Smelly armpits is an embarrassing problem but one that we all suffer with it to some degree now then. For many people underarm odor is barely noticeable and does not pose a problem. More than anything it is passed off as a minor inconvenience when it is detectable. But for others, body odor problems can be ongoing and have major psychosocial implications. It can lead to social isolation, compromise career opportunities, affect self esteem and even end relationships.
It is important to understand why bad body odor arises in the first place, whether the problem is in the armpits or elsewhere in the body. Contrary to popular belief, the odor is not so much from sweat in its normal state. It is when the sweat is broken down by bacteria and fungi that an offensive odor arises. It is further compounded by odor on the clothes, poor hygiene, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, skin applications ranging from body lotion to perfume and soap used for bathing.
A number of different species of bacteria and some fungi normally reside on human skin. Most do not cause a problem if the skin is intact and the immune system is functioning efficiently. These microbes feed off the sweat and dead skin cells. But sweat is not just sweat. There is a difference between sweat in areas like the armpits. Here the sweat is more fatty than other parts of the body due to the apocrine glands within the armpit skin. Normally apocrine secretions are odorless but when decomposed by bacteria, an offensive smell is released.
The factors that contribute to BO is further explained under the causes of body smell. Remember that bad body odor cannot be prevented all of the time but for those with a odor problem the focus should be on minimizing it.
Wash Your Armpits Thoroughly
It goes without saying that bathing is an important and effective way of minimizing the bad body odor. But you may need to spend a little extra time washing the armpits if that is where the smell problem exists. There is no need to be rough and overzealous. Use a good antibacterial soap and wash the armpits thoroughly. Be careful about using strong scented hair shampoo on your armpit. The skin here is delicate and some shampoos are harsh. You can consider baby shampoo if you have a lot of underarm hair. Also ensure that the soap and shampoo is properly rinsed and dried afterwards.
Consider Removing Armpit Hair
Armpit hair can be a major contributing factor to underarm odor. Sweat, dead skin cells, lotions and deodorants can stick to your hair and create a larger surface area for bacteria to thrive. Furthermore it makes thoroughly washing the armpits a bit difficult. Removing the hair or at least trimming it could be helpful. However, it is important to carefully select the method of hair removal under the arms since the skin can be easily irritated. Hair removal can lead to itchiness of the armpits and repeated scratching can re-introduce bacteria onto the skin of the armputs and further compound the problem.
Spray The Underarms Frequently
Deodorant and antiperspirant spray can be helpful in combating smelly armpits. Deodorant simply masks the odor with a more pleasant one. Antiperspirant, or antiperspirant deodorant, also has fragrance but can reduce perspiration in the area. Whichever one you choose to use, make sure that you spray it on frequently. Using copious amounts in the morning and expecting it to last all day will not do the trick. Rather use less deodorant or antiperspirant more often. Carry smaller bottles which you keep with you during the day for regular use.
Less Touching And Scratching
Your hands are laden with bacteria and even if you wash them thoroughly with antibacterial soap, the bacteria quickly return. The problem is that your hands are in direct contact with the world around you and therefore constantly picking up different germs. If you tend to rub or scratch your armpits regularly then you transfer these bacteria into the armpit region. Itchy armpits can be a symptom of an underlying skin disorder but for some people, frequent touching and scratching is more of a habit than to relieve any itch. If the latter is your problem then make a conscious effort to keep your hands away from your armpit.
Wear Lighter Airy Clothing
Perspiration is primarily a consequence of heat and nerve activity. When your body temperature rises, sweat is released in order to cool down the body. In other words, the hotter you are are the more you will sweat. The degree of perspiration is determined by the temperature control centers in the brain and by the nerves that control the activity of the sweat glands. The armpits tend to be a warmer part of the body because it is surrounded by the arm and chest. Clothing further contributes to heat build up. By using lighter clothing that allows air to flow through, some of this heat is dissipated. Sweating decreases and as a result the armpit odor may not be as strong.
Stay Cool Both Outside And In
If you are having a problem with excessive perspiration and body odor, you may want to try to minimize the time you spend in hot environments. Keeping cool has obvious benefits as described above. But it is also about the inside of your body. Many people tend to perspire when they eat spicy foods but stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can also have the same effect. Spices and stimulants may over-excite your nervous system and increase perspiration. Therefore what you put into your body is just as important as what you body faces from the outside.
Antibacterial Soaps and Creams
When dietary and lifestyle measures fails, you may have to look at the medical approach. The primary problem is that the bacteria on the surface of your armpit skin. For whatever reason, these bacteria are obviously present in large numbers and constantly being replenished even after bathing. Ask you doctor about a strong antibacterial soap that can be used during bathing. Let the soap sit on your skin for a little while before rinsing. Dry thoroughly after bathing. Then use an antibacterial cream on the armpit which will destroy remaining bacteria and prevent further bacterial growth.