Here is a joke:

It was a really hot day at the office. There were about twenty people in close quarters and everyone was sweating, even with a fan on.All of a sudden, people started to wrinkle their noses at an odour passing through the air. It was the most hideous smell anyone had ever smelt.One man said, "Uh oh, someone's deodorant isn't working."Mr B. O. Smellywelly from the distant corner replied, "It can't be me. I'm not wearing any."

Haha!... No? Not funny right?

Yeah, I know it’s offensive towards people with body odour. But there is a reason why I started off with this joke! To let you know that there is hope for all those people who are the butt of all such jokes!

Here are a few things that you should know about body odour also called as Bromhidrosis or BO:


Before I go ahead, let me give you a little background. There are multiple glands in the body. Of which those associated with odour are the apocrine glands (found in armpits, breast, pubic area and groins) and eccrine glands (pretty much all over the body). It is the overactivity of these glands that is responsible for bad odour. Let’s see what are the causes of each type of bromhidrosis:

Eccrine bromhidrosis

  • Common cause of Body Odour and occurs at any age.
  • Possibly caused by ingestion of certain foods like garlic, onions, radishes,  broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, meats and alcohol (remember how you smell after an episode of binge drinking !)
  • Can also be caused by medications like penicillins, bromides etc
  • When there is excessive sweating, the keratin ( a substance which is a part of the skin) gets macerated. The bacteria present in the armpit act on this degraded keratin and a foul odour emanates.
  • May be rarely caused by metabolic disorders, e.g. amino acid disturbances (trimethylaminuria  [fish odour syndrome])

Apocrine bromhidrosis

  • This is genetic and occurs after puberty
  • Axillary bacterial florae have been shown to produce the offensively smelling short chain fatty acids and certain amino acids.
  • Commonly seen infection called Erythrasma caused by Cornybacterium is associated with apocrine bromhidrosis


  • Take a shower everyday! 
  • Sprinkle powder periodically through out the day (talc free is possible) to ensure that the sweat is absorbed. Sounds complicated? It isn’t. Just try it out once. You could carry a small bottle of powder in your backpack or purse.
  • An antimicrobial soap helps. And by that I don’t mean the usual ‘raksha karne wale’ or ‘ kitanu ko marne wale’ soaps. I am talking about medicated and prescribed soaps. As far as the use of such soaps is concerned one should always take advise from  a dermatologist. As shown in commercials, you don’t really need an anti bacterial/ anti microbial soap for daily use. It is a myth that you need it everyday! When you use such soaps everyday you are not only killing the harmful bacteria (which I agree to) but are also killing the necessary and helpful bacteria! That means that you are actually making yourselves more prone to infections in the long run. Which is why I prescribe such soaps only to people complaining of BO.
  • Wearing cotton clothes really helps. Synthetic clothes tend to aggravate body odour. Changing your clothes twice a day isn’t a bad option either. People complaint to me saying that their mornings are fresh and by the time evening sets in they themselves can’t tolerate their own body odour. I say, keep a change of shirt or kurta in your office. That helps in  controlling the bacterial overgrowth.
  • Use a good quality perfume on your clothes rather than  deodorant on your skin. The fragrance lasts longer (since it doesn’t get washed off by the sweat) and because the chemicals are sprayed on the clothes, there won’t be leeching of the deodorant chemicals in your skin either thus preventing any possibilities of developing irritant or allergic dermatitis.
  • Regular shaving of axillary hair also helps keeping the bacterial growth in check. It is an option for all you women out there as well! It’s a myth that the hair will grow back thicker if you use a razor. Yes, it’s a myth! So shave the hair off without fear!
  • Cutting down on foods like onions, garlic etc. and alcohol! 

Despite all these, you might need to take an extra effort and visit a dermatologist. Like I mentioned, there are certain bacterial infections that can aggravate body odour. And a proper treatment with oral antibiotics and application of antibiotic creams is needed. In certain unremitting cases, there are procedures like botulinum toxin injections or even sympathectomy which can be done. But all these are treatments aren’t simple and need to be discussed with your dermatologist.

So what are you waiting for? Try out these simple measures!! 

As they say, "Stay calm and smell good!"

Haha!... no? Not funny?

Let me sign off for now!