8 Natural Ways to Prevent Body Odor

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Richard Gaines, M.D., FAARM, ABAARM

Body Odor, colloquially known as “BO.” It may not be a pleasant subject matter, but as we get into the peak of the summer, there are many reasons you can wind up smelling like a dog! Maybe that is where the expression “dog days” comes from?

In any case, just because Mother Nature is turning up the heat, that doesn’t mean you have to lose your cool! Here are 8 ways to help you stay up close and personal this summer, without piling on the potentially harmful chemical deodorants and cover-ups.

1. Clean up your act – It may seem like a “no brainer” but the best way not to offend is to stay clean. Your body has two different kinds of sweat glands, apocrine glands and eccrine glands. The eccrine glands are all over your body, and produce a very watery sweat that helps to regulate temperature. The apocrine sweat glands are found where you have hair – the scalp, armpits and groin – and are the ones most associated with the pungent smell of BO. But, it is not the sweat itself that produces odor, it is the waste products of the bacteria apocrine sweat attracts that accumulates in the hair. So keeping these areas clean, is the best way to reduce odor.

2. Calm Down – Keep your cool, literally. Anger, anxiety, and stress increase sweat production.

3. Be Mindful of Food Choices – Hot spicy foods make you sweat, and also contribute to body odor in other ways, such as the sulfur compounds in garlic and onions that tend to “stick with you.”

4. Apply Antibacterials – Getting back to those problem areas of the apocrine glands, if you are uncomfortable with, or have had bad reactions to, over-the-counter chemical deodorants, try washing these areas with an anti-bacterial soap, or apply an antibacterial cream, like you use for wound care. Hydrogen peroxide is another good choice. Either way, kill the bacteria, reduce the smell.

5. Dry Off – Of course, after a workout, the best way to reduce odor and remove sweat is taking a shower. However, as you probably have learned by now, it’s the nasty bacteria, and not sweat, that cause odor. They love two things, heat and moisture, so your body is a breeding ground as soon as you step out of the shower. Dry off well, or you are defeating the purpose.

6. Watch What You Wear – Again, moisture is the enemy, so try to avoid fabrics and clothing that hold moisture in. There are products that are made to specifically wick moisture away, these not only can help you feel cooler, they can reduce odor. Beyond that, wear layers that can be removed as you get hotter, and select loose fitting, breathable clothes.

7. The Agony of “De-feet” – Foot odor can be particularly nasty in the summer time. Again, if you do not want to use the typical chemical foot powders or sprays, baking soda is a great alternative, as is soaking your feet in salt water.

8. Quit Smoking – There are a number of good reasons to quit smoking, not the least of which is the fact that the hundreds of chemicals in cigarettes that exude from your pores can make you reek!

There are people that suffer from a condition known as hyperhidrosis, or over-active sweat glands, for which there are FDA approved treatments available. These include Botox injections and microwave treatments. Check with your healthcare professional if you think you may be suffering from hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating.

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