What is Body Odor?
Many of us face the problem of body odor in our day to day lives. Generally, it is not considered good socially as well as hygienically. Body odor is an offensive and unpleasant smell caused by different types of bacteria from our sweat. Interestingly, sweat is an odorless secretion. The body produces two kinds of sweats, i.e., eccrine sweat and apocrine sweat. Out of these, the eccrine sweat is a clear sweat that does not smell and helps in regulating the body temperature. The apocrine sweat, on the other hand, is thick and is located near hair follicles on the armpits, the scalp and groin areas. The bacteria present in our sweat, mix with the apocrine sweat and produce certain unpleasant smelling natural chemicals which have peculiar smell patterns. The most common areas prone to body odor are armpits and groin areas. Hence, it is necessary to keep these areas clean. Body odor arises due to a number of factors like poor personal hygiene, excessive perspiration, diet, stress, certain diseases, medication etc. It is said that the male population is more prone to the problem of body odor as compared to the female population.
Body odor could be specific to individuals (except identical twins in same environment) and it can be used to trace or identify them. This method is generally used by dogs and other animals. Scientific studies have shown that human babies and mothers can recognize each other on the basis of their respective body odors. Likewise, the human sweat, urine, breath, saliva, skin oils etc also contain such identifiable scents.
Coming back to the foul odors, it has been observed that different people have different odors owing to their unique individual genetic setup. Ecological factors also important determinants in creating in a variety of odors. The most common method to deal with body odor is the usage of deodorants and antiperspirants. One should be aware that there is a difference between deodorants and antiperspirants. The former simply covers up the unpleasant smell of body odor whereas the latter tries to stop or dries the perspiration. One should be careful not use these excessively as they contain toxic chemicals which can intensify the problems and have side effects in the long run. So, opting for natural home remedies for body odor is a much safer option.
Causes and Symptoms of Body Odor
Sweating is a natural process. Everybody sweats. Problem arises when there is chronic body odor due to excessive sweating, a condition called hyperhidrosis. Important criteria for determining the problem are the amount of perspiration, the areas most affected, the duration and other factors which differ from individual to individual. Generally, exercising, hot weather conditions, stress, anxiety, and nervousness lead to perspiration. In certain cases, people inherit the tendency to sweat excessively which can be observed mostly by their tendency of sweating more on palms and soles. Sweating on face, underarms, soles of feet and palms could also be a result of strong emotions.
A number of factors affect the smell of the sweat. Some of them include one’s diet, mood, certain drugs, medical conditions and hormones. Foods with high sulphur content and strong odors like onion, garlic, eggs, cumin contain oils that produce specific odors. Beverages containing caffeine promote the production of sweat in the body, thereby increasing the risk of body odor. Red meat also helps release toxins leading to body odor. Manufactured food products available in the market generally lack in fiber content and are prepared from refined white floor, hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, and other harmful ingredients. Such products also intensify the problem of body odor. For these reasons, a number of home remedies for body odor consisting of a diet of natural fruits and vegetables are suggested.
Certain diseases like thyroid disorder, carcinoid syndrome, diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems, skin problems, gastrointestinal problems, weak metabolism, fever, fungal infection, low blood sugar, menopause, prolonged illness encourage excessive production of sweat in the body which in turn produces body odor. Further, the side effects of certain medicines like antidepressants can cause excessive sweating. Consumption of alcohol, smoking cigarettes or cigars and other intoxicating items also encourage the incidence of offensive body odor. Zinc deficiency in the body, cavities, and other toxins are also a common cause of body odor.
Natural Home Remedies for Body Odor
Bathing daily with a proper soap, body wash or shower gel, wearing clean clothes, maintaining personal hygiene are the obvious steps to reduce body odor. If it still persists, the following natural home remedies for body odor can be adopted.
Preparing homemade natural deodorants:
• Extract the juice of about two dozen radishes and mix it well with about a quarter teaspoonful of glycerin. Pour the resultant liquid in a spray-top bottle and use it as a deodorant. Store it in a cool dry place (fridge).
• Take two drops of tea tree oil and mix it with about one ounce of water. Pour the solution in a spray-top bottle and use it as a deodorant. Tea tree is an anti bacterial herb which helps curb the problem of body odor.
• Apple cider vinegar can be used as a deodorant in case the body odor is due to a high pH of the skin. While bathing, rinse the armpits with apple cider vinegar in a mug of water.
• Diluted lemon juice can also be used. But one needs to check its concentration otherwise the skin can have a burning sensation and develop redness.
Other natural home remedies for body odor are:
• Applying baby powder or talc on armpits instead of deodorants.
• If the body odor is due to hot weather, one can bathe three times a day to get rid of the unpleasant odor.
• Before taking a bath, put a few drops of rose water in the bath tub. This simple procedure helps maintain long lasting freshness.
• Drink a glass of water along with about 500mg wheatgrass. Have this on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. One can also use chlorophyll gel tabs available in the market which act as internal deodorizers.
• White vinegar is also helpful in overcoming the problem of body odor. Wet a cotton ball with white vinegar and wipe the underarms with it. The vinegar smell will automatically fade away in some time leaving you odor-free.
• Applying baking soda to the armpits and feet.
• Applying a mixture of 10 drops of essential oil in 30 ml water on the affected area.
• Applying virgin coconut oil on skin (it contains lauric acid which kills bacteria causing bad odor).
• Applying turnip juice on the affected area. To extract turnip juice, first grate the turnip and then squeeze its juice.
• Prepare a mixture of alcohol or white vinegar and water. Rinse the armpits with this mixture while bathing.
Diet for Body Odor
A diet consisting of whole grains, leafy vegetables, soy products, sprouts, raw nuts and healthy oils instead of not processed foods helps cope up with the problem of body odor. Avoid fatty foods, refined sugars, and fried foods as much as possible. As stated earlier, one should also reduce the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes, and other nicotine products. A diet comprising a variety of fruits and vegetables especially those rich in chlorophyll like spinach, parsley and so on goes a long way in checking the occurrence of body odor. Aromatic herbs like sage, thyme, oregano are also helpful. A healthy diet along with a positive attitude towards life reduces stress and in turn keeps one free from the problem of body odor.