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Body Odour - What Causes It?

March 31, 2011

Body Odour is that distinctive smell we are all familiar with. An unfortunate, but easily treated condition often caused as a result of sweating. Contrary to popular belief, sweat itself is actually odourless and so that characteristic tang of body odour is in fact caused by the rapid multiplication of bacteria that live on our skin.

The Science of Body Odour

Bacteria thrive in sweaty conditions. The most common places on the body to produce odour are those where the glands release proteins and oily substances (the Apocrine Glands); primarily the armpits and genitals. Bacteria feed on the sweat and break it down into acids and it is these acids that release the unpleasant body odour. There are two types of acid that are the most common culprits of body odour; Propionic Acid and Isovaleric Acid. Propionic acid is similar to acetic acid, which gives Vinegar its strong taste and smell, the presence of this explains why some people identify a vinegar-like smell in body odour. Isovaleric acid is caused as a result of the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidi. These bacteria are also present in several types of very strong cheese.

The actual smell of body odour differs from person to person. It can be influenced by several things, but most commonly; diet, gender, health and medication. Certain foods such as curry, garlic and spices contain chemicals that may be excreted by the skin. Some health conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease can change the consistency of sweat, which alters the smell caused by the bacterial process. Everyone has their own unique sweat and body odour.

There are many things you can do to treat or even prevent body odour, so it does not have to become a persistent problem. If you find that none of the suggestions offered below work, it is recommended that you see a doctor as they can provide you with additional advice.

Wash Daily to Prevent Body Odour

Take a shower or bath at least once a day, using warm water and soap. Washing will kill off any body odour causing bacteria living on your body. It is recommended that you wash when you first wake up. If throughout the day you take part in exercise or another strenuous activity that causes you to sweat, washing again afterwards will ensure that bacteria stays away, along with body odour.

Apply Natural Deodorant

Many conventional deodorants simply mask the smell of body odour, and so these are not entirely practical if you want to eliminate it altogether. Fortunately, Crystal Spring offer a natural, crystal salt deodorant that actually prevents the growth of bacteria. Apply after washing (as it does not work on bacteria that are already present) and it will provide you with long lasting protection from body odour.

Always Wear Clean Clothing

Wear fresh clothes every day and wash all worn clothing as soon as possible. Do not put on unwashed clothes covered in yesterday’s sweat and bacteria as body odour will occur very rapidly, even if you have washed and applied deodorant.

Wear natural fibres such as cotton, silk and wool as these allow the skin to breathe and result in better evaporation of sweat.

*Reapplication may be necessary after exercising or on a particularly hot day.

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