Body odour is the unpleasant smell produced by our body when the bacteria on the skin breaks down the acids in our sweat. It is the result of bacteria breaking down protein into certain acids. The medical term of body odour is bromhidrosis.
People who sweat alot are more susceptible to body odour. However, the salt level of their sweat is always too high for the bacteria to break down. And this depends on where the excess sweating is occurring and which type of sweat glands are involved.
Normally, Sweat itself is odourless. But It is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat and their breaking down of sweat into acids that eventually causes the unpleasant smell (body odour).
Body odour most occurs in the following places:
- pubic hair and other hair
- behind the ears
- behind the ears
- belly button
Most times body odour have a specific smell (either pleasant or unpleasant) on the individual and can be used to identify people, especially by animal pets like dogs. Each person’s unique body odor can be influenced by diet, gender, health, and medication conditions.
Causes of Body Odour
Body odour is caused by bacteria breaking down the acids in sweat and is mainly linked to the apocrine glands which is where most body odour comes from.
The apocrine glands are found in the ears, armpits, eyelids, genital area, and breasts. In the breasts, they secrete fat droplets into breast milk. In the ear, they help form earwax. Apocrine glands in the skin and the eyelids are sweat glands. Apocrine glands are scent glands.
The apocrine glands are mainly responsible for body odour because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which bacteria can easily break down.
Apart from hygiene, there are certain cases where diseases or medical conditions can cause unpleasant body odour.
Now lets look at some top medical conditions that cause body odour:
Diabetes; Diabetes patients often experience additional medical complications, including a sudden change in smell or body odour. Urinary tract infections (UTI) and the high level of blood glucose can also increase body odour.
Thyroid; Thyroid glands cause our body to sweat. When you have an overactive thyroid, it causes the body to produce an excessive amount of sweat, even when you are not on body exercise, and this can cause excessive body odour.
Kidney and liver dysfunction; The kidneys and liver help remove toxins from our body. And when they fail to function well, toxins can build up in the blood and digestive tract leading to body odour.
Genetic Disorders; Although this is incredibly rare, but gene mutations can also cause body odour. Trimethylaminuria is a condition where your body is unable to break down the chemical compound, trimethylamine. Trymethylamine is what gives fish its “fishy” smell. With trimethylaminuria, the compound builds up in your body and is released in your sweat, urine and breath.
Treatments of Body Odour
Below are some steps one can use to get ride of body odour
- Have a bath at least once day with warm water. Remember that warm water helps kill bacteria that are present on your skin. If the weather is exceptionally hot, then consider bathing more than once a day.
- Wash your armpits thoroughly using an antibacterial soap. Also remember to shave your armpits regularly allow the sweat to evaporate
- wear natural fibers, such as wool, silk or cotton because they allow your skin to breathe, resulting in better and quicker evaporation of sweat.
- Always wash your dirty clothes before wearing it again.
- Reduce the amount of spicy foods you eat such as curry or garlic, because they can cause your sweat to smell bad. Also reduce your red meat intake, since experts believe that eating a lot of red meat tends to make body odour worse
- Using deodorant and antiperspirant. The active ingredients used in antiperspirants and deodorants differ, so you may need to try different types to know the one that works for you. Deodorants work by using perfume to cover the smell of sweat. Antiperspirants contain aluminium chloride which reduces the amount of sweat produced by your body. If deodorant does not work for you, you may need a stronger antiperspirant that contains more aluminium chloride.
- Surgery may also be recommended for strong body odour that can’t be treated by self-care practices and over-the-counter products. Using surgery to treat body odour involves removing a small part of skin from your armpit and the tissue just below it. This helps to get rid of the most troublesome sweat glands. The sweat glands can also be drawn out from the deeper skin layers using liposuction