Skip to main content

Sweating and body odor

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 17, 2023.

Overview

Sweating and body odor are common when you exercise or you're too warm. They're also common when you're feeling nervous, anxious or stressed.

Unusual changes in sweating — either too much (hyperhidrosis) or too little (anhidrosis) — can be cause for concern. Changes in body odor also may signal a health problem.

Otherwise, lifestyle and home treatments can usually help with normal sweating and body odor.

Symptoms

Some people naturally sweat more or less than other people. Body odor also can vary from person to person. See a doctor if:

Causes

Sweating and body odor are caused by sweat glands in your body. The two main types of sweat glands are eccrine glands and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands occur over most of your body and open directly onto the surface of the skin. When your body temperature rises, these glands release fluids that cool your body as they evaporate.

Apocrine glands are found in areas where you have hair, such as your armpits and groin. These glands release a milky fluid when you're stressed. This fluid is odorless until it combines with bacteria on your skin.

Diagnosis

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).

Treatment

If you're concerned about sweating and body odor, the solution may be simple: an antiperspirant or deodorant.

If nonprescription products don't help control your sweating, your doctor may prescribe a stronger product. These are strong solutions that can cause rashy, swollen and itchy skin in some people.

Self care

You can do a number of things on your own to reduce sweating and body odor. The following suggestions 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 to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

© 1998-2024 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use.