To diagnose a problem with sweating and body odor, your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and do an exam. The doctor may test your blood or urine. The tests can show if your problem is caused by a medical condition, such as an infection, diabetes or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
If you're concerned about sweating and body odor, the solution may be simple: an over-the-counter antiperspirant and deodorant.
- Antiperspirant. Antiperspirants contain aluminium-based compounds that temporarily block sweat pores, thereby reducing the amount of perspiration that reaches your skin.
- Deodorant. Deodorants can eliminate odor but not perspiration. They're usually alcohol-based and turn your skin acidic, making it less attractive to bacteria. Deodorants often contain perfume fragrances intended to mask odor.
If over-the-counter antiperspirants don't help control your sweating, your doctor may prescribe a prescription product. These are strong solutions that can cause red, swollen and itchy skin in some people.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can do a number of things on your own to reduce sweating and body odor. The following suggestions may help:
- Bathe daily. Regular bathing, especially with an antibacterial soap, reduces the growth of bacteria on your skin.
- Choose clothing to suit your activity. For daily wear, choose natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool and silk. These allow your skin to breathe. For exercise wear, you might prefer synthetic fabrics developed to wick moisture away from your skin.
- Try relaxation techniques. Consider relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation or biofeedback. These practices can teach you to control the stress that triggers perspiration.
- Change your diet. Caffeinated beverages and spicy or strong-smelling foods may make you sweat more or have stronger body odor than usual. Eliminating these foods may help.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. In some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your appointment. For sweating and body odor, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What are the most likely causes of my symptoms?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which might be best for me?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- How often do you experience these symptoms?
- Do you always have these symptoms, or do they come and go?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
Sept. 24, 2019
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Biology of eccrine and apocrine glands. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed July 6, 2016.
- Perspiration. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/. Accessed July 7, 2016.
- Kanlayavattanakul M, et al. Body malodours and their topical treatment agents. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2011;33:298.
- Shirasu M, et al. The scent of disease: Volatile organic compounds of the human body related to disease and disorder. Journal of Biochemistry. 2011;150:257.
- Hyperhidrosis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. http://aocd.site-ym.com/?page=Hyperhidrosis. Accessed July 6, 2016.
- Smith CC, et al. Primary focal hyperhidrosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 6, 2016.