Causes of Neck Skin Odor

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Body order can be extremely offensive to those around us, especially when it is reoccuring and remains untreated. Learn some of the more common causes for odorous neck skin, from the typical to the more complex, and their suggested treatments.

Excessive Sweating

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A typical cause for neck skin odor is excessive sweat mixed with bacteria. Although sweat alone does not smell, when exposed to bacteria and fungi from the skin's surface, fat cells are decomposed, thus producing a musky odor, informs Gabe Mirkin, M.D. This type of body odor is easily remedied by a warm soapy bath or shower, and the application of fragrance to the affected areas. When daily showering is not practiced, our bodies become susceptible to the over-development of bacteria. Moist and hairy areas of the body, such as scalp, armpits and genitalia or areas with defined skin folds and crevices, such as neck, breasts and buttocks, are breeding grounds for bacteria. This bacteria settles into the skin folds until properly treated. Applying antiperspirant instead of deodorant before exercise minimizes underarm and pubic area perspiration. Applying essential body oils to a clean neck minimizes neck odor. Use powder to deter moisture.

Skin Infection

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Ammonia, a more unusual body odor, can be attributed to skin infection. According to Dr. Mirkin, Helicobacter, which causes a strong stench of ammonia, is the same bacteria related to stomach ulcers. A blood test is needed to determine if such is the case. If positive, antibiotics are prescribed, and if negative, a decrease in meat (chicken, beef) consumption is suggested. Dr. Mirkin states that the human body "strips ammonia from protein," thus causing the smell of ammonia to the skin. The smell of fish emitting from the skin is usually due to the over-consumption of choline from fish products, or liver congestion. The same fungi that causes "jock itch" is also a cause for neck skin odor, as the warm, moist skin folds of the neck are appealing to fungi, according to WebMD.

Sebaceous Cysts (keratin bumps)

A more serious cause of odorous skin are sebaceous cysts, also known as epidermis cysts. Sebaceous cysts are small nodules or bumps formed beneath the epidermis, or skin. These lumps are filled with a white, "cheesy-like" protein called "keratin," which produces a foul odor when secreted. The smell becomes even more offensive when infection has settled in the hair follicle, which is the precise formation site of the cyst. These cysts are usually found on the face and neck, but are especially common to the genitalia and other "hairy" sites on the body, as per Wrong Diagnosis. Sebaceous cysts are benign, non-contagious, and are not painful, though often misdiagnosed as malignant tumors. Typically, a cyst may be treated with a warm compress. The affected area should remain both clean and dry, as excessive moisture perpetuates the problem. In complex cases where the cyst has become augmented, and the follicle infected, as evidenced by tenderness and redness, minor (in-office) surgery is required. A steroidal injection may also be recommended.