“Ewwwww, Grandma, you smell bad!”
Your worst nightmare, right? Who wants to be the grandparents kids hate to visit because they have body odor? You’re not alone—in a study done by Sentient Decision Science, 46% of people asked said they’d willingly shave ten years off their life rather then be perceived as smelly. Another 76% said they’d rather gain weight than have chronic body odor.
Three glands are responsible for body odor. The secretions of the apocrine glands (located the underarms, genitals, and around the nipples) and the eccrine glands (found mainly in underarms, hands, and feet) produce an odor when they interact with skin bacteria. Oil produced by the sebaceous glands (scalp, face, and chest) has a light odor with or without bacteria.
What can you do to chase the stinkies away? You know the basics—bathe daily with antibacterial or deodorant soap (twice a day, if you have to), wash pitted out, sweaty clothes, and use underarm protection. But here’s some other ideas that can help keep you smelling fresh. >>
Certain foods have the potential to make our sweat more pungent. A diet high in the red meat increases body odor as does curry, garlic, and other spicy foods. “We don't fully digest garlic, curry and onions so they leave the pores with the sweat and create a strong smell,” explains Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
If you have a lot of hair under your arms, it slows the evaporation of sweat so that you have more bacteria. (If your crotch area is a problem, consider waxing. And take pit stops, meaning, if you exercise a lot or sweat a lot, wash under your arms a few times a day and change clothing.
Natural fibers (linen, silk, cotton, light wool like merino) can breathe and decrease sweating. Also some of the high-tech fibers wick away moisture. Many exercise clothing now offer high-tech fabric that wicks away moisture from the body, so bacteria doesn’t have a chance to get at the sweat. (Clothing tags will identify them.) Dressing in layers also helps soak up the sweat.
An antiperspirant blocks the sweating action while deodorants have fragrance to mask the smell. Deodorants also make the skin more acidic, making it less hospitable for bacteria. If a regular product doesn’t work for you, try a stronger over-the-counter antiperspirant such as Secret Clinical Strength, Gillette Clinical, or Certain-Dri.
Studies have shown that applying deodorant in the morning on dry skin and at night before bed makes a big difference. Night-time application allows the ingredients to get into the sweat glands and clog them, as opposed to the morning, when sweat glands may already be full.
Some people avoid deodorants because they’ve heard bad things about the ingredient aluminum chloride. However, according to Dr. Jaliman, who is also assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, there have been no conclusive studies that prove aluminum chloride causes health problems. If you prefer natural products, try Tom’s of Maine or Crystal Body Deodorants.
If foot odor is your problem, give shoes a chance to dry inside by changing them often. Dust them and your feet with foot powder to maintain dryness.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.