It’s normal for everyone to have their own unique scent — especially after a sweaty day at the gym — but some people seem to have a stronger smell than others. If you suspect you smell a little more intensely than you should, you might be exhibiting some signs that your body odor is abnormal. Certain diseases and disorders can cause bad body odor, and although a little stinkiness post-workout isn’t cause for alarm, if you’ve noticed an intense smell that just won’t seem to go away, you may want to get checked out by a doctor to see if there are any underlying causes.
“Lack of good personal hygiene can certainly contribute to body odor,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. “If you are not properly washing regions of the body that are prone to sweating, you may experience body odor. We all have a certain degree of bacteria on the surface of our skin. When the bacteria interacts with sweat, body odor may arise. Abnormal body odor may occur as a result of various medical conditions, including certain infections and metabolic disorders.”
If you find that you have some unusual scents coming from your body and you’re not sure why, watch out for these six signs that your body odor is abnormal.
“People with diabetes — when it is poorly controlled and in a state of ketoacidosis — have a noticeable ‘fruity’ odor caused by a class of chemicals called ketones,” says Dr. Lee Norman over email. This type of odor usually appears through the breath.
Notice an unpleasant smell when going to the bathroom? “Most urinary odors are not necessarily a sign of disease, but a foul-smelling urine could be due to an infection, diabetes or other another underlying medical condition,” says Dr. Jennifer Caudle over email.
Odor coming from below the belt could signify that something is awry. “A vaginal odor that is strong — for example, ‘fishy’ — or associated with other symptoms, such as itching, burning, or discharge may indicate an underlying condition such as a bacterial overgrowth or infection,” says Caudle.
If your body odor smells like cat urine, you may have a condition called 3-Methylcrotonylglycinuria (3MCC). “3MCC is a genetic disorder in which the body lacks an enzyme that helps to break down specific proteins,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “Symptoms usually occur during infancy, but may also manifest in adulthood.”
“There are rare genetic disorders, such as trimethylaminuria, in which toxins are not metabolized normally, and they build up in the body,” says Norman. This causes a strong, garbage-like odor that can be perceptible even at a distance.
Various skin rashes and wounds, especially if sticky, damp, and infected, smell bad,” says Norman. “One particular bacteria, pseudomonas, has a distinctive smell of wet socks, and experienced noses can detect that from across the room before even finding its source.”
Learn more at Bustle