Why do I smell like sour milk?
July 12, 2011 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Why do I smell like sour milk?

I've noticed that for the past few weeks I've had a sour smell about me that I just can't get rid of. I shower regularly, but a few hours after showering, the smell creeps back.
Could it be something in my diet? I'm a vegetarian and I only drink water and, occasionally, beer (no milk, juice, tea or coffee). I've started taking adult gummy multivitamins & St. John's Wort, so I wasn't sure if that was the culprit. Maybe it's the weather?

Not sure if this information is helpful, but I'm female, mid 20s, 5'2, 110 lbs.
posted by calcetina to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
Are you sure it's you? I mean, has this been confirmed by a third party?
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on July 12, 2011

Crazy idea, maybe go running for a few mornings in a row to see if it goes away. Perhaps there is something in your lungs (low level infection?) or in your pours that just needs to get flushed out.
posted by parallax7d at 12:42 PM on July 12, 2011

It could be mildew in your towels. In hot/humid summer weather, this isn't uncommon. Try changing them out more often, or putting them in the dryer for a few minutes after you use them.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2011 [11 favorites]

Are you sure it's you? How do your clothes smell? One time, I did a load of laundry in a shared apartment complex machine that had something--something funky--in it. Everything came out really stinky (which, of course, I didn't realize until I went to go put something on the first time) and had to be re-washed.
posted by phunniemee at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Does your new multivitamin contain a lot of B1, or are you taking a B supplement? B1 reeks. I had to stop taking a B supplement because it made me smell. Maybe lay off the vitamins for a few days to see if the smell is from that.
posted by dayintoday at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2011

You sound tiny, but it's possible you have a yeast infection somewhere. It's not just found in nether-regions and in skin folds of the obese. It can be in any folds of skin, including ears.
posted by juniperesque at 12:46 PM on July 12, 2011

Vitamins and herbal supplements can definitely change the way you smell. I would stop taking them for a week and see if you notice a difference.
posted by annaramma at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2011

Also fish oil makes one smell as well.
posted by parallax7d at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2011

Wash your towels with a cap of bleach.
posted by valkyryn at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I say either yeast infection, or moldy, not-dried-enough towels.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2011

Do you have a roommate or someone who'd be pranking you? There's a prank where you sprinkle powdered milk over someone's sheets and when they get sweaty, it gets on their skin and gets all funky.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Does the smell seem to come from a certain part of the body? There are a lot of different potential sources of stink.

Funky clothes can be a culprit, too; there have been times when I've put on a clean-seeming shirt without realizing I'd worn and sweated in it previously, and within a couple hours I've warmed up the shirt's old stink.

Might also be time to wash your bras if you haven't recently. Many women wear their bras a few times between washings - this is usually fine, but in hot weather they can absorb quite a bit of cleavage/underboob sweat.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you had a sebaceous cyst, you'd probably have noticed the bump already, but they often do smell like sour milk or cheese.
posted by aimedwander at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2011

This time of year, my front-loading washer retains icky smells, esp. if I don't remove laundry immediately. To correct this, I run a load of white towels with hot water, deterg. and bleach, then a regular load of towels with hot water, vinegar and deterg. Sometimes I have to buy special front-loader de-stinkifier. I also keep the door open, and often keep towels in the washer to absorb moisture. I had a pair of pants that took 3 washings to smell normal. ick.
posted by theora55 at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2011

I'm guessing laundry or towels. Sometimes clothes don't seem to smell until you put them on and they warm up. Washing with white vinegar in the load seems to make laundry funk go away.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

(please, explain this special front-loader de-stinkifier?)
posted by kitcat at 6:57 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look under your arms and boobs for any sores. I recently had non-painful sores under my left arm that suddenly started smelling really bad, and was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppuritiva... kind of like an acne of the sweat glands.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:13 PM on July 12, 2011

Boric acid powder is good for body smells.
posted by serena15221 at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2011

Lactic bacteria (among other sources) make that scent, and can grow on sweaty clothes or damp towels easily. Once started, I find adding ammonia to the rinse cycle helps.

I sweat a lot, easily, so I can get that smell by the end of the day if I don't thoroughly dry my clothes. And the towels and pillows get to that point, after a few days.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:04 PM on July 13, 2011

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