Check-up: Her underarms are ‘ripe’

December 23, 2019

Dear Readers,

Sara emails Check Up about the problem she’s having with underarm odour and asks for advice on how to solve this problem.


Our body smell comes from a variety of factors, including:

• Our dietary content.

• Bacteria which grow under the arm.

• How our perspiration reacts with our underarm skin and old cells

• Our hygiene.

• How we dress.


Diet and hygiene play a significant part in how we smell. Spicy foods and caffeine will give a smell to your sweat.

Garlic and curry will also be excreted from your body by your sweat. So, if you have body odour (BO), the first thing you can do is take a good look at your diet and try to change out the more spicy items.

The problem is that we Jamaicans like pepper and spice.

If you drink a lot of water every day, you will dilute your sweat, and this means your sweat will contain less of the problematic substances when you do eat them.

The underarm regions of our body remain more moist than most other areas.

If you have BO or smelly underarms and live in tropical Jamaica, you need to bathe at least twice a day to wash the sweat off your skin.

This is even more so for people who actually work outside in the sun, or whose work involves a lot of physical activity.

Applying dilute hydrogen peroxide solution and/or baking soda to the underarms while bathing will also properly deodorise your armpits and actually kill off residual bacteria and other germs which may be present.

It is also important to layer your upper-body clothing. Wearing undershirts will absorb the perspiration and keep the outer layer of clothing dry and fresher. People who wear uniforms can actually change out the undershirt or top (for even a matching one) during lunchtime to allow for full freshness.

If you’re an outdoors type of person who is always on the go, you’re going to sweat more than the person who has the benefit of AC and fans to keep them cool.

Do keep as cool as possible at any point in time. Be it under the shady tree, under the awning, or near to the AC vent.

If possible, stay indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which are the hottest hours of each day, to avoid sweating. Use an umbrella to create your own shade if you have to go out.


• Avoid garlic and onion. They are known triggers for BO.

• Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and adequate proteins.

• Take dietary supplements, like zinc and vitamin B complex.

• Drink a lot of water each day.

• Use antiperspirants which contain aluminum chloride in the underarm areas, and on the palms and soles, to reduce the amount of sweat produced.

• Deodorants help mask BO but do not reduce sweating.

• You can apply powder to the body after bathing to absorb some of the sweat.

• Wear an undershirt.

• Wear mainly cotton based clothing.

• Reduce caffeine intake.

• You can apply anti-fungal/antibiotic talcum powders under the armpits during the day for a time prescribed by your doctor.

A more recent treatment for BO and smelly underarms is the use of Botox injections. Botox, when injected into the underarm sweat glands, reduces both sweating and odour.

This is not a permanent solution and would need to be repeated a few times a year. You could talk to your dermatologist about this.


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