14 unexpected things that are making you stink

It's not something that usually comes up at the cocktail party or coffee with friends. When your sister asks what's new, you're not going to bring it up. But even though you're not talking about it, your thoughts are consumed by it.

Is that smell me? Why is nothing working? Body odor is not just an issue for teenage boys in the locker room. We can all deal with it from time to time. The good news is that once you know the cause, finding the solution is easy. Check out 14 of the most surprising things that can make you stink, and what to do about them.

Too much stress

If your stinkiness has you stressing out, it's safe to say you're only making it worse. Stress causes us to produce sweat and odor, so it's time to take a nice, deep breath. According to the Mayo Clinic, we have two types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are spread throughout our bodies and open up into the skin. When we sweat through them, the liquid is evaporated to cool us off. These are the glands that produce sweat when we workout or are hot, and the sweat is mostly made up of water and salt.

The other type, apocrine glands, empty into our hair follicles such as underarms. These glands empty a milky liquid (sexy, right?) into the hair. When that fluid comes in contact with the bacteria on our bodies, it produces an odor. This is the type of sweat our body creates when under stress. "Stress-related odor will be normal odor on steroids," George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center told Fox News.

Spicy foods

If you're grabbing a quick snack before your date tonight, skip the garlic, and not just for your breath! Certain spices like garlic or curry can actually make your skin smell. As we digest these spices, our bodies release a sulfur-containing gas. Marie Jhin, MD, a dermatologist who practices in California, told Reader's Digest that these smells can last for a few hours. "Don't eat these foods before an important meeting or a date," she explained.

The smell comes from how our bodies break down these spices and spicy foods. "Components in a lot of aromatic spicing are very fat soluble," explains Dr. Preti. "So they'll get stored in your body fat and get into your sweat and saliva and they'll influence body odor over time."

If your date surprises you with your favorite garlic bread, don't panic. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your meal.

Low-carb diets

Low-carb diets are known for their quick weight loss. When your body doesn't have its usual supply of bagels and pasta to burn for energy, it starts burning fat instead. "When you burn fat, your body produces a chemical that can make perspiration smell either like nail polish remover or fruity," Dr. Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist, told the Huffington Post. "The exact alteration to the natural body odor depends on a person's body chemistry." This new smell usually lasts for as long as you are on the diet.

Your favorite bra

You know that lacy little number that just makes you feel good? It doesn't matter if you're going on a date with your husband or just to the park with your kids. When you're wearing a gorgeous, sexy bra you just feel amazing. The problem comes if that bra doesn't get a break. Our bras sit on areas of our skin that are prone to sweat, like our chest and breasts. They're also not usually made of breathable fabric that wicks away moisture. The result is sweat trapped in the fibers of the bra, causing a smell. "The moisture can make bacteria and fungus overgrow," Dr. Jhin told Reader's Digest. Make sure to rotate your bras and wash them frequently.

Not washing your clothes enough

I am very guilty of wearing my favorite pair of jeans way too much between washes. We all like to get a little break from the laundry room, but turns out it's better to wash those jeans every time if you're trying to avoid smells. Make sure all of your items of clothing are getting a good wash on a regular basis. "Washing clothing regularly decreases the number of bacteria available to break down our sweat into odor-causing byproducts," dermatologist Lauren Ploch, MD, told Reader's Digest.

Fish oil supplements

Sure that fish oil supplement is giving you glowing skin, lustrous hair, and some serious brain power, but you know what it's also giving you? A fishy aroma. Choline, one of the vitamins found in fish and fish oil supplements, is responsible for adding that fishy smell. That choline can stay in our tissues for days and come out in our sweat. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day may help.

Not flossing enough

You know that moment you're dreading at the dentist's office? When you're squirming in your chair as she asks you how often you floss? Yes, we know it's good for our teeth and gum health, but so many of us forget to do it before bed. We might have an easier time remembering if we knew it led to some stinky breath.

When we eat, food particles become trapped between our teeth. If we don't clean them out with regular brushing and flossing, they can start to smell. We also need to floss to clean out the plaque, that sticky film of bacteria that forms over our teeth.

Not wearing socks

I'm not a big sock fan. If I can get away without them, I do. However, I've stopped trying to wear sneakers and other closed-toe shoes without socks. When you wear sneakers without socks, your feet heat up and start to sweat. When there is no ventilation, that smell stays with both your feet and your new kicks. Maxine Builder actually shared in Bustle that her sneakers actually grew mold after she wore them repeatedly without socks!

Allergies and sinus infections

As if allergies and sinus infections weren't annoying enough with their pounding headaches and runny noses, it's time to add another symptom to the list — bad breath. When your nose and sinuses are inflamed or swollen, bacteria can grow in there and start to smell. You might notice the bad breath when you're eating or brushing your teeth. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to kick both the infection and the smell.

Certain medications

Unfortunately most medications come with a long list of potential side effects, and even more unfortunately, some of them can make you smell. Birth control pills can lead to dry mouth, which causes a buildup of sulfur in our mouths. It's this sulfur that can give your breath a super sexy rotten egg smell. Even over-the-counter medications can lead to body odor. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-depressants may cause sweating. Always read the labels and check with your doctor if you're concerned.

Too many cocktails

We've all been there. You got talked into coming out for one drink, and the night just took off from there. One cocktail turned into five, and now you notice that you kind of stink. It's not just the smokey bar. That smell comes from the way our bodies break down alcohol.

"The body treats alcohol as if it was toxic, and therefore tries to break it down and excrete it as quickly as possible," says Buddy T., the About.com expert on alcoholism. "Most alcohol is metabolized in the liver and is excreted from the body in urine. But if you drink more than the liver can process or if your liver is damaged, some is excreted via breath and sweat."

Don't worry. You don't have to give up your weekly happy hour to smell like a rose — just go slow. Try drinking at a slower pace and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the night.

Eating too much red meat

The 'meat sweats' is a real thing, and it's not good. Red meat can be hard for our bodies to digest, and that can lead to an unpleasant smell. As our systems break down that glorious burger, the burger's amino acids leave a residue in our intestines. Once our enzymes break down that residue, it can mix with that pesky skin bacteria and cause a smell.

"The bacteria need a couple of hours to ramp up to their most odiferous point," E. Adam Kallel, a medicinal chemistry consultant told the Huffington Post. "You can smell worse within two hours of eating red meat."

Because our bodies are working hard to digest that red meat, it's common to start sweating more. Make sure to always pair your meat with a big glass of water to help with the smell.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a magical time when you feel truly connected to the little miracle you are growing in your belly. It's also a time of swollen ankles, crazy cravings, and new body odors. "Your whole aura changes when you're pregnant, and that includes your personal aroma," Miriam Greene, M.D., clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center told Fit Pregnancy. "As your basal metabolic rate increases, so does blood supply to the armpits, vagina—everywhere."

Not only are your sweat glands going crazy when you're pregnant, but the change in hormones can also lead to bad breath and vaginal odor. You're probably the only one noticing your bod's new aroma, so shake it off and get back to that giant chocolate bar.

Menopause

If you're lucky enough to be experiencing menopause right now, you know that in addition to trouble sleeping and serious hot flashes, body odor is just one more thing you need to worry about. When our hormone levels are changing, such as in menopause, our internal temperature rises and causes more sweat. Once those hormone levels stabilize, the hot flashes and night sweats should go away.

Choose the right antiperspirant

When you walk down the deodorant aisle at the grocery store, you might feel overwhelmed with where to start. First, remember that deodorants and antiperspirants do different things. Deodorants can get rid of the smell, but not the sweat. They are alcohol-based and help keep bacteria from growing on your skin. They may come with a perfume or smell to mask any body odors. Antiperspirants on the other hand don't touch the smell. They contain aluminum-based compounds that actually block your sweat pores, keeping the moisture to a minimum.

"Antiperspirant decreases the amount of sweat that reaches the skin. A lot of them contain aluminum salts, and what those do is form a plug, and it prevents the sweat from reaching the surface of the skin, and that helps keep you dry," Dr. Zeichner told Fox News. "Now, totally separate from that are deodorants, and those are basically products that have masking fragrances. When you go to the store to purchase a product, most are antiperspirants and deodorants." Look for a product that does both if you want to cover all your bases.

The trick with antiperspirants is to apply them at night. If the over-the-counter options aren't doing the trick, ask your doctor about a prescription antiperspirant.

Natural remedies to smell sweet

If you've ever worried about going away with friends or meeting a date for a workout, you know that unwanted smells can really affect your life. Before becoming a hermit, make sure you're doing all of these easy things to keep smells at bay. First, bathe or shower everyday. Use an antibacterial soap to prevent smelly sweat.

Next, always dress for success. If you're working out, wear designated workout clothes designed to wick away sweat from your skin. For everyday, choose fabrics like cotton that allow your skin to breathe. We know that stressing out only makes the smell worse, so try a little yoga or meditation every morning or night. Worse case scenario – at least you'll feel better about your smell. Finally, if you notice any of those foods we mentioned make it worse, ditch them.

Recommended