Body odour is produced when bacteria on your skin breakdown the acids in your sweat. We sweat to help clear waste from our bodies, to help regulate our temperature and in response to stress, emotion and sexual excitement. Sweating is a completely normal process, however if you feel it is impacting on your daily life, there are some ways to help manage body odour.
The skin has two main types of sweat glands:
Eccrine glands – these are found all over the body and produce a salty, watery fluid. The sweat from this gland helps to control our body temperature as it works to cool us down as it evaporates on the skin. This sweat doesn’t have an odour, however when it comes into contact with bacteria on the surface of the skin, it can produce a smell.
Apocrine glands – these are found in the armpits, belly button, ears, groin and nipples and produce a thick, waxy, greyish substance which is diluted by fluid from other nearby glands. Again, this sweat does not have an odour, however when it comes into contact with bacteria, it does produce a very distinct odour which we all recognise as body odour. This sweat does not play a role in temperature regulation like that of the eccrine glands; it is produced in response to stress, emotion and sexual excitement.
There are a number of reasons you may find yourself sweating more or smelling worse, these could include an increase in stress, dietary changes, exercising more, weather changes, or a hormonal imbalance or change. Here we outline ways to help manage body odour.
- Manage your stress- the apocrine glands spring into action and produce sweat in response to stress and emotion. This is why people feeling nervous or under pressure often sweat more. Look for ways to manage this stress; such as using relaxation techniques, spending time with family and friends, taking up a hobby you enjoy, actively reducing your workload or removing yourself from situations that heighten your stress.
- Apply a natural deodorant – this is of course a no-brainer; however you may need to apply deodorant more than once per day. If the weather is getting warmer or you are exercising more consider re-applying deodorant throughout the day. We advocate a natural deodorant free of aluminium and other nasty chemicals.
- Limit odour producing foods – garlic, onion, meat, curries, dairy and alcohol are all known to increase body odour and some will also make you sweat more. Increasing green leafy vegetables in your diet can help combat bad body odour.
- Balance your hormones – changes in hormones such as in menopause, pregnancy and puberty can cause an increase in sweating and body odour. Conditions such as hyperthyroid can also increase sweating. Seek help in balancing hormones or managing health conditions that could impact sweating and body odour.
- Change up your wardrobe – synthetic materials are not very breathable causing an increase in heat production on the body. Wearing natural materials can help regulate body temperature and reduce sweating and body odour.
- Wash regularly – again this seems like common sense. If you have recently increased exercise or the weather is heating up you may need to take a second shower in the day.
- Check your gut – an imbalance of bacteria in your gut can lead to bad odours. Additionally if your digestion is poor and you are suffering from constipation, it could be contributing to body odour. Ensure you get lots of fibre through fresh fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water and look for a good quality probiotic to help support gut health.
- Try some liquid chlorophyll – a pigment that gives plants and vegetables their green colour, chlorophyll can help the body detoxify and combat body odour. Fresh green plants are your best sources of chlorophyll outside of a supplement; for example wheatgrass, spinach, parsley, arugula and peas. You can also buy liquid chlorophyll from your local health food store.
If you have any concerns over health conditions that may be causing an increase in sweating and body odour, seek help from a qualified health professional.