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Combating Body Odor

Body odor is a common problem that plagues most of us, especially during the hot months, from May to August. All of us do agree that this is one of the most unpleasant aspects of our body. Hence, the need to rush to purchase a deodorant or antiperspirant from your local store.

It is common knowledge that body odor is, generally, caused by bacteria decomposing the sweat in the various areas on our body. But how many of us have actually understood the underlying reasons behind the difference in the odors emanating from different human beings?

Scientifically speaking, sweat is caused by activity of three glands under our skin-- the sweat glands, the sebaceous gland, and the apocrine glands. The sweat glands are mainly responsible for perspiration as we see it. They are activated by temperature, exercise and stress. The apocrine glands are glands related to sexual hormones in our body. These lend a specific odor to every one of us, and are equivalent to the musk released by animals during the mating season. The sebaceous glands secrete oil-like sebum, which is odorless but attracts bacterial growth resulting in strong odors. These glands are distributed all over our body except our palms, and the soles. They are greatest in number on our faces and scalp. These glands are extremely sensitive to hormones, stress and sexual excitement.

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So, now that we know which glands are causing the odors, we can deal with them in a systematic manner.

Sweat Glands
These glands are the most widely distributed and most active of the three glands. This is the reason we all have heard about them and try to combat body odor by using deodorants and antiperspirants. Since heat, activity and stress activate these glands, we have to tackle them accordingly.

The best way to sweat less with the fluctuation of temperature is to wear fabrics that allow air to circulate and helps the sweat to evaporate. In extremely hot and humid conditions, one must take extra precautions to wear loose clothes made from natural fibers. This will not only allow air to circulate, but will also absorb the sweat and bring it to the outer surface. This helps in speedier evaporation of water.

We have all experienced sweating when we exercise. Exercise increases the metabolic rate of the body, thereby increasing the body temperature. This results in a greater secretion of sweat. Therefore, it is very important that we shower after we exercise. This destroys the breeding ground for the odor causing bacteria and keeps you feeling fresh.

Stress and anxiety also result in the increase in perspiration. When a person is emotionally charged, a hormone called adrenalin is released, which gears us to face danger. This hormone is connected with an increase in the metabolic rate of our body and as a result, greater sweating. So, if you are the anxious or aggressive type, you have to learn to relax and cool yourself. This will not only keep your mind cool, but your sweat under control. Meditation or yoga is the best way to tackle this problem.

Apocrine Glands
These glands are mostly related with sexual hormones and are activated when we reach puberty. The secretions from this gland are mainly responsible for the specific body odor that is very peculiar to every single one of us. These are also supposed to the greatest aphrodisiacs. So here, we cannot do anything to change that particular odor. We can only try to mask this odor with perfumes and deodorants. But it does not help much in changing the way you smell.

Sebaceous Glands
Regulating your thoughts can control these glands, as your thoughts regulate your hormones. Since these glands are extremely sensitive to stimuli, they are the ones responsible for making your face look greasy in your teen years or when you are emotionally disturbed. The oil-like secretions from these glands are the culprits behind acne and smelly scalps. Apart from trying to regulate your hormones through your thoughts and activities, you also need to remove this layer of sebum to do away with odor. So, once again, washing is the best way.

General tips on reducing body odor, naturally.
Always, use cotton or natural fibers for your clothes during the hot months. Keep the clothes loose and the fabric light to help the sweat to evaporate faster.

Knitted or handloom fabrics are better than machine made fabrics, as they are slightly loose in their weaving and this lets more air to circulate around your body aiding the drying of sweat.

Shoes and socks also trap sweat causing the bad odor to emanate from your feet. Wear cotton socks, and wear strappy, open shoes to keep your feet dry. If you can’t avoid wearing shoes, dust your feet with pure sandalwood powder, which keeps your feet cool and infection free.

Dusting cornstarch on the feet before getting into socks and shoes helps to keep them dry (moisture encourages bacteria to grow and flourish), or one can try soaking them daily in warm water with white vinegar or Epsom salts added.

Yoga or meditation keeps your mind and body under control, thus controlling the hormonal secretions in your body. The more relaxed you are, the less you have to get stressed about body odor.

Drink plenty of fluids. This will Keep the body cool inside and slow the metabolic rate, there by slowing down the rate of perspiration.

Go light on hot spices, onion and garlic, as these aggravate the body odor. Drink curd and coconut water to keep your system cool. Fruits like lemon, oranges and watermelon can be used for the same purpose.

Shower with an antiseptic soap after strenuous activities. This gets rid of the harmful bacteria. Last rinse can, with a few drops of sandalwood or lavender oil added to it, keep your body smelling fresh for a longer time than most deodorants.

Sweat glands are generally found under the hair follicles. These hairs trap the sweat and become a breeding ground for bacteria, causing bad odor. So, hair in the pubic area and armpits should be removed or trimmed to ensure personal hygiene. Scalp hair should kept clean with regular shampoos to avoid bad odor and infections of the scalp.

The armpits and the pubic area are the main area of concern when it comes to body odor. The reason being that these areas is generally covered, and the sweat does not dry soon enough causing the bacteria to decompose it. So wear loose, Cotton undergarments and avoid wearing tight clothes in warm weather.

Medically Speaking
The aluminum compounds in antiperspirants may be helpful in reducing the amount of sweat, limiting bacterial growth.

In addition to deodorant, wash daily with antibacterial soaps, such as chlorhexidine.

Use solutions such as povidone-iodine that can also help in reducing body odor.

Application of topical antibiotic cream or ointment on the underarms might also help.

Prescription drugs that supposedly reduce sweating, such as those that contain aluminum chloride, whether applied to the skin or taken by mouth, may help some people. But, this has to be done under medical supervision.

Going through the above article would have helped you understand the reasons behind body odor and some natural and effective ways to combat this ugly phenomenon. These steps can reduce the time and money spent on products to help make us smell better.


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