Think You Don’t Stink?

During a work meeting, a young man raises his left arm and reveals a sweat stain in the armpit area of his shirt. Two of his female coworkers hold their noses.Body odor can be an embarrassing situation caused by poor hygiene or a serious medical condition. There are various reasons for body odor (BO). We’ll explore some here and give suggestions to prevent body odor and when to seek medical help.

Nonmedical Reasons You Might Reek

  • Wash your clothes. Sometimes it’s not even you. It’s your unwashed dirty clothes. Wearing a pair of jeans pulled from that pile of dirty laundry on the floor could be the reason you smell bad.
  • This is a no-brainer, but shower and bathe daily with body wash or soap and shampoo. Thoroughly dry yourself. Wash all body parts; body odor doesn’t just occur in the armpits but can also emit from the feet, private parts, scalp and hair, hands, belly button and that place your mother always told not to forget to wash – behind the ears. Any part of the skin can give off a bad smell.
  • BO occurs when bacteria grows in sweat and the sweat pools under your arms or on other body parts. Use deodorant and antiperspirant to prevent odor and sweating. Powder your skin with talcum powder or baking soda. These will absorb excess moisture causing bacteria.

To help guard against BO, wear loose-fitting natural fabrics like cotton, silks and wools that have breathable materials. This prevents sweat from getting trapped against your skin, giving bacteria the ideal environment to produce. With good hygiene, you can easily control body odor. Home remedies to help prevent sweating that you could apply to your skin include witch hazel, essential oils (lavender, pine, peppermint), vinegar, cornstarch dust, sage oil and lemon. Zinc and magnesium vitamin supplements have also been known to help alleviate body odor.

Medical Reasons for Your Musk

  • If you find that good hygiene and using deodorant/antiperspirant isn’t working, medical reasons could be the cause of body odor. A health care provider might be able to write a prescription for a stronger product to help keep you from sweating. Injections of BOTOX under the arms may also be used. That treatment blocks the chemicals that activate sweat glands and can significantly reduce the amount you sweat. Antifungal agents for the skin and oral medications are other options.
  • Some odor is stress related. When you’re stressed, your armpits produce a secretion that elevates body odor. Plus, you sweat more when stressed. Use meditation or think calm thoughts when your stress factor is high. Try to find ways to eliminate or manage stress.
  • Smells can go through your pores if you eat spicy foods, curry-flavored dishes or foods with strong scents like onion, garlic or peppers. Diets high in red meats, caffeine, sugar and fried foods can also contribute to smelling bad. Some people place a few drops of peppermint oil on their tongues after eating foods that might cause body odor. The oil is secreted through the oil glands, improving odor. Make sure to eat chlorophyll-rich green leafy vegetables, which have a strong deodorizing effect on the body.
  • Constipation can also lead to body odor. A diet with plenty of fiber can help you avoid constipation.
  • Tobacco not only makes your clothes smell but gives you body odor. It’s just another reason to give up smoking.
  • Body odor could be caused by an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar or a problem with your nervous system that controls sweating.
  • A fruity body odor or one that smells like bleach or ammonia could be an indicator of a serious medical problem.
  • Body odor could be a sign of diabetes or liver and kidney conditions. See a doctor immediately.