To tackle body odour, you have to stop the problem at its source. If antiperspirants (which block sweat glands) and deodorants (which neutralise or mask odours) don't do the trick or you prefer a natural approach, there are myriad paths to an agreeable essence.

Home remedies for body odour

  • Apply tea tree oil to problem areas, as long as it doesn't irritate your skin. It kills bacteria and also has a pleasant scent.
  • Essential oils of lavender, pine, and peppermint fight bacteria and smell pleasant. Some people have a skin reaction to certain oils, so test a small patch of skin before using.
  • Citrus fruits such as lemon change the pH level of your skin, making it more acidic. All bacteria, including odour-causing kinds, have a hard time surviving in a highly acidic environment. Just rub on some lemon juice and pat dry.
  • Use a cotton wool pad to wipe vinegar onto your armpits to cut down the number of odour-causing bacteria. Don't use immediately after shaving, though, or it will sting badly. The same applies to witch hazel.
  • Splash witch hazel directly onto your skin or apply it as often as you like with a cotton wool pad. The refreshing, clean-smelling liquid is both drying and deodorising.
  • Dust bicarbonate of soda or cornflour on any problem part of your body. Both of these powders absorb moisture, and bicarb also kills odour-causing bacteria.
  • The fragrant kitchen herb sage can fight bacteria and reduce perspiration. You can buy sage oil in health food shops, or brew some sage tea from the fresh or dried leaves and store it in a bottle in the fridge. After using sage, be sure to wash your hands before touching your face.
  • Go for arrowroot. This delicate powder is surprisingly effective at absorbing the excess perspiration from your skin. The essential oils help neutralise odour-causing bacteria. Mix together 50g arrowroot with 5 drops each of clary sage and patchouli essential oils. Store the powder in a tightly sealed container.

Soaps to reduce body odour

Pick a deodorant soap, such as coal tar or tea-tree oil, or antibacterial hand-and-body wash. These continue to kill bacteria even after you've finished washing. If the soap doesn't irritate your skin, use it daily. Some people find these soaps too drying, in which case their use should be restricted to the underarms and groin.

Antibacterial surgical scrubs, such as Hibiscrub or Betadine, are available from most pharmacies. These are used to clean patients before surgery. But as these products can dry your skin, you should use them only in the shower, so you can rinse off quickly, and only on sweaty areas such as the armpits and groin.

Squeeze out a little of the cleanser, wash the target areas, then rinse off and finish your shower with ordinary soap.

Other techniques to stop body odour

  • Shave regularly under your arms. Armpit hair increases body odour because it traps sweat and bacteria.
  • Change your shirt every day and probably twice a day during periods of warm or hot weather.

How to prevent body odour

  • Watch what you eat
    Extracts of proteins and oils from certain foods and spices remain in your body's perspiration, contributing to body odour. Fish, cumin, curry and garlic top the list.
  • Eat plenty of spinach, chard and kale
    Leafy green vegetables are rich in chlorophyll, which has a powerful deodorising effect.
  • Take chlorophyll tablets
    These are made from plants such as kelp, barley grass and blue-green algae. Take as recommended.
  • Chew a few sprigs of parsley
    Or prepare parsley tea by steeping a teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then drink it.  Lime-tree tea stimulates the excretion of waste products from the body, which may in turn make sweat sweeter. Also known as linden tea, it is made from lime-tree blossom and is delicately fragrant, a little like jasmine tea.

 

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