I'm a pharmacist and here's 5 worrying body odours – and what they say about your health

IS a funny bodily smell bothering your everyday life? Well worry no more.

Smells such as cheese and fish should be a cause of concern for anybody experiencing them. Especially if they are not coming from the kitchen.

Giulia Guerrini, a lead pharmacist from Digital Pharmacy Medino tells The Sun: “When you notice a strange smell from your body, one of the worst things you can do is hope that it goes away with time.

"You owe it to yourself (and the people around you!) to identify the cause as quickly as possible and get the proper treatment.”

It can be embarrassing dealing with personal body hygiene problems, but don’t let that stop you from being the best you.   

Here Giulia reveals the five body odours you should watch out for – and what they mean for your health.

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1. Smegma                                                    

A cheesy, thick, white substance? Nope, it’s not a dreamy fettuccine alfredo from the finest restaurant in Milan. It’s smegma and it smells as bad as it sounds.

“It’s the result of an uncircumcised male not washing the area underneath his foreskin well enough,” says Giulia.  

“Smegma is the sum total of shed skin cells, skin oils and moisture building up around a person’s genitals. It can also affect females between the folds of the vulva and around the clitoris.

“Males and females should wash their genitals at least once per day with warm water.”

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When it comes to women, Giulia adds: “Soap is not strictly mandatory, but if you choose to use it then use a gentle, intimate area approved wash.

“To avoid irritation which can throw off your pH balance and lead to yeast infections. Be careful to only wash the outside of the vagina (the vulva) not the inside.

“If you notice a cheesy, thick, white substance and a strange smell from your genitals, you might want to up your hygiene game or visit your GP if it leads to other symptoms like redness and swelling.”

2. Fishy discharge

If your vagina smells fishy, there might be a problem.

“Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an inflammation caused by an overgrowth of bacteria found in the vagina,” explains Giulia.

“Discharge, generally speaking, becomes a grey-ish white colour and has a watery consistency and fishy smell.”

To treat or avoid these symptoms altogether, Giulia recommends products like Canesflor probiotics, which can "prevent BV by working to restore the natural environment in the vagina". Meanwhile, products like Canesbalance vaginal gel can help clear out an infection, Giulia adds.

“BV can be caused by a multitude of triggers, including but not limited to your period, having sex with a new partner and using perfumed wash products.”

3. Smelly feet

If you ever wondered what heaven looks like for bacteria, well, it’s your feet.

“Our feet are always covered by two layers, our socks and shoes, any sweat that we produced is trapped,” says Giulia.

“There are 250,000 sweat glands in our feet, which are higher glands per square inch ratio than anywhere else on the body. The more skin cells that bacteria can eat, the more it spreads.

“Try to avoid synthetic socks and plastic shoes. They give your feet zero room to breathe and any bacteria will have a royal feast on your feet."

4. Body odour

Body odour (BO) isn’t just the result of bad hygiene.

“While a lack of hygiene and excess sweating are most closely associated with BO, changes to your diet, environment, hormones and medication can also trigger it,” Giulia tells The Sun.

“It can be particularly common during puberty too. The smell of body odour is caused by bacteria breaking down the protein molecules in your sweat.

“This reaction can occur top to bottom, from behind your ears to your feet to your armpits to your anus.”

Giulia advises: “Keep an eye (or nose) out for drastic changes to your sweating, such as experiencing cold sweats, sweating at irregular times or sweating at night.”

According to the NHS the most common causes of night sweats are usually; pre- menopause/menopause symptoms, certain medications (steroids, painkillers, and antidepressants), anxiety.

If you are concerned, seek medical assistance from your GP.

5. Nipple leakage

When it comes tonipple discharge your level of worry depends on if you're male or female.

Giulia warns: “If you’re a male and experience nipple discharge, you should contact your GP immediately as nipple discharge of any kind is not normal in men.

“It can be slightly less alarming in women, but worth knowing the signs to look out for.

"One of the most telling signs of a bigger issue is the smell as it’s not pleasant.”

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Giulia adds: “Your breast shouldn’t leak while you’re not breastfeeding, especially if it happens while no pressure is being applied.”

According to the NHS nipple discharge is normally nothing to worry about, but do seek professional help if:

  • Discharge becomes persistent
  • only one nipples discharges fluid
  • its smelly or contains blood
  • its leaking and your not breastfeeding
  • your over the age of 50
  • its accompanied with other symptoms (lumps, swelling, pain, redness)
  • you are a man

There is a small chance that it could be cancer.

If you have a persistent personal hygiene problem always speak to your GP first.

Giulia adds: “You can always speak to any of Medino’s fully trained pharmacists for advice, guidance or suggestions on products that can help.”

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