Body odour could be caused by a variety of reasons.
By Anna Angbazo
Charles Peter is heartbroken because his girlfriend; Linda Joel, left him, She left him because she could no longer endure his offensive body odour, he said.
On several occasions, Linda had complained about the odour but Peter’s efforts at getting rid of the smell failed to impress her.
Funny as it may sound; Peter’s plight is not extraordinary. This is because several people, who undergo a similar experience, spend a lot of money on buying perfumes and deodorants; all in an attempt to smell nice and retain friendships.
Observers, however, note that note that most of the people who have offensive body odour are not even aware of their condition.
For instance, Grace Martin, a civil servant, said that people always complained that she had an offensive body odour which she was not mindful of.
“My colleagues will spray air freshener and complain about a foul smell anytime I enter the office; and people don’t like to sit close to me.
“Some people tell me that my body odour is because I was not properly washed when I was born; so, I use perfume but after a short time, the smell comes up again,” she said.
However, some people believe that body odour occurs because of the dirty habits of affected individuals, while others believe that it is the aftermath of unhygienic childbirth management.
These conflicting viewpoints notwithstanding, experts insist that body odour can be managed.
Olanrewaju Falodun, a consultant dermatologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, said that the belief that some people were born with body odour was totally false.
According to him, body odour is caused by the breaking down of bacteria in the sweat, resulting in the emission of offensive odour.
“There are two types of sweat glands in the body; the eccrine gland, found all over the body, and the apocrine gland, found primarily in the ancillary (armpit) and genital areas.
“The two sweat glands are usually connected to hair follicles, and much of the thing we call body odour is a product of the apocrine gland.
“The glands do not mature or start functioning until when a person reaches the age of puberty, and that is why the real issues about odour are more pronounced after puberty,” he said.
Mr. Falodun said body odour could be managed or prevented via diligent maintenance and cleanliness of the body, as well as use of deodorants and antiperspirants.
He also underscored the need to wash clothes thoroughly; particularly those that came in contact with sweaty parts of the body, such as socks, underwear and shirts.
“Wash the body with soap daily, particularly the armpits, groin and feet, where there are many sweat-producing glands; this removes sweat and kills the bacteria,” he said.
Mr. Falodun said that people should recognise the types of products that they could use in fighting body odour, stating the difference between perfumes, deodorants and antiperspirants.
“Deodorants are anti-bacterial and their main function is preventing the metabolism and multiplication of the bacteria that cause body odour in the skin under the armpit,” he noted.
The dermatologist said that antiperspirants, which could aid efforts to stop a person from sweating, were different from deodorants and perfumes. He said that people used perfumes with deodorants or antiperspirants to improve their smell after the foul body odour had been eliminated.
“Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores in the body with aluminium chemicals, so that they cannot release sweat which could be harmful.
“However, there are instances where people developed boils from the use of antiperspirants because by the time pores and hair follicles become clogged, infections occur and this leads to boils in the armpit,” he warned.
Mr. Falodun, however, recommended deodorants for fighting body odour, insisting that they did not interfere with sweat.
He added that deodorants had been scientifically recognised as one of the natural ways of cooling the body.
Also, Rita Uzor, a general physician, suggested good personal hygiene and regular physical exercises as the best treatment for body odour.
She said that regular bathing and physical exercises could aid efforts to remove toxins and fungi that caused body odour.
Ms. Uzor re-echoed Mr. Falodun’s viewpoint that some parts of the body, like the armpits and genitals, were prone to emission of body odour.
According to her, although body odour is a problem that affects both sexes, men sweat more than women.
“This is because they are highly active in nature but the smell differs from person to person,” she said.
Ms. Uzor noted that the consumption of garlic, onions and strong spices, which contained strong chemicals, could also cause body odour.
“But the body odour usually disappears once you take a shower or a bath but it can return if you put on unwashed clothes,” she said.
She noted that low blood sugar, liver disease, diabetes, parasites, metabolic dysfunction, menopause and emotional stress, among others, could also cause excessive sweating.
“Regular exercises which could generate sweating can get rid of body toxins, bacteria and fungi that contribute to the emission of body odour.
“Sweating enables the body to maintain normal body temperature and function at its maximum capacity,” she noted.
Ms. Uzor advised people with offensive body odour to improve their personal hygiene by bathing with anti-bacterial soap.
Lois Obiekezie, a general physician, urged the public, particularly women, to ensure cleanliness as a strategy to eliminate body odour.
She noted that wearing of dirty clothes could result in body odour, explaining that most dirty clothes were coated with sweat.
“Many people sweat frequently; and a handful of them simply pull off their clothes, only to wear them a second time without washing; offensive odour from the unwashed clothes could become permanent in this way.
“Some other body odours are natural, arising from chemical reactions in the body; sometimes, these occur in children below 15 years.
“The chemical reactions have to do with body hormones, and individuals with natural body odours should bathe regularly so as to avoid retaining sweat that could aggravate the odours,” she said.
Ms. Obiekezie urged the public, especially women, to give attention to washing the private parts of their body during bathing, insisting that failure to properly clean up the parts would lead to offensive odour
Overal, the experts urge the people to make pragmatic efforts to get rid of offensive body odour via the adoption of clean habits and structured lifestyles.