Body Odor

Young women's version of this guide
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portrait young man, smelling, sniffing his armpit bad smellIf you’ve noticed that your body has started to smell differently than it did when you were younger, don’t freak out; it’s completely normal. Body odor (or “B.O.”) is part of growing up, and something that every guy has to deal with.

What causes body odor?

During puberty, your sweat glands become much more active than they were when you were younger. You’ve probably noticed that you’re sweating more now than you were as a kid, especially in your armpits, groin, the bottoms of your feet, and the palms of your hands. When your sweat comes into contact with bacteria on your skin, it can cause a smell – body odor.

Why do people sweat?

Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself off. You sweat in hot weather, when you’re exercising or playing sports, and when you’re nervous, stressed, or excited. There’s nothing you can do to stop your body from sweating, but there are things you can do to keep clean and smell fresh.

If you notice that you’re sweating way too much, say, if the weather is mild, you’re not being active, and you aren’t nervous, excited, or stressed, talk with your health care provider (HCP). Hyperhidrosis (the medical term for excessive sweating) is usually a harmless (and treatable) condition, but is occasionally caused by an overactive thyroid. So it’s important to let your HCP know if you’re sweating too much.

What can I do to prevent BO?

Here are some good hygiene tips that will help prevent body odor:

  • Shower or bathe daily, and thoroughly dry your skin afterwards. Bacteria thrive in damp areas, so make sure to dry off after you shower.
  • Apply deodorant or antiperspirant. Using deodorant or antiperspirant will help mask body odor, and/or decrease sweating.
  • Wear clean clothes. Have you ever taken a whiff of your dirty gym socks? This might sound like a no-brainer, but dirty clothes can smell! Changing your clothes each day give you a fresh start. It also helps to wear clothing made of natural fibers (such as cotton or linen) because they absorb sweat better than other materials.

Should I use deodorant or deodorant with antiperspirant? What’s the difference?

You’ve got two options: regular deodorant or deodorant antiperspirant. Regular deodorant helps to get rid of BO by covering up the odor of sweat, usually with a scent or fragrance. Deodorant with antiperspirant has chemicals in it that help to dry up your sweat or stop you from sweating.

If you go to the store you’ll notice that there are some deodorants marketed for guys, and some for girls. There are scented products and unscented products, and they come in various forms including roll-on’s, gels, solids, and sprays. You can try different products and different scents until you find what’s right for you. If you find that you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated, choose a product that has no scent or one that says “hypoallergenic” on it.

Getting rid of BO usually isn’t hard as long as you practice good hygiene. If you find that keeping clean and wearing deodorant/antiperspirant still isn’t helping, talk with your health care provider. He/she may be able to write you a prescription for a stronger product.

If you’re concerned about body odor, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: I’ve been sweating a lot more than usual, is there something wrong?