- 1 What causes body odor?
- 2 What makes you more likely to develop body odor?
- 3 How can you reduce body odor?
- 4 When to see your doctor
- 5 Final thoughts
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation where you lift your arm to grab something, and an unpleasant smell greets you? Well, you’re not the only one. Body odor is preventable, and you can treat it yourself quickly. Read on to learn more about body odor and some quick natural solutions to this problem.
What causes body odor?
The sweat glands on the surface of our skin secrete fluids to regulate our body temperature. When the body temperature rises, the evaporation of sweat from the skin helps it to cool down. Sweat by itself, doesn’t have a smell. Body odor occurs when the bacteria on the skin break down the specific proteins into acids.
Body odor also depends on which sweat glands you are sweating from. We have two different types of sweat glands in our skin – Eccrine glands and Apocrine glands.
The eccrine glands are present all over our skin. These coiled glands squeeze sweat directly on to the surface of the skin through a duct. The sweat produced by these glands is high in salt and is less likely to be broken down by bacteria to produce odor.
The apocrine glands are located in the groin area, armpits, and the pubic area. These glands release sweat into hair follicles when your temperature rises and when you are stressed. The sweat produced by this gland contains protein, which produces odor when broken down by bacteria.
What makes you more likely to develop body odor?
Some people are more prone to developing body odor. Here are the reasons why they may sweat and smell more.
The apocrine glands become more developed when one reaches puberty. You are more likely to create sweating and body odor after reaching youth.
2. Being overweight
Overweight people are more likely to hold more sweat and bacteria in their skin folds, which may lead to body odor.
3. Being stressed
Stress can make your apocrine glands more active, and this may lead to body odor.
Certain people are genetically more prone to developing body odor.
How can you reduce body odor?
Commercial products like deodorants contain artificial fragrances and chemicals. They only mask the smell temporarily and do not address the root cause of the problem. Here are a few natural solutions to get rid of body odor naturally –
1. Wear natural fabrics
Natural fabrics like cotton are breathable. They absorb your sweat and thus prevent body odor. Synthetic fabrics like polyester are breeding grounds for bacteria and create a noticeable stench. According to a 2014 study, polyester clothes create a higher malodor as compared to cotton clothes after a fitness session and an incubation period (1)
2. Use a natural antibacterial soap
Several antibacterial soaps available in the shops contain triclosan, which is not safe. Health experts believe triclosan interferes with children’s hormones and have been pushing to ban it since 1978. Opt for soaps and body washes that contain natural ingredients. Tea-tree oil, oregano, peppermint, and eucalyptus have natural antibacterial properties. Look for these ingredients in your antibacterial soap.
3. Use probiotic deodorants
We all know the health benefits of consuming probiotics. Similarly, research has shown that probiotics can be used in topical remedies as well. Probiotic deodorants increase the good bacteria, just like the probiotics do for your gut. Increase in good bacteria helps to fight smelly bacteria
You can also make a prebiotic deodorant at home using powdered probiotics, beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, and arrowroot powder.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is acidic in nature and has antibacterial properties. It helps to diminish the bacteria that cause body odor. Soak a cotton ball in a mixture of ACV and water and apply it on your underarm area.
5. Baking soda
Baking soda is well-known as a cleaning agent. It also helps to absorb odors. A 1997 study assessed the antibacterial ability of baking soda and found it effective(2).
To use baking soda as a deodorant, make a paste of some baking soda with warm water. Apply this thick paste to your underarms and let it dry. Always do a patch test before applying baking soda to your skin.
Lemon juice is highly acidic. It reduces the pH level of your skin, making it inhospitable for bacteria. Besides removing body odor, it can also whiten your underarms.
Rub a thin slice of lemon on your underarms to get rid of body odor. If you have sensitive skin, dilute the juice with some water before you apply it on your underarms.
7. Witch hazel
Witch hazel is derived from the twigs of the North American Witch Hazel shrub. It contains tannins, flavonoids, saponins, choline, gallic acid, and bitters. It is a natural astringent, which means it constricts the tissue when applied and reduces the production of sweat. It also has antibacterial properties.
Douse a cotton ball in witch hazel and rub it on your underarms after your shower.
8. Change your diet
Certain foods that you eat can intensify your body odor. Eating foods that contain sulfur like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli can lead to body odor. Onion, garlic, and foods that contain spices can also make you smelly.
Red meat is harder to digest. The amino acids present in meat leave a residue in the intestines. When intestinal enzymes break down this residue, it mixes with bacteria on the skin and worsens the body odor.
Eating some fish like tuna and salmon can also cause body odor. These fish contain choline, which produces a pungent fishy smell. Some people who eat fish can secrete choline in their sweat for up to a day. Identify and cut back on foods that make your body odor worse.
9. Improve your hygiene
Good hygiene can lower the number of bacteria in your armpits and reduce body odor. Underarm hair traps moisture and can lead to building up of moisture. So, keep your underarm hair trimmed or shaved. Shower at least once a day. If you exercise or have had an active day, you can shower more often.
Don’t wear sweaty workout clothes again. Always wear fresh clothes every time you go out for exercise.
When to see your doctor
Some medical conditions can change how much we sweat and how we smell. It is vital to consult a doctor to identify if this sudden change is due to some medical condition.
- High levels of ketones in your bloodstream can cause a fruity smell. This smell can be an indication of diabetes.
- Certain skin infections like trichomycosis axillaris, erythrasma, and intertrigo can lead to body odor.
- Scurvy, vitamin C deficiency, can cause your sweat to smell putrid.
- Liver or kidney infection can lead to a build-up of toxins, which may give you a bleach-like odor.
You must see your doctor if you suddenly start sweating much more without any reason or if you smell differently.
Sweating is a part of our daily lives as it prevents our body from overheating. However, if we develop a strong body odor, it can make us self-conscious and disrupt our everyday life. Commercial deodorants contain artificial fragrances and chemicals, which can harm our skin. Thankfully, there are several natural solutions to this problem. You can make some small changes to your diet and personal hygiene and also use natural products available at home to get rid of body odor.