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17.04.2007 Feature Article

Are you sure you smell good?

Are you sure you smell good?

They say men naturally have roving eyes but as to whether they prefer to use that excuse as the perfect cover to rotate their heads and eyes from the north to the south, is a matter left for another day; the point is when you happen to be in the midst of guys, you can only expect a constant movement of eyes.

So if this location happens to be campus, naturally, Kwame is bound to meet one of his numerous female friends. As we sat on that bench, we watched him get up to hug the dress-to-kill lady. As they hugged the lady uttered some words, and Kwame's facial expression gave him away as he forced a smile.

I turned to Mike and asked: “did you see that expression on his face?”
Mike voiced out my thoughts: “may be a blue cloud passed over his face...” After Kwame finished chatting up the lady and even before he could sit down, Mike asked “why that frown when the girl started talking?”
“You noticed?” he was surprised.
“Obviously!” that was me
“Her breathe wasn't exactly pleasant…” he said, while I grinned and Mike laughed.

“I don't believe you, Kwame, that fine chic can't possibly…” Mike volunteered but stopped when I started talking.
“Are you sure it was her or it's your own mouth… I mean, your nose is just above your mouth after all” I teased
“Ese, don't be cynical; I'm talking to you now, right? Do I have bad breathe?” Kwame was serious. We all burst out laughing

“Come on, she would have told you a long time ago besides Ese just distributed mint” Mike said.
“I'm serious the girl must have eaten something and forgot to buy mint or brush her teeth afterwards or something…”
“So why didn't you draw her attention to it?” I asked but they both stared at me strangely.
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“So how did it go?” all the girls were eager to listen, “come on, say something.” that was Yaa (for the purposes of this article, no real names)
“Yes, we are all dying to know”
“Ok, ok, first of all he is a hunk…” the girls giggled in approval
“Don't get too excited…secondly, he dressed good…”
“Off course, he works in a bank” Ama interrupted
“But he has a terrible body odor”
“Ooh!”
“How come that always seems to ruin an occasion but you can't tell him about it”

As the dialogues have shown, bad breath and body odor is not a situation restricted to what some might call “the lower classes” of people, neither is it restricted to people who work under the sun but also those in suit, in air-condition offices and YOU reading this piece. That is, if you do not work to prevent it.

The most punishing situation is to sit in your air-conditioned office and have someone walk in with a bad body odor; sometimes, the person might have come out of his house or her house smelling very good but once the heat of the day takes over, it becomes a situation of 'Jekyll and Hyde.'

This situation may be a result of using the wrong deodorant or simply not using one. The amazing side of this problem is that; people with bad breathe or body odor will either ignore it, pretend to be unaware or not realize it at all.

Yes, I use the word pretend because, I always check to be sure that I smell good all the time, even if I have to carry a deodorant and mint in my bag all the time. Any time I sweat, I take the necessary steps…even if I have to go home earlier than usual.

Then I ask myself, why can't everybody to the same or at least attempt to? Why do you have to put your friends and acquaintances through the pain of having to put up with your foul scent? It baffles my mind how such people refuse to acknowledge this problem.

And imagine that instead of using lime, deodorant or anti-perspirant, some people use only perfume to prevent unpleasant smells! Perfume does not prevent body odor, neither does it serve as a deodorant; in fact if you use perfume only, the combination of that and your odor gives out a repugnant smell that will make your own friends complain behind your back.

You might argue that some people cannot afford to buy a stick of deodorant but let me ask you this question, how much does lime cost? Lime and perhaps tomato, are the most natural elements of deodorant in treating body 'smells'.
Just because you used it in the morning does not mean that you should not check in the afternoon to ensure that you still smell good and what about your breathe? This is especially important when you sweat a lot or move about a lot or in extreme cases when you have a medical condition of body odor.

And just because you brushed your teeth in the morning doesn't stop you from rinsing your mouth with water or brushing again after each meal. Use your hand to cover your mouth and nose, then blow some air into it whiles breathing; that will tell you the state of your breathe.
Anyway, let's see what the experts say:
Perspiration is the cause of body odor. However, perspiration by itself is basically odorless, but it is the bacteria and odors coming from other sources that are the real culprits. Anaerobic bacteria, which flourish when your body doesn't have enough oxygen, may well be the cause of your body odor.

As the body's metabolism goes to work, it gives off odors which are the body's way of ridding itself of waste products. Any imbalances in metabolism will result in stronger odors. Since we are talking about waste products you must consider toxins as a possible cause of body odor.

In today's world we are bombarded with toxins in our homes, food, and air that accumulate in the body when the organs of elimination cannot dispose of them. The liver and intestines may be clogged up, causing odors to emanate from the body, so we suggest a thorough detoxification program by cleansing the liver, kidneys and colon.
Dietary imbalances, resulting in constipation or a deficiency of magnesium or zinc may be other causes of body odor. Because of a person's body chemistry, some people who eat large quantities of meat or who are vegetarians have a very distinctive body odor which can be quite offensive.

Some individuals cannot metabolize foods containing large amounts of choline, such as eggs, fish, liver and legumes. The result is a "fishy" smell. If you are one of these people, cut out these products and see if this is the cause of your odor.

Certain foods and drinks, such as onions, garlic, curry, certain spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, are also prime causes. Fried and baked goods may contain rancid fats and oils that lead to body odor.
Sweat glands (apocrine glands) under the arms and in the groin secrete a substance that is the major non-food/drink related cause of body odor. This substance, which contains protein, carbohydrates, and lipids, often secreted by a surge in sex hormones caused by tense moments or emotional stress, is quickly attacked by bacteria, causing odor.

Also, today's children are starting puberty much earlier, and this change in hormones may lead to body odor in children younger than previously. Estrogen dominance, often caused by petrochemical products, may trigger the earlier puberty. There may be underlying causes of excessive sweating, such as low blood sugar, liver disease, diabetes, parasites, metabolic dysfunction, menopause, or emotional stress (anger, fear, excitement).

Excessive sweat may be on the forehead, palms, soles of the feet or the underarms. Some other possible cause of body odor...

Kidney disease, Liver disease, Fungal infections, Refined sugar feeds bacteria and fungus on the skin
For excessive underarm odor, try using a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide (3%) that is cheap and can be picked up at the pharmacy. Put a teaspoonful in a glass of water and wash the underarm. If that doesn't work, increase the amount of peroxide.

For me, the best way to solve this problem is to be self conscious of good body hygiene; this is because your friends, colleagues will not tell you the truth about yourself; they fear you may be offended or embarrassed, unless you are probably working with someone like my boss. They will rather discuss it behind your back so it is better to be conscious of it to prevent it.

Secondly, avoid wearing unwashed underwear (boxers, shorts, bras, slips etc) because the smell will permeate through your clean clothes and hover around you. This makes the people around you suffer and maybe you should start asking yourself why that girl or guy is refusing to date you.
After all; it certainly feels good to hug a pleasant smelling body.

Esenam Dumenu
Esenam Dumenu, © 2007

This author has authored 18 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: EsenamDumenu

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