Health And Lifestyle For The Over 50s

Body Odour: What Causes it… and How to Avoid it!


It’s official; according to research conducted by the Monell Chemical Senses Clinic in Philidelphia, people over the age of 60 really do have a certain smell. In fact, this odour is so distinct that others are able to recognise an older person by scent alone.

For the study, researchers gathered body odour samples from three different age groups, including those between the age of 75 and 95. When participants were asked to guess the age group of the sample just by smelling it, they struggled to pinpoint the younger age groups, but had no problem identifying the odour of the older aged subjects.

However, contrary to the stereotyped notion that elderly people smell less pleasant, the study found that most people found the odours of older people to be ‘neutral and not very unpleasant.’

Body Odour
The study above clearly indicates that body odour is not something that naturally occurs as you grow older. Body odour, or B.O for short, can affect anybody, regardless of age or gender.

Body odour is a smell that our bodies produce when bacteria living on the skin start breaking down our sweat into acids.

There are two main types of acid produced from our sweat. These are:

  • Propionic acid. Most people identify the smell of this acid as a strong, vinegary smell.
  • Isovaleric acid. This type of acid is produced by the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis, which is also present in many strong cheeses, hence the fact that most people think of this smell as ‘cheesy’!

Of course, everyone experiences body odour at some time in their lives, and the good news is that it is very simple to resolve.

Staying Body Odour-Free
Of course, the most effective way of ensuring that you avoid developing body odour is to maintain a good level of hygiene. Aim to take a warm shower or bath every day, and thoroughly clean areas prone to body odour, such as the armpits and feet.

Use an antibacterial soap to reduce the amount of bacteria living on your skin and use a deodorant to neutralise odours. If you find yourself getting particularly sweaty, try wearing clothing that is made from natural materials, such as cotton, silk and wool, as these will allow your skin to breathe.

Some experts also suggest avoiding eating spicy foods, as these can give your body a distinctive odour.

Severe Body Odour?
If you suffer from severe body odour, and find that the methods above aren’t enough to control the problem, then surgery may be a viable option. There are a variety of surgical techniques that can help cure the problem. Most involve the removal of the sweat glands. In addition to surgical procedures, Botox injections are sometimes used to help limit the amount of sweat produced.

If you’re concerned about your body odour and it’s having an adverse effect on your life, it’s advisable to book an appointment with your GP to discuss the options available to you.