Body odor is the term used for any unpleasant smell associated with a
What is going on in the body?
People usually associate body odor with sweat, but sweat by
itself does not give off an odor. Sweat is nothing more than water and salts
expelled by the sweat glands to control body temperature. Bacteria on a
person's skin can mix with the sweat and produce body odor. Body odor
can sometimes be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Causes of body odor include:
drugs, toxins, or herbs, such as
arsenic poisoning, cyanide poisoning, or cigarette smoking
eating certain foods, such as garlic or raw onions, which can cause bad
inborn errors of metabolism,
such as a group of conditions known as aminoaciduria.
These tend to be noticed in childhood.
infections, such as a lung abscess or pocket of pus, skin infections,
vaginal yeast infections,
sexually transmitted diseases,
or urinary tract infections.
These can cause odor in the area of the infection. For instance, a lung
abscess can cause bad breath.
liver or kidney failure
psychological conditions, which may cause a person to think he or she
has a foul body odor when none exists
tooth or oral conditions, such as cavities,
periodontal disease, which is disease around a tooth, or
which is inflammation of the gums. These are common causes of
tumors or cancer,
which may cause an odor in the area of the tumor. For instance, tumors of the
mouth or stomach may cause bad breath. Cancer of the
may cause a discharge from the vagina that has a certain odor to it.
uncontrolled diabetes mellitus,
or diabetes, a condition that causes increased blood sugar levels
Other causes are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.