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The real reason behind body odour, and why we all have it

Body odour is a natural part of being human

Ever wondered why a long day or a rigorous workout session leaves you with a not-so-pleasant scent?

Body odour has scientific roots that go beyond mere sweat. It’s a complex interplay between biology, chemistry, and lifestyle factors.

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The science of sweat and scent

Our bodies have two main types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands, found all over the body, help regulate body temperature by releasing saltwater. This type of sweat is usually odourless. On the other hand, apocrine glands, located in areas like the armpits and groin, secrete a thicker fluid rich in proteins and lipids. It’s the interaction of this sweat with the bacteria on our skin that leads to body odour.


The skin’s surface is home to a diverse community of bacteria. When apocrine sweat is released, these bacteria break down the sweat’s proteins and fats, producing compounds with strong, often unpleasant smells. This process is natural and varies greatly from person to person due to differences in skin microbiome composition, diet, health, and hygiene practices.

Factors influencing body odour

Here are some the factors causes it:

Genetics and diet

Genetic factors play a significant role in determining body odour. They can influence the composition of sweat, the skin’s microbiome, and even how certain foods are metabolised. Speaking of foods, what we eat can also affect our scent. For instance, consuming large amounts of garlic, onions, or spices can produce a more pungent body odour.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can intensify body odour. These changes affect sweat gland activity and the composition of sweat, altering the body’s natural scent.

Health and hygiene

Illnesses can influence body odour, as can personal hygiene practices. Regular bathing and wearing clean clothes are essential in managing body odour, as they help remove sweat and reduce the skin bacteria responsible for its breakdown.

Combating body odour: tips and tricks

While body odour is a natural phenomenon, there are ways to manage it effectively:

Maintain good hygiene: Regular washing with soap and water, especially in areas with apocrine glands, can significantly reduce body odour.

Use antiperspirants and deodorants: Antiperspirants help reduce sweating, while deodorants mask or eliminate the odour.

Mind your diet: Be aware of how certain foods may affect your body’s scent.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins that can contribute to body odour.

Wear breathable fabrics: Natural fibres like cotton allow your skin to breathe, reducing sweat accumulation.
This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.

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