According to Prof Christian Nordqvist – body odour is the perceived unpleasant smell our bodies can give off when bacteria that live on the skin break down sweat into acids.

   Some say it is the smell of bacteria growing on the body, but it is actually the result of bacteria breaking down protein into certain acids.

   It is also known as B.O – Bromhidrsis Osmidrosis or Ozochrobia.

   When a body gives off a scent others may find unpleasant it is known as body odour. A person may after a period of time stop perceiving even his or her own body odour, because of what we call noscomial saturation and acclimatisation. It is a protective mechanism which enables the nasal gland to protect itself from pungent and toxic substances.

   Body odour usually becomes evident if measures are not taken when humans attain puberty. Body odour occurs mostly in people :

1) who are obese,

2) those who regularly eat spicy food

3) those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes who are more susceptible to having body odour.

4) People who sweat too much and this depends on where the excess sweating is occurring, and which type of sweat glands are involved.

   Sweat itself is virtually odour less to humans. It is the rapid multiplication of bacteria in the presence of sweat, and their breaking down of sweat into acids that eventually causes the unpleasant smell.

Where does body odour occur?

  • Body odour occurs in the following places 1) feet. 2) groin. 3) armpits. 4) genitals. 5) pubic hair and other hairs. 6) belly bottom. 7) anus. 8) behind the ears. 9) The rest of the skin to a lesser extent.

  • Body odour can have a pleasant and specific smell to the individual and can be used to identify people, especially by dogs and other animals.

   • Each person’s unique body odour can be influenced by diet, gender, health and medication.

What are the causes of body odour?

   • Bacteria break down of sweat linked to apocrine glands is the major cause of body odour.

   • These glands, as I mentioned earlier, are found in the breasts, genital area, eye lids, armpits and ear.

   • In the breasts these glands secrete fat droplets into breast milk.

   • In the ear these glands help form ear wax.

   • Apocrine glands in the skin and the eye lids are sweat glands.

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   • The apocrine glands are mainly responsible for body odour, because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which bacteria can break down easily.

What causes foot odour?

   • Most of us wear shoes and socks, making it much difficult for sweat to evaporate, giving the bacteria more sweat to breakdown into smelly substances.

   • Moist feet also run the risk of developing fungi infection, which can also give off unpleasant smells.

Management of body odour

1) Take your bath once or twice a day with warm water. Warm water helps kill off and  inactivate bacteria that are present on the skin.

2) Clothing.

   Natural fibres allow your skin to breathe, resulting in better evaporation of sweat.

3) Aluminium chloride.

This is locally called “alum”, this is the main active ingredient in anti-perspirants. If your body does not respond to the home remedies mentioned above, talk to your doctor about suitable product containing aluminium chloride. 

4) Botulinum Toxin

   • This is a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum – very small and controlled doses are given under the arms, for individuals who sweat excessively.

   • The toxin blocks the signals from the brain to the sweat glands, resulting in less sweating in the targeted area. This should be handled professionally by a qualified doctor.

5) Surgery.

   • When self care and medical measures are not effective at treating severe body odour. A doctor can perform a surgical procedure called – edoscopic thoracic sympathectomy(ETS), that destroys the sweating – controlling nerves below the armpit.

   • Note that the procedure is as a last resort and runs the risk of damage to other nerves and arteries in the area.

   • It can also increase sweating from other parts of the body, known as compensatory sweating.

   • So the surgery must be done by a professional Consultant or Plastic Surgeon.

Whatever you do, it is said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. So keep your body clean, and always be medically guided.

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