Why do some people smell so bad?

Arrggh!! I was at the coffee shop today getting a sandwich, and somebody came in with that stinkboy smell. You know that smell certain people have when they sweat? It’s a foul, acrid, nose-curling smell that a normal person will never emanate even after a sweaty workout, but which certain people emit as a matter of course.

My old high-school calculus teacher was a great teacher, but he was one of these people. Every day, if you came to him early in the day it was OK, but by the end of the day he stank up the room. Let’s just say that you didn’t sit in the front row if you knew what was good for you. Is it diet? Is it genetics? Is it both? And why have I only observed it with males?

My brother once floated the idea that people like this probably suffered from chronic constipation, and their bodies were so loaded with toxins that it was oozing out of their skin pores. It’s certainly an amusing idea, but I have no idea whether it makes medical sense. In the meantime, can’t these people buy some deodorant? Or Lysol themselves every few minutes? Or perhaps wear one of those pine-tree car air fresheners around their necks, like a pendant?

It’s just wrong to buy a sandwich and suddenly have your nostrils violated by someone’s high-powered underarm stench. Spoils your whole damned appetite.

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62 Responses to Why do some people smell so bad?

  1. surlethe says:

    Wierd thought: I’ve noticed a couple of kinds of sweat smells. There’s the acrid stench described in the entry, and then there’s the ‘work-sweat’, which smells more stale than acrid. I’ve associated the acridity more with nerves, and the ‘work-sweat’ with — surprise — work.

  2. aerius says:

    The worst is those greasy fat guys on the subway who you can smell from halfway down the subway platform. And if they get on the same car as you they stink up the entire cabin despite the best struggles of the subway’s ventilation system. It just boggles my mind how people can stink like that, it’s unreal.

  3. Ace Pace says:

    Ah, and this gets worst when its 40C and the guy in question is moving around to spread the odor around the room.

  4. Guardsman Bass says:

    There was a kid who sat next to me in “Business Law” with the permament stinkboy smell, which may have occurred from the fact that he seemed to rarely shower, and was wearing all black jeans and sweatshirt. He was also my roommate on the Model United Nations club trip to New York City, which probably explains why the room smelled so bad.

    Incidently, what I think is worse than the mere stinkboy smell is when it gets mixed with the smell of someone’s ass.

    • alba says:

      As I witnessed once, a woman smelled so foul that all her office smelled like rotten rat for some 10 years: I always wonder how her co-workers could put up with that smell. To my surprise, last year I went there and she didn’t smell any more! I suspect someone begged her to shower, and it worked!!!! If she could stop smelling, believe me, anybody can. That’s why I get mad when people stink in the supermarket, I have to leave my husband do the shopping by himself while I go back to the car. It is not fair, why don’t they shower before going out?
      Mary Contrary

  5. DrkHelmet says:

    I’ve noticed that certain people, when they are sick, actually stink. Showering will give them a few hours of cleanliness, but they will then begin to stink again. This only occurs when these people are sick. I am of the opinion that in many cases, it may not actually have to do with whether the person showered, but it is in fact because of a toxin buildup in the system.

    Just an opinion.

  6. Woolie Wool says:

    A lot of people think they don’t need to shower or use deodorant because they can’t smell it themselves. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that the human brain can block out a sensory signal that flows in continuously (which is why you’re not aware of your behind being compressed while sitting until you do something that brings it to mind such as reading this sentence).

    So, guys, even if you don’t smell BO yourself, wear some fucking deodorant.

    • walt1948 says:

      some girls(women) stink too. they sray themselves instead of taking a shower! Don’t know who taught them that. Not the same as cleaning up in a shower or bathtub…. SO get real … go get real clean!

      • drake says:

        I completely agree, I liked this one chick in high school, hung out w her once outside of school to make a move, and she REEKED like B.O. I never talked to her again.

  7. MarkusDemetrius says:

    I recently moved in with my sister and her daughter, who are both extremely obese people, and guess what? FAT PEOPLE REALLY DO SMELL BAD! REALLY, REALLY BAD!

    Every one of those folds of flesh is worse than an armpit – arms get lifted up and the armpits occasionally get aired out – yet we still use deodorant under there. Those folds of flesh breed stink way worse than any normal sweat I’ve ever smelled. When they walk thru a room and leave, the smell lingers – and its twice as worse as the smell of vomit, I’ve never smelled anything like it!

    My neice gets gas a lot, but you can never smell her farts as they’re not strong enough to overpower her body odor!

    So all you porkers please do the rest of us a favor and boycott polite society. Believe it or not, we REALLY DO find you more offensive to our noses than you are to our eyes.

    JUST PASSING THRU…

    • Melanie says:

      What a jerk why don’t u try & help eaten pineapple everyday will reduce the smell & stayaway from stronger smelling foods ( like onions )

    • maddie says:

      I kind of agree there os this kid in my class he’s fat.People always say mean things about him beacause sometimes when he walked by you could sell something funny?My teacher found out about it and said ,”Don’t talk about him again”And so on.My personal fellings is I think people shoud keep that
      kind of stuff too themselfs. And that’s just my opinon.SO IF YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING NICE AT ALL THEN KEEP YOUR

    • Charlie Sommers says:

      I am a fat man who takes baths and I do not stink! The BO you describe develops thanks to an aversion to soap and water. The smelliest human I ever smelled was a customer at the grocery in which I worked before retirement, he was a very slender man but his armpits were so rank you could smell his acrid stench three aisles away. It would make your eyes water. Don’t dis fat people, save your anger for dirty people.

      • Carole Heath says:

        I agree with Charles Sommers some people do think bigger people smell more which isn’t always true as Charles has said about the man who was slim who used to come into the shop where he worked. Some people do not bath or shower enough and change their clothes regular. It is a horrible smell and I can’t understand how some people can’t smell it themselves. I worked with a woman many years ago who had bad odour in her private area. It got so bad the person in charge had to talk to her about it as the other staff couldn’t stand the smell. Of course she could have had a problem but in this case that was not so. She told the person in charge she couldn’t get into the bathroom to shower or bath in her house and could only bath or shower every two weeks. She did clean up her act so to speak and the odour disappeared thankfully so she must have had more than one bath or shower every fortnight.

    • no says:

      Ive known plenty of fat people (and hell Im kind of fat myself) but I can only think of a couple that smelled bad all the time (and one of them being probably the worst smelling person Ive ever met but you could tell by looking at him that he didnt bathe). If the fat person still bathes they should be fine lol, though I can imagine if someone gets morbidly obese they wouldnt have the energy to bathe anymore or wouldnt be able to reach. Btw, why are you living with them then?

    • Fuck you says:

      how about you go fuck your mother?

    • just a thought says:

      Ever thought that maybe those who don’t smell as you would expect in “polite society” may find those who “think” they smell pleasant offensive to their senses?!?

    • Tee says:

      This is one of the most cruelest, vicious and ignorant comments, I’ve ever read. It is even more sad that it is about a person’s family with who you live with. ALL heavy people do not smell. While it is true, that larger people have to be more aware to attend to those folds and crevices you mentioned. But, people of ALL sizes can suffer from body odor. It is simply shameful, that “big” an “fat” seem to always be synonymous with “stanky”..because it isn’t…powder with corn starch, FDS or products that help decrease sweat can help many…not just larger people with body odor. Please learn to be kinder people, it wouldn’t hurt anybody…and enough with stereotypes..My mother was a larger woman…and she NEVER had body odor…took great care of herself to make sure she didn’t and taught her girls the same so no malicious type of people would talk about us this way…..

  8. terry says:

    every last one of you are pansies, especially you who wrote this article. Another human smelled bad and you had to deal with the smell for 2 seconds and you lost your appetite? Do you have a vagina? Because thats the only reasonable explanation why you would be so heavily impacted by another human’s smell, let alone another man’s odor. To address this ignorance on this page; there are a few medical conditions/illnesses that cause odor. Look it up. Also don’t talk about people in this manner unless you plan on confronting them for their benefit about their “odors”. Karma is a real force in this world, keep it up and you’ll learn the hard way why some people “stink”. Get up and do something you lazy fuckfaces besides worrying about smells.

    • Michael Wong says:

      I love the way you assume that if people don’t like other peoples’ body odour, they must be lazy and effeminate. So in your mind, masculinity means enjoying foul body odour? Perhaps you have terrible body odour and this asinine idea makes you happy. Do you really think you can make people learn to enjoy horrible body odour by berating them for not doing so?

      By the way, karma is not a “force”; it is the Buddhist idea that there are natural consequences for actions, but it is not a drop-in Eastern replacement for Christianity’s concept of divine judgement.

      • JBT says:

        “Do you really think you can make people learn to enjoy horrible body odour by berating them for not doing so?”

        Do you really think you can anonymously berate people online for their odors, medical or not, and not come off as an asshole?

      • Michael Wong says:

        Well, I guess JBT must be one of the smelly people.

    • Reasons says:

      I have to agree with your comment it’s point on.

  9. Dianne says:

    I work as a driver with an obese person. After the long drive, my co-worker leaves a smell much worse than vomit in the seat. I personally think it is undigested food emitting gases & something like sewerage inside the body. And yes, toxic buildup of epic proportions. This person is otherwise kind & attractive.

  10. Maria says:

    We here in the Southern Europe have the plus of having warm weather most of the year. I personally dont like summer, but i can get along with that adjusting the air conditioner to low temperatures at home, having refreshing shower everyday … but i have had the bad luck of being around coleagues and people who stink. Stinks make me numb and mad, i cant stand bad smells. Last year in college i had this girl at my class who always stink, be it summer or wnter. She did not looked very clean (greasy hair, stained clothes..) althought it looked it was not lack of money, cause she actually could afford an apartment in Lisbon, a car and pay food, bills and college expenses. Somehow she seemed to have much fondness for shower. She stank to sweat in summer and in the other seasons a poignant smell to…mold, i guess. Once in the classroom someone said “hey it stinks around here” but she did seem to ignore or turn a blind eye on. When someone says “hey do you remember that girl, tall, short brown hair, blabla,” “Hmmm i dont remember” “The one who stank” “OH THAT one! Eww” I dont know if she knew or not, but it was very annoying to whom where nearby her.
    And beware of catching a crowded bus in Lisbon here in mid summer, specially in days of soccer games or party nights in june. It can be a very bad experience regarding smells…

  11. no says:

    If its a really bad sweaty smell, well some people do smell really bad after working out outside. Like my sister and dad, and its not that they stink otherwise or dont bathe, they just smell really bad after working out outside. Could be that, or other reasons.

  12. Neesy says:

    There are a lot of smelly people in our world for a variety of reasons like:

    -The food that they eat. Spicy foods (not spicy not, but spicy as in a lot of different spices) like turmeric, cumin, garlic & onions, etc. These don’t only give bad breath but they seep through your pores. They upside is that they are very good for your health.

    - Not wearing deodorant is another one. For those you don’t want “all those chemicals” there are natural products that can help.

    - Not wearing clean clothes. I’ve known people who shower, wear deodorant and still smell bad. Why? Because they air out their clothes instead of washing them.

    - Some people are sick and some medications can make them smell bad, especially their breath. This especially includes people who have infections in their mouth.

    No one can escape the propensity to stink and offend. But this article is specifically about overweight people. Having a few extra pounds won’t be the culprit, though. Morbidly obese people, on the other hand, do smell bad. It’s because of the bacteria that forms in the folds of their skin that does not air out. All of us are walking bacteria but of it can be aired out we are less likely to smell. Even if all of the above contributors are avoided, unless there is frequent wiping, they will smell.

  13. marcus says:

    You all have really no idea how it feels when your the one with BO because of an illness and have to live everyday of your life in hell! Like the person that wrote this blog – I bet if he had to endure some of these peoples lives he would only be a moments time from suicide. It’s true some people are smelly cause they are unhygienic but mistaking a person with an illness with one who is generally unclean happens too often and is destroying each of these peoples lives. Just saying. Peace out.

  14. Pepper says:

    I hate to sit next to a person who stinks very bad but i tend not to show the person that i can hear him smlling bad cause maybe its nt by him that he stinks and if i show him it could bring stress to him he might even comit suicide…

  15. tazz360 says:

    My roommate will take a bath she smells fine after her bath 4 hrs later she has the most foul oder. She used deoderant washed with soap and water washed her hair. I asked her what is causing that nasty smell ? I am not trying to be mean but you smell bad 4 hrs after your bath. She told me I have always smelt bad and I do not know what to do. Does anyone know anything to help her to stop this.?

  16. Constantine says:

    Guys,

    It’s called Trimethylaminuria. Look it up. Educate yourselves. The world is a better place when people aren’t so uneducated. I have a friend who suffers from this and he got it bad in high school. That’s why he only hung around compassionate, intelligent people who understood his plight. In a way, it’s a blessing because it keeps the jerks away.

    Cheers.

    • lenholysprit says:

      trimethylaminuria is smell like a fish, but how come my staff smell like a pig, honestly!, and no matter how many times i remind her to take a bath, she ignore me, she is too lazy to clean up herself as well as her cloths.

  17. Taylor says:

    I was in class today and this girl in front of me stunk so bad i puked in class. someone pray for her!

    • Chanelle says:

      What do you smell like? I mean honestly, do you realize that everyone smells like something and that you might not smell like roses yourself. Certain smells bother different people in different ways, but while you’re making such a big deal about the girl in front of you, you might smell just as bad or worse to someone else.

      Maybe instead of being such a drama queen, you should act like an educated person and move your seat instead of trying to humiliate someone because of your personal preference. That’s sort of a sign of low self esteem. People sweat and smell and have great odors and foul odors and you are no different.

      • Michael Wong says:

        I take showers, and my wife would never hesitate to tell me if I needed one. It’s not complicated; most people have no trouble with this. When you live in a city of 5.2 million people, you rub shoulders with a lot of individuals, and most of them do not have powerful body odour.

        I love the way you think it’s a “sign of low self esteem” to want to get away from a foul odour. Nice armchair Freud tactic, but I’m afraid nobody will buy it.

  18. Chanelle says:

    The interesting thing is that people cannot usually smell themselves. I understand this smell bothers you, but you might smell this way to others and not have any idea.

    Have you even noticed that animals smell one another and move away if they do not like the smell. I think this is the same natural habit humans should have. Maybe you should be focusing on yourself more than everyone else and merely move away from the people who do not smell to your liking.

  19. hermes says:

    The other day I was next to a woman who smelled so bad I felt like I was going to puke. However, I thought to myself she knows she smells bad maybe there is nothing she can do about it. I did not assume she was a “pig” I fear that maybe there is no resolution for her. I have encountered this before and because I am so easily queasy I just non nonchalantly slithered away. I am overweight but I happen to be over conscious of smell because I am so sensitive to it. This is hard to deal with because I see this woman at a lot of events for school . It is so bad I have had to leave the area and still smelled the odor as she had passed through the area many times. I dont know how much more I can take of it. I was looking for advise but the only thing I can think of is to bring my asthma mask next time I see her but that will only last one visit . I am really in a pile of sh…t.

  20. Eric says:

    My hat smells pretty bad.

  21. sharree says:

    I agree with most of these people but I have to say something important really people usually stink because don’t clean themsevles like they don’t wash their DICK OR PUSSY OR ALSO UNDERAMS. They also act like they don’t even care about themselves

  22. Me. says:

    i’d just like to say sorry for the two people who were sick, due to my state of personal hygiene. i can fairly happily that i have not had a bath for 3 weeks, but the honest truth is that im scared of water. i cant help it.

  23. Me. says:

    I’m sorry for all the terrible things i’ve done, especially for earlier this week. Due to the state of my personal hygiene, or rather, lack of, i caused two people near me on my bus to be sick, it was, i have to admit, in a rather immoral kind of way, quite funny, as both were sick at exactly the same time…but, i have decided to think about what i have done, ,and have come to the conclusion that I must share my problems with everyone, so that people will be considerate of the fact that, to put it blandly, I have issues. So… here it is…the simple fact that I am scared of water. There, now everyone knows. I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. Thankyou for listening. Have a nice day! :)

    • jan says:

      You do not need water to cleanse yourself. They have waterless cleanser to clean yourself with. Go to a Pharmacy and ask for a waterless body cleanser. If the pharmacy does not have one they may order one for you.

  24. Brandon says:

    Michael,

    I agree with you regarding the fact that if an odor surfaces because of lack of hygiene, then someone should be *politely informed about it. I too am not fond of smells that aren’t pleasant to my nose. The thing that irritates me is that you do not acknowledge the fact that the source could be a disorder (I fall victim to it.) It’s one thing if someone is unhygienic, I get that, but to segregate someone or a certain group of people because of something that is beyond their control (no cure for TMAU etc. [only treatment, doesn't entirely work]) is simply inhumane. It would be a similar situation if I were to make a stink face if you walked into the room because of your race (no this isn’t a form of a racism, it’s a hypothetical *I am 50% Filipino), how would you feel?

    Like what ‘marcus’ above said; you wouldn’t last a day with our disorder if you were diagnosed with it. The only silver lining that I can relate to this would be that God has a plan for me, one that has this ‘smell’ as a test to prove that I am not mentally weak nor commit the sin of suicide.

    My point is, is that if you have a problem with someone confront them about it, instead of being a typical wuss who hides behind their desktop acting all high and mighty because they can verbally humiliate someone over the internet.

  25. SpeakingTheTruth says:

    God please help these people.

  26. Ur crazy says:

    U r really mean and u know what just because u think that ur not hurting somebodies feelings well u r and let me tell u something a lot of people stress a lot like maybe ur teacher u said that in the morning he didn’t smell but in the afternoon he smelled its because he had a lot of stress u don’t have to be that mean about it like seriously.

    • Michael Wong says:

      Oh no, I’m too mean? Well in that case, I might as well continue, by pointing out that you seem to be functionally illiterate. Learn English.

      • Athena says:

        She can’t. She doesn’t know what English is. TextSpeak is her native language. She should be shipped back to Illiterateville.

      • evry1needs says:

        In all utter kindness, we are in a more modern time. if the only way you can make yourself feel better is by shutting down some that is writing in slang, then you need to seek some counciling.
        P.S: your words have power and you could’ve seriously hurt this persons feelings.
        P.S: GET UPGRATED!

    • Athena says:

      I didn’t understand a word of that.

  27. Someone says:

    I have this problem and I’ve tried everything. Don’t judge us like we never bathe or have no hygiene. I shower, wear deodorant and everything possible, but nothing seems to work! Honestly it sucks. When I do gym class after 10 minutes I have a lot of sweat and people laugh and make fun of me. My friends tell me and I do what I can, but I always smell bad! Nothing works so to all you haters I get it some people are gross but many like me can’t help it. Just learn to accept it. It’s like someone who looks weird. They have odd sometimes displeasing features, but those who brave it and get to know them learn they are really good people. I have lots of friends, and even though I know there are people who judge I know I am a person who deserves respect so please stop. Thank you for taking time and reading this. I know I smell and I hate it but please don’t judge, and learn to have respect for people with this condition. And to anyone who has this like me I pray that you grow out of it or just learn to live your life, like I did. Those haters are dumb and don’t deserve to be your friends.

  28. James says:

    I have this really bad smell about me now it’s been going on for about 7 year’s now i don’t know what to do to help it i take alot of showers at least two a day if anything i can do.

  29. Frank says:

    I sometimes get this smell. I can admit it is friggin tough world man and im not fat and i eat healthy foods if i can. Sometimes the humiliating experience is so bad i can pass out.. lol and i have to try to think bcoz i have a job to do… it is tough supressing life.
    For those who smell May God bless and provide you a way in life.
    God bless all.

  30. Seriously says:

    especially the women these days.

  31. jan says:

    There are a lot of reasons people have body odor. Like the many replies and reasons put forth above some people have a “bad smell” about them. I must say it is a tough call on how to deal with any given situation. Public place move away. Coworker, ask the manager to have a talk with the person. Friend or spouse tell them politely. Now I am going to stretch this discussion to include the smelly people who douse themselves with smells, (cologne, perfume etc,) to hide body odor, (oh yeah it makes it worse) or those who think everyone needs to smell you walk into a room. Artificial smells are the worse smells in the world. I am not talking about a soft scent, I am talking about the rank smell of some colognes and perfumes. Now that is what bothers me and I will not be quiet. Gives me a headache!

  32. Ethymoetic Resuch says:

    There’s also some people especially Indian people (mostly dark ones) that like to smell nasty. They do this because they like to be as jungle as possible for as long as possible then masturbate or fuck. That’s when they usually bathe and then ‘reset’. But they will get stinker and stinker the longer they haven’t released their nuts or pussy juice for. So basically they like to smell stink and be themselves as stink fucks for as long as possible without social problems. Infact, if they could live in jungle without redicule they absolutely will for a while, but they will want cookies to eat still.

    This isn’t a hate message at all, infact, some of the smart ones will realize the sincere truth in this.

  33. David Jordan says:

    You are what you eat, literally and seriously.

  34. Lisa Smith says:

    I honestly do not know if I stink or not. I can say that I have gone so long between bathing that I forget how long it has been. And there was a time at work, several times actually, when I was approached by my boss who would say that SHE almost never has time to shower. Which in retrospect I suppose was her way of trying to get me to admit that I never do either. But the reason why I don’t is because I have bipolar disorder. When I am manic, I am too busy to shower. It is the last thing on my mind. When I am depressed, I am literally too depressed to take care of personal hygiene. There is a small window of time every six weeks or so where I will feel well enough to want to take care of myself and calm enough to do so. I am aware that I do this. I try to act differently. I am on 7 different medications and my dosages are constantly being adjusted. I hate it. I want to be normal too. I know that when I am showering regularly it is a sign that I am stable. I wish I were.

  35. evry1needsLove says:

    People should really think about what they post up on websites. the person they are talking about could be reading what they are saying, and know that they are being described to thousands of people. Just imagine what you would feel like, like really think about it. Lower your ego and take a moment to think about others, and i pray that the realization that others have feelings will hit you smack in the face. Hopefully it will leave a mark that you will never forget and will be a reminder.

  36. keleee says:

    I think fat people stink because of the folds of skin getting sweaty and bacteria forming. The bacteria is what smells bad. When I worked in a Nursing Home a long time ago we washed the large patients skin folds with soap and water followed by a squirt of watered down Betadine solution. It is the red Iodine liquid they use around a surgical scar to keep it from getting infected. It worked because it killed any bacteria in the fold. I think an antiperspirant roll on would help in the same way.

  37. kaiko1959 WILL says:

    If you don’t wash your rear end and attempt to cover up the odor with stale Shower to Shower body powder, you WILL stink. I suffered a major health problem because a man who is stalking me at work walks back and forth past my office. His body odor is like that of dog poop and a dead body. It’s not rocket science and you can get a bar of soap at the dollar store for fifty cents. Wash. It’s not rocket science. I don’t want to smell it, nor do I want to be inundated with funk from stinky men who make it a career out of stalking me at my age, nearly 56. This is causing me serious health damage.

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