How do you tell someone they’ve got body odour? Seriously, how do you tell someone that you don’t want to hug them, can’t loan them your t-shirt when they come visiting, or worse still, can’t be in same room with them (in very extreme cases) because, well, they give off an offensive odour that doesn’t sit well with you?
You know what’s even funnier? A lot of people don’t know that they carry this ‘extra presence’ with them, making them unaware of the odd smell that trails them when they get into a room.
So, what is Body Odour?
(Bromhidrosis in medical terms) is some type of funny smell that the body gives off when bacteria that lives on the skin breaks sweat down. Here’s how that works: apocrine glands, mainly found in the armpits, kick into action after puberty due to hormonal action. The sweat they secrete is full of proteins and fats, which are odourless. However, armpits – being moist and humid – help millions of bacteria thrive. These bacteria feed on the proteins and fats produced by apocrine sweat glands and convert them into stinky and unpleasant smelling compounds, resulting in odours emanating from the body.
Note that while body odour manifests in some people very early, it mostly shows up at adolescence, often influenced by certain factors. Let’s discuss them below:
- Hygiene: research has shown that poor personal hygiene is a leading cause of body odour, since it gives more time and layers of sweat for bacteria to feed on. The armpits, being moist and without oxygen, can very easily become breeding grounds for anaerobic bacteria and produce a foul smell, if not cleansed and kept dry.
- Diet: When our body breaks down different foods, they produce different by-products that could result in certain smells. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli contain sulphur compounds, which produce a “rotten egg” smell. And when the body’s bacteria act on them, they produce more sulphur containing compounds, causing very bad body odour. Also, the kind of body odour produced after consuming alcohol is often unmissable and stinky. Alcohol gets broken down into acetates and acids in our body and they get secreted through the sweat, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Now, from your knowledge so far: sweat + bacteria? Got it: body odour!
- Ill-Health: It’s also been posited that unpleasant body odour could be an indicator for the accumulation of toxins in the body. People with diabetes, obesity, hyperactive thyroid, kidney and liver dysfunctions also tend to either excessively sweat or have strong body odour.
Of course many other factors could be responsible, but these few were highlighted to help you understand the most common causes.
So, to limit the chances of getting a body odour, you should:
- Keep the skin clean by taking a daily bath or shower.
- Regularly wash clothing, and wear clean clothes.
- Limit spicy foods and garlic in the diet, which can increase body odor.
Now, back to the opening question: how to tell someone they’ve got body odour? Gift them with nice antiperspirants, and tell them you were out shopping when you came across the antiperspirants and thought they might like them. Voila!
Written by: Dr. Remi