Why Washing Your Armpits Might Only Make You Smell Bad

Have you ever experienced the sensation that your armpits smell a little, and you’re not sure why since you clean them very thoroughly? This can happen to the best of us, and sometimes it’s not because of something we are not doing but because of something we are doing incorrectly.

Your body produces sweat to regulate your temperature.

Sweating is a normal bodily process in which our sweat glands secrete fluids on the surface of our skin. This response is triggered in order to keep us from overheating.

Diego Corredor / MediaPunch / East News, MARCOCCHI GIULIO / SIPA / East News

All humans have 2 types of sweat glands:

  • Eccrine glands: The sweat these glands secrete is clear and odorless. They also release fluid directly on the surface.
  • Apocrine glands: The fluid these glands release is thick and can smell bad when it comes into contact with the bacteria that sit on your body. The sweat is released through your hair follicles to the surface. Most teenagers start smelling bad because these glands don’t start working until puberty hits.

Armpits can smell bad for several reasons.

Like we’ve said before, a person starts to develop body odor when their sweat comes into contact with the bacteria that is always on the surface of the body. There are other factors that can affect how our armpits smell:

  • Exercise triggers the glands to sweat because our body is trying to cool down. The secreted fluids mix with the bacteria, and it evaporates.
  • Your diet can alter how you smell. Different kinds of oils, garlic, and onions travel through the pores, causing a strong body odor.
  • Hot or warm weather can make you constantly sweat because your body is always trying to cool down.
  • Other factors can be: being overweight, a shift in hormones, some types of medications, and certain health conditions.

Tips to help you reduce body odor

At times, lathering is not enough to eliminate body odor. We could be cleaning ourselves for several minutes and still have smelly armpits due to improper cleaning. Below, we will give you a few ways you can use to eliminate body odor for good, at least for a while.

  • Practicing good hygiene and using antibacterial soap. We might think that we have great hygiene, but sometimes we are missing important information that could help us improve our habits. When we are lathering our armpits, according to a professional, we should apply antibacterial soap for at least 30 seconds. This is done to get rid of the same bacteria that cause body odor.
  • You can shave regularly. Our body hair tends to trap bacteria, and by keeping our armpits shaved, we allow the sweat to evaporate faster and thereby have minimal contact with bacteria.
  • Wear clean and loose-fitting clothes. Try not to reuse dirty clothes, especially if you wear them to exercise. The fabrics in your clothes also matter, the more breathable, like cotton and linen, the better. That way, you keep your body dry for as long as possible.
  • Use an antiperspirant. It works because sweat glands decrease the production of sweat once they are full, and antiperspirant helps by giving these glands that sensation.

What steps do you take to clean your armpits? Do you have certain favorite products you use to keep your body clean? Tell us about them in the comments.

Preview photo credit Steve Shook / Wikimedia CommonsCC BY 2.0