FAQ: What Is Body Odor?
A: When our sweat meets bacteria on the skin, body odor begins. Our bodies are comprised of two to four million sweat glands that are located in the dermis layer of the skin. Of these sweat glands there are two types: eccrine sweat glands and apocrine sweat glands. Eccrine glands are located throughout the surface of the body and secrete a mixture of water, salt and trace electrolytes. Eccrine sweat glands jump into action as the temperature of the body rises and the autonomic nervous system stimulates them to perform their body cooling duties.
Apocrine glands populate areas of the body that are dense with hair follicles such as the scalp, armpits and groin. The apocrine sweat glands are activated at times of anxiety and emotional stress. Apocrine secretions are composed of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins which are a perfect recipe for bacteria. Sweat is odorless, but when apocrine glands secrete its thick fatty substance onto the skin, bacteria flourish and create the malodorous scent we associate with body odor.
FAQ: What Causes Body Odor?
A: Once these fatty secretions arrive onto the skin surface, bacteria work to break it down resulting in strong body smells. Studies have shown that body odor is also linked to the following causes:
Diet - Red meat eaten in large quantities has been shown to contribute to body odor. Red meat contains high levels of protein that the body is unable to metabolize, so in turn, is expelled by the apocrine glands that feed odor-causing bacteria. Diets high in sugars and saturated fats also contribute to the problem of strong body odor.
Hormonal imbalance - Women approaching menopause are prone to estrogen and progesterone fluctuations that cause the phenomenon of hot flashes and night sweats. When the activity of the apocrine glands are over stimulated by endocrine system that manufactures these hormones, excessive sweating can result in unpleasant body odors.
Certain medications - The thyroid hormone thyroxine is known to produce nervousness, anxiety and heart palpitations that cause the apocrine glands to surge with excess secretions. Certain anti-psychotic drugs and the powerful pain medication, morphine, are also known to contribute to body odor.
Diseases - Conditions such as diabetes can create breath and body odors. The liver and kidneys serve to cleanse and eliminate toxins from the blood. When these organs become diseased and can no longer function properly, heavy toxins build up in the blood that can result in unpleasant body smells. Certain cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia produce unusual sweating processes that result in strange bodily smells.
FAQ: What Can Be Done To Help Alleviate Body Odor?
A: Hygiene - The first approach should be a change in personal hygiene habits. A daily regimen of showering with soap and warm water and toweling completely dry afterward should be routine. The use deodorants and antiperspirants as needed throughout the day is highly recommended. Loose fitting clothing made from natural fibers such as cottons, linens and silks will allow for better ventilation, absorption of moisture and create a cooling air flow around your body.
Diet - By cutting out excesses such as red meat, sugars and saturated fats, and adjusting your diet accordingly, will aid greatly toward reducing a propensity for body odor. By including an abundance of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes as a regular diet should not only help with body odor, but will improve overall health.
Coping techniques - Stress and anxiety are major factors that increase the incidence of body odor. Explore options that involve the promotion of relaxation, calmness and the release of stress. The consistent practice of yoga, Tai Chi, or a daily walk can directly affect you battle with body odor in a positive way.