You get to your seat on the plane, and you realize that the person next to you kind of smells bad. Or you get home from the gym and your significant other points you to the shower. Or maybe your friend comes to that morning class or meeting and sits down next to you and…you want to change your seat.

Well, as much as well all know that feeling, there are a lot of reasons for people to have what we have all affectionately (and, perhaps while pinching noses) called “B.O.” It isn’t always because of unwashed clothes, unclean bodies, a workout at the gym, or a battle on the sports field. And not everyone is “smelly” – so why?

Bacteria is to blame!

Both body odor and bad breath are caused by bacteria. While we can utilize great personal and oral hygiene, such as showering daily, brushing our teeth and cleaning our tongues to control bacterial growth, some people think that using flowery perfumes and tons of breath mints will solve the problem. Not so.

All those scented “cures” do is cover up the problem. Some people may be predisposed to more or less types of bacteria than others. Each of us has a different footprint of “body flora”. Perhaps this is due to heredity, perhaps to environment…science has yet been able to figure that out. But there are some facts that apply to all of us.

Sweat is normal!

Sweat in and of itself does not necessarily smell bad – that’s why some of you know people who can work out or just work all day and still not produce the same odors as others.

When they become active, the bacteria in our bodies break down the odorless sweat into thioalcohols, which are chemicals that have pungent odors, similar to onions. And the places in our bodies that tend to be the “smelliest” are where bacteria love to grow because they are dark, moist and have hair, all of which are great “breeding grounds” for bacterial growth and maintenance.

And since the composition of the microorganisms that live on our skin is different for each of us, each of us tends to produce a different aroma with the proliferation of bacteria that create the odors.

So what can I do?

Hygiene is the number one way to control body odors, of course. But there are also some diseases that might cause your body to produce odors no matter how clean and fresh you are. Diabetes and certain thyroid disorders can cause body odors, as can some kidney and liver disorders. It is always a good idea to discuss the issue with your physician if you think you can’t get it under control. And don’t forget, each of us has our own aroma…it isn’t always “smelly”, but it can smell…wonderful! 😊 🌸