Body Odour

There are lots of types of body odour (BO) that we all suffer from, particularly when we hit puberty. Check out why people get BO, the best ways to keep it at bay and what to do if your mate's a bit stinky...

When we hit puberty, we sweat more

What is it?

Everyone has their own natural smell. Sometimes we can get a bit stinky - that's what people mean when they talk about BO.

Why do people get BO?

BO is caused by normal skin bacteria reacting to our bodily secretions, sweat, urine, and blood. They are all fairly pong-free at first but leave any of them for long enough and they'll get whiffy as the bacteria breaks down. That goes double if it's warm: bacteria go ballistic in the heat.

When we hit puberty, we sweat more. And we sweat differently: hormones switch on new sweat production in our armpits and groins - this is where our sweat glands are most concentrated. Time to step up the personal hygiene. And the underarm roll-on.

How can I make sure I don't get BO?

  • Take a shower or bath every day. Wash your armpits, face, feet and genitals.
  • Deodorant makes your armpits smell nice and anti-perspirant decreases how much we sweat, so it's a pretty good idea to get involved.
  • Girls - change your sanitary towel or tampon regularly.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and see your dentist regularly.
  • Change your clothes before they get whiffy. Now is the time to help with the laundry. Wear clean underwear and socks every day.

What if my friend has BO?

Be tactful! We all smell sometimes, but if a friend's got a bad case of BO, you could be doing them a favour by pointing it out.

Ask yourself: how would you like to be told?

Most likely in private, gently, with bags of reassurance that no-one else has noticed. And you're not a walking sewer.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.


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