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Body odor is a big thing in America and many have an aversion to it. It is the source of much self-consciousness and locker room antics. This also supports a huge industry selling soaps, fragrances, deodorants, and antiperspirants to a willing public. Many other cultures, though, do not understand the problem Americans have with body odor. Some cultures consider body odor normal, acceptable, and even erotic. Body odor is what happens when sweat and other skin secretions are acted upon by occurring bacteria.

There are two different glands that produce sweat. One gland is called the eccrine gland and they are dispersed throughout the body, but are concentrated in the armpits, soles of feet, palms of hands, and the forehead. When the body overheats from hot weather, physical exertion, or fervor, the eccrine glands help regulate body temperature by giving off a solution of water and salts that evaporates and cools the skin down.

The second type of gland is the apocrine glands. These glands are concentrated in the armpits and groin area. Apocrine glands develop during the stages of puberty and have nothing to do with body temperature. These glands respond to sexual arousal, nervousness, and anger. They can sometimes respond to heat and exertion. The sweat produced by these glands is rich in organic substances that attract bacteria and produce a strong odor. Scientists say that our ancestors recognized these smells as sexual signs, just like in most animals.

Symptoms of having body odor would include a distinctive, sweaty odor, especially forming from the armpits, groin, and feet. This smell is usually considered unpleasant. Any unusual oder emitted from body tissue, different from a sweaty smell, is body odor, even though it is not unpleasant.

Body odor is not caused by sweat at all. Bacteria that occurs on the skin makes a person develop what we all recognize as a sweaty smell. The smell is especially high in the feet, armpits, and groin because those areas have high concentration sweat glands. Clothes and shoes trap perspiration in, encouraging bacterial activity. Eating certain foods and taking certain drugs can also cause a distinctive smell. For instance, the cancer fighting medication tamoxifen can cause an unusual odor. Proteins and oils can cause a person to give off a distinctive smell. Deficiencies in certain nutrients such as zinc can also cause body odors.

Body odors that smell fruity or like nail polish remover may indicate that a disease is present or a metabolic problem exists. Such diseases may include kidney disease, diabetes, various gastrointestinal problems and fungal infections. A person who is non-sweaty and has a non-sweaty smell should be checked by a doctor.

Some things that can be done to prevent body odor is to wash with soap and water, sometimes two or three times a day. Antibacterial soaps and lotions will help kill the bacteria that causes the sweaty smell. Deodorants containing mild antibacterial agents and scents will help slow the bacteria down. They, however, do not stop perspiration: they merely cover up the scent. Once an antiperspirant is chosen, be patient with it and use
daily for two weeks to get maximum effectiveness.