Your body has between three and four million sweat glands. Eccrine sweat is designed to help cool you down. It is odourless to start with, but can get whiffy if bacteria are allowed to break down stale sweat.
Body odour fascinates scientists. In one experiment, researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that people could smell a garment and know which close relative had worn it, even if they hadn't seen the relative in months. Experts conclude that body odour is influenced by environmental variables such as diet but also by other factors, including genetics.
If you have body odour, however, you're probably much less interested in the "why" and more interested in the "how." How to get rid of it - hopefully in the privacy of your own home.
Here are 8 top tips for home remedies to reduce body odour (BO), also known as bromhidrosis.
1. Keep yourself squeaky clean
Shower or bathe at least once a day - more if needed on hot days - and you'll wash away sweat as well as reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.
Sweat by itself is virtually odourless, but when microscopic bacteria that live naturally on your skin mix with sweat, they multiply quickly. They also raise quite a stink while they're at it.
So washing thoroughly, especially areas prone to sweating, can reduce body odour.
If you sweat normally, you might have more of a problem with body odour than those who truly have excessive sweating, called hyperhidrosis. That's because when people sweat excessively, the sweat tends to wash away the odour-causing bacteria.
2. Use antibacterial cleanser
Choose an antibacterial cleanser. Thorough washing with an antibacterial cleanser will reduce the bacteria count, in turn reducing the odour.
Look for the word "antibacterial" on the packaging.
3. Towel off thoroughly
Once you've showered, dry yourself completely. Towel off carefully, making sure areas that sweat profusely are perfectly dry.
Bacteria that cause body odour have a harder time breeding on your skin if it's dry.
4. Apply high-strength deodorants or antiperspirants
Once you are clean and dry, use a strong deodorant or antiperspirant on your underarms. While deodorants do not prevent sweating, they mask the smell of body odour on your skin. Antiperspirants contain aluminium chloride, a chemical that reduces sweating, and often also contain a deodorant.
Stronger deodorants and antiperspirants are now available over the counter. Look for products that say on the label they are higher strength due to their ingredients.
If you think you need even more help, you could seek medical advice about prescription antiperspirants.
Apply the deodorant or antiperspirant twice a day, morning and evening, or following the manufacturer's instructions.