Body Odor: Part 1

Body odor is what we smell like to other people. Some odors are considered to be pheromone based, meaning that these odors are considered to be attractive to some people. Odors that can be considered attractive are the smell of a mother’s milk to her baby and the unique smell of the baby to its mother. Studies have proven that the sense of smell between a mother and child is so accurate that they can pick one another out blindfolded.


Bad Body Odor

Body odor becomes a problem when we perceive it to smell unpleasant. Most of this is due to our culture and what we’re used to smelling. Centuries ago, when bathing was not a common event, humans tolerated, even enjoyed other strong-smelling bodies!


Because we don’t live in those times, unpleasant body odor is embarrassing to those who suffer from it. Today, we will be talking about basic body odor. The next time we will discuss foot odor.


Reasons Why We Sweat

Human beings sweat through the glands that are found all throughout our skin.  As you know, the skin is the largest organ of the body, and it has a big job to do.  We sweat for the following reasons:

  • Regulate body temperature due to exercise or high temperatures
  • Due to stress, anxiety or nervousness

This kind of sweating is considered to be perfectly normal and for most people does not cause problems. It is when sweating produces an off-odor that we begin to worry about how to control the smell.

 

Glands

We all have 2kinds of sweat glands:

  • Eccrine
  • Apocrine

Our eccrine glands are considered to be our major sweat glands. When we sweat, we produce mostly water and some salts. The high salt content in this kind of sweat usually prevents any multiplication of bacteria, keeping our body odor at bay in these parts of our bodies. You’ll find eccrine sweat glands on your arms, legs, and torso.

Our apocrine glands are slightly different. These are usually found in our armpits, our genitals, ears, breasts, and anywhere we produce hair, and become very active at the onset of puberty. These glands secrete a thicker fatty substance that when exposed to bacteria naturally found on our skin, provides a rich environment for the bacteria. The bad odor comes from the multiplying bacteria breaking down the secretions from the apocrine glands. This is the source of our bad body odor.

 

How to Manage Body Odor
Managing body odor is a fairly easy task. Try the following suggestions to see if they help you to keep your offensive odors under control:

  • Because of the great number of apocrine glands found in your underarm area, bathing with warm water and soap is the best way to control odor. If the weather is very hot, or if you sweat heavily, you may consider showering twice a day.
  • Because underarm hair slows down the evaporation of sweat, you may consider shaving your armpits to help prevent odors. 
  • Daily application of deodorant or antiperspirant helps because deodorants have a nice smell while they acidify your skin, making it more difficult for bacteria to grow and multiply. Antiperspirants temporarily block the apocrine glands, minimizing sweating.
  • Clothing choices can make a difference. Try to wear natural fibers that allow your skin to breathe. Choose cottons, linens, silks, or wool.
  • Food can sometimes cause problems with body odor. Garlic, onions, curry, and a diet high in red meat can sometimes be responsible for offensive body odor.
  • Tobacco is a big source of body odor, not only on your breath, but coming through your skin as well. Just one more reason to quit smoking!

When to See a Doctor

If you believe that you sweat excessively compared to other people, or if your sweating or body odor has changed in nature, you may want to consider seeing your doctor.  Sometimes these changes can indicate a medical problem that should be evaluated.

Added to Skin Care on Mon 04/05/2010