Body Odor? Home Remedies Can Help
Body odor fascinates scientists. In one experiment, researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. found that people could smell a garment and know which close relative had worn it, even if they hadn't seen the relative in months. Experts conclude that body odor is influenced by environmental variables such as diet but also by other factors, including genetics.
If you have body odor, however, you're probably much less interested in the "why" and more interested in the "how." How to get rid of it -- hopefully in the privacy of your own home.
Here are six suggestions for home remedies to reduce body odor, also known as bromhidrosis.
1. Keep Yourself Squeaky Clean
Shower at least once a day -- more if needed -- and you'll wash away sweat as well as reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.
Sweat by itself is virtually odorless. But when microscopic bacteria that live naturally on your skin mix with sweat, they multiply quickly. And they raise quite a stink while they're at it.
So washing thoroughly, especially areas prone to sweating, can reduce body odor.
If you sweat normally, you might have more of a problem with body odor than those who truly have excessive sweating, called hyperhidrosis. That's because when people sweat excessively, the sweat tends to wash away the odor-causing bacteria.
2. Use Antibacterial Soap
Choose an antibacterial bath soap. Thorough washing with an antibacterial soap bar will reduce the bacteria count, in turn reducing the odor.
Look for the words "antibacterial" on the packaging.
3. Towel Off Thoroughly
Once you've showered, be sure you dry yourself completely. Towel off carefully, being sure areas that sweat profusely are perfectly dry.
Bacteria that cause body odor have a harder time breeding on your skin if it's dry.
4. Apply 'Industrial Strength' Deodorants or Antiperspirants
Once you are clean and dry, use a strong deodorant or antiperspirant on your underarms. While deodorants do not prevent sweating, they mask the smell of bacteria on your skin. Antiperspirants contain aluminum chloride, a chemical that reduces sweating, and often also contain a deodorant.
Stronger deodorants and antiperspirants are now available over the counter. Look for products that say on the label they are higher strength due to ingredients.
If you think you need even more help, you may want to ask your doctor about prescription antiperspirants.
Apply the deodorant or antiperspirant twice a day, morning and evening. If that's too much to remember, it's better to apply once at night, than once in the morning.
5. Keep Your Wardrobe Squeaky Clean
Change clothes often when you're sweating heavily. Fresh clothes help keep body odor down.
Be sure to change your socks as well, especially if you tend to have foot odor. Use deodorant powders in your shoes, replace insoles frequently, and go barefoot if possible.
6. Cut Out or Cut Down 'Offensive' Foods
What you eat does affect your body odor. In one study, for instance, researchers from the Czech Republic tested the effect of red meat consumption on body odor in 17 men. The men wore underarm pads to collect body odor 24 hours after eating red meat and again in another experiment after not eating red meat.
Women volunteers who sniffed the pads found the body odor was more pleasant and less intense when the men did not eat red meat.
Foods that tend to make you sweat more, such as hot peppers or other spicy foods, might also contribute to body odor. And the aroma of foods such as onions or garlic can be carried in the sweat, making you smell like the "stinking rose