Body odour, otherwise known as BO, bromhidrosis, osmidrosis or ozochroia is perceived as a negative or unpleasant odour that our body produces after we sweat. Did you know sweat itself doesn’t have any smell? It is in fact an important natural biological process which helps your body control its temperature and rid itself of toxins. If sweat doesn't smell then why do we get body odour? The issue arises when our body’s bacteria break down sweat into odorous compounds. This is the cause of body odour.
The Role Of Sweat Glands In Body Odour
Your body has two types of sweat glands; eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are located across the entire surface of your body and open directly onto your skin.
Apocrine glands open into the hair follicle and are the glands most commonly linked to body odour. Most of the apocrine glands develop where there is an abundance of hair like your scalp, groin and armpits. The reason these glands are mainly responsible for body odour is because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which makes it easier for your microbiome to break down. Yep, it seems your bacteria love a nice high protein snack!
My Body Odour Changed recently, Why?
There's a number of reasons why people experience a change in body odour. Most causes are perfectly normal and include: puberty, excessive sweating, poor hygiene, sudden changes to your environment, the foods you eat or medications.
Now I Know The Cause Of Body Odour, How Do I Stop It?
A large proportion of the apocrine glands are located in the armpit region, making that area susceptible to the rapid development of body odour. The following steps may help control the cause of body odour:
- Wash daily with warm water, at least once per day. Pay particular care to areas where you have a large amount of endocrine glands like your armpits and groin region. If you live in a hot climate or undertake exercise you may need to wash more than once a day to stop bacteria having a chance to break down the sweat on your skin.
- Wash your clothes regularly and make sure you wear clean clothes.
- Use deodorant or antiperspirant. Studies have linked regular deodorants and antiperspirants with chemicals that can be toxic to health. If you prefer to avoid these toxins, opt for all natural deodorants like Arluka, which can be found online and at good health food stores. Sometimes you need to try a few before you find the right one for you.
- Wear loose, natural fiber clothing. This will allow your skin to breathe and allow better evaporation of sweat. Natural fibres include wool, silk and cotton.
- Avoid spicy foods such as curry and garlic. These foods have the potential to make some people's sweat more pungent.
- A common treatment for people with hyperhidrosis - abnormal excessive sweating not necessarily related to heat or exercise - is botox injections which reduce sweating and odour.
When you should see your doctor about heavy sweating
Some medical conditions can change how much a person sweats, how they sweat and their smell. For example, an overactive thyroid gland or menopause can make people sweat more. Liver or kidney disease and diabetes can change the consistency of sweat leading to changes in body odour.
You should see your doctor if:
- You start sweating at night, especially if you're soaking your sheets.
- You start sweating more than usual, without any logical reason, even on cold days.
- You have cold sweats.
- Sweating disrupts your daily routine.
- If your body smells different than usual.
There you have it. Now that we've outlined the cause of body odour it's time to go to war against your pesky BO.