Do you know what causes body odor. It is an unpleasant smell that bacteria which live on your skin secrete. Body odor is influenced by genetic makeup, age, diet and the most important is hygiene. You just need two things to produce that bad scents.

  • Our body own secretions
  • Bacteria that feed on them

Your body has a millions of sweat glands but all glands belongs to these two categories

Ecrine Glands

These glands are find all over your body and secrete mainly water and salts.

Apocrine Glands

These glands which develop at puberty, in your armpits and few other areas in your body. The sweat they secretes contain protein and fat.

These secretions are usually odorless by themselves. That’s where bacteria come in to feed itself. Many microorganism thrive in moist environment like our armpits. There you can find millions of bacteria per square cm. when these bacteria feed on the protein and fats of apocrine glands they convert odorless compounds into new one which produce strong odor. Different bacteria produce different odor. Some of the bacteria make sulfur containing compounds those give body odor its oniony aroma. Carboxylic acids are in the mix too. This is what cause body odor.

What determine how strong your body odor is?

It totally depends on the resident microbial population in your armpit and the nutrients your apocrine glands provide them with. Your genes determine which compound your glands will produce and in what quantity. So everyone has a slightly different set of instructions.

One of the research says that Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus made up to 77% of bacterial population of our armpit. Former bacteria are lipophilic bacteria which occur more in man than women because there apocrine gland secrete more fatty sweat.

Bacterial type also vary depending on type of clothes we are wearing. For example Staphylococcus grow more rapidly on cotton and polyester shirts, while Micrococcus which is famous for making malodor love polyester.


How to get rid of body odor?

Washing armpits with soap and water can help but won’t remove all bacteria. Since many are buried in deeper layer of our skin. Deodorants however, inhibit bacterial activity and give odor at the same time. Antiperspirant work by forming tiny gel particles that block sweat glands drying out the armpits.

However, One research conducted in Nigeria, Department of Microbiology, College of sciences, Afe Babalola University on the effect of deodorant on microflora of the armpit. They concluded that there is no harmful effect of deodorant in fact it find helpful to reduce number of bacteria.

Many manufacturers are trying to make polyester fabric infuse with antimicrobials like silver nanoparticles or trilosan. But we need more research to study its bad effects for human body and on the environment or we can see the ultimate solutions that would be something more organic.


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