Smelling Good (Body smell)

All human beings have a unique body odour, often pleasant but sometimes a little repulsive. Animals, too, have a distinctive smell which is different from that of other species. They can identify their own kind and are attracted only to the opposite sex of the same species. This is through the release of chemicals called pheromones which they detect with a vomeronasal olfactory (smell) organ in their nasal cavities………CLICK & SEE

Perfumes make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria

Human beings, too, have a well-developed sense of smell. Cave men smelt out their friends, enemies and predators. Like lower mammals, humans knew when women were at the fertile period of their menstrual cycle. Similarly, women could identify virile males with good genes.

Over the years, the olfactory sense became rudimentary as it was no longer needed for survival. Natural body odour is now a nuisance, which needs to be controlled and altered to a pleasant, subtle fragrance.

Odour arises as a result of bacterial action on sweat. People with a congenital condition called anhidrosis do not sweat or smell.

Most people have between two and five million sweat glands situated all over the body. Most of these are eccrine glands which secrete a watery, salty sweat as and when the body temperature rises. As this sweat evaporates, it cools down the body. Eccrine glands are distinct from the apocrine sweat glands found in the scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine glands are connected to cells that secrete a fatty substance called sebum. Sweat from these glands is mixed with this material. Bacteria living on the surface of the skin can break down the sebum for nutrition, producing the characteristic odour.

Our individual odour is dependent on age, sex, menstrual cycle, bathing habits, clothes, diet and any medication we may be taking.

Children have poorly developed apocrine sweat glands and hence have no body odour. These glands develop at puberty, producing the typical “teenage smell”.

Increased sweating or hyperhidrosis can be hereditary. It can also occur with anxiety, as a result of the stimulation of the sweat glands by the nervous system, making the person “clammy with fear” or break out into a “cold sweat”.

Hormonal changes affect sweating. Around the time of menopause, as the oestrogen levels drop, many women experience sudden, unprovoked attacks of excessive sweating. Excessive thyroid hormones also produce the same symptoms.

During fever, the body attempts to cool itself by increasing the sweat production — causing the typical chills and sweating that occur with malaria.

Medications like paracetamol or caffeine also increase sweating.

Body odour is as individual as a finger print. A sudden change in the body odour may herald the onset of illness. Diabetes has a fruity smell, liver and kidney disease an ammonia smell.

Body odour can be changed and controlled. The Japanese have actually invented clothes impregnated with chemicals that absorb and alter body odour, making it pleasant and sexy. For us less fortunate Indians, there are many simple measures that can reduce and pleasantly alter body odour.

Keep your axillary and pubic hair trimmed and bathe twice a day to control the population of body bacteria. Use a loofa instead of applying the soap directly to the skin. Dry the feet thoroughly to prevent bacterial overgrowth.

Wear clothes made of natural fibres like cotton, silk or linen. Clothes including socks should be changed daily and washed regularly. Wearing clothes on which sweat has dried aids bacterial growth.

Shoes should be leather or cloth so that sweat can evaporate and the feet can breathe.

Spicy foods and caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they can increase sweating. Garlic and onions also can impart an offensive odour to sweat.

Aerobic exercise combined with relaxation techniques help to control the stress that triggers excessive perspiration.

Sweating can be reduced with acetylcholine medications, mild electric currents, botox injections or surgery. For most people, such measures are not required. Deodorants, anti-perspirants and body sprays are sufficient. They make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria. They contain perfume fragrances which mask the odour of perspiration.

An unpleasant body odour can have psychological, social and occupational consequences. Love follows initial attraction which is influenced by body odour. Romantic failures probably mean you need to “Zatak” yourself or aim for “the Axe Effect”.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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