When it comes to the human body, there are some things that 99% of people are understandably embarrassed to talk about. One of those things? The stinky topic of body odors.

Obviously, we get it. No one likes to talk about the parts of their body that smell less-than-pleasant, whether it’s your mid-day armpit sweat or the morning breath you try to hide from your partner. But, truth be told, it’s actually really important to have a conversation about these (very natural) smells.

If you notice these five smells coming from your body, your first instinct might be to gargle, wipe, or spray product to mask the stink. But if, after taking those precautions, you can’t shake the smell there may be something wrong.

Here are the serious signs these five body odors could be pointing to:


1. Sour Breath

Woman holding her nose.Flickr

Everyone wakes up in the morning with gross morning breath. It’s really just a fact of life. But if your breath is SO rank that your partner can’t even have you breath on them until you’ve brushed your teeth, it might be a little bit more extreme.

If you brush and floss regularly at night before going to bed, but you still wake up with smelly breath, you could be dealing with sleep apnea.

This chronic disorder causes you to periodically start and stop breathing while you sleep. It happens randomly throughout the night, causing you to have dry mouth — a common cause of bad breath.

Having your mouth hanging open like this permits bacteria to breed more easily in your throat. Worse, certain kinds of bacteria make a sulfurous gas that gives your breath a rotten egg smell.

If you’ve got sour breath, daytime sleepiness, and snoring, look into getting a sleep test to confirm or deny sleep apnea.

2. (Extra) Smelly Feces

Hand pulling toilet paper.AndreyPopov via Deposit Photos

Poop smells, we all know this. But it’s important to notice if your feces smell especially nasty after eating certain things — especially dairy. If your gas or poop has an extra-unpleasant stench to it after eating dairy, you may be unable to digest lactose.

Our small intestines produce an enzyme called lactase that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. When you don’t produce enough lactase, your small intestine will send lactose straight to your colon (instead of your bloodstream) where the gut bacteria will ferment it.

Fermented lactose results in loose, foul-smelling stool and gas, as well as bloating.

And if you’re thinking this is highly unlikely, it’s more common to be lactose intolerant than you’d think. According to the National Institutes of Health, 65 percent of people have trouble digesting dairy. If you’re one of them, you might consider checking with your doctor so you can navigate your diet correctly.

3. Putrid Pee

woman sitting on toilet with pajama pants downgpointstudio via DepositPhotos

When you stay hydrated enough, your pee shouldn’t smell like too much of anything. If you haven’t had a lot to drink or you’ve just eaten asparagus, yes, your pee might smell a little. But if neither of those things are true and your urine still has a nasty stink, you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which produces an almost chemical scent to urine.

You know you’ve got a UTI when you experience a burning feeling, have dark, cloudy urine and need to pee frequently and intensely.

UTIs are more common in women because female urethras are shorter; the infection is caused by a buildup of bacteria (typically E.coli) which enters the urinary tract and urethra, then multiplies in the bladder, thereby causing the infection.

While very unpleasant, these are easy to treat once identified.

4. Fruity Breath

Deposit Photos

This might not be a “stinky” problem, but it’s still a body odor you need to keep an eye out for.One of the complications of diabetes is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It happens when the body runs low on insulin, causing blood sugar to spike.

If you notice a sweet, almost fruity taste/smell coming from your mouth, it could actually be a sign of diabetes. One of the complications of diabetes is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It happens when the body runs low on insulin, causing blood sugar to spike.

More often than not, people with Type 1 diabetes experience DKA compared with people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

Since your body doesn’t create enough energy to function, it breaks down fatty acids for fuel. One of those acids (acetone) emits a fruity smell from your breath.

Other signs to watch for: people with DKA vomit and urinate frequently, which causes their body to dangerously lose fluids at a rapid rate.

5. Stinky Feet

Woman rubbing sore foot because of shoes.artfotoss via Deposit Photos

So, you went for a run without socks on a hot summer afternoon. Obviously, your shoes are going to stink to high heavens. But if you notice your shoes smell CONSTANTLY, no matter the weather or any deodorizing precautions you take, you might have athlete’s foot.

Besides the smell, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) says you will also notice the skin on around your toes will be dry and scaly with redness and blisters.

The odor you’ve noticed is caused by a combination of fungus and bacteria that erodes the webs of skin between your toes. Be careful not to scratch your feet and then touch another part of your body because you actually CAN spread this fungus.

Although it might not seem like a dangerous thing, if left unchecked, athlete’s foot can develop into more complicated conditions such as cellulitis — a.k.a. a bacterial infection of the skin’s soft tissue.

Try an over-over-the-counter treatment like Lotrimin or Tinactin for a couple of weeks. If that doesn’t work, schedule an appointment to speak with your doctor for a stronger treatment.