Sweating is the secretion of fluids by sweat glands onto the surface of the skin, mainly for the purpose of maintaining body temperature within an ideal range. This happens when the body temperature rises due to physical exertion or being in hot surroundings, the evaporation of sweat from the skin produces a cooling effect.

A picture of a guy who has body odour.

Sweat doesn’t smell, however, one can develop an odour when the acids in the sweat are being broken down by skin bacteria. The waste products from this breakdown process produce an offensive smell referred to as BODY ODOUR.


Once a person reaches puberty, body odour begins to occur as this is when the apocrine glands, which are located in the armpits, breasts, and genital-anal area become developed. Males are more likely to have body odour than females because they sweat more than females.


Below are categories of people at higher risk of having body odour;

1. Obese People

2. Persons who regularly eat spicy food

3. Individuals with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, hyperhidrosis (People who sweat too much), etc are more susceptible to having body odour.

Body odour can have a pleasant and specific smell to the individual and can be used to identify people, especially by dogs and other animals. Each person’s unique body odour can be influenced by diet, gender, health, and medication.


Body odour is caused by bacteria breaking down sweat and is largely linked to the apocrine glands. These glands are found in the breasts, genital area, eyelids, armpits, and ear. In the breasts, they secrete fat droplets into breast milk. In the ear, they help form earwax. Apocrine glands in the skin and the eyelids are sweat glands.

The apocrine glands are mainly responsible for body odour because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which bacteria can break down easily.

Also, medical conditions such as Overweight, diabetes, gout, tumour, menopause, frostbite, overactive thyroid, pituitary gland disorders, head injury, excessive alcohol consumption, infectious diseases, etc are also the leading causes of body odour


If you have an offensive body odour and you are concerned about you could see your doctor who may in some cases prescribe aluminium chloride.

However, to curtail body odour, one is advised to;

1. Use of Antiperspirants which contains aluminium-based compounds that temporarily block sweat pores, thereby reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin.

2. Use of Deodorants contain perfume fragrances intended to mask odour. Deodorants can eliminate odour but not perspiration and are usually alcohol-based and can turn your skin acidic making it less attractive to bacteria.

3. Gradual shift in lifestyle which includes;

a. Regular bathe daily with an antibacterial soap.

b. Choose clothing to suit your activity.

c. Adopt relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or biofeedback which can help teach you to control the stress that triggers perspiration.

d. Change your diet by reducing caffeinated beverages and spicy or strong-smelling foods which may make you sweat more or have stronger body odour than usual.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Medical News.

Related article: Bad Breath (Halitosis)