When I was in Senior High School (SHS), one thing I looked forward to during my lessons were the icebreakers my Economics teacher introduced anytime the lesson was boring. Sometimes he would ask us to walk around the classroom block, upon return, he would ask some two or three of us to tell him what we saw while walking around. At other times, he would ask us general questions about life, I call them life skills questions. One of such questions he asked during one of the lessons, that we
were unable to answer and I still try to figure out what the answer could be, about 12 years since I completed SHS was ‘how would you tell a friend who has a bad body odour that they have body odour or halitosis without hurting their feelings’? Some of the responses included; telling them to their face, recommending products that can help to reduce the odour(to this he probed that what if they refuse to patronise the products), buying some deodorant and other anti-perspiration products (he probed again that what if they don’t use the products). There were a lot of other responses which I don’t remember. Maybe they were not intriguing. No matter what response we gave, he would come with follow-up questions and we never agreed on the best way to tell a friend who has body or halitosis (mouth odour) that they have it. After the lesson, I followed him to ask what he would do in such a situation but you know how teachers are, they will always throw the question back to you. He never told me, just said I should go and continue thinking about it. I am still on the assignment, and the few times I found myself in front of a classroom as a teacher, I asked my students the same question, hoping to get the answer but the question remains unanswered.
A lot of people walk around with body odour or halitosis and we engage with them daily. Today’s focus will be on body odour, maybe we can discuss halitosis another day.
Sometimes the odour is so strong and uncomfortable that you cannot even pretend it isn’t there. Do you remember that incident when that sweaty and smelly passenger joined the public vehicle or trotro and sat by you? Or that time when you were in a crowded place and the place had a smell you couldn’t stand. Sometimes it is so bad you even want to throw up or actually throw up. Have you ever stepped out and forgotten to wear deodorant, how do you feel? For me, those are my longest days, and I feel everyone I come into contact with thinks I smell bad. Sadly, some of the people with this issue are not aware that they have it.
Body odour usually occurs as a result of bacteria on a person’s skin breaking down protein molecules within sweat and producing odour as a result. Health experts say that the odour is not caused by sweat itself but rather caused by the bacterial process in sweat. It usually begins when children are entering puberty but can start as early as 7 years and if not identified and treated, can last throughout the lifetime of the person. The parts of the body where the odour is likely to occur are the feet, armpits, groin, anus, among other parts of the body. While some people argue that body odour is usually a result of ignorance, thus, the person suffering it might not be aware of the problem or even if they are aware, they do not know what products or methods to use to get rid of it.
However, there are a lot of people who are very much aware of their situation, have the resources to find solutions to it, know where to find the solution but are just not interested in doing anything about it. They may even buy deodorants but will forget to use them, leave home and later remember that they should have used them.
The most interesting thing is how most people with body odour are usually all over people, they are huggy and want attention. Someone says it’s inferiority complex, they try to overcome it by being all over the place so that people see they are confident, which is not the case. Body odour is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, especially when you are not even aware that you have it. It can be embarrassing, which is why everyone needs to take their hygiene seriously. Apart from the fact that body odour causes air pollution and makes people uncomfortable, the individual may also suffer some effects both healthwise and socially.
I am not a health expert, but I know that body odour can have adverse health effects on the individual. I am however very certain that socially body odour can affect an individual’s confidence. When people realise that they have body odour, they are uncomfortable among people and are unwilling to take the initiative in anything. Let’s look at a few things you can do to reduce body odour if you have it.
First of all, one needs to bathe regularly. Bathing regularly with soap and water would help to eliminate the smell on your body and help you to keep fresh clean skin. Particular attention should be paid to the parts of the body that are likely to have body odour when washing the body. Most people do not take time to clean their bodies dry after bathing, it is however recommended to wipe your body dry with a clean dry towel or a piece of cloth. In summary, practice personal hygiene
Secondly, one would have to shave regularly. Having pubic hair slows down the evaporation of sweat. The hair collects the sweat, bacteria have more time to break down proteins and cause odour in these areas. Shaving thus helps to prevent the breakdown of protein by bacteria in such areas hence reducing body odour.
Further, using antiperspirants and deodorants can help reduce body odour. Antiperspirants are known to be able to reduce the intensity of a person’s body odour. This is because they reduce sweat volumes and also interfere with the amount and activity of odour-causing bacteria. You may want to carry deodorant in your bag which you can use at regular intervals if you will be away from home for long. This will keep you refreshed and you are also sure that there is no odour so you can confidently carry out your daily activities.
Another way to reduce body odour is by wearing clean, fresh clothes. Clothes can be kept clean by washing them with soap and water, drying them properly, and keeping them in a clean place. When you repeat clothes that are not clean, they may smell already, and imagine when the sweat from your body mixes with the smell from the clothes. It is also advised that clothes are aired immediately after removing them to dry sweat and prevent bacteria from growing on them. Separate clean clothes from dirty clothes.
Lastly, lime/lemon are known to help fight body odour. All you need to do is rub one-half of a lime or lemon on your armpits a few minutes before you bathe. It is however not an antiperspirant so it is only good for removing the odour, it does not block sweat and you cannot go around rubbing lime in your armpit in public all the time. You may still want to use a deodorant or antiperspirant after using lime or lemon, if not, you will keep fighting body odour.
And don’t be shy to speak to a health expert if you think that the smell in your body has changed. It might be more than what you think. Talk to someone you can trust to help you about it, it is the first best step to solving the problem. If you know someone with bad body odour around you, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. They may feel bad and embarrassed, but it might also help them to find a solution.
Next time you walk into that room or vehicle or crowd and realise that people are holding their noses or are avoiding you, you might want to find out what the reason is, maybe you have a body odour that you are not aware of and people are avoiding you because of that. Don’t let body odour kill your confidence, it is something you can easily work on, do the needful and let your confidence shine. And back to the question my teacher asked us that day, have you thought of an answer yet? I will be reading your answers in the comment section. CHEERS!!!