Every man knows about one of summertime’s worst problems. And if you hang around a guy when it’s hot out, you probably know about it, too. It’s stinky balls syndrome.
You may also know it as sweaty balls, swamp balls, swamp crotch, swamp ass. You get the idea. It’s bad news. Any guy who sweats is susceptible to SBS, especially when the temperature and humidity rises.
And you can thank your foldy balls for it. Folds in your skin are the biggest factor that contributes to a testicular scent, according to Dr. Janellen Smith, a professor of dermatology at the University of California, Irvine.
When the folds of your skin rub against each other, “little pieces of dead skin cells fall off,” Smith told HuffPost, and that leads to odor-causing bacteria and yeast. “If you’re a little piece of yeast, you like dead skin cells and moisture” to grow,” she said.
On top of that, your sweat and smell also stem from the two types of sweat glands that are highly dense in the groin, said Dr. Marie Jhin, a San Francisco dermatologist and author of the book Asian Beauty Secrets. While the eccrine and apocrine glands produce sweat, the apocrine glands produce your musky smell; mix in all that yeast and bacteria, and you’ve got yourself a top shelf mix for SBS.
Think of it as one of nature’s many ways of sending your unique pheromonal vibes out into the world ― much like how beards on your face also produce a smell.
So what do you do to combat stinky balls?
Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your balls in the morning and keep them dry throughout the day. “We try to make an environment that [bacteria] do not like,” Smith said.
She says it’s best to keep your balls unconstricted. Wear boxers rather than briefs, she advises, and wear cotton, which “wicks away moisture so that it doesn’t stay on the skin so much.”
She also advises her patients to use an antifungal powder on the groin, such as Zeasorb, which you can get at your drugstore for about $10. Alternatively, she recommends a gel, such as Monistat’s Complete Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel (about $9), that allows your folded skin layers to glide over each other with less friction.
There are also natural ways to keep SBS at bay, using ingredients you can find in your kitchen: Smith says a teaspoon of white vinegar applied to the skin with a small towel will kill off any bacteria (but don’t use more than a teaspoon, or else you’ll “end up smelling like a salad,” she advised).
Jhin said regular baking corn starch is a good powder to use if you want to steer clear of talcs or aluminum-based powders.
There you have it ― may your swamp crotch be gone for good!
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that eccrine glands secrete substances producing a musky smell. It is the apocrine glands that secrete this substance.