Keeping bad body odour under control

Body odour is a sensitive issue. If you suspect that you may be causing a stink, here's how to address the issue

It’s not always easy to know if you have bad body odour, as it’s not the easiest thing to call someone’s attention to. But if you suspect that you may have a problem, there are measures you can take to address it.

“Most people don’t know that sweat itself isn’t responsible for bad body odour,” says Jennifer Cromie, research and development director of personal care at Unilever. “Once the natural germs living on your skin come into contact with your sweat, it breaks it down into fatty acids that then cause body odour.”

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Cromie offers tips on how to deal with bad body odour:

  • Use an antiperspirant as part of your daily routine. Shield Germ Defence gives you 10 times more protection and combats more than 90% of odour-causing germs.
  • Sweat and germs can easily get trapped in our armpits, feet, toes and genital area, which can lead to sweat patches, so it’s important to wash (with an appropriate soap or shower gel) and dry these parts of your body properly.
  • If smelly feet are a problem, make sure that you wear socks made from natural fabrics, and that you change them daily. Also be sure to avoid wearing shoes made from synthetic materials.
  • Watch what you eat, not necessarily to stay in shape. Try to avoid spicy foods if you’re sweating more than usual as they can make you sweat more.

“Only 1% of people who experience excessive sweating also have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. This is thought to occur as a result of overactive sweat glands, but the exact cause is unknown,” Cromie explains.

“Someone suffering from hyperhidrosis can produce up to five times more sweat than is normally required. Some people may experience excessive sweating all over their bodies as a result of medical conditions or particular medications – this is called secondary hyperhidrosis.”

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Cromie says that really bad body odour can have devastating effects on an individual’s self-esteem, to the point that some people even avoid social or work situations.

“It’s important for people to know that they are never alone or that they’re the only one with a bad body odour problem,” Cromie says. “Excessive sweating and body odour is more common than most people think. Some people are simply more aware and manage their body odour better.”