Why Do My Armpits Smell Like Onions?

Why Do My Armpits Smell Like Onions?

Everyone wants to smell clean and fresh, but sometimes body odor can creep up on you. Have you ever done the turn and sniff and smelt onions? The unpleasant smell isn't welcome, but it also isn't uncommon. Many people struggle with bad body odor. 

There are many possible causes for a sudden change in your scent. It can be anything from your environment to the food you eat. A health condition may even be the culprit to your body odor emanating from your armpits, genital area, and feet.

Thankfully, you don't have to live with stinky underarms. We are going to go over why your armpit odor smells like onions and what you can do about it. 

What Causes Body Odor? 

The body odor you’re smelling is a combination of sweat and skin bacteria. Everyone has bacteria on their skin, which breaks down when it comes in contact with sweat. When this happens, the scent can be tangy, sweet, sour, or like onions. 

Your sweat doesn't really have a scent, so it doesn't matter how much you're sweating. Some people can sweat excessively but not smell like B.O. Sweat is made from two types of sweat glands in your body: eccrine and apocrine. 

Eccrine Glands

Your eccrine glands are responsible for the sweat you see on the surface of your skin. They cover most of your body and help to regulate body temperature. When you start overheating, the glands produce eccrine sweat to cool you off. As the sweat on your skin evaporates, it has a cooling effect that can bring your body temperature back down. It's like having a built-in air conditioner. 

Apocrine Glands

You also have apocrine glands that open up in your hair follicles. They are located on your scalp, armpits, and groin area. They are typically bigger glands that produce more sweat than the eccrine glands. 

These glands don't start producing sweat until puberty. The sweat smell from these glands occurs when it comes in contact with bacteria that live on your skin. 

Reasons for a Change in Body Odor 

If you aren't going through puberty, there are several other reasons you may be experiencing a sudden change in body odor. 


A change in your diet can lead to a change in your body scent. For example, asparagus can change the way your urine smells. Foods like onions, cumin, garlic, and broccoli can also cause body odor. Once your body metabolizes the food, the smell will disappear. 

One study found that men who ate a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables had better-smelling body odor. People who ate more carbs reported having a less-pleasant scent. 


You can sweat more when you have high levels of stress and anxiety. Stress can cause a lot of problems by releasing more hormones. The main stress hormones are cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase sweating. The extra sweat combined with bacteria already on your skin creates body odor. 


Diabetes is a medical condition that happens when the human body doesn't make enough insulin or can't properly use it. It leads to issues like high blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which can change your body odor. You should seek medical attention immediately if this occurs. 

Menopause and Menstruation

According to research, when a woman is menstruating with high fertility can be perceived to be more attractive because her scent changes. Other hormone changes can affect body odor. For example, a woman going through menopause can experience body odor changes. 

Skin Infections

When you develop a skin infection or you have a preexisting condition, you may experience body odor. Certain skin infections smell more than others. For example, a bacterial infection in the hair follicles in your armpits is going to cause a sudden smell. Other types of bacteria infections will also cause an odor. 


Your body odor may be caused by the medication you're taking. Certain medications and supplements can cause excessive sweating, resulting in a stench. You should be able to read a list of the side effects of the medication, but remember that not everyone will experience the same things. 

How To Stop Armpits From Smelling Like Onions 

Since there are many causes, there are many solutions to getting rid of an onion-smelling odor. 

1. Clean Your Pits

The easiest thing you can do is take a shower on a regular basis. Look for a product that can cleanse, exfoliate, and nourish your skin, like Spongellé body buffers. Massage the buffer in your armpits for at least 10 seconds. It will help remove the bacteria that cause the onion-like scent. 

Spongellé offers dual-performing body sponges and exhilarating exfoliators. The buffers are made with a self-preserving formulation that prevents bacterial growth and resists contamination. You won't have to worry about spreading bacteria around like you would using other cleansing tools. 

2. Dry Them Well

Make sure you fully dry your underarms after a shower. You can even use a blow dryer to dry your armpits. Use the warm setting on the blow dryer and stop if you notice any redness. 

Since bacteria flourishes in moist environments, drying your pits can help avoid some of this growth. Fewer bacteria equal less of that onion smell! You can use the blow dryer in other areas that can trap moisture, like under your breasts or between skin folds. 

3. Use Antiperspirant

If you're an excessive sweater, try a prescription-strength antiperspirant. It's not the same as a deodorant because it temporarily plugs sweat ducts. You can get deodorant and antiperspirant in one over-the-counter, but it's not strong enough for everyone. 

4. Try Botox

You can also try Botox injections to reduce sweating under your arms. It's a safe and effective solution to prevent excessive sweating, but the effects aren't permanent. You will need to get it every couple of months to keep the results. Insurance may cover botox, so look into the requirements. 

When Is Body Odor Cause for Concern?

A little sweat and bacteria are no cause for concern. However, sometimes body odor can raise a red flag. You may need to talk to a doctor if you experience the following. 

  • Sweating so much, it soaks your clothes, even when you're not physically active
  • Sweaty palms that make daily activities a struggle, such as turning a door knob
  • Waking up soaked in sweat 
  • Skin infections in areas you sweat
  • A fruity scent, which may mean you have diabetes
  • Sudden changes in your body odor and/or an increase in sweating

Treating the root of the problem can help get rid of body odor. There are also prescription medications that can prevent sweating. However, sweating is a natural way your body cools off, and preventing the process can be harmful. Doctors may also prescribe an antibiotic that can help reduce bacteria on your skin. 

Remove the Smell From Your Clothes 

When your underarm odor smells like onions, chances are the stench transfers to your clothing. Even after you wash your clothing, the scent can linger. You don't need to toss all of your smelly clothes. There are ways to get rid of the smell.

Try adding a cup of vinegar to your laundry the next time you do a load. If you don't have vinegar, you can use one cup of baking soda or washing soda to help remove the oniony smell. You don't want to use both because the vinegar and baking soda will cancel each other out. 

You can even try presoaking your clothes in vinegar or baking soda before you toss them in the wash. Place your clothes in a large container with two gallons of warm water and one to two cups of vinegar or baking soda. Allow them to soak for an hour or two before washing. 

You can turn your clothes inside out before you soak them to make it easier for the smell to be rinsed out. Your clothes will also fade slower when turned inside out. Don't place your clothes in the dryer until the smell is fully gone. The high temperatures can bake in the smell, making it harder to get out. 

Products To Help You Smell Incredible

The products you use can help you get rid of that onion smell, while others can make them worse. Antibacterial soaps may seem like the way to go, but beware, they kill both the good and bad bacteria on your skin. When you don't have enough good bacteria, the bad bacteria multiply, and you can make the problem worse.

Try some of these products instead: 

  • Bulgarian Rose Wildflower Bath Sponge: This sponge will help wash away any smelly odors and leave you fresh and clean. 
  • Beach Grass Body Lotion: This luxurious body lotion will provide deep hydration with an invigorating scent that includes green and spicy notes.
  • Morning Bloom Private Reserve Petite Eau de Toilette: This fragrance is the perfect product to mist onto your body for that all-over citrusy, floral scent.

Final Takeaways

Many people struggle with body odor, but you don't have to live with that onion scent. There are several ways to get rid of the odor-causing bacteria on your skin. You can bathe regularly with Spongellé products to keep your skin smelling its best. 


Definition of apocrine gland - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms | NIH 

Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor | Science Direct

Original Article Women's evaluations of other women's natural body odor depend on target's fertility status | Science Direct

Bromhidrosis Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Medical Care, Surgical Care | Medscape