Summer is coming and you already apprehend it. The sun warm and your body eliminates water to regulate its temperature : you sweat ! Fear of being traced by a bad sweat smell, you stress and sweat all the more. What a vicious circle… For some people, this bad odor can constitute a real social disability . Researchers have therefore looked into the issue. We will explain you everything in details…

The fresh sweat does not smell. Bacteria that colonize the armpits are responsible for it. Indeed, sweating contains many molecules often too voluminous to become volatile. This is where bacteria have a role: they will degrade these molecules, making them more volatile, and suddenly, odorous. Bad odors would come from there…

But why does everyone not smell the same sweat ?

We are not equal to bacterial colonization. Microbiotes are different from one individual to another, they can be considered as our « identity card » .

Our sweat odor depends on the bacteria present on the armpits skin surface. But also and especially, those found in the deep skin layers (sweat glands, hair follicles), very difficult access for cosmetics.

Thus the presence of Staphylococcus hominis and Cornyebacterium tuberculostearicum is linked to bad smells whereas Staphylococcus epidermis and Propionibacterium acnes correlate with a « better » armpits odor.

So despite good hygiene, repeated showers and a strong use of deodorant or antiperspirant, bad fumes can remain.

What are the solutions to limit these unsightly scents?

Researchers have taken a keen interest on bacterial transplantation, which principle is still under study.

In short, they replace « fragrant » bacteria of a person with « non-odorous » bacteria, preferably from a family member. To promote colonization, the recipient had to clean his armpits with antibacterial soap for several days while the donor should not clean them up.

First results were encouraging : transplantation reduced malodorous bacteria and, as a result, body odor after one month. 3 months later, the effects are always… felt in half of the recipients.

A new perspective finally opens for our nostrils !



CALLEWAERT C., LAMBERT J., VAN DE WIELE J. Towards a bacterial treatment for armpit malodour. Exp Derm. 2017, 26(5) : 388-391