If you can smell it, we can smell it (From the Magazine)

Suzanne Brume

We mostly assume that if a person smells, it is one of two things: they have not showered or they are sweating terribly. But there is so much more to body odour than meets the eye.

What can cause body odour?

It is normal to associate body odour with sweat. But everybody sweats. So what’s the difference between Mr. A and Mrs B? Most perspiration in itself has an almost neutral smell. Perspiration is after all mostly made up of water and salt. The bad smell we perceive is usually from the bacteria on a person’s skin breaking down the sweat; when sweat mixes with the bacteria, the odour gets intensified.

But in addition to the sweat, bacteria combination, there are many other causes of body odour:

Poor hygiene: This should be self explanatory

Bad breath: if you breath stinks, you probably sink. Even though certain bad breath conditions may be caused by mouth ulcers

Diet: Doctors say if you eat too of certain much food, an odour basically starts coming out from your pores. Some examples of these foods are garlic, caffeine, fatty foods and curry.

Hyperhidrosis: Excessive perspirations, this usually has to be coupled with poor hygiene.

Hypoglycaemia: low blood sugar


Kidney failure

Typhoid fever

Side effect of some drugs

There are several other causes, but these are the most popular

How do you know you have it?

If you are human, healthy and exercise frequently, you will sweat. And since nature is not completely fair, some people will sweat more than others: i know i have come in contact with my fair share of nervous ‘sweaters’- so if our sweat level is not the best indicator of body odour, what is?

As an intelligent individual, waiting for someone to cover her nose around you to verify that you have a problem is like waiting for someone to notice your weight for someone to notice your weight gain and tell you “boy, your bum is just looking like a woman’s own nowadays”.

The summary is that you should smell yourself. If you notice an intense odour, the person beside you can probably smell it too.

Of course, that is not exactly applicable to people who have had this condition all their lives. If that is all you have ever known, your sense of smell may have adapted, and you have come to consider the odour as normal. In this case, the advice would again be: please ask somebody. Obviously, not everyone will be honest with you, but there must someone who will. Like your mother. Remember when you were a teenager, if you breath was not exactly pleasant in the morning, your mother would hint with the words “hmmm” did you brush yet? So you can feel completely comfortable asking.

N addition to asking someone is important for us to be observant about any challenges in the normal scent of our bodies. A lot of people with body odour actually have some of the health conditions above but are oblivious to the symptoms. If your nose is telling you that have been some recent changes to your normal body smell. Please see a doctor because it could be an indication of a serious condition.

What can you do about it?

Maybe you have done a little analysis, and have come to the conclusion that you have body odour. Now what do you do? Before you make any assumptions, check for other symptoms. Is the body odour the only thing that is wrong? If, it may simply be a diet personal hygiene problem. Exactly fair and so some people sweat more than others and as such will start to have an odour faster than others. The first thing to do is to simply shower more often. If you only showered once a day, start showering twice, maybe use a better smelling soap (some say mediated) for persona; hygiene problems, it may be necessary to change your deodorant to something that smells better or is stronger.

There are deodorants now that produce a sweet smell when they mix with sweat. Another step to take personal hygiene is to change your toothpaste and brush more often. Any dentist will tell you that flossing and rinsing are really important too so find some good floss and super bacteria fighting mouthwash.

The next thing is to check your diet. Do you eat really spicy foods, tons of garlic, onions, curry, fatty foods? You may need to tone it down a notch. Start with more balanced meals and not the difference.

If you have taken the above steps and still don’t notice any positive change, please consult a doctor seriously. It would do you and everyone around you good.



This article was published in Y! Africa magazine issue 2 | 2010


Photo: reporting Nigeria

Post Author: intern