Proper hygiene is an important aspect of overall health, and this has never been more crucial in the fight against COVID-19. However, keep in mind that it does not stop with handwashing and disinfection. Proper hygiene includes maintaining overall body cleanliness, particularly in hot tropical climates where people sweat profusely and are susceptible to body odor.
Body odor, or “B.O.” to Filipinos, is sometimes a sensitive topic, especially to those affected by it. The condition can be detrimental to a person’s social life and a huge confidence crusher. Do note that body odor is not only due to poor hygiene; other factors also influence its occurrence. A physiological understanding of body odor is a good way to address this. Let us sniff out the details below.
Where Does Body Odor Come From?
Much like how everything else in the body seems to change during puberty, body odor also usually develops during this life stage. Androgen (reproductive hormone) starts presenting themselves during puberty, so body odor is not a problem for younger kids.
As puberty starts, several factors can make body odor worse, such as:
- Intense exercise
- Being overweight
- Changes in hormones
- Diet of oily or strong-smelling food such as garlic, curry, and onions
- Hot weather or warm climates
- Some health conditions like liver disease, diabetes, or kidney disease
- Some medications like antidepressants
The most common cause of body odor is sweat. When it mixes with the bacteria on the skin, it creates an unpleasant smell. While sweat is supposedly odorless, bacteria use it as a breeding ground to multiply. The stench is the byproduct of bacteria breaking down keratin protein on the skin’s surface, causing body odor or bromhidrosis.
Also known as osmidrosis, bromhidrosis is a condition where the skin emits an excessive and usually unpleasant odor. It is mostly influenced by apocrine gland (sweat gland) production and can significantly reduce one’s quality of life. Bromhidrosis can become pathologic if it becomes chronic and severely interferes with the lives of those affected.
Effective Ways to Prevent Body Odor
While body odor can be embarrassing, it does not come without a cure or prevention. Here are simple yet proven ways to avoid being in a smelly situation.
Bathe every day
The easiest way to get rid of body odor is by taking a bath or showering every day using soap. The soap works by breaking down the oil in sweat and removing it. It essentially takes out their breeding ground, effectively eliminating the root cause of body odor. The goal is to remove as many bacteria sitting on the skin’s surface as possible.
Choose the right type of soap to use when showering, too. Antibacterial soap is the most effective in breaking down and washing off sweat and bacteria. Some soap recommendations for a pleasant scent include those containing essential oils like tea tree, lemongrass, and eucalyptus.
These essential oils also have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help fight germs naturally. The specific component varies depending on the oil, but two such compounds are aldehydes and phenols.
Bacteria thrive in damp and humid areas. The armpits, inframammary fold (area under the breasts), groin area, and feet are such areas in the body. It is essential to be thorough after bathing, especially for someone prone to body odor. Dry these areas completely and ensure no moisture is left. While towel drying can do this quickly, air drying completes the process.
Use antiperspirant or deodorant
After bathing, try using an antiperspirant and a deodorant. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that help block the body’s sweat glands. Blocked sweat glands mean no body odor. Meanwhile, deodorants can repel the bacteria; the fragrance also helps mask the scent.
However, remember to observe caution when using these products. Although aluminum-based antiperspirants can help block out sweat, they can also dry out the armpit area, causing it to darken.
Wear breathable pieces of clothing
Clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton, silk, or wool can help cool down the body, minimizing sweating. It can also be good to wear moisture-locking fabrics like polyester or nylon, especially during exercise.
Wash articles of clothing after every use
Washing clothes frequently should not come as a surprise. It is one effective way to remove body odor. Since clothes absorb most of the sweat, they will eventually stink if left unwashed for a while, so think twice before putting that used shirt back on.
Diets play a big part in how a person smells. Filipino cuisine is mainly comprised of pork, rice, and bread. However, many dishes include onions and garlic as the base, which can affect the smell of sweat.
A Fresh Start
Body odor can manifest for different reasons. And while it is embarrassing to experience, it does not mean a lifetime of bruised self-esteem. You must always maintain proper hygiene to help eliminate body odor. These small but significant changes to the usual routine can bring a person closer to a fresh start.
Makati Medical Center offers world-class facilities and healthcare services to help you solve any skin conditions. Visit us today!