We all have unique body odors, some are pleasant but when the subject of body odor (BO) is raised, we automatically think of bad smells.

Body odor can cover many areas, poor hygiene being the main reason. However, it can also be caused by excessive sweating, medication, puberty, environmental changes or even certain foods like durian or petai (stink bean) being classic examples!

Do take note though that a sudden change in body odor may be a sign of an underlying condition, which typically occurs in a specific body part. The common areas where body odors come from are:

  • mouth and throat
  • armpits
  • genitals
  • feet
  • belly button

There might be a noticeable change in smell from your urine, genital discharge or stool.

If the odor change is due to infection, it may also be accompanied with the following usual symptoms:

  • redness or rash
  • discharge, or discoloration
  • itching

Causes of body odor

As mentioned earlier, poor hygiene, excessive sweating, medication, puberty, environmental changes and diet may all be causes for your body odor to suddenly change.

When an adolescent enters puberty, sweat glands and hormones become more active which is normal, but this is the cause of body odor (and pimples) for many teens.

If you are a gym addict, you will have excessive sweat but this is considered normal in most cases, as exercise does raise your body temperature and sweat is the body’s cooling mechanism. Sweat combined with bacteria causes an unpleasant smell. Rolling on an antiperspirant before your workout and taking a shower and putting on a fresh set of clothes afterwards should take care of the problem.

However, if you have a noticeable change of body odor with other symptoms, this could mean other health issues are taking place.

If body odor is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms, it may be something else.


A determining factor for body odor is your daily diet. Notice whenever someone who eats plenty of garlic and onion in their meals give off a certain body odor? Or how about a strong smell while urinating after eating asparagus?

Unless eaten daily, certain body odors from food can be dissipated when its metabolized.

Some foods that may cause smelly gas include:

  • bok choy
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • cabbage

One interesting reason why you get body odor could be from the food that you are sensitive or intolerant to. This could also make one extra gassy.

Also, body odor is reactive to your overall diet. Males who have a healthy diet with numerous fruits and vegetables had better-smelling sweat according to some research. How much they sweat didn’t make any difference.

A diet with high carb intake however, gave out a less pleasant-smelling sweat.

Eating high amounts of meat could negatively impact body odor, whereas diets with high fruit and vegetable have the opposite effect, according to research.

Foods with strong flavors like radish, garlic, spices or onions can cause bad breath, along with unhealthy habits like smoking cigarettes and weed, even vaping.

Important: If you have diabetes and suddenly notice the following signs:

  • a fruity smell in your breath
  • frequent urination
  • very high blood glucose reading

seek medical attention immediately. You may be having Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is a medical emergency.

Other possible causes for a sudden change in body odor are:

  • UTI – urinary tract infection – strong odor in the urine
  • Pneumonia or TB – foul smelling breath
  • Toxic poisoning – strong odor in breath or urine
  • Uremia – your breath smells like ammonia or urine. It is a sign of kidney failure
  • Intestinal obstructions – fecal smelling breath
  • Ear infection – smelly earwax

Simple solutions for body odor would be maintaining good and regular hygiene like thorough showers, using deodorants and regularly brushing your teeth.

However, if a change in body odor gets you worried, do seek medical advice straightaway to put your mind at ease.

By Aaron
20th May 19:20

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