Have you ever had one of those days in a matatu or the office, where you had some stinky guy’s armpit in your face? If you have, then you know that some men can generate a stench that can send a skunk running. Why do some guys have such strong body odour?
Body odour (B.O.) is a combination of sweat and bacteria. Humans generate apocrine and eccrine sweat. Eccrine sweat is used to lower our temperature, like when we exercise or when it’s really hot. It is produced uniformly all over the body and does not smell.
Apocrine is produced in places like the armpits, groin, hands, and feet. Likewise, it does not smell. But it’s the bacteria on our body that cause all the trouble. These bacteria feed off apocrine sweat and then they do what any living creature on earth does: they defecate. Yes, you guessed it; body odour is the smell of bacteria excrement!
The main reason why people stink is that some don’t bathe enough. But good hygiene doesn’t stop at washing your body; it also includes washing clothes. Certain fabrics, like cotton, easily absorb bad odours.
Some people smell a lot because they perspire more, either because of stress, physical activity or because of a condition known as Hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating.
Stress is more prevalent today. There are higher expectations, tighter schedules, more work, etc., and they all cause an unnatural amount of anxiety on the body, which causes perspiration and, in turn, may make us smell.
Eating certain foods can also affect how you smell. If a food is pungent enough, its smell travels through your body and comes out from your pores. Garlic, cumin and curry are believed to have such properties. Alcohol is also diffused out of your body through your pores.
Zinc deficiency can impart B.O. because it regulates detoxification in the body; it controls how the body handles waste. Likewise, a sugar imbalance and caffeine can alter the amount and type of perspiration.
Some odours may indicate health problems. People who smell like nail polish can have diabetes and an ammonia smell is a sign of liver disease.
Why do men tend to smell more often than women?
One of the reasons some men smell more might be because they are more physical and athletic. They also have higher testosterone levels — testosterone influences apocrine sweat production. Then again, some guys stink simply by virtue of poor hygiene; they don’t bathe enough. Men by nature have a tendency to wear clothes that haven’t been washed for a while. Washing clothes is very important when it comes to odour. It doesn’t matter if your body is clean; if you wear clothes soaked in B.O., you will smell like B.O.
Treating body odour
Bathing is a good way to start, and washing your clothes also helps. Showers are better than baths because during a shower, more dirt and bacteria run off the body with the constant flow of water.
Many deodorants only mask body odour, but some products actually fight bacteria. The most effective deodorants contain aluminum or zinc. Both elements are known to fight odour-causing bacteria. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, clog sweat glands, so bacteria have nothing to interact with. Antibacterial soaps also help kill off those nasty pests.
Cutting down on alcohol and caffeine reduces B.O. Coffee, cokes, chocolate, and other caffeine elements contribute to odour because they stimulate apocrine sweat glands. Drinking plenty of fluids keeps eccrine sweat glands active; this dilutes apocrine perspiration, which reduces body odour.
One of the best products for treating body odour, and quite possibly the least known, is Boric Acid. It’s relatively cheap and works well. Simply apply it wherever you want to keep smell away after taking a bath. Boric Acid slows down the spreading of bacteria but using too much can irritate the skin.
If the odour doesn’t want to go away, there are products that can treat serious cases of body odour, but they require a prescription. Keep in mind that extreme cases of B.O. are probably caused by some form of fungal infection.
Hook, line and stinker
If you stink, don’t worry; there are plenty of ways of dealing with the problem. Find out what’s causing your body odour and deal with it accordingly. Don’t be afraid to see a doctor if a stench just doesn’t want to go away.