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What causes night sweat smells?

Sweating and body odor from activity and exercise is totally normal. The smell that arises is due to the bacteria that live harmlessly on everyone's body. When the bacteria mix with sweat released from your sweat glands, it can create an unpleasant odor.

If you are regularly experiencing night sweats with a bad odor, it may be worth investigating. Alcohol consumption can cause night sweats; however, there are medical conditions that can trigger night sweats as well. If you believe that you might have a serious medical condition that is causing your night sweats then you should seek medical advice from a trained professional.

Medical conditions that cause night sweats

​Some medical conditions that might cause night sweats are:

  • Menopause: Menopause causes hormonal changes for women. Hormone levels can change how much you sweat. Lower levels of estrogen can trigger hot flashes and night sweats from a change in body temperature, which will increase the amount you sweat. The increase in sweating may cause a change in odor. The most common areas on your body that sweat will increase are your armpits or underarms. Due to a change in hormones and odor, women that use a certain deodorant or antiperspirant may suddenly be looking for a replacement.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety sweat is typically caused from sweat released from the apocrine glands which are triggered by stress. Apocrine glands are located near the hair follicles of your armpit, groin, and scalp. These glands release a different, milkier type of sweat. It initially does not have an odor, but it doesn’t evaporate off your skin as quickly as other sweat. So when it mixes with the bacteria on your skin it can create a more pungent odor than normal.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes may cause an increase in sweating and a change in the odor of your sweat. People with diabetes are also at an increased risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to medications, and sweating can be a symptom that you are having low blood sugar. Additionally, elevated blood sugar and obesity can cause sweating, through changes in the endocrine system that occur with these conditions.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is an overactivation of your thyroid gland, which is located in your neck. This condition is related to Graves’ disease, which is a disorder caused by an autoimmune disease (when your immune system wrongly attacks your body). This leads to an overproduction of thyroid hormones and can cause sweating. Graves disease is more common among women and in people under 40.

    Hyperthyroidism has other symptoms like unintended weight loss, trembling hands and fingers, frequent bowel movements, and an enlarged thyroid gland(goiter).
  • Hyperhidrosis: Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that isn’t always caused by warm temperatures or exercising. It may be primary (caused by disregulation and excess sweat production from sweat glands) or secondary (related to another cause of increasing sweat, like obesity). Primary hyperhidrosis tends to affect a localized spot on the body, like the hands and armpits, while secondary hyperhidrosis tends to cause more generalized sweating. There are treatment options when these conditions are identified.

Diet can affect the way your sweat smells. An increase in spicy foods, red meats, garlic, onions, and caffeinated beverages are common causes of a change in body odor.


Diagnosis for night sweats smells

To diagnose a problem with sweating and body odor, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and do a physical exam. The doctor may send your blood or urine out for testing. The tests can show if your problem is caused by a medical condition or from other things like your diet or prescription drugs.

Treatment for night sweat smells

Over-the-counter antiperspirants and deodorants may help to decrease your sweat smells from night sweats or excessive sweating. You can also try antibacterial soaps to help with odor. Your doctor may also prescribe a prescription product. Prescription antiperspirants help with excessive sweating but they are strong solutions that can cause side effects like red, swollen and itchy skin in some people. Your health care provider will help discuss the risks verses benefits of treatment with you.

Other treatments may include seeing a dermatologist for additional treatment options.


​FAQ's

How do I get rid of a vinegar smell from sweating at night?

First, practice good hygiene including showers with soap and water daily. Second, look at your diet. A change to a healthier diet can reduce the smell of your sweat. Third, drink more water. Staying hydrated can reduce the odor of your sweat.

Why do I wake up with sweaty feet during the night?

Hyperhidrosis can cause excessive sweating of your feet called plantar hyperhidrosis. There are many ways to help treat this condition: antifungal powders, wearing the right socks, staying hydrated, washing your feet with antifungal soaps, and applying rubbing alcohol to the feet to dry them out. If you think you have a specific form of hyperhidrosis, like plantar hyperhidrosis, it would be best to speak with your medical provider about your symptoms and treatment options.

How do I stop my sweat from smelling at night?

One way to stop your night sweats from smelling is to take a cold shower before bed to clean some of the bacteria from your skin. The cold shower will also reduce your body temperature and help reduce sweating.

Why does night sweat smell like yeast?

If you smell yeast, it would be good to consider if you have a yeast infection. If this is a recurrent issue, you might also have diabetes since diabetes increases the chances of yeast infections.

How do I stop night sweat smells?

There are several ways to help with smelling at night. One is to bathe regularly. Another is to wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Lastly, change your clothes if you're sweating a lot. These simple steps can help you not smell so pungent.

Why do men smell bad from night sweats?

Because men tend to have more hair on their bodies, including the armpits. There may be more bacteria in these hair follicles. When the body sweats, the bacteria that is present in those areas will feed off the sweat released from the body causing it to smell worse than other areas of the body. Men also sweat greater amounts than women. Frequent bathing or deodorant can help. Additionally, exercising regularly and being physically fit reduces the sweating threshold for both men and women. If you are concerned, then you can speak to your doctor about other treatments or medical conditions.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.