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).