baths and showers along with wearing clean, breathable clothing are good steps toward keeping bacteria at bay. The Cleveland Clinic also recommends using antibacterial soap on the areas you sweat the most and shaving your armpits—which facilitates the evaporation of sweat—to help reduce bacterial growth.

Limiting sulfur-rich foods in your diet and prioritizing relaxation techniques to help combat stress can also help minimize body odor naturally.

DIY Solutions

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several common household items that can help to reduce body odor. Here are some at-home methods you can try:

Baking soda paste: Add a small amount of warm water to baking soda to make a paste and apply it to your armpits. While baking soda may help to reduce odor, keep in mind that it's also alkalizing and can upset your skin's normal pH. Try a patch test first to make sure that it doesn't irritate your skin.

Underarm spritz: Apple cider vinegar can help to reduce bacteria. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water, put it in a spray bottle, and spritz it under your arms. You can also apply the mixture to your skin with a cotton ball. If you don't have apple cider vinegar on hand, try lemon instead! (Avoid lemon if your underarms won't be covered. The combo of sunlight and citrus juice can cause phytophotodermatitis, according to the Cleveland Clinic.)

Tea soak: Soak green or black tea bags in warm water and place one directly under each armpit for several minutes each day. Alternatively, you can dip a clean washcloth in brewed tea and apply that to the area. This method may help to limit sweating by reducing pore size, and according to the journal Antioxidants, the polyphenols abundant in green and black tea have antimicrobial properties.

If all else fails, you can choose a deodorant that's made from naturally sourced and derived ingredients. Tom's of Maine Complete Protection Rose & Vanilla, for example, offers 24-hour odor protection with natural fragrance and without aluminum.

Tom's of Maine Complete Protection Rose & Vanilla Deodorant

Everyone may have to deal with body odor, but that doesn't mean that it has to negatively impact your life. Prioritizing good hygiene and trying out a few small lifestyle changes can help to give you more time to stop and smell the roses—not your own body odor.

Learn more about natural deodorant options and how to make the switch in this article on deodorant detox.

Image Source: Pxhere | Pexels | Tom's of maine

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

Everything from diet to hormones to hygiene can affect your scent. Simple lifestyle changes can replace unpleasant odors with the sweet smell of success.