Understanding Body Odor

This is a topic that might make some people uncomfortable: Body Odor. The last thing we want to admit is that we have a little funk but sometimes it is in our best interest to acknowledge when it is there. Having body odor can affect many aspects of our lives from how we’re treated at our jobs to our personal relationships. Smelling fresh can make or break a first impression and there are some easy ways to avoid body odor and even prevent it.

Body odor is caused by bacteria breaking down sweat and is linked to the apocrine glands. These glands are found in the ear, armpits, eyelids, breasts and genital areas. Apocrine glands in the ears help to form earwax and in breasts, they secret fat to produce breast milk. These areas do not produce sweat, however. Apocrine glands in the skin and eyelids do produce sweat, though. The location of these glands are the ones mainly responsible for causing body odor because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which bacteria breaks down. When there is too much sweat, the bacteria can’t break down the protein fast enough and that is when smell starts to form.  

There are many causes of excess sweat that range from what you eat to what medications you take. Red meat, fish, spices that release sulfuric acid that the body breaks down, and cruciferous vegetables are all foods that can cause you to produce excess sweat. Aside from food, weight and medical conditions like diabetes and hyperhidrosis can also produce body odor. Certain medications can have the similar side effects as well.

When it comes to prevention there are so many options and finding the best one for you depends on your personal needs. Prescription deodorant is a useful tool in body odor control. Deodorant makes skin more acidic and in turn that makes it harder for bacteria to thrive. Antiperspirants will block sweat glands to prevent sweating. Along with deodorants and antiperspirants, keeping your body thoroughly clean will minimize your chances of developing body odor. It is also recommended to keep armpits free from thick amounts of hair. This hair traps bacteria and sweat and will only add to your chances of having an odor.

While it less of a focus socially, having foot odor can be problematic to your relationships as well. Foot odor is caused when sweat produced on the bottom of the feet do not escape and seep into socks and shoes, heating up while the feet are covered up. You won’t notice any foot odor until you remove your shoes. Foot odor can be prevented by changing your socks regularly and not wearing the same pair more than one day in a row without washing. If you can avoid it, do not wear shoes with plastic lining on the inside more than one day in a row as shoes to not dry overnight. You can also request special deodorants and antiperspirants for your feet that can control foot odor.