Q & A: Body Odor

Q: I have Body odor. Help!

Body odor is a perceived unpleasant smell our bodies can give off when bacteria that live on the skin break down sweat into acids, or when we have a health condition affecting our metabolism.

Body odor usually becomes evident around in the early teens, around puberty. People who are overweight, or have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, are more susceptible to having body odor. People who sweat a lot – those with hyperhidrosis – may also have body odor.  Also, our food choices affect our body odor.

Sweat itself is virtually odorless to humans; it is the effect of bacteria on the sweat that causes the unpleasant smell.

Body odor is most likely to occur in our feet, groin, armpits, genitals, hairy areas, belly button, anus, and behind the ears. Each person’s unique body odor can be influenced by diet, gender, health, and medication. // Two types of acid are commonly present when there is body odor: 1. Propionic acid (propanoic acid): which has a vinegar-like smell. 2. Isovaleric acid which smells like strong cheese types.

The average human body has three to four million sweat glands, of which there are two types: 1. Eccrine glands – a type of simple sweat gland that is located in almost in all skin areas all areas where there is skin. They produce a clear, odorless substance, consisting primarily of water and NaCl.

  • Apocrine glands – Most of the apocrine glands in the skin are located in the groin, armpits and around the nipples. They are scent glands, their secretion have a smell, mainly due to the pheromones. They are functional during hormonal stress and puberty. A lot of our B.O. (body odor) comes from the sweat produced by our apocrine glands.
  • So, what causes foot odor? The main cause is humidity being trapped into closed shoes. Most of us wear shoes and socks, making it much more difficult for the sweat to evaporate, giving the bacteria more sweat to break down into smelly substances. Moist feet also raise the risk of fungi developing, which can also give off unpleasant smells.

When to see your doctor

Some medical conditions may change how much a person sweats. You should see your doctor if: 1. You start sweating at night. 2. You start sweating much more than you normally do, without any logical reason. 3. You have cold sweats 4. Sweating disrupts your sleep or social life. 5. You body smells differently.

Treating and preventing body odor. The following steps may help control body odor: 1. Wash daily with warm water – have a daily shower, or at least what I call it a “Cat shower”. Dry your body very well after showering, especially the foot area. 2. Clothing – Wear only natural-made fibers like cotton or silk.. 

Avoid smelly fooodsg certain foods – curry, garlic, onions, red meat, and dairy products and some other spicy (piquant) foods have the potential to make some people’s sweat more pungent. Some experts believe a diet high in red meat may also raise the risk of developing more rapid body odor. Eat certain foods: Like green leafy vegetables and ginger. Chlorophil absorbs strong odors, and giger has natural antibacterial properties.

4. Remove Hair under the armpits and in the groin. 5. Use Deodorant or antiperspirant – natural deodorants can be made with baking soda. An antiperspirant blocks the sweating action of the glands, resulting in less sweating.  6. Botox injections can help minimize the amount of sweat. Talk to your doctor about them. 7- Do not take medications without medical advice. Many medications, especially antibiotics, make you more prone to fungal infections aaffetcing your body odor.

All the best!

Alyaa Gad