It is common for Americans to spend part of their day trying to free themselves of body odor by taking a shower and using deodorant. They also try smelling their armpits every now and then to ensure that there is no bad odor. Body odor results from the interaction of perspiration and bacteria present on the skin.
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, says that body odor is not an indicator of anything in particular, but people try to keep themselves free of body odor because of societal norms. While it is easy for some people to keep odor at bay by following proper hygiene measures, it is quite difficult for others.
Can Body Odor Worsen Due To Certain Diseases?
George Preti, an organic chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center who is working to find out the origin and types of human odors, says that there are some rare diseases that can change a person’s body odor. One such disease is TMAU, or trimethylaminuria, which usually affects one in 20,000 people.
Preiti says that trimethylaminuria is a metabolic disease which can alter human odor. In a few severe cases, a person may smell like garbage or rotting fish, a persistent smell that is easily detected at some distance. With this disease, the body becomes incapable of metabolizing trimethylamine, which in turn causes excessive formation of trimethylamine and gives out an unusual body odor. Trimethylaminuria is commonly found in younger people, and an unusual body odor is one of the initial symptoms.
Diabetes and advanced liver and kidney disorders are a few of the other health conditions which can cause your body to smell strange. People can also suffer from bad breath in the later stages of these illnesses. It is important to note that the presence of bad breath and an awful body smell should not be used to diagnose ailments. However, many organizations are considering training dogs in order to detect such diseases by body odor. There are numerous groups who are prepared to fund research into dogs being used as detectors because they have an amazing power to smell even the slightest odor, especially in children. Preti said that dogs can be provided training in order to pick up unusual breath odors during the initial stage of diseases, which can help people identify whether they have high or low blood sugar.
Can Stress Aggravate Body Odor?
Preti says that odor is caused by a combination of bacteria, moisture and apocrine secretion. During stress, there is increased secretion of apocrine from apocrine glands present in the armpits, which causes your body odor to change.
Zeichner says that antiperspirants work by preventing sweat from reaching the skin’s surface by forming a plug. Deodorants, on the other hand, are fragrances that work to mask the bad odor. In severe cases, oral drugs and administration of botox injection in the armpits can help reduce excessive odor.
Are There Foods That Can Worsen Body Odor?
One of the common notions, that spicy and curried foods can increase body odor, is still under debate. Preti says that there is no effective research that indicates that food can affect body odor. However, he further states that there are certain spices that contain fat soluble components, which are mixed with the body’s saliva and sweat to alter body odor.
Preti says that some people are confused between bad breath and underarm odor. People who consume lots of garlic had bad breath for more than forty hours, and they considered it to be body odor.
Zeichner recommends taking two drops of peppermint oil on the tongue three times daily as an effective solution for people who are bothered about their odor. Peppermint oil works because it is easily absorbed and excreted to help alter odors.