Does Your Sweat Smell? Here’s Why

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Did you know that sweat doesn’t smell? The smell actually comes from the bacteria that feasts on your perspiration. While everyone sweats, for some of us, it smells worse than others. Here are just a few reasons why your sweat may smell.


When we get stressed, it’s common to start sweating. When you get anxious, your body activates the hormone cortisol, which makes you sweat. The sweat then gets trapped in your clothes and combines with bacteria, which can lead to an unpleasant smell.


Natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen soak sweat and allow it to evaporate. But synthetic fibers like rayon, polyester, and nylon repel water and sweat, making your sweat smell even worse.


While deodorants are meant to help keep smells away, they can actually make the problem worse. Ingredients in some antiperspirants, deodorants, body sprays, body washes, and lotions make the smell worse. Instead, wash yourself with plain water or use lemon juice diluted with water or apple cider vinegar to inhibit bacteria growth.


Many medications including over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy meds, prescription anti-depressants, ADHD meds, and birth control have increased sweating or body odor as a side effect.


Sweets, fried foods, baked goods, onions, garlic, and spicy foods can cause your sweat to smell. So try and avoid these foods if you notice your sweat has a bad odor.