How to Smell Nice if You Sweat a Lot

Three Methods:Maintaining Good HygieneMinimizing SweatAddressing Significant Medical Conditions

Everybody sweats, but some people do sweat more than others. Some people even experience hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. This is not a medically dangerous condition, but it can certainly cause embarrassment and self-consciousness about body odor.[1] Fortunately, there are a variety of steps you can take to smell nice even when feel you sweat more than the "average" person.

Method 1
Maintaining Good Hygiene

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    Shower regularly. Sweat itself does not smell; body odor is caused when bacteria on your skin breaks your sweat down into acids. While bacteria are a normal part of your body's make-up, you can eliminate excess bacteria — and, most importantly, the acids they produce — by washing daily.
    • Pay special attention to cleansing hairy areas of the body. Humans have two types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are spread across your skin and regulate your body temperature by cooling your skin with sweat when you get hot. The sweat produced by this gland is typically less smelly. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, are concentrated in hairy areas of your body such as armpits and your genital region. The sweat from these glands contains high levels of protein. Your skin bacteria love protein, so this type of sweat quickly becomes very stinky![2]
    • Use antibacterial soap on your armpits. Again, some bacteria are good — but too many can pose a problem, especially in odor-prone areas like your armpits.[3]
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    Shave your armpits. Hair traps sweat and odor, providing ideal conditions for smell-producing bacteria to multiply.[4]
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    Change your clothing regularly. At minimum, you should change into fresh clothes daily. Changing more than once a day is a good idea if you perform physical labor that causes you to sweat or if you exercise.
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    Wear clothing made from natural fibers. Avoid tight, restrictive clothing and man-made fibers such as nylon. These types of clothing restrict the ability of your skin to "breathe," increasing your volume of sweat.
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    Pay special attention to your socks and shoes. Socks should be thick, soft, and made of natural fibers, or sports socks designed to absorb moisture. Shoes should be made of leather, canvas, or mesh rather than synthetic materials.
    • Change your socks at least twice a day if you are prone to sweaty feet.
    • Consider carrying a spare pair of socks with you during the day so you can change whenever needed.
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    Use products that interact with the human body to prevent odors. Some products work to mask smells, while others work to eliminate the root cause of sweat.
    • Deodorant uses perfume to mask the smell of sweat without eliminating the sweat itself.
    • Antiperspirant reduces the amount of sweat the body produces. The active ingredient in antiperspirant is usually aluminum chloride, which blocks sweat glands from producing. Many antiperspirants include a perfume agent to make you smell nice in addition to remaining sweat-free.
    • If regular antiperspirant fails to keep you from sweating, consult your doctor about special formulations containing extra aluminum chloride. These antiperspirants are usually applied overnight and washed off in the morning. They operate by using the hours you are sleeping (you sweat less while you sleep) to seep into sweat glands and block the production of sweat.[5]
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    Use a perfume or body spray. While perfumes are no substitute for good hygiene, they replace problematic smells with an appealing scent.
    • Experiment to find a fragrance that interacts well with your body chemistry.
    • Keep your chosen perfume or body spray handy to refresh your scent during the day.
    • Be aware of any regulations regarding scents in your workplace or school. Some people are very sensitive to artificial fragrances, and you may not be permitted to wear them in certain settings.
    • Moisture-reactive perfume is not yet on the market, but it may prove a useful tool in the future. Scientists in Ireland have learned how to bond fragrance to ionic liquids that react to water — including the water in sweat. The more someone wearing such a substance sweats, the stronger the scent becomes.[6]

Method 2
Minimizing Sweat

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    Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight causes your body to work harder, raising your body temperature and producing more sweat. Skin folds caused by excess weight can harbor bacteria, so pay special attention to these areas when bathing. [7]
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    Avoid spicy foods and alcohol. You sweat more when you consume these items, and as previously mentioned, sweat interacts with the bacteria on your skin to produce body odor. Cutting back or eliminating these things from your diet will help you manage sweat volume, therefore keeping you smelling nice.
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    Use armpit shields to protect your clothing. While this tactic will not change your sweat volume, by protecting your clothing you'll be able to wear shirts and sweaters longer before they become smelly. Shields are generally made from absorbent material that will keep sweat from clinging to your skin and becoming smelly. You will also minimize the appearance of your sweat.[8]
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    Maintain a positive mental outlook. A recent scientific study indicated that the "chemosignals," or body odor, of people in a happy mental state tended to induce a happy reaction in others exposed to their odor. In other words, if you're a happy person, the message you send to others spreads that happiness — even your body scent smells happy![9]

Method 3
Addressing Significant Medical Conditions

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    Determine if your sweat smells fruity or bleach-like. Fruity-smelling sweat can be a symptom of diabetes, while bleachy-smelling sweat is one symptom of liver or kidney disease. Contact your doctor if you are concerned your sweat is a symptom of a significant medical problem.[10]
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    Consult your doctor if you believe you have hyperhidrosis. Basic hygiene should keep you smelling nice. If you find your problem persists, your doctor may be able to offer stronger treatments to eliminate the excessive sweat that is causing your body odor.
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    Ask your doctor about botox. Botox, a low-level dose of botulinum toxin, can be injected into a problem area. The botox will block signals from the brain to sweat glands, reducing sweat. This treatment is temporary, lasting two to eight months.
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    Consider therapeutic plastic surgery if your concerns about body odor have become overwhelming. Try the methods outlined above before taking such a significant step, but if your concerns are seriously compromising your quality of life, surgical options exist.
    • Removing a small area of skin from a patient's armpit and the tissue just below the armpit will often eliminate the most troublesome apocrine sweat glands.
    • Sweat glands can sometimes be drawn out from deeper skin layers using liposuction.
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    Talk to your doctor about ETS surgery as a last-ditch measure. An endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, or ETS, uses keyhole surgery to destroy the nerves that control sweating in a problem area.[11]


  • Keep clothes in a clean area, and make sure the house is clean and smells nice.
  • Test any fragrances you may be considering before buying them. This will ensure you are replacing problematic odors with a pleasant scent.
  • Remember, rule #1 is hygiene. When in doubt, wash -- your clothes, a concerning body part, or your entire body.

Article Info

Categories: Sweating and Body Odor Hygiene