This topic needs no introduction. I’m sure at some point in our lives we have all come across someone with a strong unpleasant smell coming from their body, or perhaps we have been the ones in the unfortunate position of being told we had body odour. Whatever the case, the topic of body odour is one we are going to address in this blog post.

What is body odour?

Body odour also known as B.O., bromhidrosis, osmidrosis, or ozochrotia is an unpleasant smell that emanates from the human body.

Body odour can occur in feet, groin, armpits, genitals, pubic hair and other hair, belly button, anus, behind the ears and the rest of the skin, to a lesser extent.

What causes body odour?

Body odour is caused by bacteria breaking down sweat and is largely linked to the apocrine glands.

The apocrine glands are scent glands and are found in the breasts, genital area, eyelids, armpits, and ear. In the breasts, they secrete fat droplets into breast milk. In the ear, they help form earwax, in the skin and the eyelids they are sweat glands.

The apocrine glands are mainly responsible for body odour because the sweat they produce is high in protein, which bacteria can easily break down.

Body odor

Repercussions of body odour

One of the major repercussions of body odour is social ostracization. A person’s social relationship can be destroyed by the presence of body odour, which is why the practice of good personal hygiene is important. If you worked in a place where someone has a strong odour, you would probably avoid contact with him or her for fear of inhaling their unpleasant odour.

In some unfortunate cases, people have been sacked from their jobs simply because their body odour was far too unpleasant to their fellow employees and customers who had to share the same space with them. Often times people tend to ignore the unpleasant odour or result to avoiding or limiting contact with the individual. This action can bring about a negative effect on a person’s psyche because at our core, humans are social creatures and we desire companionship in our daily lives.

Approaching the subject of body odour with a colleague/friend

If you want to prevent body odour, it is very important to incorporate good personal hygiene into your daily routine. However, not everyone is knowledgeable about proper hygiene so once in a while, we may come in contact with people who need others to address their body odour.

In some cases, some people have lived very long periods of time with their body odour and may be unaware that they have an odour or that other people find the odour offensive. When approaching someone on such a sensitive issue it is important to remember empathy. No one likes to be told harshly that they smell or make others feel uncomfortable.

Below is a script that highlights how to approach the topic of body odour with a friend or colleague who has it:

Body odor

A: Hello B, please I would like to speak with you privately.

B: Okay, let’s go somewhere private.

A: B I want you to know that the topic I’m about to discuss is not meant to offend you in any way, but I believe it’s important to address it. You may not know this but you have body odour, and this tends to affect others working here.

B: I’m sorry. I didn’t know/Silence.

A: It’s alright. If you’re open to it, I would like to give you some tips on how to best address it and we can move forward…

In some cases, the body odour may be a result of a medical condition that may be internal and cannot only be treated with the practice of personal hygiene. In this case, it is advised that the person visits a specialist or doctor in order to address the issues.

Have you ever had to address body odour issues with a friend or a colleague? What tips did you give them for improvement? Let us know below in the comments.