Like mouth odour, body odour can be very embarrassing, especially when you are not aware of it but people around you are. Most cases of body odour occur in boys and girls going through puberty and in the few years after puberty.
There is an increase in sex hormones during puberty; these hormones are responsible, among other things, for hair growth in the armpits and the private part area in both boys and girls. Also, there is an increase in the number of structures in the skin responsible for sweat production especially in the armpits and private part area.
Sweat contains many chemical compounds, including proteins known as keratin. In people with body odour, the normal bacteria on their skin act on some of these chemical compounds whenever they sweat (after running or doing some other strenuous physical activities), breaking them down into very foul smelling compounds that give rise to the body odour.
For some people with body odour, the cause has been linked to the consumption of certain foods like onion, garlic and alcohol; some medications, like penicillin, have also been implicated in causing body odour.
Moreover, body odour may be due to pre-existing skin diseases and other conditions like diabetes and obesity. It can also be genetic, meaning it runs in families.
Getting rid of body odour may be very challenging requiring a hospital visit to see a dermatologist (a doctor who is a specialist in treating diseases of the skin), but it can also be as easy as doing the following:
- Always change your clothes and take a bath after doing strenuous physical activities that lead to sweating. Wash your armpits thoroughly at every bath to prevent bacteria from growing there.
Use an antiperspirant spray for your skin and armpits. Antiperspirants prevent excessive sweating; some also contain antibacterial chemicals that limit the activities of bacteria on the skin, thereby masking any unpleasant odour that may emanate from any area of the skin. You can get good antiperspirants from supermarkets or pharmacies. Always check the label on the container to confirm you’re buying an antiperspirant and a deodorant.
Shave your armpit hair regularly to prevent the accumulation of bacteria, thereby reducing sweat and body odour.
Doing the above regularly for a few weeks should take care of the body odour. If the body odour does not resolve, you will have to visit a family doctor or a dermatologist for a detailed medical examination and treatment which may involve prescription antibiotics, some other specific medications and even some form of surgery.
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