Body odour: That unpleasant smell.

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It so happens that, there are times we wonder if we smell awful. We have all been there at one time or the other and soaking in deodorant or perfume may not be the solution. Body odour is a fact of life and it is the unpleasant smell of a person’s body. Sweat in itself is without odour but the multiplication of bacteria in its presence with the sweat breakdown leading to release of chemicals that causes odour.

It is usually a result of an interaction between sweat and bacteria.
While the causes of body could be managed effectively often by certain behavioural or lifestyle modifications, there exist also medical conditions that may cause body odour that may require medical interventions.
The common causes of body odour are outlined below.

  1. Spicy foods and drinks: Foods rich in spices such as; garlic, curry, onion, hot pepper releases gases that contain sulfur. Even drinks containing caffeine are also culprits and can make you sweat more. Sulfur containing gases are smelly and can be released through your sweat pores. This can leave you with body odour.
    To smartly avoid or control body odour from such; drink plenty water, take a shower after such meals and apply perfume.
  2. Poor hygiene: Have you been wearing one bra three to five days in a row? Most bras are made with fabrics that lock in moisture and which can be a good medium for bacteria and fungal growth. It is not only bras that are implicated in this.
    To be smart, don’t wear same bra two days in a row, opt for clothing made with cotton, lace, or mesh that allow the skin to breathe. Shaving the hair in armpits is known to help keep body odour at bay.
  3. Wearing closed shoes without socks: Socks tends to absorb moisture but slipping feet into closed shoes without socks makes feet bath in their own sweat. When mixed with bacteria, there is release of offensive odour.
    To be smart, soak feet in one part vinegar to two parts tepid water bath in the evening after wearing closed shoes, don’t wear same closed shoes two days in a row, air out shoes when not worn, go barefoot when possible, replace insoles often and use deodorant powders in shoes.
  4. Excess booze: Alcohol is usually broken down by the liver and excreted in urine. But when we go out for that excess booze or alcohol binge, then the body breaks down the excess alcohol that has been ingested with the release of byproducts that can come out of the body in breath and sweat.
    To be a smart drinker, sip alcohol slowly, swap alcoholic beverage with non-alcoholic drink, take soapy bath after drinking and change clothing.
  5. Extreme stressful state: Stress causes sweating but sweat is more pungent with high level stress.
    To prevent body odour when undergoing high level stress, then wash clothing regularly.
  6. Drugs: Some drugs such as paracetamol make you sweat while some others causes dry mouth. Dry mouth is a common cause of body odour from the mouth.
    To be smart, while on such drugs, chew sugar-free gum and keep water handy.

In general, shower twice daily to wash off sweat. Use quality soap to bath. Certain ingredients in soap help combat bacteria that can cause body odour when they come in contact with sweat. Examples of such ingredients are; turmeric, activated charcoal, camwood and licorice containing soap. Finally, towel off well.

However, body odour is sometimes an indication of a medical ailment. If simple measures have been applied without success, it may be an indication to see your Physician. Example of such are fruity smell of diabetes, stinky smell of athletes foot, bad morning breathe of sleep apnoea and rotten fish odour of the genetic disease trimethyaminuria.