Dealing with body odour

What is body odour?
Body odour is a general term for what happens to sweat and other skin secretions when they are acted upon by naturally occurring bacteria. Sweat or perspiration is a salty liquid, which oozes out of the pores in our skin. Two types of glands produce sweat, the "eccrine" glands and the "apocrine" glands. The "eccrine" glands are dispersed throughout the body but are concentrated in the armpits, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the forehead. When the body is overheated - from hot weather, physical exertion, or fever - the "eccrine" glands help regulate body temperature by expelling a solution of water and salts that cools the skin. The "apocrine" glands are concentrated in the armpits and around the groin. These glands develop during puberty and have nothing to do with temperature regulation; instead, they respond to such conditions as sexual arousal, nervousness, and anger, as well as to heat and exertion. The sweat they produce is rich in organic substances that attract bacteria and produce a strong odour. Other reasons could be the purely the 'faulty lifestyles' or 'emotional stresses' like in ovulation or menopause when the hormones trigger the "apocrine" glands to produce the characteristic smell.

Actually sweat is body's most convenient way of maintaining "homeostasis" or keeping cool. But when the temperature spurts above the normal there are about 2.5 million sweat glands, which act as tiny air-conditioners in maintaining the homeostatic balance. Surprisingly our sweat has no odour of its own. It usually smells bad only when the bacteria act on the sweat after reaching the skin surface. Normally most people tend to combat bad body odour with products like deodorants or body sprays as a solution. But it can only diminish the effects temporarily. In fact bad body odour (B.O) indicates that you're disturbed emotionally or physically.

Broadly, there are three completely different kinds of problem that are responsible for bad body odour

1. Hygiene problem; not cleaning up properly, not having proper bath or using clean clothes. Ask the pharmicist for advice on soaps and cleansers and deodorants. But be warned; an excess of chemicals can make things worse, not better. Take advice and follow it.

2. Skin problem; if you have a bit of eczema or psoriasis or allergy problems, it is possible that a skin infection, probably fungal, is contributing to the problem. You need to know, and if that's the case, it is treatable, though not always easily.

3. There are some uncommon genetic conditions that are associated with odour. They are uncommon, and there are methods of dealing with the problem. Again, consult your doctor.

Following are the factors that are the main cause of body odour

  • Obesity
  • Warm temp not only stimulate the sweat glands but also cause bacterium to break sweet down into a sticky coating that becomes a magnet for dirt thereby causing bad body odour.
  • Synthetic fabrics like polyester look good but trap sweat. This trapped sweat makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Bad eating pattern
  • Tight fitting clothes / shoes also increase the likelihood of excess perspiration and body odour.

Golden rules to fight body odour

  • Take a shower using an antibacterial soap followed by a deodorant once in a day especially in the areas around the anus and the genitals.
  • When bathing, use a good brush in circular movement.
  • Use cotton clothes especially cotton undergarments, which lets the skin breathe. Avoid synthetic clothes.
  • Wear loose cloths instead of figure-hugging ones and change your cloths daily.
  • Washing areas under the armpits is a must as 80% of the body's sweat is present there.
  • If you're buying products to handle perspiration knowing their difference is a must. For example, antiperspirants stop the sweat from leaving the skin by blocking the pores while deodorants destroy the bacteria when sweat leaves the body.
  • To get rid of smelly feet, wash and dry between the feet adequately and wear well-ventilated footwear to let feet breath.
  • Double-check your Medicine. Synthetic hormones, oral contraceptives, steroids and some asthma medications stimulate sweat production. Respond by applying medically formulated antibacterial creams to your underarms.
  • Use a deodorant or anti-perspirant that contains aluminium chlorohydrate or zirconium.
  • Curb your coffee and tea intake. Caffeine can stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which regulates sweating. Limit yourself to two cups daily.
  • Avoid alcohol since it increases perspiration potential by dilating blood vessels.
  • If none of the above work and or the scent of your perspiration becomes stronger or more intense. See your doctor.

Some Home Remedies

  • After your bath, add a tablespoon of honey to tepid water for the final rinse. This will help keep body odour in check.
  • Adding a teaspoon of alum to your bath water make you smell fresh all the day.
  • In summer, add a cup full of vinegar to your bath water or add a cupful of camphor oil to your bath water.
  • Baking soda used as a powder will absorb chemicals; therefore this will remove body odours. Use a powder puff, which has been used for talc, to apply the powder.
  • Boil mint leaves and add the water to your bath water. Keep some aside for a special dousing for your armpits and between the thighs.

Foods that help deal with bad body odour

  • A balance diet is a must. Ideally it should be the one, which has about 20% protein i.e., fish, poultry, or combinations of pulses and grains, 20% oils and fats and balance from vegetables, fruit, pulses and grains.
  • Include turnip or its juice in your diet.
  • Red radish juice can be included in the diet. You can also apply it under the arm after the morning shower. Also apply it on your feet and in between the toes. Radish juice helps keep body odour at bay.
  • Drinking plenty of water will also ensure that you smell fresh and sweet.
  • Eating a tablespoon of aniseed is other way of smelling fresh and sweet.

Foods to be avoided

People with body odour should avoid food that are rich in lecithin or choline or cantine/lysine such as soya products, corn, wheat and also chocolates, peanuts, nuts, raisins, cereals, eggs, etc or limit the intake of these foods to a small part of the daily diet.

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