There is a bouquet of odors wafting from all corners of the human body. These scents are purposeful chemical signals that either attract or detract a potential partner, predator, pest or pal. Your propensity to seduce a mosquito or a lover depends on hundreds of volatile organic chemicals (VOC) that naturally percolate out of glands situated all over the body. For the most part these chemicals are undetectable to the human nose. Sweat is just water and doesn't smell. But when the VOCs meet up with bacteria living on the skin, in hair follicles, on teeth and tongue they can change up the chemistry enough to produce some distinctively unpleasant odors.
The potency of body odors is influenced by personal hygiene, body temperature, body ecology, genetics, gender and age. There is an inherited metabolic disorder called trimethylaminuria (TMAU), sometimes called fish-odor syndrome, caused by the inability to break down a chemical found in choline-rich foods - eggs, soy, kidney beans, wheat germ, saltwater fish and organ meats - but the condition is extremely rare. And there are some infectious diseases, skin conditions, other health conditions and medications that cause pronounced or distinctive body odors. But otherwise healthy people can smell too.
To nose down odors you need to look into in moist dark areas that have a high concentration of glands and hair follicles.
There are 3 main types of glands found on human skin
- Eccrine glands - secrete sweat through pores found in the palms of hands, soles of feet and forehead
- Sebaceous glands - secrete oily sebum and are found on the chest, back, scalp, face and forehead
- Apocrine glands - secrete sweat via canals along hair follicles in the underarms, pubic area, anus and nipple area
If you want to clear the air around you, you'll need to pay a visit to the 5 most odorous places on the human body. And to silence the smell, you need to make the environment inhospitable to odor-causing bacteria or kill what's there.