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Updated: June 11, 2011 16:36 IST

Keep free of body odour

DR. JAMUNA PAI
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Deflect the sun's rays: Opt for cotton clothes.
Photo: S. Abishek Deflect the sun's rays: Opt for cotton clothes.

It can be an embarrassment but is not tough to deal with. Here are some simple tips to deal with this problem.

Body odour or ‘bromhidrosis' is caused by a natural process involving sweat that occurs on the skin's surface. Sweat is odourless but, if left on the skin for long, the bacteria that normally live there or those attracted to a‘sticky skin' feed on it and cause bacterial decomposition. This is what causes the unpleasant smell or body odour.

Some areas of the body like the armpits and genitals are more likely to produce the odour as these glands produce proteins and oils that the bacteria feed on. The unpleasant smell is typical to one's own body chemistry. The feet produce their characteristic odour. A humid climate, sweat and closed footwear allow fungi and bacteria to flourish.

Causes

Lack of hygiene, obesity, use of synthetic clothing, certain foods, caffeine, strong medications, liver and kidney problems, alcohol and zinc deficiency are important contributory factors. In cases of severe sweating or hyperhidrosis, injecting Botox in the armpit takes care of the condition for almost a year, after which it needs to be repeated. Other surgical procedures include partial removal of sweat glands or destroying the nerves that control sweating. Seek professional help.

So, get started! Keep body odour at bay. Keep all around you happy too!

Quick tips

A few easy-to-follow tips that are very effective in curbing the unpleasantness caused by body odour.

Eat food that contains fibre like whole grains, wheat, soy products and green leafy vegetables. Avoid processed foods

Drink plenty of water. This will help dilute sweat and urine, as both contribute to body odour

Wear light-coloured, loose cotton clothes to soak sweat and deflect the sun's rays

Body odour lingers on clothes. So wash clothes after every bath and avoid polyester

Have frequent showers with a teaspoon of alum added to your bath water

Use an antibacterial soap

Apply cider vinegar or white vinegar on the underarms

A little baking soda with lemon juice kills the bacteria and also absorbs the sweat

Pay special attention to hygiene in the feet and body folds. Wash feet properly and use antifungal powder between the toes and in body folds like armpits, groin, neck, under breasts after bathing. Wear open sandals

The writer is a Mumbai-based skin and hair consultant.

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