How To Tell If You Smell

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It's something no one likes to talk about, but that's hard to ignore: those terrible smells that come with eating certain foods, or doing certain things.

You certainly notice them when they're coming from other people.

But do you wonder sometimes, "Do I smell?

Those odors can pop up in places you'd never expect and for reasons you might never have thought about.

But on The Early Show Saturday Edition, Prevention magazine Beauty Director Rebekah George explained some of the causes of and some cures for those unpleasant odors coming from people!

WE KNOW CERTAIN THINGS TRIGGER BODY ODORS, LIKE A STRONG WORKOUT, BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER FACTORS WE NEVER THINK ABOUT THAT COULD ALSO MAKE US A LITTLE PUNGENT.

It could be as simple as how quickly you get dressed in the morning, or whether you snore. They could all cause body and mouth odors you never would have thought of.

HEAD ODOR

Believe it or not, dandruff isn't the biggest problem. It's that hiatus from hair washing that makes your scalp smell. Many people think that dandruff is a result of a too-dry scalp, which causes them to wash their hair less. But that's a myth. Dandruff is caused by an oily scalp. That lack of washing combined with an irritated scalp is a breeding ground for bacteria, and, therefore, for odor.

What's the fix?

Washing your hair with shampoo regularly may help get the flakes in check. If you're worried about dandruff, wash with an over the counter dandruff shampoo. But look for ones with zinc pyrithione, an antifungal/antibacterial agent that can de-germ your scalp. It's found in Head & Shoulders and Selsun Salon. That de-germing will keep odors away.

UNDERARM ODOR: WE KNOW WHERE WE GET IT, BUT HOW WE TREAT IT COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Check your medicine cabinet to make sure your white stick contains antiperspirant, too. Deodorants only temporarily mask your BO, they don't prevent your body from releasing sweat. Antiperspirants actually plug your sweat glands, which stops you from excreting sweat. You really need only an antiperspirant, but if you want that ocean breeze scent, at least pick a product that has both deodorant and antiperspirant. If you're a big-time sweater, especially in sticky summer months, apply it before you go to sleep. You perspire less at night, so more of the antiperspirant's aluminum-based active ingredient is pulled into sweat glands. The effect can last 24 hours or longer, even if you shower in the morning. If this doesn't help, ask your doctor about prescription-strength antiperspirants, such as Drysol or Xerac, which contain aluminum chloride.

WE THINK WE KNOW WHY WE GET BODY ODOR, BUT THERE ARE SOME REASONS WE NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF, SUCH AS -- NOT TOWELING OFF ENOUGH AFTER SHOWERING CAN CAUSE BODY ODOR?

A speedy post-shower rubdown may end up causing problems later on. That's because moisture can get trapped between folds of skin, like below your breasts, under your love handles or even between your toes. It's easier for bacteria and fungi to multiply and mix with sweat, causing odor and irritation.

How do we fix that?

After you dry off, set a blow dryer to cool and wave it over your belly, groin, feet, anywhere that gets uncomfortably sweaty. You can also sprinkle an absorbent powder with antifungal properties onto your skin or in your shoes. Try Zeabsorb-AF, available at drugstores.

YOU KNOW HOW, AFTER YOU'VE HAD A SPICY INDIAN MEAL, OR EATEN A LOT OF GARLIC, IT FEELS LIKE IT JUST OOZES FROM YOUR PORES? YOU SAY, IT DOES.

Foods with pungent ingredients, such as curry, garlic, and other spices, can not only cause bad breath, but also a bit of a body odor. After these foods are digested, they're absorbed into the bloodstream and released through your lungs and pores, an effect that can last for a few hours or more.

How do we fix that?

You can temporarily mask bad breath with mouthwash or by chewing a bit of fresh parsley, mint or fennel seeds, but you'll have to wait until your body is done digesting before all the odor is completely gone. Sit down to a spicy meal in good company; it's tough to smell it on others if you all eat the same thing. And avoid garlic-rich chow in the hours before an important meeting or date.

WHAT YOU WEAR COULD ALSO CAUSE BODY ODOR!

Ditch those form-fitting clothes for a less-smelly gym session. Tight, synthetic fabrics, like spandex, rub against skin and can trap sweat. This may cause extra odor, as well as skin irritation, like folliculitis (inflammation around hair follicles) and acne-like eruptions.

The fix?

Wear loose-fitting cotton t-shirts and shorts, or choose moisture-wicking fabrics that better absorb sweat. They even make workout gear treated with anti-microbial properties or made of anti-microbial materials which is a good choice for people who have odor issues and work out a lot. In the winter, skiers and other outdoors-people may find it useful to know that wood is naturally odor-repellent.

FINALLY: STINKY FEET!

If your office has a no-sandals policy, do you slip your bare feet into pumps? You could have an odor problem at the end of the day. Closed shoes can act as a bacterial breeding ground, trapping moisture and causing that stinky feet stench. When you skip out on socks, there's nothing to absorb the sweat your feet produce.

The fix?

You can rub an antiperspirant on the bottom of your feet and between the toes. It's also a good idea to dab your feet with an antifungal powder, which will help keep your tootsies dry. At night, dunk feet in a bacteria-killing bath of one part vinegar and two parts water. You could also try a black tea soak for about 30 minutes. The tannins kill bacteria and close up pores, which keep your feet dryer, longer. You'll see results in a few days to a week.



For much more on this, from Prevention, click here.
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