What causes body odor? – Mel Rosenberg


A pungent blend of onions, cheese,
and cat urine with hints of… is that…wet goat? Most of us don’t need more than one whiff to identify that generally unpleasant,
characteristic smell we call body odor. But it’s a surprisingly complex phenomenon influenced by our genetic makeup,
age, diet, and hygiene. So what is this odor, exactly? Where does it come from? And can we do anything about it? To start, you just need two things
to produce that familiar scent: your armpit’s own secretions and the bacteria that feed on them. Most people associate
body odor with sweat, and it’s an important piece of the puzzle. Your body has millions of sweat glands,
and they come in two major types: eccrine glands are found
all over your skin and secrete mainly water and salt. Apocrine glands, on the other hand,
develop at puberty in your armpits and a few other places on your body. The sweat they secrete
is full of proteins and fats. By themselves,
these secretions are usually odorless. That’s where bacteria come in. Every square centimeter of our bodies
is covered with thousands of bacteria. Many microorganisms thrive
in moist environments, like our armpits. There, you can find about a million
bacteria per square centimeter, one of the highest concentrations
anywhere on the skin. Lurking in this throng of microorganisms
are species of Corynebacteria, Staphylococci, Micrococci, and others. When these bacteria feed on the proteins
and fats in apocrine sweat, they turn the odorless compounds into
new ones that can smell very unpleasant. Some of the worst offenders may be
sulfur-containing chemicals; those give body odor its oniony aroma. Carboxylic acids are in the mix, too,
adding notes of cheese. These molecules waft up from the armpit
and can be sucked directly into our noses, where they’re trapped and detected
by an array of specialized receptors. Those can recognize odor molecules at concentrations
of less than one in a million. So what determines how strong
your body odor might be? It depends on the resident microbial
populations in your armpit, and the nutrients that
your glands provide them with. Your genes help determine
what compounds you produce, and in what quantity, so everyone has a slightly different set. In fact, a gene variant that virtually
eliminates body odor is common in people of East Asian descent. Adrenaline increases the ratio
of apocrine to eccrine sweat, so body odor can be more intense
when you’re nervous. Bacterial composition and concentration
also varies between individuals and plays a part. Even what you eat can have
a small effect on how you smell. So how can we deal with body odor? Washing the armpits with soap and water
helps but won’t remove all the bacteria since many are buried
in deeper layers of the skin. Deodorants, however, inhibit bacterial
activity and mask odors at the same time. Antiperspirants work by forming tiny
gel plugs that block sweat glands, drying out the armpits. While we continue to battle body odor,
scientists are trying to understand it. We don’t know why the brain often interprets these particular
odors as off-putting. But some researchers have proposed
that secretions from the armpit could have a positive function, too, like cementing social bonds and providing a means
of chemical communication. We don’t know yet if that’s the case. For now, body odor seems to be just another smelly part
of the human condition.

100 thoughts on “What causes body odor? – Mel Rosenberg

  1. Help us keep exploring these questions and many more by supporting our nonprofit mission on Patreon! Find out how you can get involved at patreon.com/teded. Thanks, everyone!

  2. At first I thought the smell from the beginning of the video came from the man with the white hair’s beard

  3. Truthfully , I shower every single day. I use Anti perspirants. (Right Guard 48hr protection.) No matter how hard I scrub myself during my showers. Or how long I spray myself down with my deodorant spray… the minute I enter a public environment I begin to sweat like crazy. I honestly take it anymore it’s so depressing , people make harsh and rude comments everywhere I go and it really gets to me. As sappy and sad as this sounds I’m really not in need of sympathy I am in desperate need of advice. What products do you all use during your showers , what deodorants do you use aswell? How regularly do you wash your towels and how regularly do you change your bedding during the summer?

  4. But Does Armpit Colour Affect The Smell? Cause My Armpit Fluids Are Pure Sweat-Like Colour And My Arpmits Don't Smell ._.

  5. I’ve done a good bit of long distance hiking, the other hikers and myself smelled HORRIBLE! But we instantly formed a bond when we met other smelly hikers. It was an interesting time in my life.

  6. If thoese bacteria would have farted at 1:57 i would have dies laughing and it would have been so cute… to watch em do that 🤣🤣….eating and farting to produce odours

  7. My breath was really humiliating. It is very bad which I forced myself to just stay home After trying my dentist informed me, it just worked for a couple of hours. Now I was able to get a more fresh and clean breath. This stinky breath method “Kοtοnzο Zοtα” (Google it) has literally finally given me my life back. .

  8. who came here after sniffing their own armpits and enjoyed it and wondered how dafuk did this godgiven pleasure come to be?

  9. Fear smells. There is an obvious evolutionary explanation for that. It's also known by people from personal experience. See the French Wikipedia article on courage.

  10. Theres a study that lemon kills that bacteria and smell but only to be used when you did not shave the arm pits.

  11. My armpit juice sweat goes down my arm and I put deodorant on and I take showers and I'm a pretty clean person

  12. I don't know why but my armpit don't smell as well as my feet after using shoes, and I don't use any perfume or any deodorant cuz I'm allergic to it..

  13. I heard the whole Chinese people don’t have body odor sweat but I lucked out. I have to wash my armpit throughout the day or I smell like a bum. Jelly of my mom who doesn’t use deodorant and doesn’t stink

  14. Want to know if you need deodorant. Look no further than your earwax.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/sifting-the-evidence/2013/feb/14/wasting-money-deodorant-ears

  15. Do you think my issue was caused by the shaver or by the shared product? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXSFHFfWUyI

  16. I had been able to remove my bad breath when I followed bad breath treatment method “Kοtοnzο Zοtα” (Google it). Now I have so much more confidence because I can speak to individuals one on one without worrying about what kind of odour is coming out of my mouth! .

  17. Nice video & the animation is attractive .
    Thank You.
    1. Can deodorant destroy effect of pheromone ?
    2. How can a dog distinguish or identify different people by body odour ?

  18. I have never used deodorants in my life. Neither did my dad nor mom.

    I'm from India and we usually never care about body odors. Some people may smell a bit bad, but usually we get used to it and never hinders friendships/relations.

    Body odors are natural, most of us doesn't care about it.

  19. By far i think the worst smelling people that i have encountered in this world are the Indians !! My God they smell so bad. At one time i almost vomited when a couple passed by. 🤢🤮

  20. I have a colleague who the moment she enters the office, we know that it's her without looking. And to make matters worse, she has a habit of hugging us who she considers as friends. And the stench from her body sticks to our clothes. We have been hinting her about her BO by purposely talking about how we wear deodorants and perfumes. Heck, we even said "what is that smell!!?" in front of her. No avail. I am not sure if she didn't get it or she is just oblivious. How do i tell her honestly without breaking her heart?

  21. 1- always shave your armpit hair. 2- always clean your armpit. 3- always use armpit deodorant even when u are home. I do that all time that's why i always smell good and nice.

  22. hahaha I wonder if there is a society where you can say "Hello" just by raising your arm and get a response "I like you". LOL 😛

  23. One of the perks of being an asian (south east asian). I never had any body odor at all. I don't smell like roses but even after a full day outside, there's no foul smell at all.

  24. its well known that higher levels of testastorone and manly hormones cause stronger odor. therefor, it makes sense that asians dont have much odor because they have very low levels of testastorone.

  25. It's also cultural. People from Middle East generally have a strong smell/odor and they feel okay about that. On the other hand, Italians wash themselves even before jogging. It's kinda exaggerated.

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