woman sniffing her smelly armpit and checking for stinky body odor

Almost all antiperspirants contain aluminum, in one form or another. It is hard to say at this time whether we absorb any of that aluminum into our systems and even if we did, whether it would be harmful. Nonetheless, some people prefer to minimize their exposure. Here’s an interesting alternative:

Q. Thank you so much for writing about using vinegar and water on underarms. I have had a problem with smelly underarms most of my life and have tried almost every product on the market. Nothing really stopped the odor. When I read about vinegar, I gave it a try. It has been a miracle. I can now go out in the heat, exercise and go through the day without smelling at all. It is amazing and cheap.

A. Thanks for the testimonial. We heard this from another reader: “I had chemo treatment for breast cancer in 2002 and found that all antiperspirants caused redness and irritation. My doctor advised me not to use any deodorant, but that did not suit me. I tried plain white vinegar, and it worked so well I’ve kept it up ever since.” Diluted vinegar should be applied only to unbroken skin (not after shaving), or it will sting. If it causes any rash or other reaction, it should be discontinued immediately.

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  1. Precious
    South Africa

    This really saddens me because I’ve been suffering from the same problem for the past 15 years for me it started when I was in the 7th Grade now I’m 29 and I’m still suffering from this condition .My teenage years were horrible being called the gal that stinks even in my adult life it ‘s so hard .I used all the remedies & products that you can find on the internet but they weren’t any help .I went to the dermatologist he prescribed Drysol nothing changed Drysol is only good for sweat but not eliminating the ordr . This is so weird because I can’t smell myself and my family can’t smell me either and when I tell them about my condition they say psycological .At work they gossip about me and others told me in my face that I smell. Last week I started using Bentonite Clay but I havn’t seen any changes yet .
    If there are any solutions please help guys I’m in desperate need .

  2. Jordann
    United States

    I’ve had the problem of BO for a while, but within the last year it seems like it had gotten worse I’ve lost a lot of confidence in myself and have become anti social because of it. Whenever I go out I’m going to the bathroom every 10 minutes to smell myself I’m scared to hug people or lift my arms in any way. My life is miserable. I’ve tried everything from lemons, milk of magnesia, chemical free deodorants, men’s deodorant, all the brands of women’s deodorant, clinical strength!! Everything. Nothing works I figure it’s an internal problem so what I’m trying now is before showering soak a cloth in hot water and Apple cider vinegar let it sit for a little on each pit and then take a shower and after my shower apply antifungal cream to my armpits. I have no idea if this works but I’m trying anything I’m desperate now. I want to live my life freely without worries. Also I’m going to drink more water and eat healthier I really think that has something to do with it. If this doesn’t help me I hope it will help someone else. :)

    • john

      I have the same happening to me. I almost cry hearing your story, my story, our story.
      instead of spending my break in the employee room I always go to the bathroom and stay there till time is up. Today I tried white vinegar and salt and it seems to be working. Morton salt, sea salt… try it. Let the solution dry off and you can also apply a deodorant on top of it if you like or not. Keep your chin up. You have such a kind heart. In the midst of all this you still your tip will help someone else. May God help you find a cure. amen.

      • biruk

        i have the same problems please write me the ways you are following to solve it.

    • john

      I have the same happening to me. I almost cry hearing your story, my story, our story.
      instead of spending my break in the employee room I always go to the bathroom and stay there till time is up. today I tried white vinegar and salt and it seems to be working. morton salt, sea salt … try it. let the solution dry off and you can also apply a deodorant on top of it if you like or not. Keep your chin up. you have such a kind heart. In the midst of all this you still hope your tip will help someone else. May God help you find a cure.

    • Dan
      Santa Ana

      Jordann, listen to me when I tell you this. I used to sweat so much when I was a teenager that my shirts were wet within the first few minutes of putting my shirt on. I was desperate too! I went to a dermatologist and he prescribed for me something that worked so well, I didn’t even have to put regular deodorant on for a week if I didn’t want to. First, he prescribed a liquid called “Drysol.” This stuff was so powerful, that I had to stop using it because it was too strong. I was then prescribed something called “Xerac AC,” which seemed to work fine for me. Like I said, with this one, I didn’t have to use regular deodorant for a week. I just put it on Sunday night and then washed it off the next morning. I literally did not sweat anymore, thus I did not smell anymore! There is also something over the counter that you can buy that is like Xerac AC, I can’t remember the name of it but it works too! On all of those, whichever one you choose, all you have to do is put it on once a week for about 8 hours, then wash it off. Seriously, any one of those liquids closes the pores under your arms. The downside, it really itches when you put it on, and it contains Aluminum. This should solve your problem though.

    • Dan

      A Dermatologist would prescribe you “Drysol” or “Xerac AC.” They are concentrated deodorants and boy do they work. Your problem will be solved by using either one of these, trust me. They close the pores, extremely. Leave it on for about 8 hours, then wash it off.

  3. leet
    south africa

    I am also one of those people who are struggling from this body odour I have tried almost everything, please help me. My life is a mess, I had to leave my job because plp could not stand the smell. Sometimes I just wish plp could stop judging us and help us, I really need to gain my confident please help me to get out of this miserable life thank you.

    • Dan

      A Dermatologist would prescribe you “Drysol” or “Xerac AC.” They are concentrated forms of deodorants. Believe me, they work well. They close the pores under the arm. No sweating, equals no smelling!

  4. babe
    south Africa

    I’ve been having smelly, sweaty underarms since I was a teenager… I tried mitchum, bicarbonate of soda, different deodorants every after three days but nothing helped. Am at my mid twenties now and am even scared to have a bf coz of this.

  5. Tamara

    I’ve been having sweaty and musty underarms for the past twenty years. I’ve bought every deorderan but nothing worked until I tried vinegar. It’s been one week and I have not been musty ir sweaty. Thank God for this remedy. No more being shame to hug, date or be around others. It’s a miracle.

  6. crystal

    can I use regular salt?

  7. EM

    How much was the surgery?? I’ve also tried everything and nothing works!! I’m desperate!!!!

  8. Anonymous

    A lot of people actually suffer from staph, strep, or yeast infections under the armpits. Soak a hot rag in APPLE CIDER VINEGAR but don’t burn your skin because when you hold the hot compress full of 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 3/4 water ratio it allows the vinegar to actually penetrate through the hair follicle in which “these bacteria’s” have more than likely founded its home in your hair follicle underlying beneath your skin. This is why once you sweat you smell it! The smell is very strong musty and usually noticeable once you give your underarms an ounce of air through movement.
    Another thing, most staph, strep, and yeast infections under the arms is over-looked until it becomes usually an abcess or boil or a reddening/ brownish ring more noticeable than the lighter pinky/ tan color inside the ring. Another factor is when you shave if you often have little bumps maybe not red or stingy like razor bumps then its a sign of an infection (yeast, bacterial, or fungual) which is usually treated with an oral antibiotic also try to find a face wash with sulfur in it.

  9. G

    It’s sad… isn’t it

  10. mmejia

    Use lemon slices. I have tried EVERYTHING for my daughter who is about to be 9. She has been having this issue for YEARS and its so bad it makes my head hurt and vomit….
    The only thing we found to work is lemon. Yes a lemon from the store, cut it in wedges and rub it under your arms (NOT right after you shave because it will burn). You can also squeeze some in a bottle and spritz it on throughout the day if needed. It lasts all day with ny daughter. We put it on twice daily if we have afternoon activities.

  11. TamarJ

    Hi, so I am a high school student in the South so it gets very hot very often. I have the same problem as other commenters. I seem to get #musty fast, fast every single day!! I would say that this has been happening for about 3 years now. Take showers, twice a day. But I noticed once I get out of the shower…not long from then, I start to sweat, even after deodorant. I have tried baking soda (makes black, I’ve tried alchohol, and corn starch. I am thinking about trying the Listerine and vinegar and purell as other users suggest but I would like to know what kind, Please??! This has to go, I am a cheerleader and have to put some on almost every hour at school. It is soo embarrassing because I’m known to be a gorgeous, outgoing girl!!? I’m afraid to even hug people often as I used to because of this stinch?! HELPP!!!

  12. valentiine

    hi, urhmm I’ve been having under arm smell for about 4 years now. Tried every thing, baking powder, lemon, different deodorant but since I have broken skin it burn and cause rash. I am going insane and sad, feel different, stressed out.. I’m always thinking about it.. feel ashamed to hang out with my friends, don’t want to attend school because of the smell.
    I really want a solution to it please can anyone help?
    waiting for a reply……………….
    thank you
    Peoples Pharmacy response: You might want to check out milk of magnesia. Here are a couple of links:

  13. ZumbaGurl

    I am menopausal and have my own personal summers often. I’m also a farmer and work outside and I workout 5 times a week. I sweat!!!! I started smelling really bad a few weeks ago and was up to 6 showers a day. I’ve tried every deodorant imaginable and nothing worked. Last night I applied Listerine after my evening shower and woke up fresh!!!! After working outside in 98 degree heat and humidity, I didn’t stink! After my shower I applied the Listerine and allowed it to dry. I then applied the MOM, went to the gym and did my favorite Zumba class and I am absolutely fresh!!!!!! It’s a miracle!!!!!!

  14. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmDQDtvN1_0TtgrB4p5OypmRsRyOFKYu9o

    We have the same problem. Please let me know if you already have the solution on this. Please! Thanks in advance..

  15. BR

    I have tried every single thing I have found on the internet and nothing works. Rx Drysol stopped the sweat but that is when the odor started. I never had a problem with odor before, only the sweat.
    I’ve tried: Vinegar, Witch hazel, Milk of Magnesia, peroxide, purell. taking Chlorophyll, zinc and apple cider vin tablets. Multiple different types of deodorants, natural and regular and rock crystal. Hibiclens and deodorant soaps. Tea tree oil.
    New on this site: lemon and listerine. that will be what I try next……..sigh

  16. MF

    I came here looking for answers like everyone else and after reading these comments it seems the remedies that are working are ANTIMICROBIALS: Listerine, purell, vinegar, lemon (strong acids/bases can fight bacteria..not sure what the Milk of magnesia has in it that works…but for me I’m gonna give Purell a try

  17. Arnel

    I would like to know if I apply vinegar on my armpit after I took a bath?or what?

  18. Chona M.

    My daughter is only 8 yrs. old when she already had a underarm odor….Felt so bad about it…please help me help her.

  19. JPT

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned drinking fenugreek tea?
    It is a blood purifier and safe during pregnancy, lactation and so on.
    I drank it for years and friends were always telling me I smelled like maple syrup (which for me was a definite step up from horrible BO)!
    I would just steep 1 tsp of the seeds in a quart size jar (with boiled water) and drink daily or a few times a week. It did the trick. Doesn’t taste bad- a little like a curry soup. Fenugreek is an actual ingredient in most curry powders and is found in many middle eastern, Mediterranean and Indian recipes. It is edible and safe. It won’t cure BO, but it will make you smell much better for a day or two (or as long as you drink it regularly).

  20. Natalie

    I have found I have this horrible body odor under my right armpit in the last 2 – 3 years… my cancer was Stage 2 breast cancer in the left breast, so lymph nodes taken were in the left also. My surgery was almost 6 years ago, chemo and radiation as well. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer to the bone. However I did not do chemo or radiation this time around. I have done natural and alternative treatments, along with change in diet. Most of that has helped to put my cancer 85% into remission… with one lone hot spot hanging on for dear life! laughs.
    Anyway, the body odor from my right armpit has been horrendous. I hate going out, changing clothes, knowing the minute I start sweating it’s going to be on the new clothes, etc. So today, finally tired of the smell, even after a fresh shower, I came to the internet and found this site. I have just used Listerine, and then Milk of Magnesia… the smell is already gone!!! I cannot wait to see how it is at the end of the day! I was already using Milk of Magnesia for the terrible constipation that pain medicines cause, now it does double duty.
    Oh and for the person doing the Bicarbonate of soda once a week, I drink that on a regular basis so it doesn’t work for everyone.
    Thank you for sites like this where we can express our concerns safely and find solutions at the same time.

  21. Cat

    I have a simple solution that worked for me! 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in a glass of water. Have 1 glass a week and it changes the acidetity in your body!

    • Brooke

      How did you know you had breast cancer? Did you smell worse while trying to find a diagnosis? I have a lump under my left armpit and I’m worried. My bo seems to worse than ever and I’ve also tried everything. Wondering if it has to do with my internal health. I don’t have insurance at the moment so I’m kinda stressed about it

      • Darlett

        Please go to the doctor and get yourself check out. sign up for the obama care…it’s base off of your income…some people don’t pay anything for the insurance..my family was on it until my husband got a job….I lost my mother to breast cancer. She was afraid of going to the doctor even knowing that she had a lump in her breast. go to the healthcare.gov and sign up…please…better to make payment arrangements with a doctor than to lose one’s life. I pray that everything will go well with you.

  22. Michelle

    This is an unfriendly topic, and what works for one may not work for another simply because the cause may vary. If the cause is hormonal, or a bacteria infection…then the person will need to work from the inside out for permanent results. Has any one the same thoughts? Has anyone had success from going on an Anti-Candida Diet to combat an imbalance of yeast bacteria? Does anyone who has this health concern of smelly underarms also have hormonal concerns? I bet there is a link between the inside to the smelly outside! Have fun investigating, as I will too!

  23. Michelle R.

    This works for me, except. if I stop for a day or so, the smelly underarms return. I have tried tea-tree solution, which worked better than most things, but, nothing has taken it away for good. Currently looking into the possibility that it could be Candida Related.

  24. JADA

    I’m from the Philippines and I wonder where can I buy Milk of Magnesia in Manila? Thanks

    • karylle

      I’m also from Philippines. I had this problem for almost 9 yrs now. i don’t know what to do with this! its too embarrassing! i cant wear any clothes I want! help me plsss!

  25. MGB

    I’m from the Philippines.. I used listerine and vinegar but it doesn’t have an effect to my body odor.. so I try to use eskinol pimple fighting facial deep cleanser (micro cleanser- anti bacteria, color green) … let it dry to ur skin and den apply belo deo (color pink)… just try it… from the people in the philippines coz we wot able to buy a MoM.

    • MAN
      Cebu, Philippines

      I am 17 years old and I am really sweaty kind of a girl. When I was in high school I never thought my friends can smell the bad odor under my armpit until I turned to college and someone, maybe a friend I had when I was in high school, told me that she can really notice that I have a very strong bad odor in my armpits. I have tried a lot of deodorants but the bad smell really won’t vanish. Even after shower, I can already notice the bad smell forming. I will try the vinegar this day and I also ordered Milk of Magnesia to try on. I hope I can find what remedy is the best fit for me.

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