Body Odor-An Unpleasant Encounter
Body Odor-An Unpleasant Encounter
"What is that smell?" you ask.
"It is absolutely disgusting," you reply to yourself as you continue walking along. Then you realize that this smell just keeps on following you, from classroom to lunchroom to dorm room, even in the courtyard. Then it hits you that garbage has not been following you everywhere but you are the cause of that disgusting smell; you have body odor. What is this phenomenon of body odor? According to John Riddle, Body odor is the term used for any unpleasant smell associated with the body(1).
Most of us are concerned about how we look especially, how we smell so body odor which can be a potentially fatal blow to a person's social life is not a welcome addition to one's ingredients for success. It is this human fear of being excluded that led to the invention of the term, body odor. In the 1910s and 1920s, advertisers highlighted people's discontent with the things around them and with themselves in order to encourage them to buy their products. A group of advertising men used the term B.O. to mean body odor in a women's deodorant advertisement for their product, Odo-Ro-No. It played upon women's sentiments that beauty was important to achieving their main goal in life: a husband.
Listerine, which today has mundane advertisements with bottles of Listerine and a voice talking about the results of laboratory research that show Listerine's ability to combat gingivitis, cavities and so on, also used this approach. Listerine had an advertisement that showed "pathetic Edna" who was approaching her "tragic" thirtieth birthday and was always "a bridesmaid and never a bride" apparently because she suffered from Halitosis or bad breath (of course it could not have been personality problems that was hindering Edna's romantic progress!). As a result of this ad, Listerine's sales went from $100,000 a year in 1921 to more than $4 million in 1927. Body odor is a major concern for most people and even those who do not suffer from it are concerned about preventing body odor because of its negative social consequences.(2)
People are very sensitive about how they smell. Humans do not appreciate the power of a bad smell as much as skunks appreciate theirs. The striped skunk which is known in the scientific community as Mephitis mephitis accurately shoots a narrow stream of yellow fluid, butyl mercaptan, up to 10 feet at a threat. If the fluid hits the eyes of the threat it may cause temporary blindness. Even if the skunks misses, which is rare, the musk will cause nausea, gagging and general discomfort. (Perhaps next time you are at a party and you receive some unwelcome attention, you should raise those armpits or let out a breath of air to your unsuspecting predator.) Most people however, try to do quite the opposite and purchase expensive perfumes to mask odors and create a sensual smell that will attract the opposite sex. They spend a lot of money buying perfumes like Object of Desire by Bvlgari and they do not realize that the fluid that skunks emit is commercially used as a base for perfumes because of its clinging nature.(3) This makes me wonder whether if it is only by having a bad smell that we can get a good smell.
So what exactly causes us to have that bad smell? Most of the causes are related to lifestyle choices. If you use drugs, toxins or herbs such as alcohol and cigarette smoking, you body will smell. Also if you eat certain foods such as garlic and raw onions you will have an unpleasant breath. You can also develop body odor by simply sweating excessively or practicing poor hygiene. A couple other causes of body odor include: tooth or oral conditions such as periodontal disease and gingivitis. Also, there can be inborn errors of metabolism for example, aminoaciduria. Most of these problems are a result of a decision that the sufferer had made about how he chooses to lead his life. If he chooses to be a chain smoker he will smell like a cigarette. If he chooses not to shower or wash his clothes then he will have a pungent smell. If he chooses not to practice proper dental hygiene then he will have Halitosis. However, if he sweats excessively because he has a fear of social situations then his cause of body odor cannot be as easily rectified. In addition, people who suffer from aminoaciduria also cannot easily change their lifestyle to rectify their body odor because aminoaciduria results from an enzyme deficiency. We should not judge or marginalize people because of their smell because the cause of it may go beyond poor hygiene.(1)
Almost everyone has received a compliment about the perfume that he or she is wearing. This shows that people react to scents and that a pleasant scent encourages a favorable perception of that person. New research has shown that some individuals are highly sensitive to smelling a component of body odor which is called androstenone. Furthermore, if the person can easily smell androstenone then he will decide whether or not he likes the person based on the smell. What is androstenone? It is a human pheromone which is a chemical attractant that is in body secretions like perspiration. Men release large quantities of androstenone while women omit small amounts. So men are more likely to be judged by their smell than women. According to the study, fifty percent of people cannot smell androstenone at all and one half of them can only catch a whiff and enjoy the scent. Those who can smell androstenone, on the other hand, do not like the smell and compare it to urine or perspiration. The study went on to show that there was a correlation between the ability to smell androstenone and the androstenone-smeller's judgment of the person. In other words, if someone can smell androstenone on someone else and finds the smell unpleasant then he will dislike the person.(4)
Clearly, there is a lot at risk if one has body odor since man is a gregarious animal then body odor can make him unable to maintain or even start relationships. We have realized this so there are number of ways to eliminate body odor. One of the most rudimentary ways to get rid of body odor is to wash with both soap and water especially in the groin area and armpits which are more likely to smell. The best soap to use is a deodorant soap which impedes the return of bacteria. Showering, as well as, washing your clothing regularly will help to prevent body odor. In addition, we should wear natural fabrics like cotton which absorb perspiration better than synthetic materials like polyester. Athletic apparel makers like Nike and Adidas are adopting this idea in their clothing design by creating materials that cause the sweat to evaporate faster.
You should also use commercial deodorants which mask underarm odor or use antiperspirants which reduce the amount of perspiration. If these fail then you should turn to France, the land of fine perfumes and "Le Crystal Nature" which is a chunk of mineral salts that helps to keep bacteria under control without irritating the skin. A more serious approach to fighting body odor is Drionic which is an electronic device that plugs up overactive sweat ducts and keeps them plugged for up to six weeks.(5) There are many ways to avoid having body odor. The easiest way to find out what is available to you is to take a stroll in your local Eckerd, CVS or Riteaid.
Body Odor is a major concern for human beings. It is one concern that affects men and women to almost the same extent. We are concerned about our smell because people judge how we take care of ourselves by our smells and use this information to decide whether we are worthy of friendship because of it. We need to pay attention to how we smell not only because of social interactions but because odors from our body may alert us to a medical problem like a urinary tract infection or periodontal disease. It must be noted however that much of the hype about body odor comes from marketing consultants who need to sell their companies' product and play on our insecurity. Try to avoid being caught up in this web of commercialism while at the same time taking good care of your body.
1) Body Odor. It gives basic information about Body Odor.
01/22/2006, from a Reader on the Web
I have been searching for an answer about this one person I work with. He smells intensely of a vinegar like substance, but honestly I would have to say he smells like pickles. half the people I work with say the same thing. It is so intense that I get a headache and a stomache and he is unbearable to be near. I cannot find anything on the internet that would explain this, and I do not have the guts to ask the poor guy, because honestly I cannot even be near him. Any speculation on this matter????? Thank you
Additional comments made prior to 2007
Western culture need to avoid of escalation of hatred and wilingness to take advantages over other using somebody's personal issue as their body/breath odor! Where every house or apartment, everyone has access to bath, shower. Where there is no hygiene issues! This attitude can be fueled by nuslim nations. So one should think about this ... Reader on the web, 1 April 2006
I have the same problem with one of my employees who is from Nepal. I think it could be the spicy food they have, another employee addresses the matter to me since I'm the manager but it is a very delicate matter and I feel sick if I stay 3 foot close to this person. Besides this is a high end retail store and also had customers commenting on the way this person smells. I'm going to have to let her go but wonder if there is anything this person can do to get rid of that horrible odor ... Yolanda, 26 April 2006
i have just noticed a body odor of vinegar. I saw reference to another person about same problem. This just started in the last few days and I am trying to find a reason. Any suggestions? Supplements? thanks ... Tom, 15 July 2006
see alot of people with posted requests for body odor issues. Mr.
Chan has won the Geneva award for his invention in the medical category
for a product that cures body dor. A press release was issued and
maybe some of your readers would benefit from it.
Here it is below:
Dr. Mist winner of several awards including the Geneva Award for itsí invention in the medical category is currently marketed as a deodorant is also used as a multi-function hygiene product. As a deodorant, there is absolutely no staining, no aluminum, alcohol, oils or fragrances and it flushes out toxins. Customers are moving away from sticks and gels which stain their clothes and lasts part of the day. Dr. mist will last for days, even if bathing is not possible (ie: patients in hospitals, campers, etc)
Dr. mist is a new invention based on floatation technology that works like an anti-perspirant, but still allows the pores to breathe. As recently featured on the news, it is also very effective athlete's foot, soothes mosquito and insect bites, accelerates healing in wounds, clears up acne and pimples with visible results in 24 hours and soothes skin irritation ... Claudette, 13 September 2006
I had bad breath and body odor since I was born. Spent more than 20 years and thousand of dollars trying to find what was missing in my system until I saw Dr. Brenda Watson describing what happens when there is not enough intestinal flora in the body. What happens? Vitamins along with impurities go straight to the blood causing the odor. So that is what was missing in my system.
I started taking probiotics (the higher the number the best) and multi enzymes and that was the beginning of my cure. Now I added Culturelle Lactobacilus Gg and no more body odor and bad breath.
Please, tell other people so they do not go through what I went through ... Mindy, 31 October 2006
My daughter is told she smells like pickles......we can't figure out what is causing this.....it's not perfume, soap, shampoo or anything else she's putting on externally.....I read your body odor article and the question posed by one of your readers is the same as mine.....why does my daughter smell like pickles??? What can be done about it?? ... Lupe Rodriguez, 7 December 2006
Re: an earlier post
Either he's wearing something that smells of what you described or it could be some form of disease ex. cancer. could be other forms but if you are that concerned. Does he have a desk? write an anonymous letter? it could be a medical problem and you do need to get your views across, because it could save his life ... Jennifer, 3 February 2007
I have recently noticed a slight wiff of vinegar odor from my body. I asked a friend if he noticed it and he said "no". I shower daily and am clean. Any ideas what may cause this? ... Phil, 16 July 2007
Hello there. I have been experiencing an odor for a while now but I still don't know where it is coming from. It occurs mainly when I am around my friends and it doesn't smell when I'm at home or at my doctor. Other people say that they smell it also. Please advise me what to do if you guys ever came across such an experience before. Thanks in advance ... Saf, 2 October 2007