When it comes to our bodies, there are a few embarrassing things that we all have to deal with.
Sweaty and smelly situations tend to be really awkward.
If you experience unpleasant sweat smell frequently, you know how detrimental it can be in terms of self-esteem.
Sweat that has a strange odor, however, is much more than a cosmetic problem. It can be indicative of a medical issue.
Does your sweat smell like vinegar? The problem is much more common than most people believe it to be.
A vinegary, acidic smell could be caused by various external factors and by some health issues.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the main causes and the ways to deal with sweat that smells like vinegar.
Main Reasons Why Your Sweat Smells Like Vinegar
Body odor provides a lot of information about what’s going on inside.
This is the main reason why a vinegary sweat smell should never be ignored or simply masked.
It’s important to understand that sweat itself doesn’t smell.
Various types of bacteria live on the human skin.(1 trillion bacteria on an average human!)(1)
These bacteria break the sweat down into acid, which contributes to unpleasant body odor (medically known as bromhidrosis).(2)
The most common cause of a vinegary odor is the activity of propionibacteria.
These bacteria inhabit the sebaceous gland ducts and they’re found throughout the body.
The bacteria are responsible for breaking down sweat into propionic acid.
This acid has a vinegary smell. It comes from the acetic acid family and acetic acid is known under the common name vinegar.
Thus, propionibacteria overgrowth or excessive activity is one of the most common causes of a vinegary smell.(3)
A change in the bacterial flora may occur because all of the following:
• A change in diet
• A change in weather that creates more favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria
• Poor personal hygiene that contributes to bacterial overgrowth
• Taking certain medications
• Being overweight
If you do something about the above factors but the odor persists, chances are that something else is to blame.
Unfortunately, various medical conditions can contribute to a vinegary body odor.(4)
» Diabetes is one of the most serious problems that have such a symptom.
People that suffer from diabetes can’t process sugar like everybody else. As a result, its quantities increase.
The breakdown of sugar contributes to the production of an acid. This acid leads to a vinegary body odor.(5)
The process is known as ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is the result of insufficient insulin.
Excessive accumulation of ketones (byproducts of energy production) will inevitably change body odor.
» Another medical issue that could contribute to vinegary body smell is a hormonal disbalance.
Just about every process in the human body is controlled by hormones, including the amount of sweat that we produce.
» Menopause is characterized by changes in sweating. During the onset of menopause, many women are likely to experience hot flashes and excessive sweating.
As a result, their body odor will change.
As time goes by and hormone levels stop fluctuating, the sweating and body odor issues are likely to get resolved on their own.
Is it Time to See the Doctor?
Does your sweat smell like vinegar frequently? Most often, this symptom isn’t a cause of major concern.
Lifestyle and nutrition changes will help the overwhelming majority of people deal with the embarrassing condition.
An acidic body smell that persists no matter what you do, however, could be indicative of a health problem.
It’s a good idea to have your hormone levels checked.
A doctor will also potentially run tests for diabetes, especially if you experience other health problems or you are at a risk.
Schedule an appointment with your GP, even if you feel embarrassed about what your body is doing.
Doctors are used to treating all kinds of problems. Remember that bodily changes, even when they happen to be embarrassing, are sending a signal your way.
It’s important to figure out what your body is trying to tell you.
Treatments and Solutions
You can do various things in an attempt to deal with acidic, unpleasant body odor.(6)
We’ve already mentioned some of the viable solutions and we’ll explore those in detail right now.
The first and the most important thing to do is to wash your armpits or have a shower on a daily basis.
Keeping the sweat where it is will provide bacteria with additional “resources” for their activities.
The issue will get aggravated due to poor hygiene. Get in the habit of washing your armpits in the morning and having a shower in the evening, before going to bed.
There’s no need to use specialized cosmetic products.
Soap and warm water will be sufficient to clean sweat residue and kill some of the bacteria.
You may also want to change your diet for a certain period of time.
The elimination of some foods will help you figure out whether the acidic body odor is connected to nutritional choices.
Organic compounds like sulfides are the ones that contribute to the most unpleasant sweat smell.
Onions, garlic, spicy foods, red meat and asparagus are some of the foods that could potentially change sweat odor (especially when consumed in large quantities).(7)
Try to eliminate such foods from your meals for at least a week. Drink a lot of water and consume raw fruits and veggies.
If you don’t notice an improvement within that period, chances are that your sweat issues aren’t nutrition-related.
A few other tips for overcoming acidic body odor include the following:
» Wear clothes made of cotton: natural fibers absorb moisture and keep it away from the body. Synthetic fabrics don’t have the same properties.
Keeping moisture against the skin will increase bacterial activity and worsen the body odor.(9)
» Remove armpit hair: hair in the armpit region slows down the evaporation of sweat. Thus, it could indirectly contribute to a vinegary odor.
» Choose the right antiperspirant: deodorants and antiperspirants are created for the purpose of making the armpit region hostile to bacteria.
These products will also control sweat production.(check natural deodorants on Amazon.com)
» See a dermatologist: if none of these changes contribute to improvements, you may want to talk to a dermatologist.
The skin’s bacterial balance is very delicate and it can be disturbed easily.
A dermatologist will ask you questions and run tests to determine the cause of a potential bacterial overgrowth.
As a result of the consultation, you may be prescribed a medical skincare product that contains a large concentration of an active ingredient capable of restoring the balance.
» Examine the medications you’re taking: antibiotics, antidepressant and anti-psychotic medications could potentially impact the bacterial balance of the body.(8)
If you’re experiencing bad odor as a side effect, you may want to talk to your physician and change the medications.
» Strengthen your immune system: the body is capable of fighting bad bacteria on its own.
» Try to lose some weight: an acidic body odor is more common among overweight and obese individuals.
Skin folds that are more common for people that have excess weight create the perfect conditions for bacterial overgrowth.
Thus, even a small change in body weight could make the situation much better.
» Don’t forget other body regions: most people who experience bad odor focus on the underarms because of the high number of sweat glands located there.
The truth is that other body parts sweat, as well. Wash your entire body and apply antiperspirant to the skin areas that seem to be the sweatiest.
Please remember – if none of these work, see your doctor!
Diabetes screening is very important and the earlier this condition is identified, the more effective the treatment is going to be.
Conclusion: What Your Body is Trying to Tell You
Sometimes, bad body odor is very easy to address. In other instances, the issue will be much more persistent.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore bad odor and don’t try to mask it. Such attempts will only make the situation worse.
A consultation with an experienced medical professional can help you overcome the problem, feel healthier and enjoy a higher level of self-confidence.
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