An Asian woman in blue peplum top with arms raised and hands touching her head

We’ve all found ourselves in this situation. After an extra hardcore workout or just being under the sweltering Philippine heat, you stretch up your arms, and there’s that tell-tale must. Underarm odor is common, and fortunately, it can be remedied if you know the root cause.

The first thing to understand is why our underarms smell in the first place? Molecules that make up sweat are essentially odorless, but when they come in contact with the armpit-specific bacteria Staphylococcus hominis, thioalcohols are produced. According to University of York researcher Dan Bawdon, who discovered this occurrence, the smell of thioalcohols is similar to onions or sulfur.

While sweat is the most obvious culprit to stinky pits, many other reasons cause them. When it’s a cool day, and you haven’t been running, these other lifestyle changes may be the cause of that bold stench coming from your underarm region.

1. You’ve Been Eating Too Many Cruciferous Vegetables

Eat your veggies! A musty scent is a side effect of certain types of greens.

Diet plays an important role in overall health and well-being, including odor. While veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are extremely healthy, they contain sulfur that breaks down into compounds that are absorbed into the body and released in sweat. Sulfur, for the uninitiated, smells like rotten eggs. This might explain your recent underarm odor since armpits generally sweat more than other parts of the body.

Excessive alcohol and red meat consumption, as well as eating garlic, spicy food, and other strong-smelling and tasting dishes, can also affect general body odor.

2. You’re Not Eating Enough Carbohydrates

Studies have shown that body odor can be caused by cutting back on carbs. When the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, it begins burning fat. In Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top Dermatologist, dermatologist Debra Jaliman says that when fat is burned, the body produces a chemical that makes perspiration smell either fruity or like nail polish remover. However, she clarified that this reaction doesn’t happen all the time and is largely dependent on each person’s body chemistry.

3. You May Have an Underlying Condition

Have you had your blood sugar checked lately? It could be the reason behind unexplained sweating.

Some people naturally perspire more than others. This profuse sweating from the armpits, hands, and feet is called hyperhidrosis and doesn’t have any particular cause. However, secondary hyperhidrosis, or diaphoresis, could indicate a serious medical issue that is usually related to your glucose levels. Night sweats, for example, are caused by low blood sugar during the night.

Likewise, high blood sugar can also cause too much sweating. Excess glucose causes nerve damage anywhere in the body and may strike the nerves near the underarm area, which can cause sweat glands to go on overdrive. While antiperspirants can help manage the issue, make sure to seek professional medical help when you’re experiencing unusual hyperhidrosis.

4. You’re Pretty Stressed

Stress sweat is real. Nerves, tension, and anxiety can cause your sweat glands to go haywire.

You’re about to make an important presentation to your boss. As you wait nervously for your turn, you feel the sweat glands in your armpits working overtime. When the body reacts to the adrenaline rush caused by stress, sweat is released via the apocrine glands, which are found near hair follicles in the underarms, scalp, and groin.

Unlike regular perspiration, the so-called “stress sweat” is thicker and milkier, containing fatty acids and proteins. While it’s also odorless, stress sweat doesn’t evaporate as fast, making it linger long enough for bacteria to make contact and produce that pungent body odor.

5. You’re Just Extra Hormonal

Women undergoing a major physiological change, such as menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy, may also experience a shift in underarm and body odor. However, it’s not necessarily unpleasant. Based on a 2016 study published on Science Direct, the aroma that women release during these periods is actually considered attractive.

Certain hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid, can cause sour-smelling sweat while sleeping. If the odor persists after your cycle or pregnancy, contact your physician.

Whatever lifestyle change is causing your extra-strong stench, mask that musk with the Dove Ultimate Repair Dark Marks Corrector. It provides 48-hour protection from sweat and underarm odor, plus it’s fortified with moisturizing cream and niacinamide to keep your pits beautifully smooth. So go ahead. Enjoy your favorite beef and broccoli for lunch. This Dove deo comes in a handy sachet that can fit inside your purse, ready for those emergency pit situations.