When it comes to body odor, staying (or getting) clean is the biggest weapon in your arsenal. The best way to prevent body odor is to wash away sweat and bacteria thoroughly and regularly. Clean the underarm and groin area with water and soap, preferably a deodorant soap, at least once a day and more often if necessary.
Three glands are responsible for body odor. The secretions of the apocrine glands (located the underarms, genitals, and around the nipples) and the eccrine glands (found mainly in underarms, hands, and feet) produce an odor when they interact with skin bacteria. Oil produced by the sebaceous glands (scalp, face, and chest) has a light odor with or without bacteria.
But here’s some other ideas that can help keep you smelling fresh.
Shave your underarms
If you have a lot of hair under your arms, it slows the evaporation of sweat so that you have more bacteria. (If your crotch area is a problem, consider waxing. And take pit stops, meaning, if you exercise a lot or sweat a lot, wash under your arms a few times a day and change clothing.
Wear breathable clothing
Natural fibers (linen, silk, cotton, light wool like merino) can breathe and decrease sweating. Also some of the high-tech fibers wick away moisture. Many exercise clothing now offer high-tech fabric that wicks away moisture from the body, so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to get at the sweat. (Clothing tags will identify them.) Dressing in layers also helps soak up the sweat
Use antiperspirant and deodorant
An antiperspirant blocks the sweating action while deodorants have fragrance to mask the smell. Deodorants also make the skin more acidic, making it less hospitable for bacteria. If a regular product doesn’t work for you, try a stronger over-the-counter antiperspirant such as Secret Clinical Strength, Gillette Clinical, or Certain-Dri
- Apply twice
Studies have shown that applying deodorant in the morning on dry skin and at night before bed makes a big difference. Night-time application allows the ingredients to get into the sweat glands and clog them, as opposed to the morning, when sweat glands may already be full.
- Don’t fear aluminum
Some people avoid deodorants because they’ve heard bad things about the ingredient aluminum chloride. However, according to Dr. Jaliman, who is also assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, there have been no conclusive studies that prove aluminum chloride causes health problems. If you prefer natural products, try Tom’s of Maine or Crystal Body Deodorants.
- Change shoes often
If foot odor is your problem, give shoes a chance to dry inside by changing them often. Dust them and your feet with foot powder to maintain dryness.
Well, if the smell still persists…
See a physician about underlying disease. The smell can be caused by hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or trimethylaminuria (a.k.a. fish odor syndrome), a metabolic disorder that prevents the body from breaking down a smelly compound called trimethylamine. “Diabetes, tuberculosis, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma also can cause excessive sweating,” says Dr. Jaliman.