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August 1st, 2011
08:05 AM ET

What is that metallic body odor?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Laurie from Florida
Is it normal for a 12-year-old girl who has started her menstrual cycle for the first time, within the last six months to have a pungent, almost metallic, body odor? She gets teased for her smell all the time and we have tried everything to fix it.

Expert answer
Thanks for your question and I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's issue.

Adolescents definitely go through many changes during puberty. Body odors in particular may be caused by an increase in skin oils or sweat coming into contact with dirt, bacteria or dried blood.

Soap, laundry detergent, makeup, lotions and other products can also create pungent smells.

Sometimes such smells can be caused by certain medications or handling or wearing metallic objects. In addition, eating foods such as onions, garlic and strong spices may produce odors not previously noticed prior to puberty.

Is it possible to tell whether the odor is coming from a certain part of the body (nose, mouth, hands, feet, or armpits for example) or from the skin in general? Could it be related to her menstrual cycles?

Does she have any dental appliances in her mouth? Is she wearing certain sports articles regularly (shin guards, etc.) that may be the culprit?

Rarely odors may be a sign of a metabolic disorder or other imbalance, in which case blood or urine tests may be needed. It may be helpful to have your daughter checked out by her pediatrician to rule out a medical cause for the odor.

The doctor may recommend certain antibacterial cleansers or antiperspirants in addition to regular bathing and laundering clothes as well as any medical treatment if necessary.

I hope readers will share their advice for dealing with this type of situation in the comment area below. Good luck!

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter


soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Vonabelli

    This is the funniest post I have ever read.

    August 22, 2011 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AuntSweetTea

    I used to be a hairdresser, and I have smelled this odor on others a lot....in our area we have a lot of people that use well water as their main source of water. A lot of the water that comes from these wells are rich in iron, and the odor sticks to the hair and skin, no matter what kind of shampoo or soap used. There are chelating or "swimmers" shampoos that can help, but they can be drying to the hair. Usually if a household uses a good water softener for their well that can help as well.

    August 22, 2011 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Angelo

    Have your daughter's iron in her blood checked. I had a similar situation & found that my iron level was very high. It self regulated back to normal since them

    August 23, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. oongawa

    Chlorophyll capsules will put a stop to body odor. takes a couple of weeks. They're harmless but effective. Turns stool green but it's harmless. very very effective and pretty cheap too.

    August 25, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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  10. kwlittle

    I do not agree, read:
    https://mrimetaldetector.com/blog/2009/04/why-its-important-to-find-metal-before-mri/

    October 10, 2017 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Min

    My husband has a metal smell that is so strong, I can smell it across a very large room. This smell only happens when he has been active working, hunting in the fall, even riding lawn mower in the sun. He never smell like this at other times, even if it's the end of his day and he has spent the day cooking, watching TV, attending meetings,and play with grandchildren. Only started having this smell around 2016, about maybe 5 yrs after his hip replacement. We have been married nearly 50 yrs soon. Never before and he is a very active veteran.

    June 21, 2019 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Min

    My husband has a metal smell that is so strong, I can smell it across a very large room. This smell only happens when he has been active working, hunting in the fall, even riding lawn mower in the sun. He never smell like this at other times, even if it's the end of his day and he has spent the day cooking, watching TV, attending meetings,and play with grandchildren. Only started having this smell around 2016, about maybe 5 yrs after his hip replacement. We have been married nearly 50 yrs soon. Never before and he is a very active veteran.

    June 21, 2019 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. noname

    Any reason why I smell blood out of my armpits. When I sniff my armpits my brain thinks of the exact spot in the brain that's injured. Thoghts in my head are string lines of communication that won't stop for some reason. I can't figrue it out. I sent thousands of messages to people of random lingo that made no sense, as if yuo're sitting down adn you're saying every word in the vocabulary but in random typing this is hard, i feel pain in the left side of my brain. Loss of hair back side of head irregular manner. PLEASE RESPOND IF YOU HAVE AN ANSWER. TY.

    August 14, 2019 at 21:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. noname

    now armpits smells good like a good feeling, kind of like bumps on my feet i had once, it felt good to touch... that's, left side of my head feels the same. communication disease? not disease, literally dis ease, or uneasy feeling. or discomforted wow I do feel extremely discomforted.

    August 14, 2019 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. noname

    wow it's starting up again body wants to keep sending random messages wow

    August 14, 2019 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. noname

    please delete those last 3 messages doing better already! idk how. just kept typing but if you keep typing it makes the brain say hey i already cured you let the self defeating person inside your head, hmm maybe someone you met in real life that hurt you go away bcause that person in side your head is saying

    August 14, 2019 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. noname

    WOW JUST RESOLVED ISSUE, SOMEONE PUT MY BRAIN INTO A STATE OF FORCED SELF HEALING SO I SPENT TIME HEALING.
    I'M OKAY! PLEASE DELETE MESSAGES. I'm okay! 😀

    August 14, 2019 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. noname

    so the above messages is a switch off of communcation in my head?
    ^^ that setnence feels normal for me.

    August 14, 2019 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. noname

    jan 2018 gap of normal development, i was in some shopping center and felt connectino to a mother but it made no sense in my head meant to chang emy verizon number not sur ewhy never need to

    i just noticed most of my info above does not have questions, and none of it makes ense in my head, channelnig maybe? why is my brain bleeding though. if my brain has acccess to normal communication why does it also have access to bad communcation i met a serial killer that thratened to kill me illegally forced me into his house and raped my brain prior via a phone call that was also optional, catch 22 is i'm more mature than taht person, that person caught me on sleep deprviation, and these messaes are SOS peer reivwed by miltiary to protect me from CIA? the person that rape dme migth use to report to cia adn he's tryingt og et a fairhe's rich too, using rich lifestyle to over take somene in theri 20's

    ^^ is that why my body keeps wanting ot puke? adults caught to what paul did to my body and they want to puke my body wants to puke and i keep holding iti n people keep wnating ot put thier hand over my mouth

    August 14, 2019 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Denise

    I know what a man's "ring around the collar" smells like. It practically burns your nostrils, makes his pillows reek bad too. It smells just like Iron. Not living with that man for years now but suddenly my neck is smelling that same way, a strong iron stench. I think it may be caused by the excess iron in the well water where I live. It began when I moved in here.

    November 7, 2019 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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