What causes body odour?
Natural bacteria on our skin feed on our sweat and release the smell we call body odour, also known as bromhidrosis. The warm, damp conditions of underarms make them an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and for the sweat from our apocrine glands – which are more prone to releasing odour – to get trapped. This can also result in sweat patches on our clothes.
As they feed, the bacteria release fatty acids that smell. Propionic acid is associated with a vinegary smell, while isovaleric acid smells like cheese. Other sulphur-containing molecules cause a strong onion smell that’s common in body odour.
Who gets body odour and when?
Body odour starts to occur during puberty. Men tend to suffer more from body odour, as they sweat more from their apocrine glands than women, even though women actually have more sweat glands overall.
Your lifestyle can also have a big impact on body odour. Certain foods, like curry, garlic or spices, alcohol and some types of medication can make our sweat smell unpleasant. If you smoke, this could also contribute to the growth of odour-producing bacteria on your skin.
How to help reduce body odour
If you sweat a lot, you may find that body odour is becoming a problem. While you cannot stop it completely, you can reduce body odour by following these recommendations:
- Make deodorant part of your daily routine. Sure® Men Antibacterial Odour Protection and Sure® Women Antibacterial Odour Protection kill 90% of odour-producing bacteria*.
- Sweat can easily get trapped in our armpits, feet, toes and genital area. It’s important to properly wash and dry these parts of your body with an appropriate soap or shower gel.
- As hair allows sweat to get trapped and cause body odour, shaving your underarms can help.
- Wear clean, natural fibres such as cotton, wool or silk. These allow your skin to breathe, preventing sweat patches and the build-up of bacteria.
- If smelly feet are a problem, wear socks made from natural fabrics and change them daily. It’s best to avoid wearing shoes made from synthetic materials too.
- Avoid consuming odour-causing food and drink such as garlic, onion, curry, cumin, fatty foods and red meat. If you smoke, try quitting for a week and see if it makes a difference.
- Since stress triggers the apocrine glands to release sweat, consider relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga as a way of managing your stress levels.
Sure® has a range of antiperspirant innovations to help with body odour, including 48-hour protection, and our extra protection antiperspirant, Maximum Protection.
*Based on antimicrobial efficacy studies in comparison with regular soap