Sharecare Top 5: What’s That Smell?

Some smells of summer we love – the scent of freshly cut grass, burgers on the grill, the ocean breeze.  Others – not so much.  Hot weather turns up the heat and, if we’re not careful, body odor.  Smelly feet and underarms can just add to the olfactory woes.  Here are the top five offenders – along with tips to keep you and everyone in the family smelling fresh as a daisy!

1. It’s the (arm)pits
Sweat glands cover our bodies – but the ones under our arms can be especially aromatic. What can you do about smelly underarms? Make your shower your best friend, especially if you tend to sweat a lot, washing twice a day with soap and warm water if necessary. Use a deodorant – which mutes the smell and keeps bacteria from growing – or an antiperspirant, which keeps you from sweating.  Wearing linen or cotton clothing will help your skin breathe – and keep you cool in the summer heat!  Watch this video to learn more ways to stop extra-smelly sweat from sexual health expert Jen Landa, MD.

2. Stinky feet
If your feet stink, blame it on the 250,000 sweat glands in your tootsies.  Most other parts of the body are exposed to air, allowing perspiration on your skin to dry. But put on a pair of shoes and any moisture (sweat!) puts out a big welcome mat for odor-causing bacteria. How to avoid smelly feet? When you bathe, be sure to dry your feet thoroughly.  Change your shoes and socks right away whenever they get damp. Use a disinfectant spray to kill the bacteria in your shoes. Better yet – it’s summer! Wearing flipflops and sandals will keep your feet airy and dry.

3. Passing gas
Who doesn’t love baked beans and three-bean salad at a picnic? Your fellow partygoers, that’s who, if these dishes lead to flatulence. If you know how your gut is likely to react when you eat foods that cause you to pass gas, be prepared by taking an over-the-counter medication ahead of time – or come equipped with an OTC containing simethicone, which helps break down gas bubbles to reduce gas.

4.  Sweaty private parts
Unless you’re at a nudist camp, you’re going to be wearing clothes and when it’s hot, the sweat glands between your legs will go into overdrive.  To keep that fresh feeling, be sure to dry this area thoroughly after you shower. But skip douching, which increases the chance of infection. Use fragrance-free cornstarch powder to keep lady parts dry (skip perfumes, which don’t kill odor-causing bacteria). When you exercise, be sure to shower and change out of your workout clothes right away. Regular excess sweating could cause a yeast infection.

5. Bad breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, usually results from poor oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth half-heartedly and failure to floss result in bacteria and bits of food forming a base camp in your mouth. The yucky smell results from that bacteria nesting around the teeth, gums, and tongue, and decaying food left in the mouth. While certain health problems, the foods you eat (garlic alert!) and smoking can also cause foul smells, the main culprit is not keeping your gums and teeth in tiptop condition. If you’re not sure if your breath smells sweet, check for these signs of bad breath.