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Body odour (BO)

Body odour is a common problem. You can usually treat it yourself.

How to treat body odour yourself

Do

  • wash your armpits, groin and feet at least twice a day with soap and dry thoroughly
  • shave your armpits regularly
  • use antiperspirants and deodorants
  • change and wash your clothes regularly
  • wear natural fabrics like cotton, wool and silk
  • wear antibacterial socks

Don't

  • do not eat too much strong smelling or spicy food
  • do not drink too much coffee or alcohol

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • stronger antiperspirants
  • armpit or sweat shields to protect your clothing
  • foot powders for sweaty feet
  • soap substitutes that are gentler on your skin

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you have body odour and it has not got better after treating it yourself and:

  • it's affecting your self-esteem
  • you notice a change in how it usually smells
  • you suddenly begin to sweat much more than usual

Treatments from your GP

If you have severe body odour and sweating, your GP may suggest:

  • stronger, prescription antiperspirants
  • injections in your armpits to reduce the amount of sweat
  • surgery to remove the sweat glands

Read more about treating excessive sweating.

Causes of body odour

Things that can make body odour worse include:

Body odour may also be linked to excessive sweating and smelly feet.

Page last reviewed: 10 January 2019
Next review due: 10 January 2022