What Causes Body Odor


Smelly shoes, stinky socks and clothes: Exercise is a good thing, but it sure can make you sweat. And sweat stinks. Or does it?



By itself, perspiration (sweat) is odorless. But it does contribute to body odor. The Mayo Clinic explains it’s the bacteria on your skin combined with the sweat that causes body odor.

BACTERIA: An article on sweating and body odor by the respected health site says that the human body has two types of sweat glands. Eccrine sweat glands cover most of the body “…and open directly onto the surface of the skin.” Apocrine glands, however, are mostly concentrated in places on the body with hair follicles, including the scalp, armpits and groin, “…and open into the hair follicle just before it opens onto the skin surface.” Skin is cooled by fluid, sweat made up of sodium chloride, which is then released by eccrine sweat glands. The apocrine glands release “a fatty sweat” into the gland that, when under stress, gets released to the surface of the skin where it broken down by bacteria. This is, typically, what causes an odor – the breakdown of salt by bacteria.

It may sound gross, but those smelly shoes, and those stinky socks and clothes you get after exercising are normal. Of course, body odor can vary depending on the person. Age, hygiene, weight, and even diet can contribute to a body’s smell.

TOXINS: Some speculate toxins – in the air we breathe and food we eat – can cause body odor. An article in Health911 explains that our liver and intestines may be clogged, which may cause body odor.

DIET: Some of the foods we eat may actually make body odor worse, according to an article in Health911. These include “…meat, onions, garlic, exotic spices, and drinks such as coffee and alcohol.” These foods combined with our body chemistry may cause constipation or a deficiency of magnesium or zinc, according to the article.



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