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Body Odor

Body odor is the unpleasant smell that is released from the body when the sweat on the skin is degraded into acids by certain bacteria. Body odor is also known as bromhidrosis, ozochrotia or BO.

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Body odor is often experienced by us when we are crammed in a crowded bus or train. It is often noted that men tend to suffer from unpleasant body smells more than women. We often think of body odor as a result of poor hygiene. However, there are many other reasons that can lead to smelly individuals.

Do I Have Body Odor?

Many times, the person with a bad body odor never realizes he/she is burning the hair in your nostrils with their obnoxious smell. Studies have shown that people often cannot detect certain molecules that cause them to overlook their smelly bodies.So, do not blame them for being so ignorant about their smelly self. Do them a favor; let them know gently and subtly that they are suffering from body odor. And if someone tells you that you have a bad body odor. Do not get angry at their straightforwardness, instead, try and find ways to get rid of bad body odor.

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What Causes Body Odor?

Sweating is a normal process that helps your body to cool down in a hot environment. You will be surprised to know that natural sweat is totally odorless. There are two types of sweat glands in our body that produce sweat. They are aprocrine glands and eccrine glands.

Aprocrine glands are those present in the armpits, ear canal, eyelids, wings of the nostrils, perianal region, areola and nipples of the breast as well as certain parts of the external genitalia. The sweat released by them on the skin is concentrated with proteins, fatty acids, water and many other substances which form good substrates for bacterial breakdown. Body odor is generally emitted from these regions due to bacterial activity.

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Eccrine glands are present throughout your body and they release sweat when one carries out strenuous physical activities, lives in a warm environment, etc. Eccrine sweat mainly contains water and NaCl (salt). It is, thus, less susceptible to bacterial interaction. However, if the bacteria start breaking down the eccrine gland sweat, then body odor is inevitable. The the bacteriabreak down the sweat into aromatic fatty acids, that generates an offensive smell.

People who maintain good personal hygiene and yet suffer from body odor, then they need to look into their diet. At times, consuming certain foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, spices, certain medications, foods rich in sulphur, red meat, pork, eggs, soy, etc.

For some, body odor can be a genetic problem.

How to find out whether you have body odor?

In some cases, the person with a bad body odor tends to become immune or used to their body odor. They just cannot fathom the fact that ‘they stink’. If you think you are getting subtle and at times some offensive hints from people around you, it’s time for odor check. Some simple and sure shots methods to help you find out if you have body odor include:

  • Check for bad or offensive odors in your clothes and undergarments
  • Check your socks and feet for bad odor
  • Check your armpits for bad smell

What can make body odor worse?

Anyone can have body odor. However, it gets worse under the following conditions:

  • You sweat excessively
  • Eat a lot of garlic and spices
  • Drink alcohol
  • If you are a diabetic
  • You are overweight and obese
  • You are on antidepressants
  • Do not drink enough water
  • Have poor personal hygiene, wear unclean clothes, etc.

When to see a doctor?

Body odor doesn’t require significant diagnosis. However, if you are observing some other symptoms like heat intolerance, excessive sweating or sweating at night, cold sweats, fatigue, etc. then you need a medical check up for the underlying health problem.

Is there a treatment for body odor?

Treatment for body odor is nothing but a management strategy involving self awareness and care.Chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll might be prescribed to control body odor. In most cases,doctors offer various solutions toreduce the offensive odor.

How to manage body odor?

There are a few ways that can help you eliminate or at least manage body odor.

These include:

  • Taking care of your body:Use antiperspirants and deodorants containing aluminium compounds. You can mix some essential oils or musk or perfume in your bathing water for a long lasting effect. Apply medicated antibacterial powder in your armpit, feet and private parts especially during summers.
  • Cleanliness and hygiene: If you have a sweating problem, then you should never repeat used clothes. Clean your clothes, undergarments, socks, towels, etc. daily before wearing them. Do not share clothes. Avoid wearing tight fitting, synthetic garments
  • Food and drink: Consume lots of fruits and vegetables, especially the citrus and leafy greens. Do not indulge in too much sweets, carbonated drinks and spicy foods. Drink at least 3-4 liters of water to keep your system hydrated.
  • Take a shower: If you feel you are smelly or sweaty, step into the shower. A bath can help eliminate the bacteria that cause sweat to break down. Use an antibacterial soap and make sure you scrub your underarms and feet.
  • Use a hand sanitizer: In case of an emergency situation, try applying some hand sanitizer under your armpit. This will help you get rid of the odor as the sanitizer will fight the bacteria growing under your arms and causing the smell.
  • Stay happy: Try and reduce stress in your life. Yoga is the best way to calm your mind and relax your body.

These are a few tips to help you manage body odor. Smelly body is quite offensive and embarrassing in many situations. Overcome this problem by speaking to your doctor and finding a solution to your smelly problem.

Written by: Batul nafisa

Date last updated: February 03, 2015