Treatment options for body odour 

Treatment
Pros
Cons
Self care measures

In most cases, keeping your armpits clean and free of bacteria will prevent body odour. This includes washing regularly using antibacterial soap and using deodorant or antiperspirant.

  • Simple and inexpensive.
  • No need for surgery with associated risks.
  • Active ingredients used in antiperspirants and deodorants differ, so some may be more effective than others.
  • Not effective in treating more severe cases of body odour.

Medication

Chlorhexidine 0.05% antibacterial solution

A non-prescription medication that you apply daily to your armpits.

  • Significantly reduces the number of bacteria on your skin.
  • An inexpensive remedy.
  • No need for surgery with associated risks.
  • Has no effect on sweating itself.
  • May not be effective in treating severe cases of body odour.
Aluminium chloride solution (20%)

A non-prescription medication that you apply to your armpits at night before going to bed, and you then wash off in the morning.

  • The liquid blocks the openings of your sweat glands and stops sweating while you sleep.
  • An inexpensive remedy.
  • No need for surgery with associated risks.
  • Stops the natural sweating process if not washed off in the morning.
  • Can irritate your skin if used after shaving.
  • May not be effective in treating severe cases of body odour.

Surgery

Traditional surgery

Surgery to remove a small area of skin and tissue in your armpits, which includes the sweat glands.

  • Permanently removes the sweat glands responsible for sweating and body odour.
  • An invasive treatment method.
  • Incision may cause pain and scarring.
  • Small risk of post-operative infection.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction

Instead of cutting the sweat glands out of your armpits, liposuction is used to draw them out of the deeper layers of skin.

  • Removes the sweat glands responsible for sweating and odour.
  • Less invasive than traditional surgery.
  • Reduced risk of complications, such as post-operative infection.
  • The problem can reoccur if all sweat glands aren't removed, and further treatment may be needed.
  • Quicker recovery than traditional surgery.
  • Less scarring than traditional surgery.
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS)

A surgical technique to destroy the nerves that control sweating.

  • Minimally invasive, as it's carried out using keyhole surgery.
  • Carried out under general anaesthetic.
  • It has a success rate of just under 50%.
  • Risk of side effects, such as damage to surrounding nerves and arteries, and compensatory sweating (sweating in other areas of the body).
  • The procedure can't be reversed.

Non-surgical alternatives

Botulinum toxin

A newer treatment method where minute doses of botulinum toxin are injected into your armpits to block the signals from the brain to the sweat glands.

  • Reduces amount of sweat produced.
  • Procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes, and the effects last between two and eight months.
  • Non-invasive treatment method without associated risks of surgery.
  • Treatment needs to be repeated, with 12 to 20 injections required.
  • Limited availability on the NHS.
  • Private treatment can be expensive (about £400 for both armpits).