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Body Odor, Microbiome, & Why It Matters

Body Odor, Microbiome, & Why It Matters

by Ashley Cummings

If you’ve ever been on a crowded bus or stood waiting in line at the DMV on a hot summer day, you’re well-acquainted with the unpleasantness that is body odor.

You’re probably also familiar with the constant struggle of hiding your own smell, especially after exercising, sweating, eating spicy food, or experiencing medical conditions like diabetes, hyperhidrosis, or an overactive thyroid.

Body odor is an unfortunate part of life and includes:

  • Armpit odor
  • Foot odor
  • Odor between the cheeks
  • Groin odor
  • Vaginal odor
  • Belly button odor
  • Underboob odor

All of these odors can leave you running to the personal care aisle at your local drugstore, searching through armpit creams, foot powders, and wipes for your nether regions. More often than not, you end up spending a small fortune, hoping to find a remedy.

While you may be desperate to find a body odor cure, you won’t experience much luck unless you understand the causes of body odor as well as your body’s microbiome. Once you have a good grasp of the science behind your microbiome, you’ll finally be able to treat your body odor at the source!

What are the Causes of Body Odor?

Have you heard of the apocrine glands and eccrine glands? Apocrine glands and eccrine glands are just the scientific terms for the places in your body that produce sweat.

Eccrine glands are found within nearly all parts of the skin, especially the palms, feet, and head. These glands are active since birth and produce thin, watery sweat. Apocrine glands are responsible for sweat in the armpits, areola, ear canal, wings of the nostril, perianal region, and some parts of external genitalia. These glands activate at the start of puberty and produce a more fatty sweat, which is an absolute feast for bacteria.

Surprisingly, these sweat-producing glands don’t actually produce body odor! The sweat they produce is generally odorless. Body odor happens when the bacteria breaks down and digests sweat and other bodily fluids and farts out an odor. Bacteria isn’t too picky and will digest other fluids on our skin, such as semen, blood, urine, and more. Basically, stink happens anywhere bacteria and bodily fluids meet.

Did you already know there are good bacteria in your pits and privates? That’s right. Let’s dive deeper because understanding your skin’s microbiome is critical in managing the way you smell!

What is Your Skin’s Microbiome?

You’ve already heard about the microbiome in your gut. Your gut’s microbiome includes billions of good bacteria and flora that help keep your digestive and immune systems running like a champ.

But, inside of your stomach isn’t the only place in your body that has a conglomeration of billions of friendly living microorganisms. Your skin also has a unique microbiome with healthy microbes known as skin flora.

There are a couple of essential things to know about your skin’s microbiome.

First, the function of everyone’s skin microbiome is the same. The skin’s microbiome works to protect your body from unfriendly organisms, helps manage your skin’s pH, and produces skin nutrients.

Next, your skin microbiome is 100% unique to you, just like a fingerprint. The health of your microbiome is based on lifestyle choices and environmental factors: where you live, what you eat, what pets you have, how often you wash your skin, and what products you use to clean your skin. What you do to your microbiome contributes to the healthiness of the microbiome of your skin and your odor.

You’ve probably heard this before concerning your gut microbiome. The more you do to introduce a robust and wide variety of healthy plants into your diet, the healthier your gut is. If you eat junk food all day long, you starve your microbiome, kill your gut, and have digestive problems.

When it comes to caring for your skin, there are surefire ways to take care of your community of good bacteria AND ways to destroy it. Let’s talk about them!

Stop Using Harsh Soaps, Shampoos, and Deodorants

Using harsh soaps, shampoos, and deodorants may make you feel like you’re cleaning all of your 2,000 parts extra well, but that’s not the truth.

Beauty and personal care products with harsh chemicals may feel like they scrub you clean, but they also kill a lot of the good bacteria that go to work fending off disease and harmful bacteria!

Your skin microbiome is precious, and you have to protect it. The first way you can protect it is to stop using products that contain harmful ingredients.

What are some top concerning ingredients to avoid? If you see any of the following in your products, toss them:

  • SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Artificial dyes
  • Baking soda
  • Aluminum
  • Synthetic fragrances

Remember, the way a product smells, how much it lathers, or whether or not your skin tingles after use shouldn’t be the metric for the measurement of healthy skin. Instead, use how quickly you start to smell after using these products and how often you have to use these products to stay clean as a metric.

Chances are, you start to smell bad by day's end, and need to shower daily.

So, what should you use instead? Look for natural soaps, shampoos, deodorants, and deodorant wipes that are approved by medical doctors and dermatologists, that are gentle, free of harsh chemicals, scented naturally, and that will complement your skin’s microbiome, not destroy it.

Don’t Overwash Your Body

Dermatologists suggest all of us odorous people stop committing the second cardinal skin sin: overwashing.

It may seem counterintuitive to wash less when you’re a smelly person, but it’s not. Let’s learn why.

When you overwash your body (especially when you use harsh soaps), you are stripping your body of the good bacteria and oils that protect your skin’s acid mantle! You are also not giving your skin a chance to breathe, catch up, and regenerate.

To protect your skin, consider bathing half as much as you currently do, and using natural deodorants like Lume for your pits and privates in between washes to prevent odor. For further reading on how to bathe in a way that's healthiest for you and the environment, check out this blog.

When you do need to clean your body (like after a sweaty workout), take a shower—just do it a little differently than you’re used to.

Start by gently washing the sweat and grime off your skin with water. Then, choose a natural, doctor-developed soap to clean your stinky bits! Lume Natural Soap for Face & Body is a great, gentle, sulfate-free choice.

When you are done with your shower, protect the parts of your body that are prone to attracting more odor-causing bacteria (armpits, groin, between the cheeks, and feet) with a natural deodorant like Lume Deodorant for Underarms & Private Parts, which is safe to use anywhere on your body.

How to Stay Odor-Free

It’s amazing how far science has come in regards to understanding what helps curb bad body odor.

Once upon a time, it was commonplace to simply try to cover up bad smells with fragrances. This led to people smelling like fruity, musky B.O. You know what I’m talking about. It’s not pleasant for anyone.

Then, product developers went too far in creating soaps and deodorants that attempt to eliminate odor while also destroying all of your skin’s good bacteria. Oops!

Now, people are becoming increasingly aware of the skin’s microbiome and the importance of protecting good skin flora. We now know that products that protect the skin’s microbiome and acid mantle are important!

Lume is a natural, skin-safe deodorant that protects your skin and your good bacteria. And most importantly—it actually works. Lume controls odor for up to 72 hours by preventing bacteria from digesting your sweat and farting out odors. Lume is safe to use anywhere on your external body, so you know that your good bacteria can thrive while you stay odor-free everywhere.

Lume also has Deodorant Wipes that offer all of the odor-fighting benefits of the Lume Deodorant but with added on-the-go convenience. Smelling fresh has never been easier, because now you can take a shower with you in your pocket! They're way more than just another wet wipe: Try a Lume Deodorant Wipes Soft Pack or individually-wrapped singles and see for yourself.

For products that genuinely help you manage your microbiome and your body odor, check out Lume today.

Ashley Cummings

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