What causes bad body odour?

My house help has bad body odour. He takes a bath twice a day and I always buy him deodorant but it doesn’t seem to help. What could be the problem?

Dear Doctor,

My house help has bad body odour. He takes a bath twice a day and I always buy him deodorant but it doesn’t seem to help. What could be the problem?

Joe

Dear Joe,

Apocrine glands are the ones responsible for body odour. The sweat produced by them is high in protein content, which is easily broken down by bacteria. It is the acids produced due to protein breakdown, that causes this unpleasant odour, otherwise sweat by itself is odourless. These glands are mostly located in the underarms, groin, genitals, feet, and around nipple and ears.

Obesity, eating spices like raw onion or garlic, smoking, poor hygiene are some of the factors causing a smelly body. One may take a shower daily, but if the armpits or perineal region have a lot of hair and are not kept clean, or dental hygiene is neglected, bad odour can prevail. Nylon clothes enhance sweating by not allowing skin to be well ventilated and can cause and aggravate bad breath. Smelly feet occur due to wearing shoes and socks all the time.

Among medical conditions, overactive thyroid gland, uncontrolled diabetes, liver and kidney disorders, fungal infections, certain genetic disorders can lead to bad smell from the body.

One should try to keep the body clean and dry always to ward off awful smell. Due attention should be given to the underarms and groin, removing excess hair and keeping the parts clean. Cotton clothes should be used for daily wear. The mouth should be rinsed suitably and teeth cleaned if smelly spices are consumed. Drinking adequate quantity of water is also useful.

Deodorants if used after a shower help to remove the bad smell. Antiperspirants aid in reducing the quantity of sweat produced.

 

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