What causes body odor, underarm odor, smelly armpits? Body odor treatment
Body odour, also known as bromhidrosis, B.O., bromhidrosis, osmidrosis or ozochrotia, is a 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 really is the result of bacteria breaking down protein into certain acids. So what causes body odor, body odour, underarm odor, smelly armpits, armpit smell? How to get rid of body odor? What about body odor treatment? Just keep reading to find out. Human and health facts
What causes body odor?
Body odor and funny memes
In humans, the formation of body odors is mainly caused by skin glands excretions and bacterial activity. Between the different types of skin glands, the human body odor is primarily the result of the apocrine sweat glands, which secrete the majority of chemical compounds needed for the skin flora to metabolize it into odorant substances. This happens mostly in the axillary (armpit) region, although the gland can also be found in the areola, anogenital region, and around the navel. In humans the armpit regions seem more important than the genital region for body odor which may be related to human bipedalism. The genital and armpit regions also contain springy hairs which help diffuse body odors.
Underarm odor, smelly armpits
There are 3-4 million sweat glands on the human body. The two types of sweat gland are:
- eccrine glands – which are spread across the skin and regulate body temperature by cooling the skin with sweat when you get hot
- apocrine glands – which are mainly found in hairy areas of the body, such as the armpits and genital area; apocrine glands develop during puberty and release scented chemicals called pheromones
Sweat produced by the eccrine glands is usually odourless, although it can smell if bacteria start to break it down.
It can also take on an offensive odour if you consume certain food and drink, such as garlic, spices and alcohol, as well as some types of medication, such as antidepressants.
However, it's the apocrine glands that are mainly responsible for body odour, because the sweat they produce contains high levels of protein, which bacteria find easy to break down.
People who sweat excessively from their apocrine glands, or have a lot of bacteria on their skin, tend to have worse body odour.
Body odour funny pictures
Who gets body odour?
Anyone who has reached puberty (when the apocrine sweat glands develop) can produce body odour. Men are more likely to have body odour, because they tend to sweat more than women.
Things that can make body odour worse include:
- being overweight
- eating rich or spicy foods
- certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
Managing body odour
The best way to avoid getting body odour is to keep areas of your body that are prone to sweating clean and free of bacteria.
Using soap to wash every day, paying particular attention to the areas that produce the most sweat, such as your armpits, genital area and feet. Washing removes sweat and reduces the number of bacteria on your skin. Changing and washing your clothes regularly will also help.
Using an antiperspirant or deodorant daily will help prevent body odour. Antiperspirants work by reducing the amount of sweat your body produces. Deodorants use perfume to mask the smell of sweat.
Regularly shaving your armpits can also help reduce body odour. The hair in your armpits traps sweat and odour, providing ideal conditions for bacteria to multiply.
In very severe cases of body odour or excessive body odor, surgery or treatment with botulinum toxin may be possible options.
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