Why Do Some People Have a Very Bad Body Odor?

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  • Let's face it: Sometimes people just stink. Whether you're stuck on a crowded bus, packing into an elevator or even just passing by someone at the park, some people just have stronger body odor than others.
    Though we all have body odor, it can be specific to different individuals. The way we smell can affect the way others perceive us to the point that fragrances such as perfumes and colognes have become a major industry.

Perspiration

  • It is common knowledge that perspiration is a route to our body odor. However, sweat is not in and of itself the cause of body odor. The odor is what happens when the bacteria on your skin come in contact with the sweat. Certain parts of our bodies tend to be more associated with body odors than others, such as armpits and groins, which contain apocrine sweat glands that secrete a sweat that breaks down and causes body odors.

Diet and Medication

  • Body odor on some people is largely influenced by what they eat and the medications and vitamins they are taking. For example, people who take excessive amounts of the dietary supplement choline may start to emit a fishy body odor. Those who eat an abundance of foods such as onions and garlic will start to secrete pungent oils through their skin

Illness

  • In some cases, body odor might be a signal of some kind of illness. Anaerobic infections in the body--in the mouth or intestinal tract for instance--will cause the person to emit sulfurous, rotten egg smells. Kidney failure could cause people to emit urine smells. Diabetics often have a fruity or sweet breath smell because of the way their metabolism works.

Genetics and Heritage

  • Sometimes our body's odors are the result of genetic coding and the adaptations our genetic lines have made over the generations. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, a set of connected genes that control the body's capacity to recognize and throw out foreign substances, plays a major part in immunity, and could also be a force behind partner selection
    Scientists believe that our body odor can also be genetically determined by coding the type of earwax that we have. According to Live Science, a high percentage of East Asians (Japanese, Chinese and Koreans) have dry earwax, which correlates with less body odor.

How to Prevent Body Odor

  • Hygiene is a very important factor in body odor. To prevent body odor it is important to keep good hygiene habits such as bathing with soap, using underarm antiperspirant and keeping areas that tend to be moistened by sweat dry. Also remember that your diet can affect the way you smell. You might want to consume less onions, garlic, fat foods and oils, or visit a dietitian.

References

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