Why would someone smell like pennies? Have you ever caught a whiff of someone that smells distinctly like pennies or copper?

If so, you’re not alone – this metallic body odor is surprisingly common. It is typically caused by chemical changes that result in increased secretion of odorous compounds through your sweat and breath. The most common reasons for smelling like pennies include handling coins, menopausal changes, dietary factors, and certain illnesses like liver disease.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all the possible reasons why someone would smell like pennies, from benign causes like handling coins to more serious underlying medical conditions.

Handling Coins or Metallic Objects

Have you ever wondered why would someone smell like pennies after handling coins or other metallic objects? Well, there are a few factors at play here. Let’s dive into the science behind it.

Normal body response when handling coins

When you handle coins, your body’s natural response is to release sweat and oils from your skin. This is a normal physiological reaction that helps maintain the moisture balance of your skin. However, these bodily secretions can interact with the metal on the coins and create a distinct odor.

How moisture and skin oils react with metal

Moisture and skin oils contain various chemicals, such as fatty acids and salts, which can react with the metal on coins. This reaction, known as oxidation, can result in the release of metallic compounds into the air, giving off that smell reminiscent of pennies.

The specific smell can vary depending on the type of metal and the individual’s body chemistry.

For example, copper coins may produce a stronger metallic smell compared to silver or nickel coins. This is because copper is more prone to oxidation and the release of metallic compounds. So, if you’ve been handling copper pennies, that might explain why you smell like pennies!

Why the smell lingers on skin and clothing

One reason why the smell may linger on your skin and clothing is that some of the metallic compounds released during the oxidation process can adhere to surfaces. Additionally, the porous nature of certain fabrics like cotton can absorb and retain these odorous compounds, making it harder to get rid of the smell.

To remove the smell, it’s recommended to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. For clothing, you can try spot-treating the affected areas or washing them with a strong detergent. Additionally, using hand sanitizers or rubbing alcohol can help break down the metallic compounds and eliminate the odor.

Remember, smelling like pennies after handling coins is a harmless and temporary phenomenon. It’s just a quirk of chemistry and biology! So, next time you notice that metallic odor, you’ll know exactly why it’s happening.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes in the body can have a significant impact on a person’s body odor. This can be particularly noticeable during certain life stages, such as menopause, puberty, and menstrual cycles.

Menopausal shifts affect body odor

During menopause, women experience a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to changes in body odor. Some women may notice a metallic or “penny-like” smell during this time. This odor is often attributed to hormonal fluctuations and changes in the body’s natural chemistry.

It’s important to note that not all women will experience changes in body odor during menopause. However, for those who do, it can be helpful to understand that these shifts are a normal part of the menopausal process.

Puberty and menstrual cycles also cause fluctuations

Puberty is another stage of life where hormonal changes can contribute to variations in body odor. As the body undergoes physical changes and hormones begin to regulate, some individuals may notice a different scent emanating from their bodies.

In addition to puberty, menstrual cycles can also cause fluctuations in body odor. As hormone levels shift throughout the menstrual cycle, it is not uncommon for women to notice changes in their natural scent. These changes are typically temporary and should not cause concern.

Changes in apocrine sweat glands secretion

The apocrine sweat glands, found in areas such as the armpits and groin, are responsible for secreting a type of sweat that is higher in proteins and lipids compared to the sweat produced by eccrine glands.

These proteins and lipids can interact with bacteria on the skin’s surface, leading to a unique odor.

Fluctuations in hormone levels can affect the secretion of the apocrine sweat glands, potentially resulting in changes in body odor. This is why individuals may notice a different smell, including a “penny-like” scent, during times of hormonal shifts.

Understanding the connection between hormonal changes and body odor can help individuals feel more at ease when they notice these variations. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body odor is unique, and changes in scent are often a normal part of life’s hormonal fluctuations.

Dietary Causes

Believe it or not, the smell of pennies on someone’s breath or body odor can be attributed to certain dietary choices. Here are some possible dietary causes:

Why Would Someone Smell Like Pennies – Foods with sulfur compounds

Foods that contain high levels of sulfur compounds, such as garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, can contribute to a metallic smell resembling that of pennies. When these sulfur compounds are broken down in the body, they can be released through the breath and sweat, resulting in an unusual odor.

Why Would Someone Smell Like Pennies – Alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to a metallic smell. When alcohol is metabolized by the body, it produces acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that has a distinct metallic scent. This scent can be detected not only in the breath but also in the sweat and urine of heavy drinkers.

Why Would Someone Smell Like Pennies – Vitamin B deficiency

A deficiency in certain B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, can cause changes in body odor that may resemble the smell of pennies. Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in red blood cell production, and a deficiency can lead to anemia.

Anemia can cause a metallic or iron-like scent to develop in the body.

It’s important to note that while these dietary causes may contribute to a penny-like smell, they are not the only factors to consider. Other medical conditions or medications could also be responsible for this penny-like smell.

If you or someone you know consistently smells like pennies, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Medical Conditions

Several medical conditions can cause someone to have a smell similar to that of pennies. These conditions often affect the body’s metabolic processes or its ability to filter toxins, resulting in a distinct odor.

It is important to note that this article is for informational purposes only, and if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Liver and Kidney Disease

Liver and kidney disease can affect the body’s ability to filter and eliminate waste products. When these organs are not functioning properly, toxins can build up in the bloodstream, resulting in a metallic odor. In some cases, this smell may be similar to the scent of pennies.

Liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, can also cause a sweet or musty smell on the breath known as “fetor hepaticus.” If you suspect that you may have liver or kidney disease, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. One of the complications of poorly controlled diabetes is a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when the body cannot use glucose for energy and starts breaking down fat instead.

This process produces ketones, which can cause a fruity or metallic smell on the breath. If you have diabetes and notice a strange odor, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels and seek medical advice.

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or copper, can lead to a variety of health problems, including a metallic odor. These metals can accumulate in the body over time, causing a range of symptoms, including changes in smell.

Heavy metal poisoning can occur through various routes, including ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. If you suspect that you have been exposed to heavy metals, it is crucial to seek medical attention to assess the extent of the exposure and determine the appropriate treatment.


Porphyria is a group of rare genetic disorders that affect the production of heme, a component of hemoglobin. This can result in the buildup of certain chemicals in the body, leading to a variety of symptoms, including a distinctive odor.

The specific odor associated with porphyria can vary depending on the type of porphyria and the chemicals involved. If you suspect that you may have porphyria, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in this condition for proper diagnosis and management.

Remember, while a metallic smell can be a symptom of certain medical conditions, it is not the only indicator. If you have any concerns about your health or notice any unusual symptoms, it is always best to seek medical advice for a proper evaluation.

Other Contributing Factors


Smoking tobacco products can have a significant impact on body odor, including a metallic smell that may resemble the scent of pennies. The chemicals present in tobacco smoke can permeate the skin, hair, and breath, resulting in an unpleasant odor that can linger for hours.

Additionally, smoking can hinder the body’s natural detoxification process, leading to the accumulation of toxins and potentially contributing to the metallic smell.

Medications and Supplements

Certain medications and supplements can alter body chemistry and produce unusual odors, including a metallic scent. For instance, some antibiotics, such as metronidazole, can cause changes in body odor as a side effect.

Similarly, supplements containing copper or iron may also contribute to a metallic smell. If you suspect that a medication or supplement is causing this odor, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for further guidance.

Poor Hygiene

Good personal hygiene plays a vital role in preventing unpleasant body odors. Inadequate hygiene practices can lead to the accumulation of sweat, bacteria, and other substances on the skin, which can result in a metallic smell.

It is important to regularly shower or bathe, use appropriate soaps and cleansers, and wear clean clothes to maintain optimal hygiene. Additionally, paying attention to oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly, can help prevent any metallic odors associated with poor dental health.

Genetic Predisposition

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to certain body odors, including metallic scents. Genetic factors can influence the production and breakdown of chemicals in the body, leading to unique odors.

While there is limited research specifically on the genetic link to a metallic smell, it is possible that certain genetic variations can contribute to this phenomenon. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the genetic factors involved.

Why Would Someone Smell Like Pennies – Conclusion

In summary, smelling like pennies or having a metallic body odor is fairly common and not necessarily indicative of an underlying health condition. However, if the symptom persists, it’s a good idea to see your doctor to rule out any possible disorders.

Maintaining good hygiene, avoiding triggers like coin handling, and using deodorants can help combat a metallic smell.

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