Body Odor (BO)

When we are exposed to heat, exercise or emotional stress our body heat rises and we sweat as a result to cool our body back down. Sweating is vital for our survival. If you couldn't sweat, your body would easily overheat to dangerous, even life-threatening levels. An example of this occurs when a person strenuously exercises in the heat without drinking enough fluids, causing that person to suffer from heat stroke. In this state, the body's mechanisms for cooling itself down fail to work, and the body temperature thus skyrockets threatening that person's life. So remember to always drink lots of fluids especially when it's hot out, or when you exercise.

Even though sweat keeps us alive, it can be cause for embarrassment. Some people sweat profusely, drenching their clothes in times of emotional stress. Others stink up the room with body odor.

Once you grow dark curly hair under your armpits, body odor becomes an issue. The sweat from the armpit will collect within the hair. In fact, a person with armpit hair will trap 30 times more sweat than a person without it. Within the sweat attached to each hair, bacteria will breed. The waste produced from the bacteria will release the odor we call BO or body odor. Long, long ago this same sweat gave our ape ancestors an attractive shiny coat and bewitching scent to impress the opposite sex. Today, as we exist in dense populations, we have learned to value clean hygiene. As a result, that old bewitching scent has lost its appeal, and is now considered to be the infamous foul stench known as body odor.

Causes of increased sweating

  • Heat
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Hot beverages
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Certain drugs

Some special cases include:

  • Illness such as a fever
  • People with diabetes can experience excessive sweating when their blood sugar drops below a certain level.
  • Women going through menopause often experience hot flashes, causing them to sweat excessively.

Prevention

To Reduce excessive sweating

  • Avoid: Hot beverages, Caffeine, Alcohol, Spicy foods
  • Use an antiperspirant on the underarms, hands and feet. Antiperspirants block your sweat ducts with aluminum salts. For some, antiperspirants can cause skin irritation. If you experience this, try a deodorant instead.
  • Use antiperspirants at night on your palms and the bottoms of your feet.
  • After a hot shower, dry yourself and let your body cool down before applying antiperspirant so your sweat doesn't wash the antiperspirant away.
  • Reduce your stress. To learn how, visit Living Healthy: Stress Reduction
  • Wear natural-fiber clothes made of cotton, wool or silk, which allow your skin to breathe. Go to an athletic store or ski shop and get underwear that keeps sweat away from your skin like Polypropolene, and wear a fresh clean pair every day under your clothes.

To reduce body odor

  • Use a deodorant in your arm pits. deodorants makes the environment under your arms more acidic, which wards off bacteria. You'll still sweat like you did before. It just won't smell as bad. Try different brands of deodorants and different scents to find one you like the best. A particular brand might work better for one person and not the other. Once a brand stops working well, switch to another.
  • Shower or bathe daily to wash off bacteria.
  • Wear natural-fiber clothes made of cotton, wool or silk, which allow your skin to breathe. Go to an athletic store or ski shop and get underwear that keeps sweat away from your skin like Polypropolene, and wear a fresh clean pair every day under your clothes.

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Related Info

Amazing Facts

  • A single pea-sized bead of sweat can cool about 1 quart of blood by 1° F.
  • Americans spend spend about 750 million on anti-perspirants and deoderants a year.
  • Eccrine sweat glands open directly to the skin. You have from 2 to 5 million eccrine glands on your body.
  • Apocrine sweat glands open into a hair follicle on your scalp, armpits, and external genitals, and are mostly responsible for body odor since sweat from these glands collects on hair where bacteria breaks it down releasing a foul odor.
  • Sweat is mainly water, salt and electrolytes. Electrolytes are molecules that help regulate the body's fluids.