“I sat closer to her than the rest of the individuals for the job interview. From the discussions we were holding as we sat at the receiving area awaiting our turns, I could tell from the way she answered questions that she is a smart person. The only problem was the way she stunk. Oh my! I could barely speak or breathe. Yes, my dear, it was that bad. She’s smart and pretty but…”, my sister ranted off to her friend. I overheard the conversation because I was eavesdropping. I know I should not have, but that is beside the point.

However, I understood how she felt. There has been times when I have had to hold my breath while walking past some people or sitting beside them in a cab; it riles me up. I mean, I even get irritated at myself when I am sweaty. While this reaction might seem harsh, I’m sure I am not the only one in this. You can probably recall past experiences, and it is not a pleasant memory, is it? In this writeup, I will be talking about body odour, its causes and prevention. Enjoy the ride. 

Body odour from the armpit.

Body odour is the smell that emanates from your body when the bacteria on your skin act on the sweat (sweat, itself, is odourless), breaking the protein present into acids. Bad odour mostly occurs in body parts that do not get enough air. These parts include the armpits, feet, pubic area, behind the ears, amongst others.

Different factors could affect or contribute to body odour, one of which is personal hygiene. It is important to have your bath regularly, paying attention to the intimate areas – feet, behind the ears, armpit, pubic area, etc. Using water alone to wash your body parts is not enough; it is advisable to use antibacterial soaps to get rid of the smell and thoroughly clean your body. Only your vagina is exempted, because soap and other body washes act as irritants. After bathing, dry your body properly before applying your oils, creams, or body ointments, and wearing clothes.

Another hygiene tip is to choose the underarm products that work for you. There are deodorants and antiperspirants. Deodorants mask the body odour with a pleasant one and make the skin less hospitable for bacteria to act while antiperspirants block the sweat glands and make you sweat less, thereby reducing the risk of body odour. Recent research has, however, shown that antiperspirants may contribute to cancer, though it is inconclusive. Therefore, it is advisable to use deodorants. Be sensitive to your body’s reaction to an underarm or skin product.

A woman squeezing her nose due to awful body odour.

Also, the kind of fabric you wear matters. If you are going to have a long day, consider wearing natural fibres like cotton over others; they make it easier for your skin to breathe and evaporate sweat.
Regular consumption of alcohol, spicy food and food with a strong smell contribute to body odour. They change your sweat pattern and make you sweat more, thereby making you more prone to smelling bad. You should reduce your consumption and stop those you can for a healthier body and a more pleasant smell. 

All the aforementioned are measures to prevent and eliminate bad odour. However, some people smell bad because of medical conditions. If you are diabetic or have a kidney problem, you are more likely to experience body odour. If you experience symptoms like sweating excessively, sweating only at night, and other related symptoms, you should see a doctor to proffer a solution. Follow all these tips, and you are on a journey to taking down bad body odour and having a pleasant smell.

Read Also: Ifihanagbara Oluseye: Leading Through Tech


Jane Egerton-Idehen

Jane Egerton-Idehen is a telecommunication executive with over 13 years’ experience in the Nigerian, Liberian and Ghanaian telecommunications markets. Jane has a strong passion for promoting girls in STEM and ensuring women in STEM industries remain and grow their careers in that industry. She curates her thoughts around her career journey, experiences and passion in life.