Body Odor / Why Does My Sweat Smell Like Ammonia or Vinegar?

Why Does My Sweat Smell Like Ammonia or Vinegar?

Sure, sweat may serve some essential biological roles, but for most of us, it’s regarded as an unfortunate side effect of being human. And when the sweat smells like vinegar or ammonia, we’re starting to freak out. Whether you’re working out, stressed out, or just got asked out – There’s really no good time to be a perspiring wreck. Nevertheless, this often embarrassing bodily function can actually be the key to overall wellbeing. How you ask?

Well, besides cooling us off and releasing toxins, the smell of our sweat can clue us in on what’s happening in our bodies. You see, sweat itself isn’t even what smells – It’s all the bacteria having a field day on your juices that cause the unpleasant odors. Several factors can alter how much you sweat and how pungent your personal perfume is: excessive sweating, hormonal shifts, poor hygiene, medications, environmental circumstances, and certain foods are all common culprits of foul-smelling sweat. 

Now, I’m sure at some point or another you’ve heard someone rave about their lack of body odor. While it’s quite possibly the most annoying thing ever, these boasters might actually be telling the truth. It turns out that some people lack the transporter protein responsible for making sweat smelly.             

If you’re one of those lucky unicorn people, congratulations – We’re all very happy for you. The rest of us sweaty Betties will be over here trying to decipher what our bodies are saying via our B.O.  

What If Your Sweat Smells Like Vinegar or Ammonia?

Having an offensive aroma stalking your armpits after a workout is one thing, but consistently wreaking of ammonia or vinegar is another thing entirely. Although seemingly strange, these particular smells aren’t all that rare and are often not a cause for concern. However, they can be a sign of something more serious, so you must understand what these different smells could be indicating. 

If you’re wondering why in the world your sweat smells like vinegar or ammonia, we’ve got answers for you!

Follow this If Your Body Odor is close to the Vinegar Smell

Young White Woman taking care of her

If your sweat smells like vinegar, it could very well be something you ate that’s throwing off your body’s natural balance of propionibacteria. This delightful bacteria is located in our sebaceous glands, which are found throughout the body, and is responsible for releasing propionic acid through the sweat glands. 

This acid causes our sweat to smell. When we accumulate too many propionibacteria, we get a vinegary aroma in return. Fluctuations in the amount of these bacteria are often caused by dietary changes, poor hygiene, hormonal shifts, and certain medications. 

If none of the above conditions apply, a vinegary smell could be a sign of something more worrisome, such as diabetes. Be sure to stay tuned in to what your body is telling you and head to the doctor if the odor persists after improvements are made. 

In Case It’s Closest to Ammonia, follow this

You Black Woman turning her neck

Although an ammonia smell following a strenuous workout may be nothing to worry about, it could also be a red flag concerning your diet and lifestyle choices. 

When we exercise, our body uses carbohydrates as fuel – You can think of the carbs as gas and our body as the car. Now when the gas runs out before the vehicle has reached its destination, it’s forced to dip into another energy supply to keep going. That’s where protein comes in to play – Our body starts breaking down amino acids in protein for added energy. 

Ammonia is a byproduct of protein metabolism, which is promptly excreted in our sweat – Hence the foul stench. If you’re on a trendy low-carb diet and dealing with ammonia-scented underarms, try including a starch as your pre-workout snack. The extra carbs will keep your body from dipping into your protein supplies and creating that unwanted odor. Also, remember to drink plenty of water as this can exacerbate an already, uh, stinky situation. 

If changing your eating and drinking habits doesn’t help, it’s definitely in your best interest to seek medical advice. In rare cases, this can be a sign of an electrolyte imbalance or damage to the liver or kidneys. 

Bottom Line

While sweat and odor are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, you should always seek out the root of the issue when you smell ammonia or vinegar. That way, you can rule out any pressing conditions and find a solution that will help keep the smell at bay. 

Regardless of how hard you try, public body odor is bound to happen at some point, and there’s no denying that it’s pretty mortifying. However, it’s important to remember that most humans experience it, and hey, if you’re really in a bind, grab a deodorant wipe and go to town! The discrete little wipes will help you fight the funk when you’re on the go. 

We all stink sometimes – It’s all a matter of making sure your natural perfume isn’t an indication of something more serious.

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