Dr. Dean

Why Do I Have Foul Body Odor?

Posting Date: 03/29/1999

E-mail question: Greetings. I've always had this foul odor emanating from my body and don't know why. I take two to three showers a day and I've tried everything. This makes me very hesitant to go out. I hate to see people trying to put their hands over their noses without tipping me off.

Dr. Dean: I don't know if that is the case - in general, we are not the best judges of our own odors.

We did a story here recently about the different smells of different diseases. In general, bad odor is bacteria, and if it comes from one place on your body - for instance, from your armpit - one way to prove it is to put some rubbing alcohol on it. It might sting a little, but it will kill any germs, and if it makes the odor go away, then you know you've got the germs acting on something on your skin, which is usually the normal secretions.

Some dermatologists get radical and use a roll-on antibiotic on the skin to kill the germs, but in general, most of us overreact to it. You need a good friend to help you along with that.