Body Odor

Man with body odor

Body Odor (BO) usually refers to the odor which emanates from a person’s armpits.  This is known as armpit BO or axillary BO.

However, BO can have other components.

Our overall “body odor” radiates from various parts of our body including our mouths, armpits, sweat glands in general, urinary tract, digestive tract and feet.

These odors comes in a variety of forms such as exhalation (breath), odor from our armpits, urine, stools, farts or foot odor.

That being said, the armpit is an area of the skin where a large number of glands and bacteria collaborate to manufacture a strong scent.  In this article, about BO, we will be focusing on axillary or armpit body odor.

Human body odor is made up of various types of odor components.

The smell of BO which can be detected by the human nose is from a chemical composition of volatile and non-volatile organic molecules and compounds.

Our bodies create an ever-changing, and unique, mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) depending on our current living conditions.  Some of the factors that affect our composition of VOCs include what we eat, what we drink, how much much we drink, our sexual activities and our health or hormonal status.

The chemicals in body odor also change as we age.  Therefore, there is an age-related change in body odor.

A significant portion of a person’s individual odor results from innate genetic factors.  However, the effects of environmental factors such as what we eat is another major factor which can cause fluctuations in our odor.

Some studies have suggested that eating red meat may cause negative effects on odor.  In one study, females found the odor of men who eat red meat to be less pleasurable than men who ate non-meat diets.

Mild cases of unpleasant BO can be treated with simple lifestyle changes.  These changes include hydrating well with water, regularly washing the armpits with soap and water, avoiding foods which lead to unpleasant body odor and using an aluminum-based antiperspirant.

Since bacteria are a major component of creating bad BO the effects of simply washing your armpits with soap and water regularly can not be understated.  Washing with soap and water removes bacteria as well as any volatile organic compounds built up on the skin of the armpits.

So, if you can’t bathe or shower every day, just wash your armpits with soap and water.  Doing this in the morning and evening can have a significant beneficial effect on BO.

More severe cases of BO may require further investigation by your physician as certain illnesses or hormonal imbalances can lead to an unpleasant body odor.

You may also wish to learn more about foot odor or excessive sweating.