Why Do I Have Body Odour?

Why Do I Have Body Odour?

July 4, 2020
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Body odour, also known as bromhidrosis, occurs when bacteria on the skin breakdown sweat into acids, which have a bad odour.  While sweat is generally odourless, some sweat glands, known as apocrine glands, produce substances (proteins, lipids, steroids), which are broken down by bacteria on the skin to produce odour. These sweat glands are found mostly around the armpit, nipples, genitals and anal region.

The following measures can help reduce body odour;
  1. Keep Armpits Clean:  As apocrine sweat glands are present around the armpits, it is important to properly wash the armpits with soap (and sponge if possible) while bathing to decrease the number of bacteria with resultant less body odour.
  2. Shave regularly: Hair generally keeps sweat longer giving the bacteria more time to produce odourous acids. Shaving the armpits and pubic regions therefore help reduce odour.
  3. Watch what you wear: Fabrics like cotton, wool and linen allow for better evaporation of sweat compared to nylon, leather and silk for example. Of course, in a cool or well air-conditioned environment, you don’t have to worry much about your outfit.
  4. Change your clothes regularly: It is important to put on clean, dry clothes. Damp clothes provides a better environment and substrate for bacteria to metabolize. If you must reuse a cloth without washing, make sure it is properly air and sun dried.
  5. Weight loss: With weight gain comes more sweating because the body tends to produce more heat, which  results in sweating. Also increase in weight results in more skin folds, which traps sweats thereby worsening body odour.
  6. Deodorant and antiperspirant: Deodorants give a pleasant smell, which can overshadow most body odour. On the other hand, antiperspirant helps decrease the amount of sweat produced giving the skin bacteria less sweat to work with.
  7.  Minimize intake of certain meals and drinks: Chemicals from garlic, onions etc. in meals can be secreted along with the sweat giving it a characteristic odour in addition to that produced by bacteria activity on sweat. This is also true for alcohol consumption, especially in excessive amounts.
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