Fear not my odorous friend because you are not alone in asking ‘Why do I have body odour?!’. Except for a lucky few who have an unusual form of gene that means they don’t produce body odour, pretty much everyone on this planet has body odour to some degree. So why specifically do you have body odour? Body odours occur when the bacteria on our body starts to break down your sweat. Sweat itself doesn’t smell but when our bacteria start to break down the odourless compounds in our sweat, they convert these compounds to thioalcohols, which smell a bit like onions. Ever found yourself thinking 'why does my sweat smell like onion?' That's the thioalcohols.
Our bodies have two types of sweat glands; apocrine and eccrine. The sweat glands most commonly associated with body odour are the apocrine glands. These glands are located within the hair follicle so are concentrated where we have an abundance of hair like our armpits and groin areas.
But My Body Odour Smells So Bad, Why?
So now that you know that you are not alone in a world of stink, there are some things that can alter your smell to make it more noticeable to you and those around you. For example eating certain foods like garlic, onion, cumin and curry produce sulfur like compounds which can alter your body odour. Alcohol is another food that can alter the way your body smells - someone who’s been for a workout on a Monday morning after a binge weekend may be able to attest to that (me included!).
Certain health conditions can also alter the way you smell. For example a very rare genetic condition called trimethylaminuria can cause people who have the condition to smell like fish. This condition is also known as fish odour syndrome. Other examples include an overactive thyroid gland or menopause which can make people sweat more. Liver or kidney disease and diabetes can also change the consistency and smell of sweat. If you feel like your body odour has a peculiar smell it may be worth chatting to your GP about it, just to make certain there are no underlying medical conditions contributing to your body odour.
I Have Body Odour, Is It My Genetics?
Found yourself wondering ‘why do I have body odour? Is it my genetics?’ Well, the simple answer may be 'yes'. Our skin microbiome is unique to us and this is thought to be down in part to genetics, along with other environmental factors. So there may not be anything you really can do to change the way you smell. Finding an effective deodorant will go a long way towards keeping those pesky body odours away. We recommend finding an effective natural deodorant so you can limit your exposure to toxins found in regular antiperspirants. Regardless of whether you opt for a natural deodorant or regular antiperspirant it may take some trial and error to find a deodorant which works well for your individual microbiome. Fear not though, there are many great deodorants on the market which will alter your microbiome to significantly reduce your body odour. This is how our highly effective natural deodorant cream works.
Some People Don't Produce Body Odour... What?!
So let’s go back to those lucky few who don’t produce a single dot of body odour! Don’t feel too bad, this affects only about 2% of the population. This actually comes down to a specific variant of a gene (ABCC11). An interesting finding from the study involving 6,495 women found that those with this type of gene had drier (as opposed to sticky) ear wax. Researchers concluded that a good indicator of whether a person produces body odour or not is to check their ear wax. Interesting huh?!
I Have Body Odour, How Do I Stop It?
So what can I do to control my body odour I hear you ask? There are a number of ways you can banish the BO for a confident, stink free life.
Because the oniony armpit odours occur when bacteria start breaking down our sweat, keeping your armpits clean is going to go a long way towards keeping body odour at bay. But we know that’s not always possible - think job interview scenario! Keeping armpit hair to a minimum is also said to help reduce odours as hair holds onto sweat, but this isn’t going to work for many so we say don’t worry about this one too much if it just doesn’t work for you. Other things to do include wearing clean loose natural fibre clothing.
Showering and keeping your armpits clean is a great start, but let's face it, you've probably already tried it and your body odour is still a problem. That's ok, most people will require a deodorant which alters their microbiome to experience a significant reduction in body odour. Such deodorants will inhibit the replication of underarm bacteria so they they simply aren't able to convert your sweat to odorous compounds. You will still sweat, which is a natural part of being human, however your sweat simply won't smell. Arluka natural deodorant was formulated on this principal, using magnesium hydroxide and baking soda to inhibit the replication of odour causing bacteria. Personally, I find this method works far better than regular deodorants which attempt to mask body odour with synthetic fragrances.
Know When To Speak To Your Doctor
There are some instances when you should seek medical advice about abnormal excessive sweating. If you feel like your body odour issue is particularly severe or you have tried all the methods above and nothing works it may be time to speak to your Gp. Unusual body odour may be the result of underlying medical conditions so it's always best to rule that out.
For a more detailed info on how to minimise body odour and when to seek medical advice check out our Blog Post, Causes of Body Odour.