DO WE STINK?

mell our body odor?

First of all, it reminds us that we are animals. It’s true that we don’t go around sniffing each other quite as obviously as dogs and rats, but you have only to watch a human mother sniffing the head of£ her infant to realize how instinctive smell behavior is; and you have only to consider how you react to the scent of someone you love to recognize how smells affect us socially.

In an experiment illustrating social smell behavior, researchers from the University of California tested scent and personal space, using male and female “stimulus persons” at an amusement park. When the experiment participants wore perfume or after-shave lotion, the individuals standing in line close by them moved farther away than when no scents were used. The “stimulus persons” apparently were repellent to others in their environment despite the fact that the perfume and after-shave lotion they wore were popular, pleasant scents. Evidently, the desire to protect one’s personal space from scent stimulation emanating from strangers is unconscious but irresistible. This behavior is amazingly similar to that of animals in the wild when a strange member of the species is introduced into their home territory.

In our culture a correlation between scent and personal space is reflected in our language. What do we call a disagreeable person when we want to warn some- one to stay away from him or her?— a “stinker” or a “skunk”!

Could antiperspirant be making matters us smell worse?
Any substance having a mild astringent action that tends to reduce the size of skin pores and thus restrain the passage of moisture on local body areas. The most commonly used antiperspirant compound is aluminum chlorohydrate. Use of zirconium compounds in antiperspirant sprays has been discontinued because of they are suspected -causing agents.

Antiperspirants exert a neutralizing action that give them deodorant properties. The FDA classified them as drugs rather than as cosmetics.

I write a lot about stuff we slather on our bodies. My Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients goes into such matters and that’s why a recently reported experiment by Belgium researchers peaked my interest.

A team of scientists at the University of Ghent, in Belgium report using antiperspirants on a regular basis may actually contribute to under – body odor.

The problem comes about, the researcher say, because antiperspirants may increase levels of odorous bacteria in the armpit. The researchers findings were published in a recent issue of The Archives of Dermatology Research.,
The journal article described how the scientists set about how deodorants and antiperspirants affect underarm bacteria . They tested testing it on nine volunteers for onemonth. Eight of the nine volunteers were asked not to use any deodorant or antiperspirant products for the entire one month period, with regular assessment made throughout the period to record the how the armpit bacteria changed

The researchers found most of the remaining bacteria after the use of odor killers was Actinobacteria,— the strongest smelling one and primarily the major cause of under-arm odor. Why does this bacteria outlast the effects of antiperspirants and deodorants and perhaps make the armpits smell even more?
The Belgian scientists say they now want to take the research to the next level, with a larger group of subjects.

Incidentally, under-arm odor has been cited in a number of studies as producing of pheromones—scents which attract the opposite sex—but that’s another story.

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