Every individual has a unique smell which was designed by nature to act as a marker for identification. At a subconscious level, we relate to each other through this distinct smell. Our instant liking or disliking a person and various instinctive interactions are based upon this particular individual smell. Newborn children to their mothers, new lovers, animals to their caretakers, hitherto unknown, bond with each other, owing to individual body odour largely. So we see that body odour, in its most basic definition is not only quite natural, it is also a prerequisite to social interactions.
Many a times, though, body odour mars social reputation too. Excessive sweating and offensive body odour can be a stigma that may lead to social isolation and depression.
Sweating is a natural process which is in fact necessary for us. Through sweating, various wastes and toxins are removed and it is our in built cooling mechanism too. Our body sweats through two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. While sweat from eccrine glands is watery and helps cool down the body, apocrine glands secrete a thicker sweat. Apocrine glands are present in arm pits, areola, groin and eyelids. These remain dormant till puberty and are mainly responsible for the particular body odour of an individual.
The sweat from apocrine glands is rich in fats and proteins which are favourite food for bacteria harbouring on the skin. Bacteria break down the components of this sweat into amino acids which causes body odour.
It is interesting to know that sweat in itself is odourless.
Body odour intensity and smell can be different depending upon various factors.
Intense and offensive body odour may be caused due to any of the following reasons:
When you are stressed, the sweat that you release comes from apocrine glands. This sweat is thicker as opposed to eccrine sweat and promotes bacterial growth. The bacteria break down the sweat into smelly compounds. Thus stress is a major cause of body odour.
2. Diseases and hormonal changes
Sometimes illnesses cause a person to sweat more and smell differently. Hormonal changes like menopause cause more sweating while conditions like kidney disorders, diabetes etc change the smell of the sweat and may result in offensive body odour. Many medications might cause more sweating and body odour too.Trimethylaminuria is a rare genetic disorder that causes an embarrassing, fishy body odour.
3. Inappropriate foods and drinks
Hot and spicy foods like chillies cause more sweating. Foods like garlic, onions and many vegetables from crucifer family like broccoli tend to make the sweat smelly and piquant. This is because these break down into odour causing sulphides which are later released through sweat. They cause body odour and bad breath. Diets rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates are also a major cause of body odour due to this reason. Alcohol is another cause of body odour. Alcohol enters bloodstream and can be smelled in breath and sweat. It breaks down to produce really nasty smells.
4. Poor personal hygiene
Using unwashed clothes especially undergarments and socks multiple times without washing can trap dirt and germs which multiply when they come in contact with moisture. These bacteria and dirty clothes together not only are the reasons for persistent body odour, they may also cause skin infections.
Following tips might be helpful in getting rid of bad body odour:
1. Bathe with warm water regularly
The bacterial activity on sweat is the main cause of body odour. Bacteria found on the skin flourish in moisture and break down proteins found in sweat which causes body odour. Washing regularly with warm water removes bacteria and dead skin and thus limits bacterial activity. Due to this reason, using a good antibacterial soap helps in reducing body odour. A few drops of tea tree oil added to the bath water are helpful in curbing bacterial growth and Body Odour.
2. Wash clothes, footwear and socks
Wash clothes especially socks and undergarments regularly. Wear fabrics which are made of natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk etc. These are breathable fabrics which absorb sweat and limit body odour. Choose footwear that allow air to pass through and keep your feet dry. Use antibacterial talc on feet before wearing closed shoes in hot weather.
3. Care for armpits
Observe good care of armpits and keep them clean. Overall, armpits contribute most to the body odour. Armpit hair hinder the evaporation of sweat and give bacteria more opportunity to flourish and act on apocrine sweat. Through good personal hygiene and grooming, you can avoid bad body odour. Shave armpits regularly, wash them with warm water and antibacterial soap and dry them well. Use good quality natural deodorants that take care of body odour effectively and keep you fragrant all day long without resorting to chemicals.
4. Food habits
Eat a well balanced diet to keep body odour at bay. A diet that has correct proportions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats not only helps reduce body odour, it is also good for overall health and nutrition. If you have excessively bad body odour and bad breath, try to avoid piquant foods like onions, garlic, mustard etc and you just might have the solution to your problem.
5. Seek medical help
If you find sudden change in amount or smell of sweat, you should see a doctor. It might be an indication of diabetes or hormonal disorders.