When you go through puberty, your hormones wreak havoc on your emotions. Those pesky body chemicals don’t stop there, though — they make you smell pretty ripe, too. That’s right — when you hit puberty, your sweat glands hit the gas pedal. Activities formerly ranked as no sweat now leave you smelling like the bottom of a bag of corn chips. How can you tackle puberty body odor and feel less self-conscious?
What Causes Puberty Body Odor?
All body odor stems from bacteria. Your apocrine glands release protein when you sweat, and bacteria break these proteins down. This process creates an onion or cheese smell.
You have two types of sweat glands — apocrine and eccrine. Your eccrine glands come alive when you exert yourself, such as when you’re racing around a soccer field. Sweating regulates your body temperature and helps prevent overheating.
Unfortunately, your apocrine glands produce sweat all the time, not only when running from goal to goal. When you hit puberty, your apocrine glands wake up due to hormonal changes.
You might find this distressing — nobody wants to be stinky! Plus, if you don’t know what to expect due to inadequate sex education at school, it may seem like your body suddenly betrayed you. Coupled with hormones that are out of control, you may feel depressed, a little angry or embarrassed.
The good news? You don’t have to put up with puberty body odor or let it hinder your social activities. Simply practice good hygiene techniques to stay feeling fresh.
How to Handle Puberty Body Odor
Begin by educating yourself as to what puberty body odors are normal. Many young women express concern about odor around their genitals when they reach adolescence. It’s normal for female discharge to have a slight odor. Seek medical care for unusually strong smells, especially if accompanied by a heavy or greenish-yellow discharge, which may indicate an infection.
Certain body parts smell more than others. Your armpits contain high numbers of apocrine glands, meaning they get sweaty — and smelly — more quickly. You may also experience heavy sweating from your hands and feet. Wearing socks with closed shoes or going barefoot when possible helps to reduce foot odor.
Other techniques you can use to control puberty body odor include:
- Shower often: You don’t want to live in the bathtub, which can strip vital oils away from your skin and result in worse acne. Shower once per day, taking care to wash your armpits and groin thoroughly. Look for a natural soap that’s free of harmful chemicals and fragrances.
- Try deodorant: Deodorants kill bacteria but don’t keep you from sweating. If sweat stains disturb you, opt for a deodorant-antiperspirant combination product, which temporarily clogs pores and keeps sweat in check.
- Consider birth control: Birth control pills regulate your menstrual cycle, which can help control hormonal fluctuations. If you take it correctly, birth control will prevent pregnancy. Plus, it helps reduce acne breakouts.
- Use antibacterial soap: Sweat is clean and odorless when first secreted. It’s when bacteria get involved that you grow ripe. Using antibacterial soap to reduce the number of germs on your skin can reduce odor.
- Do your laundry: Dirty clothes hold a host of bacteria, making you stinky. Wash sweaty clothes promptly — this means taking your gym clothes home after each workout. Take a pass on wearing clothes twice without laundering them, especially when it comes to socks. Always wear clean, dry socks when you can’t go barefoot to reduce foot odor.
- Modify your diet: Certain foods make you smell worse. Spicy foods, for example, make you sweat more. As much as it hurts, lay off the Sriracha and Hot Cheetos before date night and go easy on the garlic when you order pizza.
When Odor Indicates a Health Issue
Although it’s rare, if you’re suddenly smelling a lot riper than usual, you may have an underlying health condition contributing to the odor. For example, people with diabetic ketoacidosis often smell fruity or sweet. If your blood sugar spikes and you notice an odor like cherry or apple, seek medical care.
Severe vaginal odor can indicate an infection even if you’re not sexually active. Ask your caregiver to make an appointment for a pap smear to rule out an underlying yeast or urinary tract infection.
Hyperhidrosis refers to unusually heavy sweating. If deodorants and antiperspirants fail, laser therapy or Botox injections can stem the waterfall.
Are you under a lot of stress? Experts say anxiety can cause you to sweat more, which leads to more smells.
You Can Decrease Puberty Body Odor
Whether your puberty body odor stems from natural hormonal changes or a severe health issue, you can find relief. If you practice good hygiene and seek help when necessary, you can have an adolescence free of stink.