Body odour could be a sign of underlying health issue such as diabetes

Body odour has held four in 10 people back socially, a survey claimed. The 2019 poll asked 2,000 British adults their feelings of their own body odour, with 30% saying they avoided talking to someone amid fear of smelling bad.

The poll also revealed that over one third said the fear of smelling less than rosy had held them back from hugging and being intimate with another.

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Body odour can be caused by a number of things such as exercise or hot weather – but it may also signal an underlying health condition.

Here are some of the medical reasons you may be sweating – and how to limit body odour.


When a person’s cells are deprived of energy from glucose, they begin to burn fat instead.

This fat burning process creates a by-product called ketones, which is a type of acid produced by the liver.

Ketones tend to produce an odour that's similar to acetone that is smelt through a person’s breath.

Liver disease

Having a severe form of liver disease known as foetor hepaticus can cause a person to smell bad.

This odour is said to be similar to a sweet and musty smell evident in both the breath and in a person’s urine.

Kidney disease

“Sometimes, body odour can be a sign of kidney disease, which means that the kidneys are damaged and unable to filter the blood in the way that they should,” says Medical News Today.

Kidney disease causes chemicals in urine to become concentrated and to cause a smell resembling ammonia.

Kidney dysfunction can also cause high bacteria and protein levels in the urine, which will contribute to a foul ammonia smell.

If you have any concern about abnormal body odour, speak to your GP. They might be able to suggest prescriptions, injections to reduce sweat, or identify any underlying issues.

How to treat body odour

The simplest and most basic remedy is of course having a bath or shower. The NHS recommends washing armpits, groin and feet at least twice a day with soap, and dry thoroughly.

After washing yourself, using deodorant or antiperspirants are essential.

“Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain aluminium-based compounds that block your body’s eccrine glands, preventing you from sweating,” adds Harvard Health.

“Deodorants repel the bacteria that cause odour, and may contain an additional fragrance.

“If over-the-counter products don’t control sweating and body odour, your doctor can prescribe a stronger prescription-strength antiperspirant/deodorant.”


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