What is body odor? | Social Citizen

What Causes Body Odor?

Discover the science behind sweating, why sweat smells and some solutions for unwanted body odor.

We’ve all been there. You’re just going about your life enjoying your day when all of a sudden… is that my body odor? You discreetly raise your arm realize: yep, I stink. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call body odor.

Body odor, or bromhidrosis, is the unpleasant smell that humans produce just by, well, living. But what causes body odor? And what can we do about it?

What Causes Body Odor?

Contrary to popular belief, sweat generally has no odor. The bacteria that thrive in warm, moist areas like the underarms, groin, and feet, break down the sweat and produce an unpleasant smell.

Interested in the science? Well, to be specific, sweat itself is mostly composed of water and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. However, sweat also contains organic compounds, including certain amino acids, proteins, and fatty acids.

When bacteria on the skin break down certain amino acids found in sweat, such as leucine and isoleucine, it produces volatile organic acids. When it comes to BO, isovaleric acid and 3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid are the main culprits. Isovaleric acid has a strong, pungent, cheesy odor, while 3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid has a more fruity or musty odor.

Generally speaking, body odor is a normal and natural phenomenon. In most cases, it doesn’t indicate any serious health concerns. However, if you notice a sudden change in the intensity or character of your body odor, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires attention.

Some factors that contribute to the severity of body odor include:

  • Poor hygiene - Not showering regularly or thoroughly enough can allow bacteria to accumulate and thrive on the skin.
  • Excessive sweating - People who sweat excessively, a condition known as hyperhidrosis, are more prone to body odor.
  • Certain medical conditions - Diabetes, kidney or liver disease, and certain hormonal disorders can contribute to body odor.
  • Foods - Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, can cause body odor when their compounds are metabolized and excreted through sweat.
  • Medications - Some medications can cause body odor as a side effect.
  • Genetics - Some people may be more prone to body odor due to their genetics.
Sweat proof shirts to help prevent body odor. | Social Citizen

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Solutions for Body Odor

Even knowing that it’s totally natural and inevitable, you can still be troubled and bothered by body odor, making you wonder, “How do I stop my body odor from smelling?” Thankfully, there are several things you can do to manage body odor:

  • Practice good hygiene - Shower or bathe daily by scrubbing with soap and water in all areas of the body to remove bacteria and sweat from your skin.
  • Use antiperspirant or deodorant - Antiperspirants help reduce sweat production while deodorants help mask odor-causing bacteria.
  • Wear clean clothes - Change your clothes daily, especially if you sweat heavily. Oftentimes, your sweat smell carries in your clothing. It could be time for a new wardrobe. 
  • Sweat-proof clothing - Did you know sweat proof t-shirts can completely prevent sweat stains? Social Citizen's fashionable clothing is designed to reduce odor and prevent sweat stains.
  • Watch your diet - Avoid foods that are known to cause body odor, such as garlic, onions, and spicy foods.
  • Manage stress - Stress can increase sweating, so finding ways to manage stress, such as yoga or meditation, may help reduce body odor.
  • Shave underarm hair - Underarm hair can trap sweat and bacteria, so shaving your armpits may help reduce body odor.

How Social Citizen Can Help You

When it comes to body odor, not all clothing is made equal. Social Citizen makes sweat-proof clothes designed to keep you cool and dry. This way, you’ll sweat less and produce less body odor. Check out Social Citizen’s Social Tee and stay confident all day.

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