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Skin Care and Diseases

Smelly husband



My husband has a smell on his skin that is similiar to mildew, or something spoiled. He can take a bath and it goes away, but the very next morning it returns. He is 31 and is not taking any medications, however he does take a lot of vitamins. The smell is mostly on his chest. What could it be and what can he do to make it go away or at least not be so stout?


It is very likely that your husband has some gram negative bacteria that are growing in the secretions of the oil glands and epocrine sweat glands of his armpits and chest.  Frequently patients bathe with "deoderant soaps".  These kill gram positive cocci and often allow these gram negative organisms that produce the odor to overgrow.

There are a number of endocrine dysfunctions that may be associated with abnormal smelling sweat.  Those can be evaluated for you by a board certified dermatologist.  Dr. E. Dorinda Shelly has written on several occasions about malodorous sweat.  

I usually suggest that patients begin bathing with a nondeoderant soap and apply an over-the-counter topical antibiotic after each shower for several weeks.  That is usually enough to change the flora and get rid of the odor coming from the bacterial breakdown of the secretions of this chest glands. 

In any event, you should consult your board certified dermatologist to be certain that there is no underlying medical abnormality leading to the odor. 


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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati