There are a number of factors that work in combination to contribute to our body smells. Such factors include the chemicals in our sweat, including pheromones (which play a role in sexual attraction); as well as the actions of bacteria that live on the skin and feed on dead skin cells and sweat. While sweat is odourless, the interaction between sweat and the bacteria on the skin’s surface produces malodorous chemical compounds. Body smells may also be affected by waters excreted through the skin, such as metabolised alcohol, or by unwashed clothes.
Sweat is produced by glands in the dermis, which is the deeper layer of the skin. Sweat glands occur all over the body but are found in abundance on the forehead, the armpits, the palms and the soles of the feet. Its main function is to control body temperature. As the water in the sweat evaporates, the surface of the skin cools. Sweat is mainly water, but it also contains some salts.
So how can we reduce our body and odour and smell like sweet aromas instead?
Bathing and changing regularly, drying thoroughly, wearing natural fibres and removing armpit hair can all help to decrease body odour.
Antibacterial gel washes, especially applied to the armpits can also help. Antiperspirants containing aluminium or zirconium salts, such as Norsca Antiperspirant Deodorant and Dove Antiperspirant Stick help to reduce excessive sweat and assist in minimizing body odour.
In extreme cases, sparing use of the powerful antiperspirant aluminium chloride hexahydrate, may be prescribed. This can be found in a product such as Perspi Guard Max Antiperspirant Treatment. Alternatively, talk to your doctor about possible underlying medical conditions or other treatment options.
Don’t forget about odours from the soles of your feet!
To assist with these odours, deodorised shoe inserts may be helpful. Foot baths with weak Condy's crystals (potassium permanganate) can also be used. Foot and shoe sprays are also available, such as Scholl Fresh Step Shoe Spray or Scholl Fresh Step Foot Spray. Alternatively, powders such as Prantal Powder can help absorb excess sweat and reduce the smell of body odour.