Unlike a stained shirt or a bad tyre that can be immediately pointed out when noticed, the nature of body odour makes people restrain from pointing it out, however repulsive it is. Your new date is more likely to cancel the next date or reject your kiss because of your body odour instead of notifying you directly. Telling people that they have body odour, especially if you're not intimate, is usually a challenge. That there are a ton of articles on the web about this is proof. So, if you have a body odour, you're likely not to know if you don't pay attention.
What causes body odours?
It happens when bacteria that live on the skin break down the component of sweat into acids that emit the awful smell we call body odour. It’s not the sweat that directly causes the body odour — as sweats don't have an odour — but the result of the breakdown that occurs after you sweat.
Other specific odours in the body like mouth odours (medically called halitosis) are caused by food particles which remain in the mouth increasing the growth of bacteria on the tongue, between the teeth, and around the gums.
But not all body odour is caused by a lack of hygiene. It can also be caused by certain genetic/medical factors. Apart from the common ones – Bacterial Vaginosis or Thrush, there is a condition called Trimethylaminuria (popularly known as the fish odour syndrome), a disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a chemical compound that smells like rotten fish or eggs.
Body Odour and Dating/Sex/Relationships.
One of the many negative impacts of body odour is the way it affects a person's appeal and desirability in dating, sex, and relationships. Because people's body smell influences how we find them to be attractive (hint: pheromones), no one wants to hang out, kiss, hug, or have sex with someone with an awful body odour.
Imagine reaching out to hug someone on a first date and having to hold your breath for extended periods because their body oozes a sharp odour.
It takes about one hour for the bacteria that break down sweat to act. Hence, the earlier you have a bath after a long day or a sweat-inducing activity, the better. Ideally, a bath is recommended twice daily to wash off dead skin cells. While bathing, pay attention to the belly button, the ears, the armpit and groin area. For the mouth, brushing (especially the tongue) twice daily, with flossing and/or rinsing the mouth with a mouthwash after meals is recommended.
Antiperspirants and Deodorants work in different ways to eliminate body odour. While antiperspirants work like a drug, temporarily blocking sweat pores to limit sweat, deodorants allow for sweating but limit the odour by eliminating the bacteria that act on the sweat. The former is advised for people who sweat in excess while the latter is recommended for people who don't. Mouthwash complements brushing and flossing by getting into corners of the mouth and eliminating the bacteria. To prevent being stranded, it is advisable to have several — one in the car, one at work, one at home.
Hair-producing areas of the body like the pubic region and armpits are more prone to odour because hair, which is present in these areas, traps sweat which in turn produces the offensive odour. By shaving, one reduces the heat generated and limits the sweat trapped in these areas.
Sweat and body odour often gets trapped in clothing. Wearing them without washing (and drying) allows for these bacteria to be re-introduced onto the body. Fresh clothes and socks reduce the possibility of body odour.
Clothing made out of materials like cotton adsorbs sweats and body moisture without trapping the smelly bacteria. They allow for adequate flow of air and evaporation of sweat and bacteria from its fibres.
Spicy food like garlic and onions do not just make your breath stink. Their smell can also flow out through your sweat. Reducing or eliminating them from your meal intake (especially when outdoor) help eliminate body odour.
Other tips include reducing alcohol intake, staying away from stressful conditions, having mint gums handy, and sleeping well.
The treatment for body odours as a medical condition is to avoid eating proteins that contain trimethylamine — milk, eggs, liver, kidney, peas, beans.
For medical/genetic factors, however, it is advisable to get a medical diagnosis and treatment plan before taking any medication.